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How Can I Get Better Posture?

Dear FnF – K and A: For better posture, what exercise/stretch can I do to keep my shoulders pulled back ? Thanks for the straighter scoop.  Sharon, Santa Barbara, CA

Straight Scoop on Super Posture

Kymberly: Hold on a moment. Did someone other than F and F just slip in a word play? Stand tall and proud just for that. While you’re standing, do some pec stretches and mid-back strengtheners. The stronger your back muscles are – especially the ones between your shoulder blades, such as the trapezius and rhomboids – the more those muscles will contract to lift your spine erect and to keep your shoulders back.

Yeah, you could hire someone to nag you to bring your shoulders down and back, but that’s no fun is it? Instead let’s think of fun things that FnF could stand for (as seen in your salutation).

Alexandra:What? That is a gimme. Anyone who’s seen my high school photos knows that FnF means Foxy and Fine! Hello? Did you not see those HOT photos of me that were never taken? Let’s pretend for a moment that we are answering Sharon’s question…nope, it’s passed.

But in the spirit of general pride and gaining two inches in height, I’ll give you our mom’s secret (she was a modern dance teacher)–ask someone to poke you between the shoulder blades at the dinner table. It’s a quick, yet mildly annoying, reminder to contract your mid-traps (that is fancy-talk for “pull your shoulder blades toward each other”). Or you could read our post, Look Younger and Thinner Instantly with Better Posture, which is not annoying at all.

Kymberly: Also try our zip trick to remind you that posture involves all the abs, uses the entire core, and requires activating the back side of your body as well.

Plank push up combo from Kymberly

If Only I Could Achieve Good Posture While Standing

Alexandra: I also see that Kymberly mentions chest stretches above. What she didn’t mention was that standing up taller and opening up the front of your body makes you more–caution, technical term coming–stacked! Not just appear so, but actually more frontal real estate. And you can then breathe better too. Since it’s hard to remember to pull your shoulder blades into a close, personal relationship, I’ll share a hot little workout trick I made up years ago. Do some of your exercises with your back and shoulders against the wall. For example, bicep curls or forward raises. Even though you aren’t actively focusing on “moving” your back, it will be easy for you to notice if you fall forward off the wall. Find out more about these quick and easy posture reminders at our post, Posture to Perfection.

K: In short, worry less about what you see in front– the pecs and anterior deltoids — and more about what’s happening behind your back. Just like in high school.

A: Did someone say “Off the Wall?” When the world is on your shoulders, Gotta straighten up your act and boogie down. Quick, who sings that?  If you can sing and dance this entire song with shoulders back, you win a free Moonwalk lesson!

Readers and posturemongers: What reminders do you use to maintain good posture? Who had a mom who nagged you to stand up straight?

Action Item: Subscribe to our site. Enter the word “posture” in our search box at the top of our page. Find our series on posture that includes some videos. You will not only get current active aging advice twice a week, but also lots of great ways to assess and improve your posture. Yup, stand tall and subscribe!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA


Oblique Ab Crunches: How to Do Them Properly

Tape measure on abs

One of our most popular post categories is Abs, especially workouts that show how to do them with good form. You want to avoid pain (and sweat), plus you want to get the most bang for your exercise buck (these posts are free), and the least waist for your workout. We are here to help you with the “muffin top / love handles” dilemma.

Our quick video tutorial gives you helpful specifics on how to perform oblique (side) abdominal crunches correctly. And as a bonus, we also show how NOT to do them.

Good news – you don’t have to learn technical terms. But just in case you’re wondering why we say “obliques” instead of “waist” or “that area that encircles your spine that used to be oh-so-tiny way back in high school,” we’ve got some quick Ed-U-Cay-Shun-al info about the technical terms.

Internal & External ObliquesYour external obliques run diagonally, forming a V in front. Imagine you’re putting your hands into a vest or front coat pocket. Feel those rock hard muscles? Yeah, me neither. But I do know that my obliques are there somewhere.

Your internal obliques run at right angles to your external obliques and form an inverted V. Put your hands on your hips with your thumbs in front and fingers behind, pointing down as if putting your hands into back pockets.
Diagonal Reverse Abs
For those of you who like the nitty-gritty, oblique-y details, here’s an excellent definition by our colleague Dr. Len Kravitz, who teaches at the University of New Mexico and is way smart!

Now you know the official terms for “I want my waist to be fit and trim, but don’t want to copy any of those lame exercises I see people do in the gym that are destined to hurt their back or neck.” More importantly, you can now confidently add oblique crunches to your exercise routine. Score!!

Not yet a subscriber? Sign up by entering your email (to the right in the sidebar ———–> and you’ll receive our handy-dandy posts two times per week. Which is probably how often you do ab workouts, am I right?

Photo credits: CreativeCommons. org

by Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA


Time to Exercise Some Tough Love: Guest Post from Debbie Woodruff

Debbie Woodruff in Team Eleven topOur friend and colleague, Debbie is a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, fitness club director, running coach, and repeat dog rescuer, who blogs over at Coach Debbie Runs. She isn’t quite as tough as this post makes her sound. She has been working with a mature population for many years and understands how to lure exercise haters into a healthier lifestyle. She hopes you will check out her blog for inspiration, training programs, and tips on living a plant based, active lifestyle.

Is it tough love time?

By Debbie Woodruff

I didn’t become a personal trainer for the huge amount of money I could make. Nor for the glory and fame that I could achieve. Nope, I became a personal trainer because I believe in health and fitness. Our lives are much better when we exercise.

Which is good because there hasn’t been a much fame, glory, or money involved. But I do know I’ve made a difference in a few lives, so that’s a pretty good trade-off.

However, I have grown pretty tired of hearing one comment, not just from clients, but from non-exercisers in general. Various people who come to the gym, friends of clients, even other bloggers will walk in, look disdainfully around at the equipment, the members sweating, the trainers training, and say, “I hate to exercise.”Debbie Woodruff ready to run Debbie Woodruff ready to run

As a trainer, I used to consider this a challenge. I envisioned working with these people, creating a program for them, finding something that they do enjoy, and they would become lifelong exercisers. Happy ending! Barring that, I could at least make them like me enough to enjoy the time we spent together training.

The problem with the former plan is that it rarely happens. Exercise haters stick to a program for a while, whine and complain a lot, begin to find excuses, then disappear from the face of the gym forever. Or at least until it is time for next year’s new year’s resolutions.

The latter solution isn’t perfect either. A large segment of the population can’t or won’t hire a personal trainer, so I’m missing a large part of the target audience. While I do have a few clients who train with me because they enjoy my company, they would rather chat than work out. And they are terrible at adhering to the other parts of an exercise program normally done on one’s own, like cardio, proper nutrition, and lifestyle changes.

I’m tired of sugarcoating exercise, of trying to make everyone happy, of spending my valuable time convincing exercise haters to enjoy doing something that will make them live longer, feel better, play stronger, and generally have a better life. So, to that end my new mantra is…

Suck it Up, Buttercup

head shot DebbieWhoever said that everything that you do in life had to be fun? We, all of us, do many things daily that we don’t really enjoy. Do you like brushing your teeth? Cleaning the litter box? Washing the dishes? Vacuuming? Do you do it? Yes, because not to do it would leave you in a very dirty place.

Even if you enjoy your job, you don’t always like it. But you do it because, you know, you need to eat. You clean your house, mow your lawn, help your kid with homework you may not understand yourself. Fun? Not really.

You do all of these things because you have to, need to, are compelled to, whatever. For the most part, you don’t do them because you like them. You may even hate them.

If you spend a half hour three days a week weight training, or some other form of strength building exercise, and take a little time for a walk most days of the week, you can receive benefits way beyond having a clean litter box. You can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. You can reduce your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. You can reduce the pain of many joint diseases, improve your posture and balance, and general overall health. You will feel better. You will look better.

All of this for only two or three hours a week. Many people spend that much time a night watching television.

So suck it up, buttercup. Just get out there and exercise. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like it. You need it. It’s important. There are many resources available if you are new to exercise and need a little help getting started. You can contact me if you have question, either in the comments below, here on Kymberly and Alexandra’s Fun and Fit blog. Or run over to my contact page.Debbie W does prank Push

Who knows. You might even begin to like working out. A little.

Readers: Is there an exercise mode you HATE? Which do you love (or at least tolerate?) We hope Debbie’s post has inspired you to get moving. You can start by subscribing to our site or by checking out Debbie’s. Toodle oo for now!


Too Tired To Start Exercising?

Hi Alexandra and Kymberly: I am frequently exhausted and ache. I don’t know where to start to build in a sane way. Weights, (brief) high intensity intervals, gentle cardiovascular like walking? Just getting through a work day wears me out and I usually need to nap after exercise. Anne from Olympia, WA

Dear Anne: We can say you are sane enough already to ask a great and common question. Actually you managed a three-in-one special deal as you actually have three separate issues:

  1. Why might you be too tired to exercise in the first place?
  2. Why is exercise making you more fatigued?
  3. What entry point exercises are good to build from?

And because we like package bonus deals, you get a four part answer to make you happy and zippy!

First, Consider What is Exhausting You

Problem: Are you dehydrated? Solution: Drink more water

Being underwatered will suck you dry! Even slight dehydration—as little as 2% of normal fluid loss—will reduce your energy levels. Dehydration reduces blood volume, thickening your blood. Then your heart pumps less efficiently, reducing the speed at which oxygen and nutrients reach your muscles and organs, thereby draining your energy.

Problem: Are you anemic? Solution: Get your blood tested

Anemia would cause your stated symptoms. Find out if you’re getting enough iron or losing more than you’re replacing.

Problem: Are you choosing energy-sapping foods? Solution: Check your eating habitsAlexandra drinking wine

Alexandra drinking wine

Wine, dine, and nap

Too much sugar? Not eating regular meals or skipping breakfast? Drinking wine late at night or starting the day with simple carbs? Powering through your day by relying on caffeine? Any of these habits will result in overall fatigue.

Next, Motivate Yourself Past Pre-Exercise Fatigue

Your work day is done and so are you! We totally get how tempting a nap sounds after a long, perhaps stressful work day. And maybe what you need is simply to sleep more or to revel in naps, guilt free. Most North American adults undersleep. But you asked about moving, and we are all about activity.

In fact, we bet you already know the counterintuitive reality that exercise increases energy. Studies indicate that as little as three bouts of cardio activity a week for 20 minutes per session boosts energy in as few as six weeks. Once you get past those first few weeks of starting to move more, you will enter that energizer bunny zone where exercise pumps you up rather than drags you down.

Sign to Happy Room

Which activity puts you into your Happy Room?

To get yourself doing something, the key is to commit to anything, not everything. What is the least you can do given your current exhaustion and ache levels? Determine what is achievable and head for the minimum. We really mean it. Take the mental pressure off yourself and head for the LEAST, not MOST you are willing to start with.

Rather than plunging into high intensity interval training or facing overload weight training, find something you enjoy and that comes easily to you. A resistance training fitness class where you are encouraged to go at your pace. A walk, brisk stroll, or march in place. A yoga, Pilates, stretch, or other mind/body class that combines movement with visualization, relaxation, or quiet time at the end. What about lunges during tv commercials or a few ab exercises before dinner? Just 5 minutes on an indoor bicycle?  Steps at home you can go up and down a few times. Water time if you have access to a pool or natural body of water- swimming, pool class, water jogging.

If you still find yourself needing a push to take the fork in the road towards activity, not lethargy, get a dog that likes walks. We might say “later” and “no” to ourselves, but who can deny a pet pooch whose daily walk is the day’s highlight? Wag wag, perky ears and out you go!Dog walk at More Mesa

Third, Reduce Being Worn Out Post Work Out

If exercise is wearing you out, most likely you need to drop the intensity of your workout. Another possibility is you are choosing stressful moves. Stress will wear you out even if the activity is low intensity.

  • Have you chosen activities you don’t enjoy?
  • Are you setting overly high expectations and demands on yourself?
  • Are you a perfectionist?

And of course, we have to interject that your post-exercise nap might be the best thing for you. But if you feel movement is wearing you down, then reduce the intensity or duration. You are either going too hard or too long at this phase of your re-entry program.

Which Bring Us to — Choose Moderate Moves

Try our Whole Body, No Equipment Needed, Easy as 3-2-1 Routine

K planking in ThailandBefore this post gets too long and tiresome (aha hah ha) let’s go with a simple, straightforward, “gee, we really don’t know your goals, limitations, time available” starting point program. If nothing else, do the following three moves that will address all major muscles of your body. Easy to perform; multi-joint so you get a lot of bang for your buck; and needing no equipment.

  1. Lunges or squats for the lower body
  2. Push ups on the wall, counter, knees, or toes for the upper body
  3. K planking in ThailandPlanks or reverse curls for the core

When you’re done, walk for 5 minutes.

You will feel so energized you’ll want more. Find that “more” in these posts that also answer your questions:

Tips to Get Your Butt to the Gym

I Want to Get Fit, but How Do I Start?

And of course, we have to mention our recent TransformAging Summit webinar session, “(Re)Starting Fitness Over 50,” which is sponsored by Rancho la Puerta Wellness Resort, a perfect place to ease into exercise. ,  For sale along with the other 5 presentations. Slides included. $34Sales image for TransformAging


Tips to Get Your Butt to the Gym

Boom- Get it Done (Alexandra)

Boom! Get ‘er Done!

Dear Fun and Fit/ Kymberly and Alexandra: I am a member at the local YMCA, (but) have yet to establish a regular time to go. Time gets away from me. (I) would appreciate tips on establishing a routine. Thx, Vickie

You go to bed promising yourself that Tomorrow, yes Tomorrow, you will start that exercise program you’ve been putting off. You wake up in the morning with good intentions. Yes, the day looms ahead with lots of opportunities to work in a workout. Then that day gets busier and busier as it progresses, though you reassure yourself that you still have time. Habits and routines take over — routines that don’t include getting to your club. You mean to exercise, but when evening rolls around, you are too tired/ busy/ overloaded to move. Where did the day go? Forget hitting the mat, gym, or trails. What takes a hit instead is your psyche as negative self-talk wheedles its way into your thoughts. But you halt the self-recrimination by making a promise to yourself: Tomorrow, yes Tomorrow, you will start that exercise routine. Rinse and repeat.

We hear you, Vickie and obey! Below are specific, practical tips for establishing a routine that improves your odds to create and sustain regular exercise. These tips are guaranteed to work. And by that we mean, guaranteed only if you actually act on them. No Do, No Presto Change-o. In other words, our tips work if you do.

1. Start Small (and this is a biggie!)Small Steps Lead to Big Changes

Set yourself up for success by taking small steps. If heading to the gym for an hour is daunting, set your mind to popping in for just 10 or 15 minutes. Give yourself permission to attend a 30, not 60 minute class. Or grab a mat and do just 5 exercises and head back out the door – exercise done for day one.  Allow yourself to get on cardio equipment for just 10 minutes, or until you sweat, or for just two rounds of commercials as you watch the built-in tv. The point is to aim for a 2 or 3 on the commitment scale, instead of a 9 or 10. If you hit that 2 or anything higher, you have notched a positive result. If you think you have to go full out or forget it, then anything less than a 9 or 10 equates mentally with failure. Who likes that? Not I, said the little red hen. The famous Fun and Fit advice? What is the LEAST you are willing to do at your YMCA? Aim low and get ‘er done. (Click this link THEN COME BACK TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST for more about how and why to establish the least possible: How to Start an Exercise Program? Do the Least Possible)

2. Schedule Your Workouts

Not creative; not new; not patented, copyrighted, nor trademarked by us. But effective. Whatever calendar system you use — online, an app, paper and pen, a wall calendar you got free from that new business down the street — schedule gym time. In ink. With a nice check-off box next to it. It’s a visual promise to yourself you are less likely to break.  Oh, and don’t go all crazy and overschedule yourself. See Tip One.

3. Post Reminders

Whatever system annoys, reminds, or motivates you best, employ it. Set notifications on your smart phone. Post sticky notes on the wheel of your car. Leave reminders where you’ll see or hear them. Have a family member call you. Nag, nag, nag.

4. Set Out Your Workout Clothes

Get your gear into gear. If your gym bag is packed and set where you have to trip over it to get out the door, you are more likely to make it to the club. Or keep an outfit in the car. Perhaps lay out your workout clothes so you are ready to put them on first thing in the morning. Personally I find a new outfit really motivating. Nothing like wanting to break in a new top to get me to group fitness class!

5. Tell a Friend

We break promises to ourselves all the time. Those are usually called New Year’s Resolutions. All year. But will you break a promise to a friend? Even if your friend is not going to meet you at the club, she has now heard your promise and can help hold you accountable. Call, email, text – whatever it takes, commit to another person.

6. Reward Yourself

Positive reinforcement is a powerful force all right, so harness that. Made it to the gym for half a class? Buy yourself that new pair of leggings. Worked out three days in a week? Bust out the bottle of bubbly you’ve been saving for a special occasion. Whatever makes you happy, use that as a reward. Acknowledge your successes. For example, if you enjoy reading blogs in the morning, tell yourself that you will read just one (ours!) before exercising, but will relish and revel in reading 3 more as soon as you get back from the Y.

7what exercisers know image. Learn How Your Mind Works to Form Good Habits

Read our other posts on the subject to clarify the values, motives, and internal rewards that drive you to exercise.

What Do Exercisers Know that Non-Exercisers Don’t

Replace Health Cares with Healthy Habits

4 Stages to Healthier Habits

Nothing like a Master’s Degree in Counseling for Alexandra to share great suggestions on forming good habits! Establishing a successful routine is under your control when you are armed with good info. And these links will take you to good info. The tips above will take you to the gym! More literally, you and your car will take you there.  Vroom, vroom. Off you go!

TransformAging webinarPS Since we’re talking about setting your calendar, mark yours now for June 3-4. Attend our free webinar series, TransformAging. To get details and transform to a more active you, subscribe now if you are not a current subscriber.

By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA



Do (Sexy) Exercise Clothes Motivate Your Workout?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams. MA

She's too sexy for her shirt. Seriously, where's her workout top?

She’s too sexy for her shirt. Seriously, where’s her workout top?

Are your exercise habits influenced by your workout wear? For instance, if you don sexy gym gear do you work out longer and harder? Or are you a midlife woman for whom the words “sexy” and “workout wear” belong in different sentences, as you prefer something “sensible and supportive?”

Alexandra: I believe hottie workout clothes can motivate you, especially if they are on someone else! Personally, whenever I wear sexy workout clothes, I only find that people ask me, “Whose clothes did you borrow?” Actually, if I wore hottie hot pants, I might work out with a bit more effort as a means to get my parts tucked back up. Mostly my extra bakery bits (muffins, bread basket, biscuits) fall out of racy clothes and therefore kill any description that starts with “sexy.” And how about those “lift and separate” sport tops that provide cleavage where tumbleweeds formerly blew? I’m not sure how sexy I look giving myself a black eye with every bounce! Although (true story) I have found that extra cleavage to be a good place to stash the microphone when no mic belt is available.

menopause abs

She’s Got the Look, Got the Look, the Look of … What song boomers?

Kymberly: Being active is all about taking care of yourself and feeling good about your body. If wearing certain clothes helps motivate you, then wear them by all means. The idea behind tight fitting workout wear is that you want to be able to check your form and alignment during exercise. Or maybe it is so others can check out your form. Hmmm something to ponder. My take on this: wear what makes you happy and motivated to exercise. And comfy.  And not too smelly. That hides your belly. (I might have added that last part for anyone suffering from menopot, not naming any names – Oh, myself!)

I'm too sexy for my clothes! So you just see my feet.

I’m too sexy for my clothes! So you just see my feet.

Alexandra: When I was in graduate school, we learned that the answer to almost every question is “It depends.” It depends on how you define “sexy.” Do you mean curve-hugging in an alluring way or do you mean something overly tight that makes you look like you’ve got piglets fighting under blankets? Do people look, er, well, askance at you? Do you spend more time tucking yourself back in than you do actually exercising? It depends on your goal. Are you wearing the clothes to motivate yourself or draw attention? If it’s to motivate yourself, you should wear exactly what you want (that follows local laws). It it’s to draw attention, then what kind? Admiring? Horror-stricken? “I couldn’t help noticing you noticing me” attention?

Ultimately I only wear sexy exercise clothes when working out as an excuse to stalk some poor unsuspecting (yet good-looking) soul. In which case, paisley is involved.

Kymberly: Our best advice? Wear what you can move in comfortably, effectively and without embarrassing yourself.  If that criteria is still too much of a challenge, go with our bottom line, minimum standards advice: “Aw heck, this is clean and sorta fits.”

Befpre I put on these pants, I couldn't do the splits... in public.

Before I put on these pants, I couldn’t do the splits… in public.

Travel and fashion note: I, Kymberly am headed to Nepal next week with my mom and daughter.  Thanks to Lorna Jane Activewear and Ahnu shoes, we will be outfitted in great style and comfort. Be ready for lots of pictures of our adventures and the gear that gets us where we want to go looking good and moving well. This post was not sponsored, so we have nothing to disclothes. (ahah aha ah Get it?) 



5 Tips for Working Out When You Don’t Want To

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Baby, it's cold outside.

Baby, it’s cold outside.

It’s December. You’re busy. You’re tired. You’re stressed. It’s cold outside. And the kids are on school break. There just doesn’t seem to be any time in the day for exercise.

Sound familiar? Who are those people who seem to keep going during the busy season? What’s their secret? And can we copy it without too much trouble?

Of course we can!!


1. THOSE people don’t have a secret; they have a habit. Just as you automatically brush your teeth and put on deodorant (we hope) each day, so can you do at least 5-10 minutes of exercise. It’s how you think about it. If you see it as a luxury, or extra, then it will get cut as your day fills up with stress and chores. If you think of it as part of your non-negotiable personal care regimen, it will stay in the schedule.

Make It Easy

2. Hmmm, the truth is, #1 sort of covers it, but there are ways to get there. Make it easy to do. You don’t have to choose your toothbrush each morning; it’s right there on the sink. Easy peasy. So why spend 5 minutes deciding on an outfit for a quick walk or run (or group fitness class at the gym – our favorite)? Before you go to bed, pull out whatever is on top – socks, shoes, and workout clothes. Put them on top of your toothbrush. That way they’ll be calling to you, “Hey, we are the easiest thing here to put on. Go ahead, get dressed.”

Enlist Help

Call me. Nag me. In a Nice Way. With This Phone.

Call me. Nag me. In a Nice Way. With This Phone.

3. Ask someone who supports you to phone you and remind you to get going. Not a text message – it’s too easy to say yes, then do no via text!! You know what I’m talking about! When you’re held accountable, it’s more likely you’ll follow through.

Donate to What You Hate

4. Put $7 in a jar at the start of the week. As soon as you are done with your workout for the day, take back $1. If you don’t work out, leave that dollar where it is. At the end of the week, any money in the jar goes to a charity you hate. Not one you like – one you hate!! It’s far easier to go for a quick walk around the block then it is to give money to an organization such as the Ku Klux Klan.

Observe Your Self-Talk

Go For a Quick Run Around the Block

Go For a Quick Run Around the Block

5. Watch the self-talk. Behind the obvious “I’m too busy right now,” is the unconscious belief that goes with it – “I’m being selfish if I leave the kids;” “People will think I’m lazy if I don’t do all the chores;” “I want people to like me, so I have to do all kinds of extra work at the holidays;” “It’s hard (or scary) to make a change” – these are all underlying beliefs that many of us have. If you thought “I don’t care about my health” instead of “I’m too busy,” that would seem weird, right? Sort of dissonant in your mind because of course you care about your health. If you find yourself thinking you’re too busy for even a 5 minute walk (and truthfully, once you actually get out the door, you’ll probably go longer), reword that to thinking you just don’t care about your health and see if you find that acceptable. Chances are you won’t. Self-talk is tricky, but not impossible to change once you realize what’s going on (psssst, self-talk is also a habit, which means it can be changed).

If you want more Healthy Holiday Motivation, click this link to read  five additional tips.

What tips would you add to this list? And of course, once you add your comment, go do a few push-ups!

One Really Hot Holiday Tip – Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

Photo credits: MorgueFile


Exercising with Fibromyalgia

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Hula Hoop Workouts Ahead

Caution: Hula Hoopers at Play

Dear my fave twins: My goal is to get more fit. I want to build muscle and increase flexibility while being careful of my body because I have fibromyalgia. How do I pick which types of exercise will meet my goals, besides just alternating through them all? What that looks like for me right now is a brand-new-to-me yoga-pilates class, low-moderate intensity walks when it’s nice enough to do so, my exercise bike, and then at-home yoga, stretching, small dumbbells, and body weight exercises like crunches. I might want to try hula hooping or other classes at the gym where yoga is.  Kristine from Vancouver, WA

Kymberly: Looking at what research says about exercise and fibromyalgia, we almost couldn’t have put it better than you. Almost… cuz’ we will say it even spiffier and with more chutzpah experience.

Mind/Body Modes Help Alleviate Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Walking on a Garden Path

Take a Meditative Stroll

In short, the variety of exercise modes you are self-selecting is just about spot on for someone with your condition and fitness goals. Pilates and mind-body activities (such as yoga, Tai chi, qigong, and meditation) are particularly good for minimizing fibromyalgia pain. Your moderate intensity walks, hula hooping, and biking will meet your cardio need; the body and free weight workouts will target your muscle strength and endurance; while the stretching and yoga will help your flexibility. You have covered the three key categories for overall fitness with these activities. As long as you include something from each category at least twice a week you are in the effective and safe zone. Sounds like baseball all of a sudden. Yooooouuuuu’re SAFE!

Core Moves Without a Lot of Flexion Beat Out Crunches

Alexandra: I would suggest some other core exercise instead of the crunches. Since you want to be more fit (you didn’t mention wanting a certain “look” to the abs), you will gain more strength with other choices. For example, I refer you to two no-crunch posts we did (with video) that won’t put strain on your neck or head: No Head or Neck Strain I and No Head or Neck Strain II.  Click on both these videos and the links we added for more on the relationship between fibromyalgia, pain reduction, and exercise.

Low to Moderate Intensity is Best

You are smart to take on low to moderate intensity, as the Mayo Clinic has found that “short bouts of physical activity throughout the day may prove beneficial for fibromyalgia sufferers.” So when you are planning your workouts, you might consider sprinkling them throughout the day rather than doing everything at once. I wonder if knitting after some of your harder workouts would be a clever way to minimize any muscle/ ligament/ tendon pain simply by virtue of distracting you? That would be an interesting study, especially as research has already proven that people report lower levels of pain when their minds are elsewhere (I know I fantasized about killing my husband when I was in labor, heh heh heh).

Fitness Classes May Help More than Home Workouts

yoga pose at the beach

Yoga, then arm raises, then swimming. Alternate your workouts.

Kymberly: Fibromyalgia exercisers do well to achieve an intensity level where they are short of breath while still able to speak in short phrases. As for whether you should alternate between the types of workouts you mention, we say “absolutely!” If you are someone who likes variety, then you have the right mix for you. If you try a new activity such as hula hooping (is that even a verb? OK, let’s make it so) and you start to feel pain or fatigue related to your fibromyalgia, check with your medical pro, take a break from that mode, and go back to what did work for you. Your idea to attend classes is also particularly good as a limited study on the effects of Pilates on fibromyalgia suggested that exercise participants might adhere to their program under instructor supervision better than those working out at home. Group classes rule!

Alexandra and Kymberly take HIIT at FitSocial with Chris Freytag

Exercising with Fibro-My-Sistuh

Lastly, our all time favorite advice when it comes to what kind of exercise is best–whether directed to someone with fibromyalgia or not–is to do the types of workouts you will actually do. The more kinds you like, the better!

Pedestrian and Garden Path Photos courtesy of MorgueFile.com. 

Other photos courtesy of Kymberly

Got an event that could use a double bill presentation of movement and great fitness info?

A) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

B) Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.

C) Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.


Why Do You Exercise? Is Looking Good Enough?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

FitBlogLA name tag

This personalized Meet and Tweet Greet was Sweet!

“The ultimate goal of working out is to be happy and healthy.” So opened fitness celebrity, Tony Horton of P90X fame at the FitBlogLA Meet and Tweet event I just attended courtesy of Fitness Magazine.

When Tony followed up that comment by reminding us that “one size exercise program does not fit all,” I started to trust his message a bit more. Known worldwide for his high intensity, high impact, high energy exercise programs, Tony was the last person I expected to advocate for moderation, caution, and mental flexibility. Yet here he was spreading the word that “our goal as fitness professionals and (healthy living) bloggers is to get more people into the movement game” while getting our ego out. He admitted up front that his program, or ANY high intensity workout is right for some, but not all. As baby boomers, we might want to go all out, but if our joints don’t agree, then we’re wise to modify. I, for one, am neither happy nor healthy when I push too hard and increase my knee pain. Sure, I love the benefits intense workouts offer, but not if I suffer long term.

Stick with me as I share a few more quotes and key comments from Tony’s talk on “The New Way to Work Out” that may elevate your happiness and healthiness levels! (For more on the effect your reasons for working out matter so much, also read our post Why You Want to Lose Weight Affects Your Success.

Why Do You Work Out?

Kymberly at FitBlogLA pool

Being strong enough to wear new outfits makes me happy!

What gets you into the movement game? Why do you exercise? If you are like most people I have taught and met in fitness classes over the last 34 years on 4 continents and online, you work out to … wait for it … wait for it… look better. You may also want to feel better, to live longer, to think more cogently — or reap a zillion other benefits that movement offers. But looking better continues to pop up as reason numero uno. If we ask ourselves why we want to look better, what lies beyond? To do what? To be what? To get what? I think Tony nailed it that we really seek a level of happiness. Oh Yes, I firmly believe active people are happier people.

What Scary Activity Will You Try?

Snowboarding in Lake tahoe

Not Yet Going Scary Fast

“Do scary things that won’t kill you,” challenged Tony, himself a baby boomer. What physical activity have you thought about doing that scares you a bit? For me, it was learning to snowboard. Going downhill fast still scares me. Doing plyo jump squats scares my knee into “cap” – tivity. Get it? Ha ah aha My sense of humor scares others, but not me.

Do You Prioritize Skill Over Number, Amount, Duration, Speed, Flash and Flair?

“Focus on getting better as opposed to going through the motions.” Tony’s emphasis on form and technique over pushing hard and damn the torpedoes was a welcome message I hope you take to heart. And to the gym. Doing more bad reps does not give you better results. Better form gets you to your happy place. In fact, your body will change when you focus on skill. Well, your body will change regardless (thanks again menopause!), but we’re talking changing for the better with mindful movement.

Remember the mantra from our post, Reducing Obesity — What Does and Doesn’t Work: Move More: Sit Less and you will be on your way to more happiness. Don’t Worry; Be Happy (Thanks Bobby McFerrin for getting that tune stuck in our heads).  Feel free to leave answers to the questions in our post down in the comment section.

Got an event that could use a twin pack of movement and great fitness info?

A) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

B) Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.

C) Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.



What’s the Best Morning Workout?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Lake los Carneros view early morningKymberly: This morning Alexandra and I got our baby boomer booties up and out early to power walk with our dogs. What motivated us? Three things: we wanted to beat the heat; Alexandra had a class to teach after which she was heading to LA for the day; and we wanted to mull over a question we get asked by our group fitness participants:

“What is the best morning workout?”

(In a peek behind the scenes of fitness questions that come our way, we also get asked about exercises to prevent droopy boobs. Yes, it was worded just like that. We loved that question too).

Back to the best movement routine to start your day — Any guesses? Bueller? Bueller?  For a million or few calories, the answer is … the one, or two, or however many you will actually do. All the studies and recommendations in the world won’t matter unless you actually get up and giddy up. In the real world (the one where Alexandra and I often reside), people will stick with what they enjoy. And they will run down faster than black mascara after a sweat fest from un-fun activities.

Still, some suggestions are in order. But first, let’s address the implied assumption in this question:

Is Morning the Best TIME to Work Out?

Interestingly, research is all over the place when it comes to determining a “best” time to exercise. One study found that physical activity performance was generally improved in the afternoon or evening, compared with morning. Another study  suggests that exercisers best combat weight gain from high calorie, fat rich diets if they work out before eating, specifically “before breaking fast.”  Other variants exist, but what does come out clearly is that consistency is key.  Especially for high-intensity exercisers, whatever time you choose to do whatever routine you like to do, try to do it around the same time each day. Got that? Whether morning, noon, or night, you may reach your workout goals best if you stick with your preferred time. Whew!

Alexandra: I like to walk in the morning, before it gets too hot and before the black flies come out (yes, Santa Barbara has flaws). I’ve found that my regular morning routine consists of waking up around 6:30 (which I hate, but I’m a light sleeper), then going through the messages & emails on my phone while lying in bed. So I don’t actually get up until 7:30 or so. What a waste of the morning! So if I prep my clothes the night before, and ask my son to come get me, I know I’ll go. I’m back in the house by 8, happy and full of energy.

What Are Those “Good” Morning Exercises?

Grove at Mesa during mid-morning power walk

Best view of the Mesa grove during morning walk

Kymberly: If your workout time is the morning, can you benefit more from a specific type of exercise? Whether you walk, swim, ride, jog, mosey, lift weights, shuffle, do a yoga pose, or dance routine — you are best served to

  1. be consistent with when you go
  2. choose what you love or at least like
  3. vary your program every so often finding several activities you enjoy
  4. incorporate some cardio, strength, stretch and mind/body moves into each week

The Best List of the Best Posts on Best Exercise Choices

That’s it. Really. Ok, not really since you will find more on the subject of “what’s best” in the following posts, which we suggest you click on. Then lord it over your workout buddies that you know only the best.

For instance, want to know the best cardio workout?  Or which is better–jogging in place or running through space?

How about going outside to find the best exercise surface?  Lastly, is it best to do strength or aerobic training first? So many good, better, best questions.

Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference, or to write your blog posts.  Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Morning, noon or night, it’s never too late to subscribe to our fitness-related YouTube channel. Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

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