Fitness Fan Forever

Did my love for physical fitness begin in elementary school, when PE class consisted of doing toe touches and push-ups to the “Chicken Fat” song?  And, of course, climbing up that scratchy rope that was attached to the gym’s ceiling (what the heck was that all about??) 

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Nah.  

How about in middle school, when we were introduced to swim class, rubber swim caps that left dents in our foreheads and stretched out swimsuits that had been worn by God knows how many others?

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Nah. 

Could I have fallen in love with physical fitness in High School, where I was always one of the last ones chosen for floor hockey games, and actually fractured my thumb after hitting a wall during relay races? 

And again, Nah.

No, I became a fitness fanatic at the age of 19, when I decided my knees were too chubby. For some reason, (too many French fries?) my clothing size had increased to double digits. I took drastic action:

  • I would walk for miles or ride my bike for hours. (A bit extreme, right? Hey, I was young).
  • I would attempt a hundred sit-ups a day (not known as crunches back then).
  • I (foolishly) over exercised, believing that if some exercise was good for you, excessive workouts would be even better. 

Then came the eighties, with its high impact aerobics and Richard Simmons dancing and sweating (not attractive, Richard) to the oldies. And of course, Jane Fonda, looking good in her tights and leotards, cheerfully leading us flabby people in those complicated steps and grapevines (bulimic, but who knew?). Unfortunately, my left foot never figured out what my right foot was doing. Bummer.

Somewhere along the way, I learned to love to sweat. I also figured out that I didn’t have to overdo it and exercise every stinkin’ day to get its benefits. 

Exercise is a great way to laugh in the face of aging. I love it because it makes me feel like I can kick ass, even at age 58.  I hope to be able to exercise until just before I kick the bucket. 

Benefits of Exercise:

Studies Show Exercise Can Improve Your Sex Life

The Hidden Benefits of Exercise

Resistance Training Health Benefits

It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor. (Marcus Tullius Cicero)

 

Got 10 Minutes or More? Take a (brisk) Walk for your Good Health

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 38– 3/30/15

 

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Did you know that April , 2015 is the 9th annual National Walking Day? This awareness day is an initiative from the American Heart Association

Walking is a great exercise to start in the springtime. The air is fresh and clean, tulips and daffodils peek out from neighborhood lawns, dog and Canadian geese poop are no longer hidden by the snow. . . (Yikes!  Sorry, that’s one of the not so nice things about walking in the early spring – just watch where yer walkin’) 

According to physician Joan Dorn, who’s the Chief of the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) physical activity and health branch, walking is one of the best ways to add physical activity to your life. * And Bea thinks so too!  

What can walking do for you?  Take a look at these benefits:

  • Brisk walking (3-4 miles per hour) for an hour every day can cut a high-risk adult’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 60%.
  • Brisk walking can improve your heart health.  Walking 30 – 60 minutes a day, for five days a week, can cut your risk of heart disease by 40%.** It can also help protect you from high blood pressure and strokes. 
  • Walking can boost mood, decrease disability rates for seniors, reduce high blood pressure, relieve osteoporosis and arthritis and back pain.
  • Walking regularly can help protect your brain, staving off memory loss.
  • Walking helps you keep fit and burn fat – but remember to challenge yourself; the same routine day in and day out will eventually cause weight loss to plateau. You need to increase intensity and shake up your routine. 

Walking is also one of the easiest exercise programs to start.  Why?  Well, walking is inexpensive; all you need is a good pair of walking shoes.  It doesn’t cause grief to your knees or feet.  In good weather, you can walk outside and get fresh air and sunshine at the same time.  When it’s raining or snowing, try power walking DVDs (Leslie Sansone, a popular fitness expert, has a wide variety of DVDs, check her out on Amazon.)

Move it or lose it, that’s my theory.  We have two legs and one posterior.  If we were meant to sit all the time, we’d have two butts and one leg! Now how weird would that be?

What if you can’t walk? Chair Exercises and Limited Mobility Fitness 

Sources:

*USA Weekend, Sep 21-23, 2012. The Power of Walking (Kelly Bothum)

 **Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  Walking is Good for your Heart.

 

 

Short Term Benefits of Aerobic Exercise

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 13 – 2/2/15

Short term benefits of aerobic exercise:

  • Aerobic exercise boosts our aging metabolism. Once we hit our thirties, ladies, our metabolism starts to slow down by 2 to 5 percent each decade.* This sucks, right?  It’s bad enough that a man’s metabolism is faster than ours, because they have more muscle than we do.  How to fight back?  Do aerobic exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes every stinking day.  Your metabolism will be pleased.
  • Aerobic exercise helps energize us.  Feeling sleepy after lunch?  Dozing at your desk?  Take a brisk walk for 15 minutes (outside, if possible) and you’ll perk up.  In Bea’s opinion, it’s better than a 5-hour energy drink.

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  • Aerobic exercise helps boost our mood.  Bea knows this for a fact – she’s a S.A.D. sufferer, and aerobics in front of her television truly helps her break down the blues.  Those “feel good” endorphins start their happy dance when she exercises.
  • Aerobic exercise helps us sleep better.  Those of us over the big 4-0 know that insomnia tends to creep up on us as we start going through perimenopause. Arrrghhh, those changing hormones!  Aerobic exercise is great for insomnia, as long as it’s not done too close to bedtime (our body temperature needs to cool down to a certain point to fall asleep easily)*
  • Aerobic exercise helps us fight off the flu and colds by boosting our immune system. 
  • Aerobic exercise helps ease menstrual cramps.
  • Aerobic exercise boosts our libido and sexual performance. Is your significant other tired of hearing you have a headache?  Exercise together out of bed and you may just be happier in bed.  You can read more about this lovely benefit in the article, The Top 3 Ways Exercise Boosts your Sex Drive.

 

Source:

* VanTine, Julia, & Doherty, Bridget. Growing Younger – Breakthrough Age-Defying Secrets. Rodale Press.

Why Generation X Women (and Boomers) Should Weight Train

Bea’s Wellness Project – Day 7– 1/19/15

When Bea was 47, her doctor told her she had osteopenia, a pre-cursor to osteoporosis (a not-so-fun inheritance from her mom) and put her on Actonel and calcium supplements. Being the drama queen she is, Bea kept picturing her bones getting weaker and more brittle until they dissolved into dust. The answer to her dilemma was weight training. She figured she’d give it a whirl, and see if what the experts said was true: that we can strengthen our bones by lifting weights. She added weight training to other weight-bearing exercises: brisk walking and jogging.

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Now in her late fifties, she continues this exercise routine, using weights that range from 3 to 10 pounds. She alternates the weight lifting with her favorite aerobic activities: power walking, running, or Tae Bo. Bea no longer has to take Actonel – her bone density tests have shown that her bones are back! Well, they never actually went anywhere – they’re just stronger and denser. How cool is that?

Bea has also been able to maintain a reasonable weight for her age and height; she weighs around 130 and has a 21.6 BMI. Not bad for someone who’ll be 58 years old this year.

What are some of the other ways that our bodies benefit from strength training? 

  • Strength training adds to our muscle mass, which in turn enhances our metabolism.
  • Strength training can help burn fat – studies have shown that training with weights can be great for reducing stomach fat.
  • Strength training makes us stronger, more flexible, and increases our sense of balance.
  • Strength training reduces arthritis and back pain.
  • Strength training helps control blood sugar in people with Type II diabetes.
  • Strength training can help us sleep better.
  • Strength training, along with other kinds of exercise, boosts self-confidence!
  • Strength training can boost our brain function. A recent study at Georgia Tech University found that lifting weights can boost our memory. You can read more about that benefit here.

Keep in mind that you should check with your primary care doctor if you decide to undertake a strength training program. He or she may advise you to limit yourself to certain types of exercise programs, depending on your current physical condition.

For further reading:

You may want to read this article from The Women’s Heart Foundation which talks about techniques and provides a “how-to” for several weight training exercises.

Risks for osteoporosis

What is osteopenia

Ladies, Don’t be Afraid of Weight Training

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Key Strategies for Weight Management

Bea’s Wellness Project – Day 4 – 1/12/2015

The reality of losing weight and keeping it off requires a long-term (okay, a lifetime) commitment.

Bea’s motivation for making this commitment came from watching her mom suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes; then watching her sisters develop these conditions as they aged. These age-related diseases develop from unhealthy eating as well as carrying around too much extra weight.

What’s your motivation?  Do you want to lower your blood pressure or your cholesterol levels? Do you simply want to boost your energy levels or enhance your self-confidence? Are you looking to get a killer body to show your ex- just what he’s missing?

Whatever your motivation, reaching a healthy weight simply makes life more enjoyable, and adds to quality longevity. And once you make that commitment, there are common sense strategies that can help you reach your weight loss goal.

  • The first step is to set your weight loss goal.  A realistic goal is the key.  I’m sure you’ve seen all those pictures in the gossip magazines of celebrities whose bones stick out and whose faces look drawn because they’re simply too skinny.  They’re not doing their overall health any favors, either.  According to the experts, it’s a good idea to base your weight goal based on your body mass index. Bea’s done a Google search: The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has a BMI calculator you can use.  This site also provides some great healthy weight tools.
  • Pick a date to get started and annotate that date on your calendar.  Not picking a date may cause you to continue to put off your weight management plan.  Then do some advance planning: fill your fridge and cupboards with healthy food options, buy some exercise DVDs, sign up for an exercise class, go online to find a support system.
  • Don’t starve yourself: Eating too few calories is counterproductive, because it causes our metabolism to slow down. There are other health risks of eating too few calories, as described here.  The best way to decide how many calories to eat during the day is to consider how active you are in your daily life. The Free Dieting website offers a Calorie Calculator – Daily Calorie Needs.
  • Keep a food journal. We often eat mindlessly, causing us to underestimate what we eat on a daily basis. For at least a week, write down not only what you eat, but also portion sizes. This will help you track the times when you overeat. Being aware of this can help you plan to substitute healthier options at these times. (Don’t forget to count beverages)
  • Eating breakfast is crucial. But not just any breakfast. An all carbohydrate morning meal will cause your energy to lag early in the day, and won’t keep you filled up for long. Instead, include a protein, whole grains, and fruit. For example, try an egg scrambled in canola oil or a whole-wheat bread thin with berries on the side.
  • Fill your lunch and dinner plate with vegetables and fruits. They add anti-oxidants, nutrients and fiber to your meals. You can eat bigger portions of them, since they have fewer calories and fat than meats and processed foods.
  • Speaking of fiber, boost your intake in order to lose weight. Fiber helps block the absorption of calories. Try oatmeal or other high fiber cereal with breakfast, beans for lunch, and whole grains throughout your day. Skip the “white” foods such as white flour, white bread, white rice (all the high glycemic stuff that causes spikes in our blood sugar).
  • Avoid processed foods and cut back on fat intake. Processed foods have too much salt, too much sugar and too many trans-fats. To cut back on fat, choose leaner cuts of meat, low-fat cheese and yogurt, and bake food instead of frying it.
  • Drink up. Cold water, that is. Believe it or not, researchers have found that simply drinking two 8 ounce glasses of cold water can enhance your metabolism by 30%.
  • Don’t forget to sweat. Some health experts argue that cutting calories is more important for weight loss than exercising. Bea would argue that even if it’s easier to eat 100 less calories a day than to burn off those 100 calories, exercise definitely has its place in the weight management game. Exercise helps you burn fat, strengthens those muscles and bones, reduces stress, lower cholesterol, and builds self-confidence.

For additional reading:

Psychology Today talks about Cognitive Therapy for weight loss, and Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Therapy in this article

Different strategies are necessary for losing weight and maintaining weight loss

Don’t go it alone: WebMD talks about the Secret Formula of Weight Loss

Combine diet and exercise for the best weight loss

Behavior Modification Ideas for Weight Management

Visit Bea on Wednesday, January 14th, to find out how often you should weigh yourself and the best day of the week to do so. 

 

 

 

 

Weight Loss: Don’t Fall for the Hype

Bea’s Wellness Project – Day 3 – 1/9/15

c409652_s According to what Bea heard on the local news station recently, losing weight is one of our top resolutions  for a new year.  If this in one of your resolutions for 2015, do yourself a favor:  don’t fall for the hype of fad diets or diet products!  They just don’t work. Whenever you see a hyped-up advertisement for the latest craze (Raspberry ketones, coffee bean extract, cut out all carbs, cut out all fats, and on and on and on . . . ) go to an neutral, non-commercial site and get the facts.   Bea has three rules for losing weight:

  1. Strike the word DIET from your vocabulary, ladies. Ever wonder why the word “die” is included in “diet?” It’s because your body would be happy just to kick the bucket after you starve it by eating too little or worse, attempting a “cleanse” or liquid diet.  Seriously, cleanses can be dangerous.
  2. You have the right (and more importantly, you owe it to yourself and your health) to question celebrity doctors (and other celebrity endorsers) who hype diet products that will absolutely make you lose tons of weight, overnight, no less! One certain doc shall remain nameless (hint: he’s one of Oprah’s good buddies) but he’s been in the news lately for touting misleading and false diet information.
  3. Finally, if  all those diet supplements on store shelves promising weight loss heaven worked, and we spend billions of dollars on them and other diet products annually, why are close to 35 percent of Americans still obese?

But don’t take Bea’s word for it, just ask the experts:

Why do we keep Falling for Fad Diets?

6 Potential Dangers of Juice Cleanses and Liquid Diets

Staying Away From Fad Diets – Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 

Watch for Bea’s January 12th post for common sense weight management ideas.  No hype allowed.

Extra Holiday Poundage? Bah, Humbug!

You’ve probably heard that we Americans gain around 5 to 7 pounds around the holidays. With a pound being equal to 3,500 calories, that’s the equivalent of eating 17,500 and 24,500 extra calories between Turkey Day and Christmas! Seems hard to believe, doesn’t it? Now, I don’t know if people actually gain THAT much (more recent studies suggest that we only gain a pound or two) but if you want to avoid any extra poundage, Bea Boomer has a few suggestions:

  • Do NOT eat cookie dough while making those holiday goodies.
  • DO jog in place while watching “Christmas Vacation” or Bea’s persona favorite, “Elf.” (When Buddy is doing his dance in the mail room, why not join him in your living room?)
  • Do  avoid the four food groups favored by the North Pole elves: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.

Looking for more practical options?

  • Sign up at a fitness center. There’s a Planet Fitness on many a corner, and it’s cheap! Then actually get up off the couch, go to the gym and work out.
  • Can’t afford a gym due to crazy holiday spending? When it’s mild out, take the dog for a walk or go for a jog with a friend. Do cardio workouts in front of your television; there are plenty of fitness DVDs available at Amazon.com. Do some strength training to speed up your metabolism.
  • Fill your fridge with healthy fruits and veggies, cut up and ready to eat.  Add more fiber to your diet by eating whole wheat cereals or oatmeal.  Switch from white bread to whole wheat. Ditto with pastas.
  • Drink lots of good old water to stay hydrated and ward off hunger pangs. Cold water may boost our metabolism.
  • Avoid drinking your calories: limit your intake of alcoholic drinks, eggnog and soda.
  • Finally, don’t go to a holiday party hungry. Eat a healthy breakfast and lunch to avoid eating too many of those yummy goodies at the Christmas buffet.

Here’s the bottom line: If you want to avoid looking like Santa Claus, you’ve got to take action! In fact, the Big Guy himself just may want to think about trying some of these tips. Those Christmas cookies he munches on all night are probably a nightmare for those reindeer, on that trip back to the North Pole!

 

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How to Use the Internet to Lose Weight

Want to lose 5, 10, or more pounds?

The internet provides some great online tools to help jumpstart your weight loss program, and many of them are free.

To determine calorie intake needed to lose weight or maintain your weight loss:

Calculator.net provides a simple calculator to determine calorie needs. You simply type in your age, gender, height, current weight and choose your activity level. Other links at this site include a body fat calculator and a BMR (basal metabolic rate) calculator.

To keep a food diary: 

My Food Diary offers a 7-day free trial, then costs $9 a month.  This site features a food diary, exercise diary, and a body log to track your progress (weight and measurements). You’ll also find a blog with weight management related categories such as: exercise, lifestyle, nutrition, recipes, etc.

Nutrimirror.com: Free to join. You can keep online logs of food intake and exercise. Downloadable resources include printable food logs, printable nutrition facts and others. Also includes BMI and other calculators. Offers an online tutorial to get you started with the site’s features. Provides personalized reports and statistics to track your progress.

Support groups and weight management programs:

  1. Calorie Count:  Free. Get weight management support from a 5 million member community. Provides calorie counts for foods, phone apps, healthy recipes, a blog that provides tips and success stories. You can also get weight management advice from a team of experts. This site even has a self-directed exercise plan with “how-to” directions for individual exercises.
  2. Weight Loss Buddy: Free. With this site, you find a buddy by filling out a short profile and browsing the buddy results. You can also join a team, ask diet advice from the panel of experts, and your own diet page with plenty of weight loss tools.

These are just a couple of options.  Others include SparkPeople, ExtraPounds, and the oldie but still dependable, Weight Watchers ($)

Blogs for fun and motivation – For Weight Loss and Fitness:

Three Fat Chicks

Roni’s Weigh

Cranky Fitness

Carrots and Cake

Looking for healthy recipes? 

Fruits & Veggies: More Matters

My Recipes

Mayo Clinic Weight Management

How about some healthy snacks?

19 Healthy Snack Ideas

Healthy Snacks from AllRecipes.com