After years of just missing each other at various stateside gatherings, I finally met a friend-for-life on the other side of the world. Alexandra Williams is one smart woman and I am better for knowing her and I want you to get to know her too.
Do you know how tolerant and trusting you have to be to travel 6,000+ miles with a plane load of design crazed strangers? Very. Doing it with a sense of humor, kindness and a treasure trove of wisdom earned Alexandra multiple bonus points right off the bat.
She agreed to submit to the random nuttiness that is 5 Questions. The Q’s aren’t about design this time, they focus on her area of expertise, midlife fitness and health. Before we get to her answers, let’s take a moment to get acquainted with her a little better.
The first sign we were destined for a life long friendship? She co-writes a great–I mean GREAT–fitness blog with her twin Kymberly at Fun and Fit, and here is how she introduces herself when her sister isn’t around:
I’m Fun/Fit, she’s And.
In addition to co-manning–co-womaning?–the helm at Fun and Fit, she also teaches at University of California,
Heaven Santa Barbara, is raising two male human beings and truly walks the fitness talk. (You can see her buns of steel below.)
After unfolding ourselves from the airplane seat position, we headed out for a walk in the frozen tundra some people like to call Germany. As we slog-toured through a Euro snowstorm, she tolerated my ridiculousness and the groups companionship on foreign land–foreign to me, anyway.
It wasn’t Alexandra’s first Reitshows der Cowboys. She’s traveled extensively, lived in Europe in her youth, and speaks the lingo just about everywhere she goes.
As we walked and talked in the early morning cold, she gently corrected phonetically butchered interpretations of German and Dutch signage, while letting my inner 12 year-old have a blast. She is a very generous soul.
I learned a lot from her. For one thing, at the age of 50-something, Alexandra can almost do the splits between two pillars outside the Dom. She is definitely fit, but I think her degree in Medieval Studies really came in handy for that trick. You have to keep a few ancient mathematical equations in your back pocket for when such occasions present themselves.
It’s probably why her pants didn’t rip open.
By the time we made our way from Germany to the Netherlands, I knew I’d made a non-judgmental friend for life. Non-judgemental friends are the best kind. The super fit ones share valuable knowledge without making you feel bad about being…let’s just say, not super fit.
After an amazing lunch at George, WPA in Amsterdam, I asked her to be my baby’s godmother.
My Food Baby.
According to Alexandra, the appearance of said Food Baby may be exaggerated by my mad slouching skills. It’s true. Slouching makes you look fat, even if you aren’t. (I was, but I’m getting better. 20 down, 20 to go.)
Fun and Fit offers great advice for improving your posture. It’s free; take it.
Now that we are all sitting up straighter, I want to give you Alexandra’s answers to the 5 Questions I posed, but in a gross miscalculation of the math, the number seems to be closer to 7.
There are actually 7 Questions.
Maybe the series title needs revamping. Anyway, here we go:
1: Menopause is a bitch. Will you slap her for me?
1A: Seriously, as a fitness expert, what’s surprised you about midlife changes?
I was probably most surprised by two things – one good, one not so good. The good surprise was that I still get attention from men. I thought by now I’d look (and be considered) old and unattractive. As it turns out, one doesn’t magically become unattractive at the age of 50. A smile still works well (and staying healthy and fit). The not so good is how hard I have to work to keep weight off. That is frustrating, and I’m a fitness person. Just think how hard it is for those who don’t do a lot of movement! I am NOT a fan of the slowed down Boomer metabolism.
2: AGREED! Sorry for yelling, but it’s true. You teach, train, travel, speak and write extensively. What advice do you have for those of us who need/want to maintain a high energy level in midlife?
Move more, do some strength training, get at least 6 hours of sleep each night, and increase your flexibility (mental is good, though I refer to muscle flexibility). I’ll bet you were hoping for a magic wand answer, but I do promise that the Fountain of Youth and Energy exists; it’s just encoded as “Activity.”
My mantra, if you want one is this: You don’t exercise when you get energy; you get energy when you exercise. Yeah, kinda lame mantra, but it’s a keeper.
3: Personal research shows it’s really hard to resist the lure of a fresh loaf of bread, while “scientific” research shows carb cravings increase during menopause. You are notorious for both your humor and baking skills, yet you are in impressive shape. This leads one to believe either laughter burns a butt-ton of calories or you have tremendous self-control. Which one is true?
This question inspired me so much that I wrote an entire blog post about it: Should You Burn Your Bread (Not Your Bra) To Lose Belly Fat?
3A: What’s the #1 tip you offer midlife women on using diet to help balance wild hormonal swings, without feeling depraved deprived?
I hate that word – diet. It has “die” in it. So I don’t tend to recommend diets. People restrict their intake, lose weight, get happy, regain the weight, get sad, feel crummy about themselves, start the cycle all over again. I would say that the most effective, habit-forming, successful method of eating is to increase your fruit intake to balance those swings.
During mood swings, we tend to want something with sugar (simple carbohydrates). It’s better for us, and addresses the cravings, if we substitute fruit. Of course, I made that up because I’m not a trained dietitian or nutritionist. But I have had success substituting fruit with vanilla yogurt. And if you HAVE to have some ice cream (or similar high fat food), just eat half of what you’d normally grab. Does that count as 1 or 2 tips?
4: It counts as genius, Alexandra. Besides baking and wrestling California brown bears–I have a rich imagination–what are your hobbies?
I wrestle bears who bake.
Or… I love to walk, read, nag my teen boys, travel, and flirt with Colin Firth. For some reason, he doesn’t answer back. Maybe my computer is broken or is just a one-way mirror.
5: Mr. Firth doesn’t answer me either, so don’t take it personally. Fun and Fit is thriving, with over 6000 page views a month. Rumor has it another segment of the Williams’ brand is about to hit the big time. What can you share about the future of your radio show?
Hahahahaha, from whence didst thou get that number? (EIC Note: Here) I wish we had those numbers. That’s my bra size, not our viewer stats!! Um, okay, in centimeters maybe.
Our radio show “Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers, with Fun And Fit” will be on Voice America beginning Wednesday, March 19 at 8:00 a.m. California time. It will be live, so feel free to heckle us.
Bonus Q: Count me in. I
live love to heckle. If you could train, or train with, anyone (living obviously, I doubt the dead workout), who would you choose and what would you do (or make them do)?
You know, I’m going to be boring and say my 19-year-old son because he doesn’t really like to move, and I want him to have a healthy life and enjoy movement. Besides, it’s a great way to spend some time with him. Let’s just imagine that he’s not available. In that case, I’d want Idris Elba, just so I could pinch his butt and pretend I was correcting his form. Hmm, now that I think of it, I’m sure my son’s not available. Bring it on, Idris!!
Thanks for the great info, Alexandra!
(Editor’s note: According to scientific research (i.e. an informal poll of a midlife group on Facebook), Bring it on, Idris seems to be a familiar refrain among women, so maybe Ms. Williams has a better chance of getting both her son and I moving more…although we’ll keep pulling for a special appearance by Mr. Elba.)
Alexandra is an amazing mom and Santa Barbara is one of my favorite places: It’s mountain and sea paradise, and a great place to raise kids. I should ask if she’ll adopt a
smart grown ass woman.
The physical challenges that pop up in midlife are countered by the wisdom gained over a half century. Wouldn’t it be great to take all your knowledge and put it to good use in a fit frame?
Midlife women are often so busy straddling the line between raising children, taking care of parents and taking care of business we forget to take care of the most important person in our lives.
Show yourself some love.
Join me in adopting Alexandra’s mantra: You don’t exercise when you get energy; you get energy when you exercise.
Let’s agree to move more in midlife and to put our physical and emotional health first. Think less couch potato and more potato sack races.
Visit Fun and Fit for more great tips on making your second act your best one (and learn why those crunches you did in the 80s and 90s were a waste of time). Be sure to sign up for their updates. They are chockfull of inspiration and hilarious observations. Aging is easier when taken with a spoonful of
Do you have questions for Alexandra, or tips on staying young in body and spirit? Please leave them in the comment section below. The best conversation happens when friends share information!
Walking and talking,