I was sitting at my desk the other day, when the lovely Aaron came bursting in waving his phone.
“Look at these photos!”, he exclaimed (Aaron handles the personal training side of the business and has acres of before/after photos of semi-clad women on his phone).
“Blimey, that’s impressive!”, I reply, “In how many weeks?”
“Four”, came the reply.
Before me were two photos of one of his clients, the ‘after’ one showing that she had clearly been working out and abiding by Aaron’s rigid rules. To achieve that amount of re-shaping in just four weeks was brilliant, BUT… and this is my point for today… she was young. Super young. We’re talking 24 years old, baby skin, wide eyes, not a crease, crow’s foot, crack in sight.
We can however gain comfort from the fact that she won’t be like that forever. In ten years or so she’ll have a couple of kids tucked under her belt, a little softness around her middle and upper arms which have a tendency to swing. We burn around 200 calories per day less as we hit the age of 45 – that means we can’t have our cake and eat it. Literally. So, in order to minimise the damage, there’s plenty we can start work on.
Here’s a list of darn good tips to think about (stroke, worship… nay, even dance around) to help keep in shape from mid forties onwards.
- STOP DEPENDING ON CARDIO: By all means do it, for fitness, for wellbeing, for social reasons, whatever but it’s not the be-all and end-all of weight-loss.
- DO SOME STRENGTH AND RESISTANCE WORK: Lift some weights! Strength and resistance training are vital to keep the metabolism revved up (trained muscle will burn more calories for you at rest). As you age your muscle wants to become slack if you don’t give a good prod sometimes. Don’t be afraid of barbells and weights, they’re not just for fitness gurus and models. They’re for the likes of us too. Think more dead-lifts and bench press and less Zumba.
- NO MORE TEMPORARY ‘DIETS’: Don’t eat less, eat smarter. Resist gimmicky low calorie diets which promise the world. You will lose muscle and that’s the stuff you want to hold on to with all your might.
- DON’T DEPEND ON THE SCALES: to watch your progress. Look in the mirror! What could be a better truth than that? Let me roll out another client story: Rebecca trains with us. She had a premature menopause so all sorts of nonsense was going on in her body. Since doing resistance training and find a way of eating that works for her, she is the smallest dress size she has been since her early 20’s (she’s 49) but has put on 4kg in the last year. That’s her muscle getting denser (not bigger, just denser… which means it will be working hard to burn off calories). She has the appetite of an ox.
- EAT MORE PROTEIN. EAT MUCH LESS SUGAR: I must have said that about a hundred times this year already. On our weight loss programmes, some of the older participants not only lose inches but they also lose some some of the symptoms associated with that dark tunnel soon to be upon us… (oh c’mon, do I have to spell it out?)
- EAT LOTS OF GOOD FATS: (and some saturated fat too) Start taking an omega-3 supplement right now (as well as eating lots of oily fish and nuts). Omega 3 oil improves the flow of blood to the muscles during exercise and helps to stimulate enzymes which aid in the breakdown of fat. It also helps sweep away blood sugar, thereby keeping insulin levels low. And we all know what Insulin does… yep. It herds fat into the fat cells from whence it will never escape. Unless set free by a lovely sensible eating plan with no sugar. (keep your eyes open in September 2015… there’s something good coming).
- EASY ON THE STRESS LEVELS: I know, I know… easy to say if you have a busy job and young children, dogs to walk, husbands to talk to, teenagers to fight with but too much processed food (sugar, additives and other pronounceable ingredients) and too little sleep are a sure fire way to raise cortisol levels in the body. This hormone is one to keep an eye on. Cortisol raises fat storage, especially around the middle.
- KEEP OESTROGEN LEVELS TOPPED UP: As we age, oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone levels fall. This results in slackness of muscle (shall I hark back to the resistance training thing again?…) and sometimes a drop in bone density, never mind lack of sleep, irritability leading to more stress… and so the cycle starts again. Take Red Clover supplements and fill your diet with phyto-oestrogens, found in lentils, mung beans and other pulses which will help keep oestrogen levels high. (If you have a history of breast cancer, please seek advice before imbibing though).
So, keep those 8 points in mind and start work now to make the 40’s and 50’s as fun as the 30’s. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be releasing some fabulous and very short ‘Strength and resistance holiday workouts ‘… what a mouthful! They’ll be the kind of stuff you can knock out in 10-15 minutes with your daughter in the villa / campsite / park / back garden / apartment, wherever. They’re meant to be fun and a bit of a frolic and are a fantastic signal to your body to ‘eat fat, not muscle’. No equipment required other than a phone or iPad… and a secret willingness to beat your daughter, hands down.
Thank you for reading and have a great evening. Annie x