Hitting your 40’s is no reason to give up an active lifestyle.
This transitional age is when the body’s ability to convert food into energy slows down significantly. Having a sedentary lifestyle coupled with poor nutrition will aggravate that process, making it even more important to shape healthy habits around your changing body.
(image: Eat This)
Lena Headey and Sofia Vergara are testament that age is just a number. Headey currently plays Cersei Lannister, one of the most conflicting characters in Game of Thrones. She also played a number of film roles including Queen Gorgo, the Spartan queen in the two 300 movies. Meanwhile, Vergara is known as Gloria Pritchett in Modern Family. Although, her first TV appearance was in a Pepsi commercial when she was 17.
The two TV stars are well over 40 but it seems neither have passed their prime thanks to a combination of a balanced diet and exercise. Here are five secrets to staying young and healthy from these leading ladies.
Endurance exercises are optional
Like many other women, Sofia Vergara is not a big fan of cardio. Her trainer revealed to Marie Claire that walking at a high incline on the treadmill or spinning for a few minutes is how she primes her muscles. The truth is endurance exercises, such as running, are just an option for fat loss but not a necessity. The body can adapt to repetitive stresses caused by endurance exercises, and reduces the ability to burn fat the more you get used to it. You may be able to run longer, but that doesn’t mean you can go at a faster pace while muscles get more defined the heavier you lift. If burning fat and getting stronger are your goals, you don’t always have to spend torturous hours hitting the treadmill or the pavement.
Drop the barbie weights
Many women at any age fear the weights room because they don’t want to get too bulky. But Headey and Vergara know that lifting heavy weights is one of the most effective ways to encourage fat loss and build strength. Fit Women Over 40 previously mentioned that building strength actually has to do with muscle breakdown. Lifting 10 pounds is perceived by the body as a stressor, which causes microtears in the muscles. After each session, your body goes through a process of recovery and adaptation. Eventually, 10 pounds becomes easier to bear and your muscles grow much stronger to protect your bones.
Shake up your routine
It would be hard to deny that Lena Headey has one of the most impressive physiques seen on screen. In 2014, the star spoke to Coach Magazine about her intense training sessions for 300: Rise of an Empire, which consisted of 300 reps of a variety of exercises that target the whole body. Varying your workouts ensures that you don’t hit a plateau, get too comfortable, bored, or lose motivation.
Her training was vital to living up to the role, as Spartan women are the embodiment of power and strength who are deemed equals by their male Spartan counterparts.
In fact, Spartan strength has long been a central theme in their representation in modern media, and this quality is also showcased in other titles based on the franchise. Foxy Casino’s 300 Shields game draws its narrative from the first movie, and players can relive the action-packed scenes that display visuals of the strength of the famous Greek battalion. This emphasis on peak fitness stems from using early forms of Calisthenics that actually has roots in Grecian concepts and they were largely influenced by Spartan methods, which you can incorporate in your routine. Spartans were already lifting weights, enhancing their core, and developing lower body strength before anyone else even knew how advantageous these methods were.
Needless to say, Headey’s intense workouts paid off, as she succeeded in playing the Spartan queen.
Balance your macros
For decades, carbs and fat have been vilified as the culprits for weight gain. However, in addition to protein, those two macronutrients are essential for a balanced diet. It is better to count your macros than restrict your calories for a sustainable weight loss/muscle building plan, especially since whole food provides a lot of fiber that the body requires more as you age. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and root crops provide carbohydrates; leafy greens, legumes, lean meats, eggs, nuts have plenty of protein; and healthy oils, avocados, seeds, nuts are high in healthy fat. The ideal ratio for sculpting a lean body is 30% carbs, 40% protein, and 30% fat. Both leading ladies abide by healthy diets while also allowing themselves to indulge every once in a while.
Rest when your body calls for it
Vergara told SELF that even though she doesn’t like working out, it is how she takes care of her body especially as she gets older. For many, exercising can be very exciting, especially if you’re seeing the results of your hard work. Like most things though, too much of it is also unhealthy. When you’re trying to build strength, it’s important to allow your body time for recovery so you don’t get injured or burnt out. That being said, don’t rest for too long as consistency is even more important in your 40s.
Defining fitness is not an easy task. Everyone it seems has their own interpretations and definitions. There are lots of lists which promote the best habits of those who are already fit. Basic ideas such as “eat breakfast and or make sleep a priority” are not on this list because I wanted to move past the basics.
We are a holistic ecosystem, so the focus here is on women becoming strong in body, mind and beliefs.
1. Embrace Strength Training.
Being strong is essential for Women Over 40. Your muscles naturally grow in strength and mass until you reach 30. However, once you’re in your 30s you begin to experience sarcopenia, the natural loss of muscle mass and function.
Each decade after that if you are inactive you may lose as much as 5 percent of mass. This loss may speed up as you reach 65. In a large study, researchers discovered those who incorporated strength training experienced a 23 percent reduction in all-cause mortality.
Strength training benefits your cardiovascular system, reduces your risk of osteoporosis, improves your mood and self-perception and helps control your blood sugar. Lifting weights has been shown to lower blood pressure and increase bone density.
Strength training also stabilizes your core muscles around your abdomen and back, that provide balance and stability to your hips, abdomen and lower back. This helps prevent injury and reduces your risk of falls while improving your overall balance.
Perhaps most importantly becoming strong increases your mental and emotional well being. Women who strength train don’t all have to become bodybuilders or powerlifters. You can reduce your risk of depression, elevate your mood and self-esteem and enjoy an improved body image all from having toned muscles. Simply becoming more physically strong can be an amazing boost to your self confidence.
2. Do not believe the myth that women will get bulky if they lift heavy things.
It’s just not true. Women bodybuilders work, eat and train for years to look like they do. The truth is lifting heavy weights will make you stronger not necessarily bigger.
When you strength train, your muscles are broken down, and then rebuilt over the next 24-48 hours. While your body is rebuilding those muscles, it’s recruiting more calories and energy to make the process happen (generally referred to as the ‘afterburn’ or “burn the fat” effect). What this means is that your metabolism operates at a faster level even while you’re sitting on the couch after a workout.
If you are looking to lose weight, strength training will produce a more efficient weight loss effect than an equal amount of cardio.
3.Don’t rely on cardio.
If you are looking to lose weight, strength training will produce a more efficient weight loss effect than an equal amount of cardio. There’s no reason you cannot be incredibly healthy and look amazing, even if you never run another mile in your entire life.
Despite what you might think, and what you might see in a gym, you will never need to step foot on another cardio machine again. If the thought of running on a treadmill for four hours sounds miserable to you, don’t do it. Again listen to your body, if running makes you feel great then go do it, but if you slog thru a spin session just to get it done then reevaluate what you are doing and why.
4.Stop obsessing over the number on your scale.
Instead celebrate the inches lost and strength gained. Refocus your health goals toward zeroing in on your fitness and not just weight. Body weight is a combination of several factors: water, muscle, and fat. It can be deeply frustrating to rely on a traditional scale to detect fat loss.
Most scales just measure overall body weight without pinpointing whether you’re losing water, muscle, or fat. It’s becoming common knowledge that the number you see on the scale isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to health. “One pound of muscle and one pound of fat may weigh the same, but they look and function entirely different in the body. Unfortunately, the scale cannot tell the difference.”says Chelsea Axe, C.S.C.S., D.C., fitness expert for Dr. Axe.
5.Eat Real Food. Eat for your body type.
Your body is unique. There’s no such thing as a one-size fits all eating plan. Wellness means prioritizing a healthier diet based on your unique biology. There are tests available which look at how efficiently your body processes carbs, fats, and proteins. Analyzing your DNA for certain biomarkers could give you valuable information on your own particular metabolic processes. Buy Organic. Avoiding pesticides is the No. 1 reason people buy organic.
6. Listen to your body.
There is no “one master plan fits all” approach that will work for everyone. Don’t fall for the next new fitness craze geared towards women. Do you want to make fat disappear faster? Eat better. Your diet is responsible for 80-90% of that fat loss. Strength train not with targeted spot exercises, but with big compound movements that use your entire body.
7. Ask for help.
Join a fitness group or get a workout partner. No one will push you into discomfort better then a workout buddy, coach or trainer. Being active is a lifestyle change. Be consistent. Show up everyday. It usually takes 21 days to change a habit. Find ways to be accountable to a workout buddy. Join our private Facebook group to become part of the Fit Women Over 40 online tribe.
I have found that 80% of the battle is being self motivated and disciplined. So work out with a team, then you’ll have a good reason to show up everyday. I love the support and camaraderie of having women to compete against at my training sessions. They have become my motivation. Success in any endeavor is small constant steps over time equals results. Fitness is no different then sticking to a savings plan. Over time the benefits add up once your habits become grooves in your track.
8. Fitness is a lifestyle choice so Have Fun.
Strength training can be done outside of the gym and be incorporated into your everyday life. Do bodyweight exercises, yoga or just pick up some heavy things. Try swinging some kettlebells, using a climbing wall, or simply taking the stairs more will make you use your muscles in different ways that can have the same benefits without the need for rushing to the gym all the time.
9. Track your Progress.
“Progress is very motivating. Lack of it is not.” says Open Ocean Rower Roz Savage. Start keeping a workout journal. The results you will be able to see can give you tremendous satisfaction. Data is a powerful motivator, showing you not just the pounds lost, but the increase in weights you can lift and the decrease in time it takes you. A sense of accomplishment can NOT be underestimated.
10. Embrace Discomfort. Learn to get outside of your comfort zone.
Becoming fit isn’t easy. It’s probably safe to say that most people just want to be comfortable, be it physical, psychological, or emotional comfort.
To make significant changes happen, “You must do the thing which you think you cannot do”, as Eleanor Roosevelt once famously said. Be unstoppable. Always keep moving. Practice Gratitude. Work out with laughter when necessary. Even when it’s tough, stay committed. Keep on your program.
This is a way of life, not a temporary fitness regime.
If you want to lose weight, stop doing your 5 mile runs or your hour-long treadmill sessions and replace them with high-intensity interval training or Cross Fit training instead.
One of the reasons why people continue to struggle with their weight despite engaging in regular exercise is because they’re not doing the right kind of exercise! Studies have confirmed that exercising in shorter bursts with rest periods in between burns more fat than exercising continuously for an entire session.
By doing Cross Fit or another high intensity workout, such as TRX Training, you can cut the duration of your exercise session in half and still burn fat! One study showed you can burn more fat exercising for 20 minutes than for 40 minutes. In the study, women either exercised for 20 minutes, alternating 8 seconds of sprinting on a bike with 12 seconds of exercising lightly, or exercised at a regular pace for 40 minutes. After exercising three times a week for 15 weeks, those who did the 20-minute, alternating routine lost three times as much fat as the other women.
This type of exercise works because it produces high levels of chemical compounds called catecholamines, the so called “fight-or-flight” hormones, which allow more fat to be burned from under your skin and within your muscles. The resulting increase in fat oxidation is thought to drive the increased weight loss.
High Intensity Exercise Increases Growth Hormone Production
The higher your levels of Human growth hormone (HGH), also called “the fitness hormone”, the healthier and stronger you will be. After age 30, your levels of human HGH begin to drop off quite dramatically, this is called “somatopause and leads to the dreaded “middle age spread”. Maintaining your HGH levels is increasingly important as you age. You will experience vibrant health and strength the longer you can keep your body producing higher levels of HGH.
You must engage your super fast muscle fibers in order to naturally increase your body’s production of HGH. Regular aerobic cardio such as running only works your slow muscle fibers, and can impede natural HGH production by causing your super fast fibers to atrophy from lack of use. Only high-intensity power burst cardio training, such as Cross Fit exercises, TRX Training or others, will engage your super fast fibers and promote HGH production.
The Benefits of Strength Training
Women tend to avoid exercises that will increase muscle mass, but carrying more muscle has many health benefits, including:
• Improved blood circulation
• Increased metabolism
• Increased bone density
• Increased energy
• Decreased body fat
• Improved posture
• Increased range of motion
• Increased body functions
Strength training is recommended for women of all ages, including seniors. Retaining your skeletal muscles is one of the most critical elements of human fitness to keep you strong, functional and healthy. Your muscles also help regulate glucose and lipid metabolism and insulin sensitivity, which protect you against obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Cross Fit and high-intensity interval training which have intense speed and power exercises trigger a mechanism in your muscles that actually promotes muscle growth.
TRX Suspension Training – Total Body Workout
Exercise Slows Down Your Aging
Exercise also has other anti-aging benefits such as it can prevent or delay the onset of heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and osteoporosis, which are all common ailments associated with advancing age.
Also, if you can control the aging process inside your cells, as one anti-aging theory suggests, you should be able to control your rate of aging. Telomeres are part of your chromosomes which are inside each of your body’s cells. When your cells divide, these telomeres shorten and when they get to a certain level you will die of old age.
Exercise can not affect the telomere shortening process, but it can be accelerated by an unhealthy lifestyle. Exercise plays an important part in the prevention of aging. So, lack of exercise, obesity, stress, and smoking, all cause production of free radicals that speed up cells splitting and the telomere shortening process.
Need more ideas for Cooking Healthy Meals, then check out: The Healthy Urban Kitchen Cookbook The Healthy Urban Kitchen is a simple, step by step system for shopping, cooking and eating the world’s healthiest foods. It was created for busy people who want to improve health, have more energy, and prevent disease.
How many times have you said, “My life will be better if…?” My life will be better IF I had more time to workout, or IF I could lose 40 pounds, or IF I could stop feeling tired all the time or IF I could get motivated to start working out again. What is your IF?
Whatever your IF is,
Your life will be better if…you take action in creating your own story.
Here, in the Northern Hemisphere, daylight is fading into the darkest time of year called the Winter Solstice. It is a time of less activity and hibernation but also one of review and renewal.
Our ancestors sat around their campfires and hearths during this time of year and made sense out of the past by telling stories. They shaped and crafted their adventures, and their successes and failures into meaningful tales. They sought to understand and then transform what had happened to them. As they shared their stories, many rewrote and reshaped what they wanted to change.
The New Moon will arrive on Nov 29th. New moons bring in more introspective, solitude and a deep desire to seek out quiet places in nature. They are also the time to plant the seeds of change within YOU. Who are you now at this point in your life and what can you become?
This new moon brings in the opportunity to craft, reshape and then give Voice to the story YOU want to tell to the world. We are the authors, the designers of the stories of our lives.
How can you reshape and rethink YOUR own story?
Take the time to reflect how you want the story of your life to look. Then ask yourself WHO you must become to create that result. You have a choice. Now is the time to be Bold and find the Courage to be who you want to become.
5 actions you can take right now to Design Your Own Story:
1. Start where you are. Everyone has a story and we all are in this together. The world needs more role models and more women who are ready to take charge or their lives and their health. Go to the FitWomenOver40 FB page if you need some inspiration or role models. The one thing I know for sure is that I only have control over ME. And so do you. Start with you. Do it now.
2. Tell someone about it. I want you to tell someone in your real life what idea or goal is that you’ve been procrastinating about, or have a fear about or just simply want to DO. You can tell somebody in your real life but also want to encourage you to come over to our new Fit Women Over 40 Private Facebook group, and introduce yourself (use the hashtag #introduction) and tell us who you are and what you want. Tell us what is the one thing you’re going to do in the next week or month or 3 months or year.
3. Which leads to: What is your One Big Audacious Goal? In the previous step, you told somebody your idea. In this step, you take it even further. Think thru what that really looks like to you. Flesh out the details. Maybe you have to lose 20, 30 40 lbs first, maybe you need to stop eating sugar and junk food and maybe you need support and motivation starting a strength training program. Focus on it. Define it. Shape it, envision it, give it parameters and boundaries. Identify what it’s going to be. Come over to the Fit Women Over 40 Private Facebook group and tell us about your new story. Use the hashtag, #MyOneBigAudaciousGoal.
4. Put a date on it. Tell us when you’re going to do it by and tell that person that you’re telling as well. Tell someone about your goal and put a date on it and then get to work. I want you to come back and report when you’ve done it as well in the Facebook group. Pay particular attention when you’re choosing the thing that you’re going to do. If you’ve been avoiding something difficult and it’s still in your mind, it’s probably a very important issue. It’s probably something that you really should do.
5. Decide that you are good enough. Pay attention particularly to the things that you’ve got a bit of fear about. Stop listening to that little voice in your head that says, “You can’t do this. You’ve tried this before. Who do you think you are? What will my kids, or husband/partner or best friend say? What happens if I fail? How will I be able to make this happen?” All of these little voices made this thing a bigger thing than it needed to be.
Start Today, Start Now.
Let me tell you my story:
I started Fit Women Over 40 back in 2007 because I wanted to read about and be inspired by women over 40 who had muscles and who were using high intensity strength training as their fitness regime. Well as many of you know who have been following our Facebook page for years I managed to find hundreds if not thousands of Fit Women Over 40. Their ages range from almost 40 to 50 to 70 to 90 something. I’ve even had many under 40 out of shape women ask if they could join our “tribe”. Yes of course you can. Our wisdom and experience as “older” women is valued and listened to in so many ways now. I find that women who are doing amazing things love to simply show what they’ve accomplished and I’m proud to have built a special place for them to stand on their own stage and tell show us what they did and how they did it.
Start where you are. Everyone has a story and we all are in this together. The world needs more role models and more women who are ready to take charge or their lives and their health. If that’s one thing I know for sure, is that I only have control over ME. And so do you. Start with you. Do it now.
I really do look forward to seeing new stories we can create as a result of this email. Also, I encourage you to contact me at deb[at]fitwomenover40.com or leave a comment on the article page at or simply come join our FB group and share your story there with us. I look forward to celebrating your stories and your goals and maybe helping out in any way that I can.
Thanks for listening, I look forward to hearing from you all and being part of your incredible fitness journeys.
Are you sure that you are getting everything you can out of your core routine? With all of the new developments in core training, it’s difficult to keep up with the latest and most effective tools and techniques. Though the core has become a mainstream concept, most exercisers have a clouded view of what exactly the core consists of, its importance and what the best ways are to activate it.
The core includes the following muscles: Transverse Abdominis, Rectus Abdominis, Multifidus, External Obliques, Internal Obliques, Quadratus Lumborum and Erector Spinae. It provides a stable platform which launches all of our movement by stabilizing the spine. The core generates the rotational forces needed for many athletic movements including throwing, swinging, striking and twisting. It acts to resist or neutralize external forces such as gravity, contact or momentum. We are only as strong as our core. A weak core limits our strength capacity.
Four Tools to add to your Core Training Routine
TRX Suspension Trainer
The TRX® is one of the most innovative additions to core training in recent years. It’s a non-elastic, adjustable harness constructed of industrial-strength, nylon webbing which uses bodyweight as the sole source of variable resistance. The TRX allows for hundreds of exercises that can accommodate all fitness levels. It integrates the core’s postural, stabilizer and neutralizer components in all of its exercises and the addition of the suspended planks, crunches and oblique capabilities make it one of the most effective tools on the market.
Ex Navy Seal, Randy Hetrick of Fitness Anywhere, in San Francisco’s Russian Hill developed his prototype for his TRX Suspension Trainer out of necessity. As a special ops squadron commander, he needed a way to keep his team in world-class shape without having access to world-class gyms. So he bought a $49 sewing machine & using some parachute webbing and began stitching away. The rest is history. Since hitting the market in 2005, the portable straps have recorded more than $20 million in sales. TRX training kit Fitness Anywhere has been ranked by Outside Magazine as one of the top 30 places to work in the United States this year.
The stability ball creates an unstable environment that requires more work from the core. Simple yet demanding, the stability ball can be used to add challenge to many exercises and modify others.
Most modern heavy balls are constructed of a textured rubber that is mad to bounce. Heavy balls are the perfect exercise tool when training the core to control external forces, to stabilize the body while applying internal forces, and when working at higher speeds.
Balance devices come in all shapes and sizes: wobble boards, balance discs, Bosu balls, Bongo boards and foam balance surfaces. They all destabilize the surface using a base of support in one way or another, making the core more responsive. A word of caution: Always evaluate possible danger versus potential benefit before attempting any exercise that destabilizes your base of support.