Editor’s note: Chad Smith is taking a break this week. This column originally appeared in 2010.
It seems that women in their 40s are making a comeback.
With older movie and TV actresses dedicating themselves to fitness, and staying in top shape, they’ve been able to develop firm, attractive bodies that rival those of their twenty- something counterparts.
I’ve worked with many women in this age group, and I can tell you they work harder than any other type of client I’ve ever had. If you want to look like your favorite TV “cougar,” there are a few realities you’ll have to accept.
You aren’t doing enough
A study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital released back in March 2010 would suggest that women older than 40 may need to spend considerably more time working out just to maintain a healthy weight.
In fact, an hour or more a day is what is required. Most 40-ish women I know struggle to get 30 minutes. You can get away with less activity in your 20s, but as the metabolism (speed at which you burn calories) begins to slow in your 30s you have to change your game. Move more, take some group exercise classes, hit the weights, do more every day.
You’re eating too much
By the time you’re 40, if you haven’t modified your eating habits to accommodate your decreased caloric needs, you’re setting yourself up for steady weight gain into your 50s.
You can’t eat like a 22-year-old, go to step class three days a week and expect to burn enough calories to keep the fat off. Knowing your caloric limits at this point in your life is more important than ever, because the weight you gain now is going to be that much harder to lose. Reduce your intake of high-calorie foods, eat small meals more frequently and eat a field of veggies every day.
You absolutely can do it
Don’t doubt it. You have the abilty, you just have to develop the discipline to do what you have to do to get what you want to have. Accept that your fitness path is going to be a lot different than when you were in your 20s. You’re going to have to work harder and eat a lot better now. You also have to believe that you can do it, and that the results you want are possible because thousands of forty-somethings just like you have achieved their fitness goals and they are no better than you.
Get started today. Don’t waste anymore time wishing you could make a change. Let out that inner cougar, tear into what could be the best years of your life.
Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer and co-owner of Home Team Fitness LLC at www.getsmithfit.com.