Fight Fat Over 40

Forget everything you thought you knew about dieting and embrace these specific over-40 nutrition and exercise strategies.
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The Post-40 Fat War

I thought I looked great at a recent gathering, dressed in a colorful skirt, fitted red sequined top, and black patent-leather pumps. Then I saw myself in a home video. There I was, gobbling up an empanada, oblivious to the thick roll of fat bulging around my middle. I gasped but should not have been surprised. My jeans had been getting tighter. But until that defining moment, when ever I looked in the mirror I saw the svelte woman I'd always been. I faced my fat facts: I was 53 years old and 10 pounds heavier than I'd ever been -- a lot if you're 5 foot 1 and small-boned. If I kept on this way, soon I'd be in trouble.

So I got serious. I signed up for a three-week Fat Fighters course at my gym, three days a week puffing my way through one spinning and two cardio-sculpting classes, which integrate weight lifting with strength exercises such as squats with overhead presses. I didn't count calories, but I switched to a lower-fat diet -- more fruits, vegetables, and salads, less Chinese takeout and fewer late-night freezer raids. By the end of my program I'd lost an inch and a half from my hips and a half inch around my waist. I took the course twice more, then started my own regimen, alternating strength training with running or spinning. A year later I'd lost all 10 pounds. Doing spinning and weights in classes and on my own has made me firmer and fitter than I was in my 30s.

If you're over 40, chances are you've had your own fat face-off, whether it was buying a bathing suit for the first time in three years or seeing a number on the scale you swore you'd never reach. Maybe you found that the pounds don't peel off as easily as they used to or come back faster. But before you resign yourself to life in the fat lane, I'm here to tell you that it's possible to drop that midlife fat and keep it off. You can even rediscover your abs. You don't have to go to extremes but you will have to change your diet, commit to regular physical activity, and keep pushing. Not the sugarcoated no-pain plan you were hoping for? Welcome to Planet Reality.

"There's no quick fix," says Harvey Simon, MD, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "But there is a slow fix. Losing weight and getting fit is not a sprint. It's a marathon." The marathon is winnable. You can outsmart your post-40 physiology. Before starting any exercise plan or serious diet shift, though, be sure to consult your doctor.

Continued on page 2:  Muscle Builder Exercises

 

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