Many women dread middle-aged spread in their 50s.
While some gain weight, others say they’re in the best shape of their lives.
Jennifer Lopez showed off her sensational abs in a cropped top — all the more impressive given she turned 50 last week.
J-Lo is a gym addict, of course, but — as five women tell SADIE NICHOLAS —that doesn’t mean such a figure is out of reach for ordinary females.
I’M STILL PARTIAL TO PIZZA
Jeanne Horak, 50, is divorced and lives in London. She works for a law firm and has a food blog. Jeanne, who weighs 9st 4lb and is 5ft 5in tall, says:
Five years ago, I snapped my right femur in two places on a ski slope. I faced months of rehab and a scan revealed that my bone density was slightly below average for my age and would only get worse with the menopause.
Jeanne Horak, 50, is divorced and lives in London. She works for a law firm and has a food blog. Pictured right after her transformation and left before
Despite only having done the odd aerobics class, I joined a gym, and started walking and using the bike until I was able to run. I learned to love exercise and eventually added weights, rowing, sit-ups and crunches. I also ditched processed foods. Still, three or four times a week, I’ll treat myself to a glass of wine and enjoy an occasional pizza.
The transformation is incredible. My double chin is gone and I’ve dropped from a size 14 to a 10. While I don’t claim to have a six- pack, I have a slender, toned stomach that friends envy.
Last year, I went shopping in South Africa with a friend. When I stepped out of the changing room in a hot pink bikini, she said: ‘Wow, how did those abs and that figure happen?’
I recently moved house but didn’t need any help lifting heavy boxes or getting the lawnmower and a big barbecue out of the shed.
I’m proof that it’s possible to love food, have a full-time job and still find time to exercise.
I’VE HAD THREE CAESAREANS
Debra Geard, 49, is founder of a women’s running group, and lives in Hertfordshire with husband Tom, 47, a project manager in construction, and their three children aged 15, 14 and 12. Debra, who weighs 8st 4lb and is 5ft tall, says:
Although my dress size has always been an eight or ten, in the past 18 months I’ve transformed my shape.
I’d never envisaged looking this good in my 20s, let alone now, about to turn 50 and a year into the menopause.
My secret? Exercise, weightlifting, and eating in moderation. Until early last year, despite being fit, my abs were buried beneath a layer of fat and I was always suffering knee and hip injuries.
I’d always used the treadmill, cross trainer or exercise bike in the gym and was a big fan of running, having started my running club ten years ago.
My osteopath advised me to do more resistance work with weights to build lean muscle and bone density.
Debra Geard, 49, is founder of a women’s running group, and lives in Hertfordshire with husband Tom, 47, a project manager in construction. Left is Debra before her transformation and right, after
So I signed up to an eight-week online weight-training programme. I started lifting weights five times a week in the gym, alternating between upper and lower-body training sessions, all of which engaged my core muscles. I started eating smaller portions of chocolate or ice cream, and stuck to 1,500 calories a day using an app called MyFitnessPal to track my intake. I also switched to a diet higher in protein.
Breakfast is now porridge topped with a dollop of jam or peanut butter. Lunch is tuna salad with a hard-boiled egg and a bagel, and dinner is chicken with vegetables and rice. I snack on copious amounts of berries.
At the end of eight weeks, my body was undergoing an astonishing transformation. I had muscles I’d never seen before and, to my delight, a six-pack!
Now, it’s all second nature. Still, if there’s a special event, I’ll enjoy whatever food I want, such as at a champagne picnic at Royal Ascot last month.
Tom thinks my figure is fantastic and the 100 ladies in my running club have been incredibly complimentary. Other friends who aren’t into fitness are less enthusiastic, telling me I’m ‘too muscly’ or have ‘lost too much weight’.
But I feel fabulous and can now deadlift 75kg — previously I could barely lift the bar!
It’s empowering being strong and having a six-pack, especially after three Caesareans. I can’t wait to show off my abs in a bikini when we go on holiday to South America this summer to celebrate my 50th.
I REPLACED PASTA AND ALCOHOL WITH WEIGHT TRAINING AND FAT-BURNING COFFEE
Angela Middleton MBE, 56, is CEO and founder of The MiddletonMurray Group, an award-winning apprenticeship provider and consultancy. She lives in West London and has two children aged 25 and 26. Angela weighs 7st 5lb and is 5ft 2in tall. She says:
Looking at my six-pack, I can hardly believe that just three years ago I stared at the roll of fat on my stomach and resigned myself to having a middle-aged spread.
I’d always done cardio classes, and until I hit 50 I could eat whatever I wanted. Suddenly, I began gaining weight, especially around my middle, reaching 9st.
Frustrated, I did 15 bootcamps in one month yet there was still no change.
Angela Middleton MBE, 56, is CEO and founder of The MiddletonMurray Group, an award-winning apprenticeship provider and consultancy. Angela left before her transformation and right after
Around the same time, my son was lifting weights with terrific results, so in October 2016 I signed up to a weight training and nutritional programme.
By January 2017 I’d only lost a few pounds but followed the plan to the letter, including five weight-training sessions a week doing weighted squats and dumbbell presses, and 10,000 steps minimum a day. I gave up pasta and alcohol, and got seven-and-a-half hours’ sleep every night. Adequate sleep aids weight loss.
Now I start the day with a Bulletproof coffee — a special blend mixed with a tablespoon of butter from grass-fed cows which helps the body burn fat by boosting your metabolism.
After my morning workout, I eat porridge and eggs. Lunch might be chicken salad and a Greek yoghurt, while dinner is poultry, salmon or beef with lentils or sweet potato and veg. I snack on mango, nuts and berries and eat 1,900 calories a day.
I walk around London between meetings to rack up 15,000 steps a day. Within eight months, my flabby tummy had vanished, replaced by an impressive six-pack.
I feel strong, powerful and more confident. I don’t ever want my abs to be hidden under a layer of fat again.
POWERWALKING AND YOGA HAVE TRANSFORMED MY FIGURE
Carolyne Zvikler, 53, is a photographer and lives in Cheshire. She is divorced with three children aged 25, 28 and 31. Carolyne, who weighs 8st 2lb and is 5ft 5in tall, says:
Since I met my American partner, Mike, in 2017 and began visiting him in Atlanta, my abs have come into their own. He hosts swimming pool parties, and there’s nothing like the prospect of wearing a bikini in public to motivate me.
I powerwalk four miles a day, striding quickly and engaging stomach muscles to work up a sweat.
Carolyne Zvikler, 53, is a photographer and lives in Cheshire. She is divorced with three children aged 25, 28 and 31. Carolyn before her transformation left and after, right
I also do yoga four times a week, which works my core muscles with all those planks — where you rest on your elbows in a press-up position — and cobra moves, where you lie flat and arch your upper body like a snake.
When I divorced in 2002, I joined a yoga studio but didn’t have the time or money to keep it up.
But when I hit my 40s and the children were older, I wanted us all to be healthier, so I started cooking from scratch. Although I’m careful about what I eat, I refuse to deny myself. A few years ago, I cut out cake and chocolate completely but it made me miserable.
Now, I have one coffee and a treat every day, be it a dessert or a slice of cake. If I do at least an hour of activity. it balances out.
I want other women to realise that they can look and feel like this, too.
NOW I’VE GOT MORE ENERGY THAN I HAD 30 YEARS AGO!
Julie Silver, 51, is a wellbeing therapist and lives in Manchester. She is divorced with one son, 23. Julie, who weighs 7st 7lb and is 5ft 2in tall, says:
When I tell people how old I am the general reaction is: ‘No way!’
I was always slim and health-conscious, but used to get so bloated that I looked pregnant.
There was a moment in my early 40s where I really didn’t like the way I looked, how tight my clothes sometimes felt, or how sluggish I was. So, after years of dabbling in exercise, I took up yoga and invested in a rebounder — a mini trampoline.
Julie Silver, 51, is a wellbeing therapist and lives in Manchester. She is divorced with one son, 23. Pictured left is Julie before her change and right after it
I committed myself to rising earlier every morning and doing at least 30 minutes of exercise before the working day, following yoga tutorials on YouTube when I didn’t have time to go to a class.
I’ve also got a couple of Kettlebells — cast iron ball weights with a single handle — and use them occasionally to do weighted sit-ups.
As well as exercising, I began body brushing — where you use a firm bristled brush all over — to improve the condition of my skin. I also cut out wheat from my diet. The bloating disappeared and I felt less tired.
Inspired, I then cut down on dairy and refined sugar. Whereas once I’d rush a main course in order to get to dessert, I stopped craving sweet things.
The result is that my shape and tone has improved and I’ve got more energy now than I had in my 20s and 30s.
The greatest surprise is that I have a definition to my abs that had always eluded me.
Recently, I was in a bikini in a health club and a lady told me: ‘I’d love to have a figure and stomach like yours.’
I replied that, with just a little effort, she could, too.