We have worked with all sorts of different women for many years, and Trainimal Woman has looked after thousands of clients. It is fair to say that we know a lot about the female body. (I’m not saying ‘everything’, since you never stop learning.) It means that we have a lot of experience of helping women lose weight, gain weight, build muscle, get a flat stomach and get stronger. There are no ‘wrong’ goals.

Mums are one of the larger groups we work with, women in this age group fall between 38-40+, since that’s the reality today: many give birth late in life. To illustrate this: in Canada more babies are born to women who are 40+ than to teenagers.

What is so special about this particular age group?

What is the difference between a 41-year-old and a 25-year-old?

You might think any exercise is exercise … ‘Not so fast!’, I would say.

The family/work combo. Small children, partner, career, home, friends … If you’re in the middle of your life, this is what things tend to look like. Women juggle everyone else’s needs, but rarely look after themselves. Offering a strict diet to women of this age can be catastrophic. In addition, lengthy exercise regimes that need to be carried out 5 – 6 times a week often mean that women give up. It is unrealistic to expect anyone to keep up with an exercise regime like that.

Stress. This is connected with the above. Women’s bodies react differently to stress: some store excessive amounts of fluid and others feel fatigued by exercise. I’m not exaggerating when I say that if you learn to handle stress, you will also be able to stick to a healthy diet and keep up with the exercise.

Periods. In the course of a month our bodies may experience some weight gain at the time of ovulation and menstruation. Not to mention mood swings and an increased appetite. You need fast-release carbohydrates and fat at these particular times. Instead of gorging on everything that is ‘forbidden’, eat 300 – 500 extra calories of food that you like. Then let go of your guilt, it is what it is – this is what life is. It is better to plan, than to ‘suddenly’ just eat everything in sight, because so much is forbidden.

Slower metabolism. Right? ‘It is said’ that our metabolism slows down with age. That might well be true, but it has nothing to do with age as such, but rather that our lives become more sedentary, and we used to diet much more when we were younger. Combine this with less exercise, and of course the metabolism will slow down.

Problems with hormones come about as a result of how we have been looking after ourselves in the course of our lives, they don’t suddenly arise. Thyroid problems might arise as a result of excessive stress, not enough food, low carb diets or excessive exercise. Problems with insulin levels arise as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle, including an unhealthy diet. (I am talking about healthy women, not those with long-term illnesses.) Just to give a few examples.

Cellulite spreading. Suddenly cellulite appears in new places, especially on the stomach, but also on the upper arms. Unfortunately, nothing can be done about that, but you can reduce and prevent cellulite considerably, with the help of weight training and cardio work, combined with a healthy diet.

Your action plan

What used to work when you were 25 or 30 probably won’t work now. You need to just CHANGE THAT PLAN!

Weights before cardio. If you’re looking to take exercise, it is best to focus on weight training. This kind of exercise builds muscle, but most of all it retains muscle and if you have muscles, your will keep your metabolism active.

If you have a stressful life (including lack of sleep), cut back on high intensity training like HIIT, circuits and Tabata. Instead, make normal walks your cardio exercise. Walks are considered low-intensity cardio and help relieve stress and yes, they also help you burn fat.

Pay particular attention to maintaining a high protein intake. You need that in order to keep your muscle mass. If you consume too little, you will lose muscle. Aim for 1,8 g of protein/kilo of your body weight, per day.

Keep a food diary. When your life is full of stress, a food diary can be your lifeline. It will tell you how much you’re eating and if you are getting enough of all the nutrients you need, especially protein.

You don’t need to feel lonely. In order to achieve the results you want, you’ll need support from the people around you. Your partner, your friends and family. It’s not always easy to get everyone on board, but discussing it won’t hurt.