My secret to staying in shape at 48

My secret to staying in shape at 48

Let me state upfront that I’ve been physically active throughout my life. I started ballet classes when I was five. Although I took part in school sports in junior school, I was excused from high school sport because of my rigorous dance schedule. This history means that I’ve always been (more or less) toned and in shape through the proceeding decades.

As a professional ballet dancer in my late teens/early twenties, I had less upper body muscle than I do today so was much lighter (by about 5kg). As I moved into the fields of fitness and lifestyle coaching, I started to take a real interest in weight training. I’ll talk diet in a sec, but I want to emphasise that it’s weight training that keeps a body in good shape. (Note, I say “keeps a body in good shape”, not “keeps a body lean”.) Resistance work is where you tone and build muscles, the very components that create shape on the human form.

Ok, so I’ve said this activity doesn’t necessarily lead to leanness and it’s true. This is where diet plays a vital role. In my twenties I was vegetarian for almost a decade. It has to be said that because of this, I became a little podge and quite unwell. (Clearly vegetarianism didn’t work for me.) I switched to a high fat, low carb diet after completing some nutrition coursework in London around 2005. (I moved there in 2003.) Well, the weight dropped off, my health improved dramatically, and so I continued for the next seven years.

In late 2012, I began intermittent fasting. This is a system of skipping a meal daily. It can be either breakfast or dinner, but I chose the former for convenience sake. Doing this allows the liver cells – and in turn, the muscle cells – to empty themselves completely of fuel. This kicks off a fantastic chain reaction leading to the fat cells releasing fatty acids to fuel the liver (and the muscle cells. In turn,  this leads to reduced body fat storage (amongst many, many other benefits).

So, I guess my point in writing this post is to show you that nothing happened overnight for me. I’ve been at it for decades and so my body has been cared for and nourished for a long, long time. (I haven’t even mentioned the lifestyle habits I employ to keep my body in as stress-free a state as I can. Good sleep, sufficient sunlight exposure, regular exercise, minimal exposure to both environmental toxins and radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation… the list goes on.)

Health and weight go hand-in-hand and they take time to ‘cultivate’. Why do we think we can change these states overnight? We’d never buy a house and then sell it a month later! We know we need to see it as a long-term investment. Why don’t we see our bodies in the same way?

If you could change one thing that might define your success with optimising weight and health, it would be to see these as long-term goals, worth investing everything you can in them.

Tanya Wyatt, Happy Valley pond

Tanya Wyatt

Tanya has written regularly for various health and fitness magazines such as Men’s Health, Marie-Claire, Cosmopolitan and Shape (she also served on Shape’s advisory board), as well as for local newspaper publications. In 2003, Tanya wrote two health and fitness-related books, published by   New Holland.