A Better Body at 49 Than at 20

As we age, it gets harder to keep weight off and stop once-perky parts from heading south. But sinking into the couch with a big bowl of gelato isn't the solution. Lisa Hiller is one of five women we featured in the July/August 2012 issue who reshaped her body and life—at 49, she traded anorexia for bench presses. Now she can help you do the same

by Shelley Levitt
woman white shirt and jeans image
Hiller today (above); Hiller at age 26 and 98 pounds. Her smile masks the misery she was feeling in this photo (right).
Photograph: by Melanie Acevedo

MY BODY IN MY TWENTIES At 27, I weighed 97 pounds. I had a master’s degree in exercise physiology and knew a lot about nutrition, but I also had the distorted vision of an anorexic. I looked in the mirror and saw someone who was fat. I restricted my daily calories to 450. I’d have black coffee for breakfast, a cup of cottage cheese for lunch and tuna salad for dinner. It was my way of retaining some control in a deeply troubled marriage. I also abused laxatives, taking up to 20 at a time until I passed out. I was hospitalized for 60 days. I got pregnant shortly thereafter and forced myself to eat enough to give birth to a healthy baby girl.

THE TURNING POINT When Sasha was six weeks old, I held her inside my bedroomcloset while my husbandshouted at us. It was then I realized I needed out of this demeaning relationship. So I sold my wedding and engagement rings to pay for airfare and flew home to my parents, who’d agreed to let us live in their basement.

With the help of a lot of therapy, I started to introduce more calories into my diet. When my weight hit 100 pounds, I didn’t panic. My demonswere still there, but they were whispering, not screaming. I married again—a wonderful man this time—had a second child, and in 2006, after decades of working as a legal secretary, I became a fitness trainer.

THE MAKEOVER In my forties, I was finally doing what I was meant to do: empower people through training. And I got stronger, too. I started swimming and running. When I was younger, I’d spend three hours on a stationary bike, obsessively burning calories. Now I was training as part of a healthy lifestyle. I’ve done 10 marathons. I sit on the U.S. Masters Swimming Sports Medicine and Science Committee. And I train everyone from women who want to shed pregnancy pounds to Ironman triathletes and former college football players.

MY BODY TODAY I am a healthy 122 pounds and can bench-press my body weight and do 10 handstand push-ups. It’s pretty amazing what I can do on the cusp of 50.

When I was anorexic, I wore sweats to cover up. Today, I rock a sports bra and Lycra pants. Showing my muscle is a way of saying I’m happy, I’m strong, I’ve reclaimed my life and will never let anyone demean me again.

Next: A Better Body at 45 Than at 20

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First published in the July/August 2012 issue

Share Your Thoughts!


Jack Peterson07.31.2012

I love that you also included a woman who dealt with an eating disorder and needed to gain weight, rather than only profile women who lost weight. Let's be health-conscious, rather than thin-conscious. I'm trim by nature, but not necessarily as fit or healthy as I'd like to be; but at 48, I plan to change this and go into my 50s stronger and healthier in mind and body than in my earlier years. I plan to be Fab at 50, Still Sexy at 60, Sassy at 70, Elegant at 80, a Knock-Out at 90, and Hot at 100! Ladies, let's kick some ass in the 2nd half of our century!

Cory 07.28.2012

Wow, you look really great. Congratulations on your recovery!

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