4 Women Shape Up

In just three months, they learned to love exercise, healthier food — and their over-40 bodies.

By Elena Rover
Elena Rover

Waist Whittler (works abs)

A. Sit on a stool or bench. Place heels on the floor, hip-distance apart, and bend knees. Cross arms across chest. Lean back from hips as far as you can while keeping a natural spine and head aligned with spine.

B. Twist torso to the left as far as you can, keeping knees and legs motionless. Return to center and twist to the right to complete one rep. Do two sets of 10 reps, working up to 20 reps.

Triceps Tightener (works arms)

A. Loop a band around a couch leg. Holding both ends in your left hand, step your left foot back into a lunge. Bend forward from the hips.

B. Pull your left hand back, straightening your elbow as far as you can without moving upper arm. Upper arms should be just above your back. Hold for one count; return to start. Do 10 to 15 reps; switch sides and repeat.

Posture Perfecter (works shoulders)

A. Stand in the center of a band with feet shoulder-width apart, holding an end in each hand. Bend knees into a half-squat; lean forward to create a 90-degree angle between thighs and back.

B. Pull both elbows back and up, using your upper back to bring your hands near ribs. Hold for one count; return to start. Do two sets of 15 reps.

Shoulder Shaper (works shoulders)

A. Stand in the center of a light resistance band with legs shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Grab an end of the band in each hand so there’s slack when your arms hang at your sides.

B. Tighten your abs and simultaneously lift both arms straight out to the sides to shoulder height (keep wrists straight). Don’t raise your shoulders. Hold for one count and return to start. Do two sets of 15 reps.

Shoulder Molder (works rotator cuff)

A. Hold one end of a band in your right hand, and place right fist on right hip with elbow out to the side. With your left hand, grasp the band so there’s about 12 to 15 inches between your hands. Press your left elbow against your hip and position your left forearm on a diagonal so your left fist is near your right hip.

B. Open your left arm along the diagonal until your left fist is at shoulder height. Hold for one count. Do 10 to 15 reps. then switch sides and repeat.

Trainer Jan Griscom’s Get-Fit Tips for Women Over 40

  • Show up. Retrain yourself to make exercise a habit that’s as regular as brushing your teeth. For the first month, just strive to get there.
  • Look at your lifestyle. A one-hour daily workout leaves 23 hours for unhealthy habits, such as eating too much and not getting enough sleep. To succeed, think about improving every aspect of your lifestyle.
  • Take off 10. Your metabolism is slower now, and it’s easier to gain weight. To counter this tendency, burn 10 extra calories an hour. Two minutes of moderate activity, such as jumping jacks or stair walking, will do the trick.
  • Put it in your PDA. If you leave exercise to chance, you won’t fit it in. Make workout appointments that can’t be broken. Either carve out the same times every week and stick to that schedule or, if you don’t have a set routine, plan a week or even a month ahead.
  • Permit no pain. The over-40 body needs variation in movement or it will suffer wear-and-tear injuries (and boredom). Vary your routine. And never work to the point where your joints hurt.

The Women Before & After

Karen Auerbach

Biggest obstacle: Fear of intense exercise

Best lesson learned: "I revved it up and didn’t fall apart. Now I have so much energy."

Weight before: 182

Weight after: 167

Biceps before: 13 1/2

Biceps after: 13

Waist before: 37 1/2

Waist after: 34 1/2

Hips before: 43

Hips after: 40 1/2

Thigh before: 29

Thigh after: 22

Elena Rover

Biggest obstacle: Back problems

Best lesson learned: "I had to stop dreaming about the past, accept my body, and pick new activities that feel good now."

Weight before: 192

Weight after: 182

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