T Nation

Diet / Training for 45yo female

Hi guys,

OK, I realize this is probably not the best place to post this, but I also realize that the largest percentage of you guys seem to know what you’re doing. So here goes. I am a 45 year old woman, 140 pounds, 5’7", 20-25% bodyfat. I have not had it tested recently. For the past several months I have been doing a fitness / nutrition plan that focuses on weightlifting, high protein, moderate carb. Still a relative newbie, although have been fascinated with bodybuilders for years - I just never saw any results, so would get discouraged and quit. This plan did not advocate cardio, so haven’t been doing it - but the past week have begun adding in 20MAS. The workouts are a 4-day split. I’m getting in 150-180gr protein a day (and yes, I loooove the Grow!). I have virtually eliminated all junk food from my diet.

Even with all this, once again, I am seeing very few results. Some muscle definition in arms and legs. No change otherwise. I have not weighed myself in awhile as I really don’t care about scale weight, I care about how I look and how clothes fit. I’ve lost only one inch in my waist. Most of my fat is carried in the torso area (the nemesis of middle-aged women). So if I care how I look, how did I get this way? I fell into the traps of “low-fat high carb is the way to go”…and then into the “starvation is the way to go”.

I have looked at most of the fat-loss diets I could find on the site… but, I also know they’re geared toward T-men that want to shred up.

I really feel that I should be seeing more results, but perhaps I’m not being patient enough. I am not in the least worried about getting too bulky, in fact, I would almost kill for some lovely muscle.

All that said, could I get some recommendations for a plan, nutrition & workout, to shed about 20 pounds of fat?

This is a great site - I wish it had all been around 20 years ago, I might have been able to be a T-Vixen.

Sorry for the long post, and thanks in advance for advice.

Liz

Yes, this is the best place to post about this stuff! :slight_smile:

We’re gonna need a bit more information before we can start making specific recommendations.

You said you haven’t weighed yourself in a while. Let’s do that. A recent bodyfat test (by qualified pesonnel) would be good as well.

Couple other things I’d like to see:

  1. A complete workup of your diet. Calories, Macronutrients, food sources.

  2. An outline of your workouts.

This doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t be of benefit to you. :slight_smile:

I’m also wondering… how’s your joint integrity and flexibility?

Also, elaborate more on your cardio, please. What the heck is ‘20MAS’? :slight_smile:

Who says you can’t be right now?

Sorry about all the questions, but I really like to get a good background before firing out any suggestions.

If you have any more questions, post away or don’t hesitate to PM me.

Best of luck!

There is no deadline on being a T-Vixen. You can be one at 18, 25, 45 or even 60 years of age

Ya just gotta have the gumption to get up and “do it”. Kinda like what you’re doing.

I do agree with Ike. So, begin a food log. As well as a training log. Very essential when beginning and maintaining this lifestyle. Also, what are you doing training-wise now? Very important to know.

Also, yes must know where you at in terms of bodyfat. Gotta know that now so that you can properly monitor any body composition changes during a new diet or new training program.

Any diet or training program outlined here in T-Mag is NOT gender specific. In other words, for both man or woman. Although I would highly recommend the article in THIS WEEK’S issue by Christian Thibeaudau titled, “Fun With Women”.

Just wanna wish you the best of luck. Post again with the info requested so that more informed assistance can (and will) be provided. And remember to keep coming back with any questions you may have!

Glad to see you here!

Thought I’d check in before I hit the sack…thank you so much for the replies! I will get the information you requested. The bodyfat test may be a little tougher - I live in a very small town and the only real gym around is on the Navy base! I will gather my logs and post sample days meals. The plan I have been on is called BodyRx, a book written by Dr. Scott Connelly, and it said not to count calories, so I haven’t been, but I can calculate them pretty easily as I don’t deviate much in my food items. I do write a log of my foods, though. Another problem I know of is that I don’t eat much meat. I am not a vegetarian, I do have lean steak or chicken some, I just in general do not have a taste for it. So much of my protein source comes from low-fat cottage cheese, eggbeaters and protein powder / MRPs. I also have logs of the workouts but I workout at home with a simple barbell and Powerblocks. I have a bench w/ incline/decline and leg attachment. There is an old “machine” that doesn’t work well except for lat pulldowns.

OK, so I have my homework to do and will check back in. Again, thank you for your help!

…Liz…

Just like to repeat what the others have said so far, and offer my encouragement.

That said, as you get older (and I know, I’m not far from your age!) it becomes very difficult to “redistribute” yourself and make body composition changes while maintaining more or less the same weight. You can do it, but it’s damn tough.

A better method is to lose weight (while shedding fat at the same time, obviously) or gain weight (while gaining muscle). If your bodyweight is changing you’ll find it easier to make the physique changes that you want along the way.

So while you may not care what the scale says (and I applaud you for that attitude!), in this case it can be a useful tool for you. But the number one figure you need to know is how many calories a day you’re taking in. Once you have that number, you can start to play with it and do other things. Without knowing it, it’s gonna be tough. And although you may already know this, It bears repeating: if you’re already in the gym, then chaging your diet is going to make more difference than the particular workout program you select.

Good luck!

Hello all, I have a sample day’s menu. I hope this will help. I went to fitday.com and entered the info to come up with the calories:

5:30am - put the coffee on and try to do cardio - 20 minutes treadmill, alternating speeds and incline. The fastest I am able to get is 5mph right now, I can hold it for 30-45sec and drop down to 3mph for 60 sec. I alternate like that. Have just started including cardio, so am not real good at it.

6:30 - Lo-carb Grow!:
110 Cal
2 Fat
3 Carb
20 Protein
1/2c. raw strawberries:
39 Cal
0 Fat
10 Carb
Fiber-Psyll Supplement
25 Cal
0 Fat
14 Carb
12 Fiber

9:30: 1/2 c. low-fat CC
81 Cal
1 Fat
3 Carb
14 Protein
Small tomato, raw:
19 Cal
0 Fat
4 Carb
1 Protein

12:30 1 grilled chicken breast, boneless, skinless:
128 Cal
3 Fat
0 Carb
24 Protein
1 cup raw broccoli
20 Cal
0 Fat
4 Carb
2 Protein
1T. Flaxseed oil
120 Cal
14 Fat
0 Carb
0 Protein

3:30 Lo-Carb Grow! & Coconut Oil
220 Cal
4 Fat
6 Carb
40 Protein
2T Coconut Oil:
234 Cal
27 Fat
0 Carb
0 Protein

5:30-6:30 Workout

7:00-7:15-ish - Classic Grow!
200 Cal
3 Fat
16 Carb
27 Protein

9:00-9:30 - Large Apple w/ Splenda & Cinnamon
125 Cal
1 Fat (?)
32 Carb
0 Protein

10:30 - Fiber Psyll Supplement
25 Cal
0 Fat
14 Carb
12 Fiber

11:00 Lo-Carb Grow & Oatmeal
110 Cal
2 Fat
3 Carb
20 Protein
Oatmeal:
156 Cal
3 Fat
27 Carb
6 Protein

According to Fitday that comes out to 1562 calories, 60gr fat, 109gr Carbs, and 155gr protein. Those total figures do NOT include the Fiber-Psyll, fitday wouldn’t let me enter it. It doesn’t track fiber.

This is just a sample, from yesterday. I don’t deviate much from the types of food. Sometimes instead of a shake I’ll have an eggbeater omelet w/ tomato. Or I’ll blend the cottage cheese w/ splenda and make a fruit dip. Sometimes I might have a cup of brown rice or a sweet potato w/ the chicken breat. Sometimes things get busy at work and I might be off an hour on a meal, or on rare occasions miss a meal. I don’t remember the last time I had bread, candy, ice cream, pizza (sigh).

Time for my workout, so I will be back later and post some info regarding the routine.

Thanks!

…Liz…

Really quickly I’ll say a bit right now. I’ll add more later when I have more time.

It does sound like you do need to deviate occasionally from your diet. Your activity levels fluctuate and your diet should also fluctuate a bit, too. Niether is a “straight line”. So that day where you eat more than 1600 cals may actually benefit you.
Again, I’ll add more later when I have more time.

Cool. I have a hard time believing that this is a typical day for you, though. Tell you what: why don’t you try tracking your cals for about two weeks and get an average number. Don’t eat any more or less than you normally do (I’m assuming you’re in stasis at the moment, weight-wise). Once you get that number, let us know.

I am a woman in my mid-30’s who’s been weight training for about 10 years. In the past few years, I’ve had a couple occasions to lose fat, so here are my suggestions.

  1. Eat salmon and other fish. Also eat more meat for your protein sources; kill most of the shakes. I have personally found some people, like my husband, do NOT lose fat very well when eating lots of dairy protein. Furthermore, drop your consumption of Grow shakes. I too find them invaluable when eating 5 or 6 meals a day, but shakes are just not as good as real food in certain ways. I do not do well in terms of fat loss when relying on lots of shakes.

  2. Given that you ate lots of carbs for years, and are now 45, you are probably somewhat insulin resistant. Learn everything you can about how to improve this situation: 1) Read everything by John Berardi on this site, 2) Read the Omega Zone book by Barry Sears. Berardi shows how food choices are important, not just macronutrients, and in my experience he’s right on. Another big help is to take plenty of fish oil (I would skip the coconut oil and take fish oil instead).

A year or 2 ago, I was coaching my now-husband in weight training and fat loss, and I discovered that his poor insulin sensitivity made it difficult to burn fat. He also does better with a good amount of cardio in addition to weight training. For weight training, he did well with the Body Comp workout.

  1. It’s absolutely critical to log everything. Particularly when you’re new to something or are not getting the results you want and expect. Of course, log your calories and food, as well as eating times. Record your workouts. AND, I consider this most important of all to my previous success at this – test your bodyfat frequently. I weigh myself and calculate bodyfat once a week, consistently. I use a cheap caliper I bought online that was recommended by the late legendary guru Dan Duchaine (as published in the once-hardcore Muscle Media mag). The hard part is to be consistent with the pinch sites, but you will learn a lot from this weekly measurement. I entered my stats into an Excel spreadsheet and made charts of my progress – very enlightening! Over the weeks, you will see patterns to your progress or lack of it. You will notice that, if your bodyfat drops a percentage point in a week, you won’t even notice the difference in the mirror (when you’re starting at 25%). In fact, you could be losing fat slowly and consistently and not even know it – this is very common.

For me, after 6 weeks of consistent diet and exercise, I had lost NO fat, whereas my husband had lost 12 pounds of it. He was following a diet I gave him, the same as mine except for total calories. We were working out together. The difference I noticed was that he would have eaten 4 little meals (including pre- and post-workout) by noon, whereas I’d just be getting to my second meal. Thus, his were bunched early in the day, spread out later. I started bunching my meals early in the day, and almost immediately lost 5 pounds of fat. This time, I could see the difference in the mirror! I would never have figured out what was wrong if I hadn’t closely examined the details of what we were doing.

Another week, I noticed that I had lost muscle. I knew this to be because of my workout; that same Body Comp that was working so well for my husband was eating away at my muscle. I switched to a “muscle-building” style workout and started losing fat again. This goes to show, you have to find what works for you. And, I wouldn’t have known I had lost muscle if I weren’t tracking it regularly!

  1. I just looked at your sample diet. In my opinion, you are getting way too little calories and too little carbs early in the day. Early in the day, you’re working out, which raises insulin sensitivity. And, insulin sensitivity is greatest early in the day anyway. This is when you can benefit from more calories and carbs.

Perhaps too few calories overall. Believe it or not, and I learned this from my own experience too – drop calories too low and fat loss will NOT happen. You find the optimal by recording and tweaking, recording and tweaking!

  1. Lastly, be patient. It took me several months to figure out what worked for me, and then my bodyfat started to plummet. You WILL see progress if you keep it up!

Thank you all, much good info there. Here’s what I will do… I’m going to regroup, start logging my calories, make a concerted effort to get more “real food” in. I can’t eat fish, but will ditch the coconut oil for fish oil caps…well, I say I “can’t”, it’s a mental thing…I think my workout routine is fine, it is a 4-day split as outlined in the BodyRx book, and from what I’ve read I need to focus more on my diet and the details of the diet. I called the gym on the Navy base, they said they would do a bodyfat test - I need to make an appointment with a trainer. At the time I called, the trainer was unavailable.

Just another bit of info that may help in understanding me (even if it sounds totally illogical)… the menu that I posted IS pretty much what I eat on a regular basis. I am single, I live alone. I don’t like to cook and am not a good cook. I tend to go for simplicity, and quick. Now, in the past, that either meant just not eating, or eating junk. And I did dearly love my junk. I would eat nothing all day, and nights were potato chips and marshmallow twirls… or low-fat (high sugar!) frozen yogurt. It was difficult to cut them out, but I believe that I’m like an addict and that I just cannot have them at all. Since I can’t have my “junk”, I really don’t care that much about eating - period. I have to FORCE myself to eat what I’m eating! I have to set a reminder on my computer at work that “It’s time to eat”. Except for the classic Grow!, and that has become like a guilty pleasure (lol). So that’s why the menu is sorta boring, maybe, but it’s like… it’s there, it’s ready, or I know what it takes fix it quick and easy, and be done with it.

So in a couple of weeks, I’ll check back in, after tracking calories, bodyfat, macronutrients, etc… and see how things look. Well, I’ll probably be checking in and READING the board daily, it’s so interesting, so if you need or want to PM me, please feel free to do so.

I appreciate ALL the advice and graciousness, it was not wasted!

…Liz…

I just want to add a big congratulations for going from a junk-food diet to what you’re working on now! It can be so so hard to quit eating the yummy fattening foods we love so much. You are doing great, so don’t get discouraged!

Just to clarify: when I said that I had a hard time believing it was a typical day’s diet for you, I wasn’t talking about the food selections. I was talking about the fact that you say you weight 140 or so, are 40 years old, have a fairly high level of activity, AND are existing on 1500 or so calories a day.

Not to say that it’s impossible, but my experience has been that it’s extremely unlikely that you only eat that much every day, still keep your activity level high, and are failing to lose weight.

But hey, maybe it’s like that for you. Post back in a couple of weeks with your average number, and we’ll go from there.