Sunday, 21 September 2014

How to Get a Flat Belly with Easy 10 Minute Exercises

Gut Busters! 

Easy Flat belly Exercises 

reducing belly fat from
If there are any exercises guaranteed to work toward that flat belly, it is these two easy ones that are perfect for us of a certain age. 

They do use the back muscles so be sure to build up over time, to move slowly and to follow the instructions on how to protect your back. 

You can do these exercises in the morning before you get out of bed provided you have a firm mattress or move to the floor. I think twice a day works fine but three times a day is even better. Again, work up to that, allow your back and muscles time to adjust. 

Gut Buster One

  1. Lie flat on your back, arms by your sides, feet together and just breathe quietly for a minute or two. 
  2. Breathing in - bring your knees up to your chest pushing your back into the mattress or floor to get it flat.
  3. Breathing out - with bent knees, put your feet on the floor in line with your hips and shoulders to give you balance.
  4. Taking a deep breath in - raise your hips, abdomen and chest so you form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. 
  5. flat belly exercise from
  6. Breathe out completely, flattening your stomach as you do so. 
  7. Start off by holding for 2 complete breaths in and out and over weeks increase this to 5 complete breaths.
  8. Breathe in.
  9. Breathing out - lower your back to the floor and rest for 2-5 breaths depending on how long you have been in the holding position for. Equal the rest time with the hold time. 
  10. When you start out, repeat 3 times and increase to 10 over several weeks. Allow your back muscles to adjust slowly over time.
  11. Breathe in - and as you breathe out slide your feet and legs out flat. Flop for a couple of minutes.

Gut Buster Two: The Pelvic Rock

This time, keep your upper back flat on the floor and raise only your buttocks and hips. 

  1. Lie flat on your back, arms by your sides, feet together and just breathe quietly for a minute or two. 
  2. Breathing in - bring your knees up to your chest pushing your back into the mattress or floor to get it flat.
  3. Breathing out - with bent knees put your feet on the floor in line with your hips and shoulders to give you balance.
  4. Breathing in - raise your buttocks and hips so your abdomen is flat.
  5. Breathing out - flatten your abdomen even more. 
  6. Hold for 5 complete breaths.
  7. Breathe in, and as you breathe out lower your back to the bed and rest for 5 complete breaths.
  8. Breathing in, raise your buttocks and hips so your abdomen is flat.
  9. Breathing out, flatten your abdomen even more.
  10. The Pelvic Rock: Breathing steadily - rock your pelvis down to the floor then back up always returning to the hold position where your abdomen is flat and forms a straight line from your waist to your knees. 
  11. At first only repeat a few times and work up to about 30.
  12. Breathe in, and as you breathe out, lower you back to the bed.
  13. Breathe in and as you breathe out slide your legs flat.
  14. Flop for at least three minutes. 

Same exercises - different pace

As with all my exercises I tend to have three different paces so I vary them for best result. I can testify, they really do work - I am living proof. I have gone down 2 dress sizes in 2 months and I'm feeling great and ready to lose 2 more.

Move and Hold - just what it says, make the move then hold the position. By holding in a position for say 5- 10 breath cycles you will feel the muscles stretching and may feel a slight burn.

Breathe it In - Moving slowly with the rhythm of your breath keeps the exercises smooth and effective.

Rapid Repetitions - Make the same moves in quicker repetitions. They used to call these calisthenics, repeating the same small movements over and over again. The Pelvic Rock is particularly suited to this. Work up from about 10 when you start to 30-100. If you don't have the patience for 100 at one time, space them out over the day.

These two exercises are designed to slim and tone the abdomen. Try it for a week before your re-measure your waist and hips and see how you are doing.  Get back to me and report your success story. Of course it will only work if you are having a normal healthy diet and not binge eating or eating inappropriate food. 

Muscles used

Gut Buster 1
Buttocks and hips
Back, neck and shoulders
Gut Buster 2
Abdomen and waist
Buttocks and hips
Back and neck

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Stretch and Slim in the Morning Part 2

Slim and Tone with Modified Planking

Planing seems to be all the rage right now but maybe not suitable for us over 60 or those who are unfit and overweight. I have adapted it to my own version that I include in my morning routine.

relaxing feet from
It is taking me longer to write these than it even does to do the exercises so I hope you bear with me. Today I want to explain the second part of my morning stretching routine.

If you have done the first part of the stretches, let yourself rest for a few minutes. Just flop, lying on your back, completely relaxed. You will probably find you are becoming used to holding your stomach in more than usual - again -- DON'T clench tightly, just hold in.

You may be beginning to realize that holding a position increases its effectiveness. Build that up over several weeks as your muscles strengthen.

Move slowly and smoothly and STOP immediately if you feel any pain whatsoever. You are aiming for a gentle ache in your muscles to let you know they are working but never pain.

Head and Neck Plank

I discovered the effectiveness of this when I was having physiotherapy for neck problems. I happened to have my hands resting on my tummy while the physio was telling me what to do and I noticed how it tightened my abdomen. The important thing about this exercise is not to lift your head too high - it is a VERY subtle movement, you shouldn't even leave any space between your head and the pillow. 
  1. Lie flat on the bed without a pillow or with only one. Bring your feet together and rest your arms on your upper abdomen.
  2. Take a deep breath in, press your back into the mattress and hold in your stomach muscles.
  3. Breathe out completely flattening your abdomen even more.
  4. Taking a deep breath in, raise your head very slightly. Breathe out completely.
  5. Hold that position for 3 shallow breaths - in and out counting as one.
  6. Relax and take 3 breaths.
  7. Repeat. Start with 3 and build up over several weeks.
  8. Over several weeks build up how long you hold the position for - 4 breaths, 5 breaths - up to 10 but do make sure that is over several weeks to allow your muscles in your back and neck to strengthen. For as many breaths you hold, rest for that same number of breaths between each repeat. 
  9. Flop for a few minutes. 

Muscles used in this toning exercise

Upper part of abdominal muscles
lower back

 Heel Plank

  1. Lie flat, feet together and your hands resting on your lower abdomen.
  2. Take a deep breath, press your back into the mattress and pull in your abdomen.
  3. Empty your lungs completely, flattening your abdomen even more.
  4. Pull your toes up toward you.
  5. Taking a deep breath in, raise your heels off the bed and breath out completely.
  6. Hold that position for 3 shallow breaths.
  7. Relax for 3 breaths. 
  8. Over several weeks build up how long you hold the position for - 4 breaths, 5 breaths - up to 10 but do make sure that is over several weeks to allow your muscles in your back and neck to strengthen. For as many breaths you hold, rest for that same number of breaths between each repeat. 
  9. Flop for a few minutes. 

Muscles used in this toning exercise

abdominal muscles
lower back

 Head and Heel Plank

Yes you guessed it - all together now.
  1. Lie flat, feet together, arms by your sides.
  2. Take a deep breath in, pressing your back into the mattress, pull in your stomach.
  3. Breathe out flattening your stomach even more.
  4. Pull your toes up toward you.
  5. Breathing in, raise your heels off the bed and breathe out.
  6. Breathing in, raise your head VERY slightly and breathe out.
  7. Hold in that position for 3 breaths.
  8. Relax and rest for 3 breaths.
  9. Repeat.
  10. Be sure to rest for the same number of breaths as you hold as you build up.
  11. Flop for several minutes when you finish. 
Bed from
I have a bed with a metal frame like this one so I can reach through the bars to touch the wall, you may have to use your headboard so make sure it is secure.  Slip down the bed until you can raise your arms above your head to touch the wall and still be flat on your back.

Full Stretch

  1. Lie flat and bring your feet together.
  2. Take a deep breath in, pressing your back into the mattress and pulling in your stomach muscles.
  3. Breathe out, flattening your stomach even more.
  4. Breathing in, raise your arms straight above your head, your hands in fists pressed against the wall.
  5. Breathe out.
  6. Breathing in press both fists against the wall and hold for 3 shallow breaths.
  7. Relax for 3 breaths.
  8. Repeat.
  9. Flop. Let the muscles relax, you might even feel them twitching a bit on rest. 

Alternatively you can do repetitions by

  1. breath in as you press your fists onto the wall
  2. breath out as you relax
  3. repeat immediately.
  4. build up over the weeks until you are doing around 30.

Add in the oblique abdo muscles

  1. alternate pressing one hand then the other. Breath in, and breath out in rhythm with your movements.
  2. relax completely for several minutes when you finish. 
Illustration of the oblique muscles - wiki public domain

Fingers to Toes Stretch

I can stretch out completely on my bed with my fists on the wall above me and toes curled on the top rail of the bottom of my bed.  See if you can too.
  1. Lie flat, take a deep breath in, pressing your back into the mattress and pulling in your stomach muscles
  2. Breathe out completely flattening your stomach even more. 
  3. Breathing in, raise your arms above your head, hands in fists to touch the wall behind you.
  4. Breathe out.
  5. Breathing in, raise your feet so you can curl your toes around the top of your footboard.
  6. Breathe out.
  7. Take a deep breath in - press with your fists on the wall above you and down with your feet.
  8. Breathe out.
  9. Hold in that position for 3 shallow breaths.
  10. Relax for 3 breaths.
  11. Over several weeks increase the number of breaths you hold and relax for. 
Add in the obliques
  1. Follow steps 1 to 8 as above. Holding some tension in your arms.
  2. Breathing in rhythm with your movement, alternately press down one foot while relaxing the other in a stepping movement.
  3. Repeat 5 steps on each side increasing the number over the weeks until about 30. 
  4. Flop on you back, hands by your sides for several minutes. 

Muscles used in this toning sequence

abdominal muscles including oblique muscles
lower back

upper back

arms and shoulders

Your muscles should know you have been working them, but you should NOT be in pain with any of these. I can't emphasise that enough - ALWAYS protect yourself against injury.

Tomorrow I move onto the final part of my morning routine. I hope you join me.  

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Stretch and Slim In the Morning

Ease Into Toned Muscles : Wakey Wakey 

 Let me introduce you to stretch and slim in the morning. Here are the first of my toning exercises, the breathing stretch, how to flatten out your back to prevent injury, some abs toning with 'paddling' and 'stepping.' More suggestions follow in future posts, there are too many to include on one page. Enjoy and let me know how you get on.

from young man relaxing in bed
My toning exercises start when I wake in the morning, unfortunately not with the eye-candy here, but by stretching in bed. I'll explain why he is there in just a minute. 

I am assuming you were like me a few weeks ago, and you have not been doing any form of exercise for a while. So I advocate you start slowly - only do a couple of repeats at a time. If you like, start with one exercise and work up to including more as you progress. 

This is not something that will give you a sylphlike figure fast, it is a start. It will only work if you are taking measures to get rid of the fat underlying the muscles by changing to a healthier diet. You really do need to take in less calories than you burn - there is no getting away from it but it doesn't have to mean starving yourself either

That said these exercises are less about burning calories as about toning muscles. That you burn up a few calories is an added bonus.

Like the changes in you diet, starting slow with toning exercises, you are more likely to keep going than if you start with knee jerks and a 30 minute workout that you are not even tempted to repeat more than once.

NOTE: As always - protect your back!

  1. These won't work well on a soft mattress - you need to have one that supports your back. Mine is a memory foam one and works fine. 
  2. Pay attention to the instructions that tell you to press your lower back into the mattress.

These stretches should give your muscles a bit of an ache but NO pain.

For best effect follow the breathing instructions. If you do the toning in time to your breathing it will be slow and steady - if it isn't, your are hyperventilating!

The resting periods when I ask you to flop are important too - they give your muscles time to recover, you may even find them twitching a little bit when you stop. Rest as long as you like but take at least a minute between each set of stretches.

Do these in no particular order - read them all through several time until you have the idea imprinted in your brain. You will eventually find the order that makes you most comfortable.

Start off doing only a few as described and build up over several weeks until you are doing around 30. As you strengthen the muscles, especially those in your back, you can run all these exercised together to form one unit. Then rest.

See the guy up there - he is lying back relaxing, but note how his stomach muscles are pulled in - he has done that by taking a deep breath in as he pulls in the abdominal muscles, breathing out and letting the abdo muscles flatten, then holding with shallow breaths. Let's try it - it is as good a place to start as any.

Breathing Stretch

  1. Stretch out in bed, your whole body in line from top to toe, legs and feet together.
  2. Taking a deep breath in - raise your arms and put your hands behind your head pulling in the muscles of your stomach. Smoothly and steadily pull them in, you are not clenching them, just holding them tighter than normal. 
  3. Breathe out completely letting your stomach flatten even more.
  4. Hold that position for four shallow breaths.
  5. Flop - let all your muscles relax completely. If you are going to repeat the stretch, keep your hands behind your head, if not bring your arms down by your side. Let your legs and feet fall apart. Rest for 1 minute before repeating. 
  6. Start with one or two of these and build up over the weeks.  
Muscles used

This is the big muscle that runs from the ribs to the pubic bone - you might think it is in two pieces, upper and lower but it is only one.
upper back

young man stretching from
Variation: - Follow our young man's example and stretch out. 
  1. Keep your back flat on the bed - breathe in and pull in your stomach muscles. Raise your arms above your head.
  2. Breath out completely flattening your stomach more.
  3. Tighten your hands into fists.
  4. Hold the position for three shallow breaths.
  5. Flop - let the muscles relax but keep your arms raised.
  6. Breathing in, tense arms muscles again, hold for 3 shallow breaths and relax.
  7. Repeat 3 times building up over the weeks.
  8. All the time you are doing this, keep you stomach muscles tense.

Muscles used

Abdominal muscle
upper back

Flatten the Back

By the nature of your spine, your back has a bend that leaves you with a little hollow space between your back and the mattress. To protect your lower back you need to flatten out that hollow and press your back into the bed. Here's how you do that. I recommend you do this before you start any of the stretch and tone exercises.
  1. Lie flat in bed.
  2. Taking a deep breath in, pull your knees up to your chest.
  3. Letting your breath go, put your feet on the bed then slid your legs flat. 
  4. This should push your lower back into the mattress. 
muscles from

Abs Tone

  1. Lie flat in bed, legs and feet together, head flat or on one pillow. 
  2. Press your lower back into the mattress. 
  3. Place your hands on your abdomen so you can feel the muscles moving while you do this. At first it may seem very little is happening but it is. Remember there are deeper layers of muscle you will not feel.
  4. Take a deep breath in, pulling your stomach muscles in, breathe out flattening them even more.
  5. With your feet together and your heels on the bed, take a slow deep breath in, pull your toes up toward you pulling in your stomach muscles. Again, not clenched to the point of pain, just tightened.
  6. Breathing out point your toes downward.
  7. Use slow breaths, breathe in and pull your toes up toward you.
  8. Breathing out, point your toes downwards. 
  9. During your first week, repeat three times and over the weeks build it up to any number you are comfortable with. I usually do 10 because I do other exercises as well.
  10. Paddle is a natural progression which brings the oblique abdominal muscles into play. 
  11. Continuing with the steady breathing in time to each movement, point the toes of one foot while pulling up the toes of the other. 
  12. At first repeat 3 times then build it up over the weeks. 
  13. Breathing in, pull both sets of toes up toward you and hold that position for 3 shallow breaths. 
  14. Flop - let the muscles go and relax and rest for at least one minute but as long as you need to let the muscles recover. 

Muscles used in this toning exercise

Abs including oblique muscles
lower back

Abs Tone Extra - Stepping

Tag this onto the end of the exercise above. At first when you start these, take time to rest in between the different elements.
  1. As above - steps 1 to 5.
  2. Heels flat on the bed. Breathing in pull your toes toward you, breath out and hold that position for a couple of shallow breaths.
  3. Use the rhythm of your breathing alternately lengthen each leg in a sort of lying-down stepping motion. 
  4. Repeat 3 times on each side. Build up the repetition over several weeks.
  5. Bring both sets of toes up and hold for several shallow breaths.
  6. Flop and rest.
This exercise really does use the oblique muscles and more importantly perhaps, the muscles of your lower back. If you are not fit take it easy.

Muscles used in this toning exercise

Oblique abdominal muscles
lower back

woman with measuring tape from
So you are on your way! These simple exercises are designed to get you used to toning muscles without hardship. Plenty more to come so be sure to join me on my wellness journey. 

You might like to take measurements of your chest, wrist and hips on your first day - the measure you again one week on. Don't be tempted to measure every day - you only set yourself up for disappointment. 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Introducing Stretch and Slim

Introducing the concept of Stretch and Slim

Middle age woman stretching from

Everyone likes a good stretch but have you thought about incorporating it into your toning regime?

Fighting fat and fighting flab should go hand in hand.  Over-eating and lack of exercise lays down fat deposits around the organs, round your middle, hips, legs, chest and arms - everywhere really. Muscles become slack and flabby as you probably only well aware.

Changing your eating habits should take care of the fat and that is essential and is discussed elsewhere. There is little point in even trying to tone slack muscles if you continue with the underlying fat. But it can be done gradually and indeed is probably best done slowly. Rapid weight loss isn't that healthy for you and it will leave bags of slack skin behind if you don't do some toning. Aim to lose 1-3 libs per week.

Stretch and Slim

Rather than think you have to start doing jumping jacks to get trim, think about stretching out muscles instead. All you really have to think about is getting muscles moving and you can do that by contracting and relaxing them. Start slow and with only the minimum movement. It will gradually increase as you get fitter. At first it might not feel as if anything is moving at all but you will be surprised.

Every single movement you make uses muscle.  You just need to have more movement in your life and use it to slim, trim and tone. Many of the toning suggestions I make are simply tightening and relaxing muscles. You will see I use the breath as part any exercise I do with the exception of those everyday, everywhere toning opportunities. I really recommend you use my suggestions on breathing for the most effect.

You can try it now to see what I mean.

  1. sitting at your desk, feet flat on the ground
  2. imagine you have a string pulling at the top of you head to pull you upright
  3. hands on your thighs
  4. shoulders back
  5. take a deep breath in - note how it pulls in your stomach
  6. hold that position for several shallow breaths.  

Without that deep breathe in you probably don't pull in your stomach - tighten your abdomen muscles.

Get used to that feeling of holding your stomach in, don't clench it so tightly it is sore and hard to hold, just be aware of tightening your abdomen more than you have been used to. You are retraining your muscles and it gets easier. In time you will find you do it automatically, you sit straighter, stand straighter and taller.

Take every opportunity to stretch or to tighten and relax muscles and I'll give you examples as we go on.  I'll try to give as clear instructions as I can and where possible I will let you know which muscles you are toning.

So... let's get started...

I started yoga years ago with Lyn Marshall's Wake up to Yoga which I still recommend and I trained with Jason Chan in Tai Chi many years ago. It is still one of my favourite forms in Tai Chi.
Wake up to Yoga

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Weight Gain and Slack Muscles

Weight Gain and Slack Muscles 

Man with belly fat from
For me muscle toning is as important as weight loss. I want the weight to go from my problem areas. I want to lose the fat but I also want to tone up my slack muscles as I go along. Right now I look too much like the guy in the picture.

I'm not one for fierce aerobic exercise although I do incorporate mild aerobic exercise like walking, swimming and dancing into my life.

What is working for me is adapting exercises into stretching and slimming exercises that are more suited to my abilities.  There is some Hatha Yoga in there, some Tai Chi, both of which I practiced and taught for many years, plus some fitness exercises culled for various sources.  The aim is to get those slack muscles moving, to tone them up and subsequently get into shape and generally feel better.

The Human Muscular System

Female muscular system from

Don't panic I am not going into details, there are lots of places on-line you can check out if you want more information - Better Health being one that springs to mind. I just want you to show you the complexity of muscles.  Some are straight, some criss-cross the body and for every muscle you contract you relax another. You can't really isolate just one group of muscles to work at a time because they are so connected. But you can concentrate on certain trouble areas.

Problem Areas 

1. The abdomen. For most of us that first and foremost means in the abdomen. There are two lots of muscles there to think about, the straight muscle that goes from your ribs to your pubis, the rectus adbominus, and the oblique muscles on either side of the body. There are other deeper muscles too that are even more difficult to get moving. Together these form what you are often called the core muscles and they are essential for most of the things you put your body through - for example they support the back and spine with every movement you make and every position you adopt. 
Don't think this is about getting a six-pack - you have to be really thin and really fit for that but honestly do you want one? What it is about is getting rid of belly fat and toning those muscles.

2. The Hips, Thighs and Bottom. I'm not going into details - we all know these are areas we want to work on. Take a look at Wiki or Inner Body - for more information. For our purposes just note how the muscles twist and cross, how some are deeper than others. Once again I am aiming at getting muscles movement if only in a limited fashion - it all counts.

3.  Chest and Arms. You have all heard of pecs - those chest muscles body builders work on to bulk up. We aren't interested in that, we are only interested in toning them to the point where we are comfortable and we help get rid of underlying fat. That goes for the arms too.  More than anything we are aiming of getting rid or at least reducing those butterfly wings we all end up. 

Protect your Back

This is my mantra and it should become yours. As I said before, all muscles depend on others and you cannot move without the muscles in your back being involve. With all your dips and hollows as well as the fact you have probably been inactive for some time, your back is vulnerable. In my toning exercises I take care to ensure my back isn't being strained. You will see I tell you how to do each exercise without strain so pay attention to the advice. We are just moving - not straining, not jerking. Make every move you make slow and smooth and stop at the point when you feel that is the limit of your range of movement. Do not exceed it, that will come on its own as you get better at it. Just be patient. 

My Toning Exercises

I do about 10 minute stretching in the morning in bed - I'll show you that next and I do some yoga at night before bedtime.  But otherwise I incorporate small movements throughout the day. I'll show you some for doing at your desk, while you are waiting in a queue, when you are doing chores. None of them take long, none of them are strenuous but they all move muscles. 

Over the next few weeks I am going to share how to effectively tone and slim with these ways to move muscle:
  1. by simple stretching
  2. by stretch and hold
  3. by small repetitive movements
So - I hope you join me. 


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Where to start for a healthier you

from Pixabay under creative commons

Turning it Round

Starting is always the hardest part. Realising you want to do something about how you look and more importantly, how you feel, is the very first step so congratulations - you're on your way!

I've written hints and tips in various places and I'll try not to repeat myself. I've started an index that you can check out when you have the time.

OK so there are some hard truths to face

  •  - there are no short cuts
  • - it all takes time
  • - you need to change your attitude to what you eat
  • - you need to change your attitude to how you move

That said - it can be relatively painless. As a woman over 60 I am so NOT interested in a starvation diet or in grunting and groaning through some sweaty class. So I am here to tell you it doesn't have to be like that. You can be in charge. Trust yourself to know what is best for you and what you can cope with.

Be realistic - know what you can do.

Be patient, it times to change bad habits into new healthier one but the good news is when you start to feel better and start to lose that flab it motivates you and you want to do more of the same. There may be some disappointments along the way but stick with it without sweating the little things. Don't give yourself a hard time if you eat a chocolate biscuit or take the bus into town - there is always tomorrow. I think it is taking the worry out of it that makes it easier. Don't look on it as A DIET and EXERCISE PROGRAMME, look it as a change of lifestyle, a choice to be healthier.

There are a couple of things you are aiming for

  1. - you are going to change your diet to healthier alternatives
  2. - you are going to move more

Let's face it, losing weight is all about using more calories than you consume. Weight management is balancing it all. Once you reach your target weight, that is what you will be doing.

grapefruit, tape measure and scales
Grapefruit, measuring tape and scales by annmackiemiller

You lose weight by a) eating a healthy diet and b) moving muscles. If you are overweight it is REALLY important you do some toning exercise to get rid of the flab and that is what I am going to concentrate on in subsequent posts. I will give you some tips on how to get those muscles moving in a bid to tone and slim and to generally help you feel better about yourself.

They are all suitable for women and men over 60 years old, they are not strenuous but they are effective.

Do only as much as you are comfortable with.

You DON'T have to do them all or even all at once, ie in one session. You can add an odd exercise in at any time during your day. If you go for it hell for leather right from the start the chances are you won't continue. Start slow and carefully and the chances are you will begin to feel so much better you will want to do more. Just give yourself time and give yourself a chance.

There are a couple of my summary articles you might find useful so I will leave you with that. Tomorrow we start to STRETCH AND SLIM.

My Top Tips for Losing Weight

Reviewing the 5:2 Diet. Finally, A Diet That Really Works? 

How to Get Trim Over 60

Losing Weight and Getting Slim When You are Over 60 Years Old

grapefruit and tape measure
Grapefruit and Tape Measure by annmackiemiller
Keeping trim isn't easy at any age but when you hit the 60 button it is extra hard. You aren't as able to keep up strenuous exercise and in general you are probably less active and probably tend to be a bit slack when it come to eating healthily.

Add to that the curve ball nature hands you with increased fat around the waist and you may struggle. OK, there is good reason for that middle in women - when you go through menopause your ovaries stop producing oestrogen and nature compensates with oestrogen retaining fat layers round your middle. 

Personally I was given a wake-up call a few weeks ago. Blood results showed I had raised cholesterol and impaired glucose tolerance and my weight hit an all-time high. I know I have neglected my health in the last couple of years partly due to the fact that I work from home, sitting at a computer for eight or ten hours a day. 

For the past six weeks I have been turning things around. I have gone back to much healthier eating and added some exercise to my daily routine. In my searches for advice I found lots of stuff about cardio exercise, usually demonstrated by slender young women, which are really beyond my ability or desire. I have never been particularly fond of aerobics and now - well I just can't be bothered with all the sweating and grunting. So I am adapting things I find helpful into something more manageable and more enjoyable for a woman of my age. 

 So far I have lost 1 stone and 4 inches each off chest, waist and hips. 

I thought it would be useful for me and for you out there if I share my experiences. What you will find here and in my other blogs is common sense advice, suggestions for making healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle and some exercises to help tone your body. 

The one thing I have to emphasize is that you should only follow the suggestions if your health permits and if in doubt ask your GP or Doctor. Never push yourself past the most comfortable point even if that means only moving very slightly - it will increase over time. Always move slowly so you can feel that comfort point, jerking may result in injury. 

So - let's get started ...