At 53, Madonna is proving that she’s still got a body to make teens blush. But how do ordinary women achieve the same physique? We asked two ripped 50-somethings…
‘My muscles win awards’
Tracy Austin, 50, is a personal trainer. She lives in Horley, Surrey, with her husband John, 65, a British Airways cabin crew director, their daughter Lucy, nine, and Tracy’s children, Christopher, 27, and Katie, 25. She says:“There are times when I look in the mirror and can’t quite believe this body is mine. As a mum of three in her 50s, looking like this feels a bit surreal.
But don’t call me lucky. Despite what they tell you in celebrity land, a body this good does not come for free. A lot of work has gone into my washboard abs, muscular limbs and pert bum – and I’m proud of them because of it.
This time last year I weighed about 11st, was a size 12-14 and wore loose clothes to hide my bum.
I’d tried to overhaul my body four years ago. I qualified as a personal trainer, but was too busy training other people to focus on myself. I stopped putting effort into my own body and had little self-control, eating cheese and puddings far too often.
That all changed in January this year when a client told me about Miss Galaxy Universe, a fitness and beauty pageant.
With different age groups and categories, including ‘Yummy Mummy’ and ‘Fitness Model’, I decided to enter, and gave myself five months to prepare. I trained hard, spending an hour in the gym after work six days a week, and followed a special diet to help me lose fat and build muscle. I ate every two hours, starting with porridge and an egg-white omelette for breakfast, chicken salad for lunch and beef stir-fry for dinner. I’d have cottage cheese and protein shakes as snacks.
It was hard work, but I loved watching my body change every day. As I became more toned and muscular, my confidence soared. My weight dropped to 9st 4lb and I wore a size 10 for the first time in years. It felt amazing.
The competition was held in May at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, and I entered the over-36 ‘Fitness Model’ category.
I was terrified: the other competitors were over a decade younger than me and I hadn’t worn a bikini in years. But I was delighted to come fifth. I then entered the British Natural Bodybuilding Federation’s Southern Championships and won the over-40s category. The national finals are later this month.
Sitting backstage, clutching my trophy, I thought about how far I’d come. I’d gone from being a middle-aged mum, who hid her bum away, to this confident, honed woman, posing in a bikini.
My husband, John, is very fit and works out every day, so he’s a great support. He and my children are very proud of me. There aren’t too many bodybuilding mums at the school gates!
Some people might think I’m trying to fight the ageing process, but what’s wrong with being fit and attractive at any age? I’m determined to hang on to this body, but I’d never resort to surgery. I get a massive sense of satisfaction knowing I’ve achieved this through hard work.”
‘I inspire other women’
Kay Fletcher, 53, lives in Ipswich, Suffolk, with her husband Ian, 56. They run a Rosemary Conley diet and fitness franchise. She says: “Standing in front of a class of women, I know they see me as a role model. If I can look like this at 53, they believe they can too.
I’m 5ft 5in tall, weigh 8st 10lb and wear size-8 clothes. Not bad, eh? But I have to work hard and it gets harder the older I get. I teach 11 exercise classes a week and eat very sensibly.
In the past, a woman over 50 was considered over the hill and some would let themselves go – I don’t think I ever will.
My mum, who died six years ago aged 76, was a size 14 and never dieted. That generation didn’t feel the same pressure from themselves or society to stay in shape.
Women of my generation have very glamorous role models like Madonna, inspiring us to work at looking our best regardless of our age.
Five years ago, I was almost 1½st heavier than I am now and struggling to fit into a size 12. I’d travelled for a year with my husband, Ian, eating out and staying in hotels. We’d left our jobs in 2006 – I was a director for a recruitment company – and taken some time out.
I wasn’t overweight, but I wasn’t happy with my size. When we returned to the UK, it seemed natural to combine a desire to shape up with a new career.
I trained as a Rosemary Conley franchisee, and from April to September 2007 I started shedding weight while learning about fitness and nutrition.
Ian’s proud of me, as are my friends, who have seen the discipline it’s taken. Monday to Thursday, when I teach classes, I stick to a low-fat diet of porridge, fish, vegetables and fruit. At the weekend, I relax it a little and eat pasta, eggs, a piece of cake and a glass of wine with my dinner.
If you’d told me five years ago I’d be posing in my underwear in a magazine, I’d have laughed. But I’m proud of how I look – why shouldn’t I be?”
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