How to have a midlife reinvention: Change your career, your lifestyle and UP your happiness levels by Emma Forbes
-Nov 15, Jenny Paul , Living -
Hitting your forties and fifties can be a tricky time: Your hormones are all over the place, your skin and hair seem to have minds of their own and all of a sudden you’re not sleeping well so you’re tired all the time plus you’re suddenly piling on weight like a triathlete during an off season bulking phase. Add in the fact that your kids have left home so you’re suddenly at a loss about what to do with your free time, or the career you longed for in your younger years now fills you with feelings of doom yet it feels as though it’s too late to suddenly put the brakes on and do something positive to change all of this.
Put quite simply, you don’t look or feel your best. But it turns out that there’s lots you can do to change all of this – read on.
How Emma Forbes decided she needed a lifestyle change
Emma Forbes went through a midlife crisis reversal when she turned 50 after her two children left home and she decided that it was time for a change.
She says: ‘I had my children and never lost my baby weight. It’s fine when kids are aged two or three, but there’s a problem when they are 20.
‘For me, I wanted to lose that weight. I didn’t recognise myself. You don’t look at that section of you.
She explains: ‘Everyone made such a big deal about me turning 50 and were like are you gonna have a party? But I just wanted a change. You’re very vulnerable at 50.
‘I just felt ‘I’m turning 50 and I wanted to get fit and healthy’ and enter the next bit of my life feeling the best that I could,’ she went on.
Emma is mother to Lily, 21, and Sam, 20, from her 32-year marriage to financier Graham Clempson. She says that it was her children leaving home which partly prompted her to take action and change her lifestyle.
How to overcome empty nest syndrome
She said: ‘I had empty nest syndrome and I didn’t want to be at home and eating. I just thought, have a lifestyle change.
‘I didn’t want surgery. I’d end up on Botched. I thought it’s time to get on top of health. So I gave up sugar and I walked. I hiked up mountains.’
It was in late 2011, when Emma realised that she had around 10lb of excess weight which she could not shift and after interviewing personal trainer James Duigan she decided to completely reinvent her diet and exercise regime.
Emma explains: ‘I don’t own scales and I never weigh myself, but my clothes were getting tight. Extra fat clung to my tummy, my back and my bottom. I was definitely losing my shape — and I hated it.
How to fight your metabolism changes as you age
‘In my 20s and 30s, I never had to think about my weight and, if I did put on a little, I could drop 2lb in a day by cutting back. But your metabolism really changes as you age.
‘I’ve always been a healthy eater — I used to start the morning with a big bowl of muesli, and snack on bananas and crackers. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, or why I was flabby.
‘Then I interviewed an amazing man called James Duigan for my style website. He’s the personal trainer to stars such as Holly Valance and Elle Macpherson and had devised a programme called ‘Clean And Lean’.
It’s possible that your diet can be too healthy
‘James explained that my diet was actually too healthy. I was eating so much fruit and so many vegetables that I got hungry easily — and was tempted to reach for a muffin or some biscuits to stave off the hunger pangs.
Eat more protein and less carbs and sugar to lose weight
‘He told me I needed to cut back on the sugary fruit and the carbohydrates and eat more protein. It was a revelation. It’s completely changed the way I eat and — I’m convinced — helped reshape my body.
The ideal diet for weight loss
‘I now start the day with cottage cheese and avocado on rye bread, or a pancake stuffed with cottage cheese and berries. I have soup for lunch, and maybe grilled fish with salad or lamb cutlets with roasted courgettes in the evening.
‘Instead of snacking on fruit, I eat almonds. I love dairy, so I eat a lot of Greek yoghurt and butter. And I always go for the full-fat versions, as I think they are more natural than low-fat and fill me up more.
Inside Emma’s weight loss regime
‘I loathe exercise, but I realised the only way to get toned was to get myself into the gym. So 18 months ago, with the help of a personal trainer, I started a regime. My aim was to work my core muscles and tone my legs and arms. I’m very disciplined. I have three, one-hour sessions a week when I do everything from stomach crunches to weight lifting.
‘There’s nothing sophisticated about it. It’s all very basic stuff — but, boy, does it work.
The added bonus of exercise is the happiness feelings from endorphins
‘I also have a treadmill in my spare bedroom which I use to burn calories and tone my body. The adrenalin rush is amazing. I power-walk three miles a couple of times a week — really pounding away. I walk as fast as I used to run. I also try to walk everywhere instead of getting in a cab.
‘I am convinced that if you want to look good, and stay supple, you have to keep moving.
‘Even on holiday I can’t afford to let things slip. I am in the gym every day.
How Emma’s energy levels soared
‘In the past 18 months, I have noticed a huge difference. I felt a real surge in my energy levels very quickly, though the rest came more slowly. I don’t believe in quick fixes. If you lose weight super-fast, I think it always comes back on.
‘My arms are more toned, my stomach is flatter and that extra weight has dropped off. It’s still a work in progress, and I know I can’t stop if I want to keep looking good. I’m strict — but I’ve tried hard not to be fanatical. The idea of getting up at dawn to juice carrots or of beating myself up if I don’t go power-walking on a foul, rainy day just makes me laugh.
‘I’m also acutely aware that with teenage children, especially an impressionable daughter, I have to be careful to set a good example. I don’t want them to get obsessed with their weight or their looks.
Why you should set realistic expectations
‘I also have to be realistic. There’s only so much one can do with diet and exercise. At 47, I’m never going to be able to go bra-less again. Besides, I’m proud of my curves, and I’m convinced that if you lose too much weight in your 40s, you can end up looking gaunt.
Why Emma switched from brown to blonde hair
‘I just thought it would be fun a bit of reinvention.’
How Emma changed her career
If you’d like to read more about what former TV favourite and Live and Kicking host Emma is up to now she spoke to us about her latest venture and what’s driving her.