Fit Over 40: Lifestyle adjustments can give you the beach body of a 20-something.

Being buff is tough, especially after you turn 40. But a few adjustments to your exercise and nutrition habits will help you rock it like Rihanna at the beach this summer.

“Many people at 40 disqualify themselves from so much because of their age,” explains Adam Petropolis, district fitness manager at Mountainside Fitness. “There is not a certain age where everything is automatically downhill from there. The body can and will adapt and evolve regardless of your age. Obviously younger individuals have a different hormonal make-up than somebody turning 40, but that doesn’t mean 40-year-olds can’t achieve the best physiques of their lives.”

But before the first crunch, squat or spinning class, 40-somethings need to start at the dinner table.

“For 40-year-olds, I preach that which I have been following for years – a healthy diet,” says Dr. Burt Faibisoff, a surgeon with Four Peaks Plastic Surgery in Tempe. “It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself to look and feel better.”

One of the reasons 40-year-olds fall into unhealthy nutritional habits is lifestyle changes.

“Usually, income is rising, which causes more meals to be eaten out of home,” says Kevin Shepard, certified personal trainer and nutritionist at DC Ranch Village Health Club. “This causes an increase in calorie intake. With rising income there might be more travel. Any travel usually causes an increase in calorie intake. For some, life is accelerating. With this life acceleration, people tend to place healthy eating on the back burner. This leads to increased calorie intake. Basically, people at this age eat too much, and they are not exercising enough or have enough muscle mass to burn the calories.”

To control how much you eat, Shepard suggests buying a food scale.

“Learn correct eating portion size,” he says. “There really is not one food choice that should be excluded, just don’t each as much of it. You have to learn to eat less of everything.”

With the food scale, Shepard suggests buying a body weight scale and — not obsessing over your weight — but checking your weight weekly or bi-weekly.

“You’ll gain 10 pounds before you gain 15 pounds, and if you monitor your weight regularly you will know this,” he says. “Usually weight gain after age 40 is fat weight due to muscle mass loss. Eat quality protein food choices, fruits, salads, and vegetables.”

Once 40-somethings have their food consumption in order and are ready to get their bodies back into belly-baring condition, many are turning to cosmetic surgeons to give them a jump start.

“The goal for many patients is to maintain the slender and fit look,” Faibisoff says. For women (in their 40s), it’s breast enlargements and lifts, plus liposuction. Men want to get rid of the belt of fat around their mid-section, particularly the area below the belly button and love handles.”

When it comes to getting fit or staying fit, Petropolis stresses the importance of learning from experts.

“Exercise is a science, and it’s ever-evolving as new research comes out,” he points out. “This can be especially dangerous with men who remember the exercises they did for high school football and try to jump right back into those. The ego can get the best of men in this scenario.”

Petropolis says that if exercise is not your area of expertise, it’s wise to invest in a personal trainer to get you started.

“If you want the latest and most up-to-date methods, work with somebody whose job it is to be educated in such things,” he says. “Once you finish with a package, you should have a much greater understanding of exercise and specifically strength training.”

Fit Over 40

Mai Ling Chan, 40, is the mother of two boys, ages 16 and 13. To stay fit, she does strength training at Mountainside Fitness. “Working out three times a week is part of my life now,” she says. “I love how strong my heart is and how much my body can do. And my kids are so very supportive of me. They even help to make dinner on the nights I am a little later at the gym.”

For more information about staying fit over 40:

Mountainside Fitness
11611 E. Sahuaro Dr., Scottsdale
(480) 889-8889

Four Peaks Plastic Surgery
1492 S. Mill Ave., #201, Tempe
(480) 968-2945

DC Ranch Village Health Club
18501 N. Thompson Peak Pkwy., Scottsdale
(480) 502-8844

Scottsdale Living Magazine Summer 2012