Our body is naturally getting old. It’s changing. That’s only logical. Things, that have worked for the body 10 or 20 years ago, are simply not working anymore. It’s also more likely that the body fat is suddenly being stored in completely new places on our body and that our muscles are being formed much slower than before.
“You’re getting old, get over it” is what I hear from left and right. But what if I just can’t get over it? Is it so wrong that I still want to look good, feel great and just not have that stubborn belly fat?
Taking care of your body after the age of 35 is a completely new term. The fitness plan that has been working so well is suddenly just not doing it and the only thing that the quick-fix fad-diets are doing, is pushing you to call your therapist rather than getting you that bikini body.
For the past year, I have been spending quite a substantial amount of time by analysing my body – working out what is working for it and what is not. The fitness routine, the correct diet and the required recovery… All this has therefore become a big part of my life, which led me to write about it as well. No, the Janatini will not become a new fitness blog now and I also do not want this to come off as a superficial article where a skinny woman is trying to deal with the 20 grams of extra body fat to boost her ego.
However, my job is based in the beauty and fashion industry and I have come to a conclusion that the outside beauty is a reflection of what is going on on the inside.
We often tend to live by some kind of templates or routines and this applies to working out as well. We then wonder, why are we not getting the same results as that specific fitness model/ our neighbour/ sister/ ourselves X years ago. And that is what my next blog series will be all about.
Since my teenage years my body has gone through a long and interesting way. It’s been two decades of constant judgement of how it looks, how it works, what works for it and what doesn’t. It’s been put through countless of diets (healthy, as well as unhealthy ones), exhausting and stressful seasons but also through a good amount of parties that probably impacted my body the most. Moreover, it’s been through countless number of tough training sessions, months without any training at all, seasons of complete burn-out and desperation and even one surgery. Every season is connected to a specific age and all of these seasons have taught me a great deal about my body. But let’s take it one step at a time.
When I was young and just starting out with my modelling career, it was all about the size of my waist line, my bust and my hips. One centimetre extra was treated as a catastrophe and two centimetres extra was as close to being fired, as it can get. We got an ultimatum – “either-or” – you either went on a fasting diet or 7 days straight eating just apples. Nobody in the modelling agencies would bother explaining to us the basics of a healthy and nutritious diet. Or just mentioned the bare fact that salt or other additives tend to hold a lot of water weight in the body, so it would be enough to stay away from foods with high salt content and the extra centimetre would probably disappear. They didn’t care much and we were just munching on those juicy fruits from grandma’s garden and tricked ourselves into thinking that this is definitely covering our recommended daily calorie intake. The yoyo effect term wasn’t that well known then, as it is now and nobody cared how did we get to the required size as long as we got there.
Thankfully, I never had major body weight shifts, but I knew of many girls that would spend days and nights, even weeks, crying and not eating. It was horrible to witness this and it’s only coming to me now, what a major trauma this must have caused these girls.
It wasn’t the top priority in the 90s to focus on how does one feel in their own body or what the different diets are doing to it in the long term. At least not in the modelling environment that I was based in. Models would eat rice and ketchup or just rice chased with coffee for weeks on. It was preferred to just stop eating rather than get our asses moving and our agencies just did not care. The trend of various training methods wasn’t common at all and the goal of working out wasn’t to feel good in your body but rather to look good. It was an interesting period and I was lucky to be born with good metabolism and body structure. Even though my muscles were on the softer side, I was always able to shed those extra 1-2 kgs in a few days.
My body has surely been through a lot. As a child, I didn’t do any sports, if I don’t count the occasional jumping rope skips after school, haha. I left to go to Asia and that’s where I found my way to working out – because I was left with no other choice. My body has suddenly started to change as the years have passed and even though it looked more or less the same, the extra centimetres were present. One could say that I did work out in the classic sense but I don’t posses a major recollection of that WOW effect one would expect now. It was purely out of the ‘looks’ reasons and I know today that that was a mistake. When I was 22, I got a serious food poisoning during my holiday in Thailand. Even though the doctors did their part to get me out of it, I suffered from major weight loss and I had hard time gaining any weight. The stomach issues were pertaining for almost two years after that. But I thought I was lucky then! I didn’t have to suffer in the gym and my measurements were under my usual average. I could have eaten what I wanted – without any consequences at all…
First time, when I experienced that real endorphin release and euphoria after working out, was when I turned 27. I was living in LA and I would be in the gym every day. As I only had a budget of 100 dollars a week (which in LA translates into zero point zero nothing), and I got my gym membership for free, I would be there everyday. I would be walking half an hour to get there, half an hour to walk back, an hour of pilates or a ballet class plus some cardio afterwards. It was a huge gym with beautiful people and I just loved spending my time there. I wouldn’t go there to lose weight. I went there to literally kill the time, as I wasn’t left with much else to do in LA, as I didn’t have that extra cash to spend. I was living off of chicken and rice and some nuts with fruit, which was the cheapest, as well as the healthiest possible option that I could afford. In 3-4 weeks I started noticing that my body was absolutely transformed – with ripped muscles – the ultimate Sporty Spice! I have never been as fit as I was then and there and I was just wondering how was I able to get there. That’s when it hit me: the foundation for progress is when the sport is truly bringing you joy. It became a part of my life and for the remaining months I would be taking that walk to that gym every single day like a Californian gazelle on the streets.
After I returned to Shanghai, my fitness routine continued but not in the same frequency and intensity. The action-full (and not really healthy) lifestyle of night-time events, that I would be organising, as well as my job in general were becoming truly exhausting. I would be working out mostly to charge up with endorphins and to make myself think I have that needed balance between my day and night life. Workouts would keep me sane and my weight was around 48-50kg (just to compare, now I weigh 60kg). I would have regrets because of my unhealthy life style and so I started educating myself about Chinese Medicine. I found out that every part of food based on Chinese Medicine as well as the combination of foods (even though sometimes they don’t make sense) are supporting different organs in the body. It really lid a spark with me and I spend almost a year going to different Chinese medicine courses.
When I got back home, I got a job in Prague in one of the modelling agencies as a production manager. I was back in the familiar environment I used to work in and suddenly felt the same exact pressure, even though I was not modelling anymore. I was working out every day and my diet was healthy but my measurements were far from my goals. No matter what I did, my hip measurements would not go under 94 cm and because I was so used to having my average 89 cm, I was quite stressed about it (even though now I know this stress was totally nonsensical). What was I doing wrong?
I was concentrating too much on losing weight and not on enjoying moving my body. I was 7 kilos lighter and 7 years younger than now but I was one unhappy mess. I didn’t understand why did it not work, to workout more and eat less.
One year later, I received a job offer to be a costume designer on the Slovak TV series called Panelak. This was a two-year long, nonstop rollercoaster. There was no time left for the gym or other such activities and I would be dealing with my extreme stress and exhaustion by eating more food and sweets. I would be working out only during the warm months, when the set was on a filming break but otherwise, I gained good 5 kilos and I just did not care. I found out that the same amounts of food that I ate in the past, are leaving its visible mark on my body now. I did not have the time to be bothered with it but it was bothering me. My body was suddenly changing its shape and my skin was transforming its texture. I realised that if I don’t start doing something about it, from the outside as well as inside, I would become the so-called “skinny fat person”.
When I turned 33, I met Matus Juran – a personal trainer working in the All out gym (used to be called Bootcamp – workouts throughout the whole year, outside at Kuchajda lake). Besides being a trainer, Matus creates tailored meal plans, and that’s when he created a first one for me. He taught me some simple tricks on what to eat when we don’t feel just right with our bodies and he explained to me the basics of correct metabolism function. He also confirmed to me that with age, the metabolism is logically slowing down, and the body fat is starting to go to places, where we are not used to seeing it… I work with Matus up to this day and he actually just created a new meal plan for me, at the start of this year, that I’ve been following already for the past two weeks.
After the age of 35, the woman body is a whole new chapter. My body is like a slow motion movie – whatever you do, it’s always like that slow-mo action. Today, I cannot expect to see progress after only 2-4 weeks. I have to wait months to see what I was able to see within a month in the old days. And diet? Two glasses of wine extra and I can already see it on my stomach.
The last two years were definitely the biggest challenge for me. Quick fad-diets stopped working for me (the Dukan diet has brought me almost no effect two years ago, before my trip to Bali) and the daily workout routine will just not get rid of that extra stubborn fat, if your diet includes wine, for example. The “orange-peel” skin will suddenly start appearing on places of our body we couldn’t even imagine before and the tricep area, that you’ve been busting your butt off to lose weight in for the past 6 months, is still hanging when you’re waving your parents goodbye. Bottom line – every half a year brings a new lesson and I can barely wrap my head around it.
But why am I writing all of this in such depth?
We spend good amount of time analysing our bodies our whole lives. Some more than others. When we’re young we tend to deal with how it looks like on the outside and we work out to look good. With age, we start to understand that working out is crucial to the correct functioning of our bodies, but we need to be motivated to do it. We start to put emphasis on what we are feeding it. To find that right balance that works for us is never easy, though. Me personally, I never lost that desire to look good and I never aim to give this desire up. However, it took a good amount of time to find that “healthy” and right path for me and I still plan on working on it everyday. Therefore, I decided to document it here on my blog, in regular manner. Maybe some of you will find this helpful and it will help you achieve those specific goals, which I have been (and still am) struggling to achieve. Writing about this will also help me to stay consistent in the regime I set myself forth.
Working out. Diets. Metabolism. Detox. Cellulite. No Alcohol.
All that and much more is what this series will be about and I already cannot wait for your reactions.
PHOTO by JOZEF KROVINA & My Archives
NOTE: These are not actually photos I was planning to use for this article. Originally I wanted to include more “real life” photos and my “modeling polaroids” in bikini and no makeup, that have captured me trough out the decades. Unfortunately my external hard drive died on me and I can’t get to them… 🙁 At least not for now. If I manage to get the files out, I will include the photos in another part of the series. There is many more to come!