I am a 53 year old woman who from the age of 30 and after two children had gained weighted about 230 lbs. I am only 5 feet 3 inches. It was not until about the age of 40 that I started to get busy and change my eating habits. I got back down to 145 lbs for about 6 years. Over the next few years, I put back on about 45 lbs. I have just recently joined an all womens health club. I am there about 4 to 5 days a week. I do both aerobic and circuit training with help from one of their trainers on staff. (not a personal trainer) I am on a sensible eating plan of 5 small meals a day. I have lost several inches and about 8 lbs. I am down from a size 16 to a size 14. I can see that my thighs are smoothing out and getting smaller and more firm. My calves are however, getting very muscular and firm. They seem to be out of proportion to the rest of my leg. I am worried that they will not slim because they are so muscular and firm. Could I be doing something that would prevent them from slimming down? Is there something I can do to make sure they do not continue to build so much muscle?

Congratulations on continuing to develop healthy eating and exercise habits. As you know, when we age, it becomes more difficult to maintain weight, let alone lose weight. So, clearly, you are doing something right and your hard work is paying off.

Since I am not sure exactly what you are doing for your workouts, it is difficult to tell you what to change, add or eliminate. However, one thing to remember when you are exercising several days a week, you need to vary your activities throughout the week.

I have noticed with clients of mine that are carrying excess weight, that certain areas of the body appear to suddenly develop, while in fact it is simply a decrease of fat and an increase of definition of an existing muscle.

Therefore, my recommendations for clients in your circumstance involve a varied routine that includes strength training of 15-20 repetitions at a low weight, cardiovascular training of 20-45 minutes as well as flexibility exercises that focus on lengthening the muscles of your body.

It is also very important to take specific measurements of your body so that you know exactly how your body is changing. Body fat analysis sets a baseline for charting your progress accurately, this can be done using calipers or on a specialized scale that uses bioelectrical impedence to measure the fat to muscle ratio. Circumferential measurements using a flexible tape allow you to see exactly where the changes are happening. These typically include: chest (measured under your arms and across your chest), waist (measured directly over your belly button), hips (measured with your feet together and at the widest part of your buttocks), thighs (measured mid way between your hip and your knee), and calves (measured at the widest part of your calf muscle).

Keep in mind that you are born with a specific body-type and no matter what type of exercises you do to regain your strength and endurance, you are likely to gain strength and lose weight in specific areas regardless of the type of exercise you do. Having said that, I would encourage you to keep your repetitions high and your weight low for the strength-training portion of your workouts. And, adding a muscle-lengthening type of activity such as Pilates will help give your calves a longer leaner appearance.

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