Q&A: Strength and Conditioning Specialist Mary C. Weaver

An NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist, Weaver completed a series of teleseminars July 14 on weight loss secrets for women over 40—the replay is available free to the public.

Why focus on women older than 40?

Well, that's my demographic, so I understand midlife women. Also, plenty of women start getting serious about their health and weight after they hit 40. It gets pretty obvious that their metabolism has slowed down, and if they don't do something, it's going to get worse.

Is this your first year full-time?

Yes. I've trained people on and off for years, but I quit my job in March to do this full-time.

You lost 35 pounds with these methods?

Yes. I had a rude awakening when I was in my mid-40s. I'd gotten kind of lazy, then started a new job that was really stressful. I was working too much, not working out enough, and going to Burger King for lunch. About a year into the job, I was going to have to buy slacks in a new and scary size. I just couldn't do it. That was the tipping point.

What's most difficult for you personally?

Not letting work responsibilities get in the way of my training.

What tends to shock women most about your message?

I cite all kinds of studies on the negative effects of extreme dieting on metabolism, appetite-regulating hormones, and muscle mass. Most women find that pretty surprising.

Are there any commonalities with men over 40?

Oh, sure. Everything I teach can be applied to men. I just have more in common with female clients—I can communicate better with women about not just the facts but also the emotional baggage of weight loss.

Is there anything anyone could just start doing tomorrow that would help?

Absolutely. Don't eat out so much. Stand more often. Walk, if you don't already have an exercise habit. If you do work out, add strength training to the mix. Watch the liquid calories—soda, booze, fruit juice. If you're a woman, you probably need to eat more protein. And never go on a crash diet.

Is it harder to coach over the phone?

Not really. I'm teaching the principles of healthy fat loss and exercise. Once I know a client's health history and limitations, I can prescribe an exercise program. If I can't meet with her, I'll recommend she hire a trainer for at least a session or two so she can learn the proper way to do the moves.

Can you share a success story?

My favorite involves a woman who had a really slow metabolism but lost 80 pounds through sensible eating, strength training, and cardio. I think she went from about a size 20 to an 8. She made good progress, then hit a plateau. She was convinced she was eating less than she actually was. Sure enough, once I got her to start keeping a food journal and tracking calories, she got off that plateau.

How do you deliver on your "no BS" promise?

I keep up with the obesity and fitness research, and everything I teach is based on solid scientific principles. I don't recommend anything crazy or trendy. No oddball foods, no pills, no cutting out whole categories of nutrients.

For more information and to see the teleseminar: primefitnessforwomen.com.