I am so excited my mother-in-law, the amazing Sonje Mayo, has agreed to share some of her exercise and beauty secrets with my readers.
To say that she is an inspiration is a huge understatement. At 70 years old, she can rock a bikini better than most women half her age. In fact after our first family beach vacation, I turned to Saul, and promptly informed him that there was no chance at all, that I would age as gracefully or have a body anything like his mom’s.
Sonje was born in South Africa where she qualified as a certified physical therapist. She began dancing at the age of 4 and her professional dance career took her all over the world, where she won many international awards. In New York she danced with “The Alvin Ailey Company”. She also had the privilege of studying with Joseph Pilates the father of Pilates. These sessions had a profound influence on her and today she is one of one of the few “Pilates Master Instructors” in America.
I am confident that if you lived in South Africa and studied dance, that you came across her body of work or your dance teachers trained under her. Unfortunately I was blessed with 2 left feet, but that hasn’t prevented me from learning from Sonje’s wealth of experience.
I will never forget the look on my gynecologist’s face, when 1 day after delivering Jade by C-section, he walked into the hospital room to find Sonje instructing me to “lift my navel in and up and tense my deep core muscles”. She added small progressions daily, but without her, I would never have been able to bounce back from pregnancy and reclaim my six pack.
There is no one I know with more knowledge about the body and core. Here are some of the questions I have, but if you would like to contact Sonje you can do check out her website
MM: As women age, we gain weight more easily and it is harder to lose those extra pounds. What advice do you have for women struggling with this?
SM : I am the perfect example. For someone who NEVER had a weight problem, I was appalled to find my waist thickening. The more I obsessed with futile diets, the worse it got. I exercised like a woman possessed and that led to binging, guilt and general disgust! Fortunately common sense kicked in….. Ultimately it is our mental outlook that needs the most attention.
MM: I know you believe exercise needs to become part of your lifestyle and that this should be done in moderation. Can you elaborate?
SM: As we age, our energy levels drop and our motivation to exercise declines. With exercise, consistency is the key… Never too much; never too little !! Set aside the days and times every week that you plan on exercising and stick to your intentions. If something comes up, immediately find another time for your exercise.
MM: What is the most common problem you see with women as we age?
SM: Most women faced with the changes that occur with ageing, either exercise far too much, hoping that this will burn calories and allow them to eat more. Please remember that exercise makes one very hungry, especially if one overdoes it. Others just buy bigger jeans, hoping that it will all go away……it is called denial.
MM: What is an ideal workout routine?
SM: Exercising 3 to 4 times a week is quite sufficient BUT it is what you do that counts. A good balance is 2 sessions of some cardio-vascular activity (a brisk walk or the cardio machines at the gym). Maintain your optimum heart rate for 25 to 28 minutes. After that the benefits start declining in terms of wear and tear on your joints. To balance the cardio one ideally needs one Yoga and one Pilates session per week to enhance flexibility and muscle strength and to attain the essential mind/body/spirit connection that yoga & Pilates provide.
MM: Eating is a huge part of it. What eating regimen do you follow?
SM: Firstly, breakfast is essential. Most women skip breakfast because they do not feel hungry or believe that coffee alone is sufficient. They also erroneously believe that if they eat less their stomachs ‘will not stretch’ and demand more food. Eating like exercise has to be regular, consistent and in moderation. On the days that I do not eat regularly, I tire far quicker and I tend to be more impatient and lack focus ……”You are what you eat!”
MM: I know you are big on planning your meals ahead of time, just like your exercise regime.
SM: We are all different in our needs, but eating fresh food regularly is very necessary as you age. Remember that cell mutation and the problems that go with it, will occur as we age, so the least we can do is feed the body well with good, healthy food.
MM: Thanks for sharing your secrets with us. Hopefully I will be able to age as gracefully as you.
SM: At 70, I am not the “sylph” I used to be, but I have achieved balance and I enjoy planning my meals and exercise to cope with my busy schedule. My weight is stable, I am in control and I will camouflage accordingly! To quote Dylan Thomas … “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should rave and burn at close of day, Rage, rage against the dying of the light….”
Find out more about Sonje Mayo at www.sonjemayo.com