Five mistakes midlife women make with diet and exercise

Celebrity personal trainer Claire Davis has noticed some of her female clients making the same mistakes when it comes to their diet and exercise regime.

Claire, who is also the co-founder of The Midlife Mentors and co-owner of the 38 Degrees North fitness retreats, has put together a list of these most common mistakes and given us the lowdown on what you should be doing instead:

1. Cut calories dangerously low

Many women drastically cut calories via diet fads, shakes, pills and protocols in the hope it will get results - and fast. The issue with this is that our metabolic rate is already slowing down as we age. When we reduce our calories, our body will preserve the energy it's expending and slow down the metabolic rate as it doesn't know when the next energy source is coming. When you socialise, eat out and lift some of the food restrictions your baseline metabolic rate is now lower. So you'll be in a greater calorie surplus as your body isn't using up the extra energy.

2. Eating carb-heavy meals at night

Often we see clients' food diaries and they're eating high glycaemic index (GI) carbs, such as potatoes, pasta, rice, and bread, for their evening meal and often late at night. This is bad news for a few reasons. Carbs are our primary energy source and need to be front-loaded in the day - for breakfast and lunch. If you eat them late at night, the energy doesn't get used up and this is then more likely to get stored as fat.

3. Not doing weights

This is a huge faux pas for women. The trepidation is mainly due to women being unsure of what to do with resistance equipment (weights) and a concern that they might bulk up. Firstly, endless cardio will never create a new body shape. So if you want to change the way you look - you must do resistance training.

Weights will help you build lean muscle. Remember - muscle is more metabolically active than fat. So the more muscle you have, the more energy (calories) you'll burn at rest.

4. Not eating enough protein

Recent studies show the hormone leptin (which signals to your brain that you're full) decreases as women age, meaning they are more likely to eat more calories than they use - creating a calorie surplus and increasing the chances of laying down belly fat.

Eating more good-quality protein - found in turkey, white fish, nuts and seeds - is a total game-changer. Protein triggers leptin and has been shown to significantly decrease the amount of calories consumed in a day.

5. Not aligning their beliefs and self-identity with their goal

If your beliefs and your actions are incongruent - you will never sustain the results for long. The internal dialogue will always win. Because the truth is you cannot outperform your self-identity. So if you're always self-sabotaging your efforts - it's a mindset issue, not the process.

What's the voice in your head telling you? What are your patterns of self-destruction? When does it happen? And can you locate where the belief originally came from? Once you are aware you can begin to choose new responses to the old triggers.