By Liana Jacob
MEET THE stunning mum who at the age of FIFTY-ONE regularly gets told that she looks better than girls in their twenties – and she claims that men are constantly sliding into her DMs with dating requests because of it.
Despite being a naturally slim woman, personal trainer and holistic health practitioner, Laura Heikkila (51) from California, USA, didn’t feel very confident in her own skin and would eat processed food, while solely focusing on cardio at the gym.
At just 7st 9Ib and UK size six, Laura never took her health very seriously, it wasn’t until she was pregnant with her daughter, Jayden (now 16), in 2002, that her attitude to fitness changed. Being in her mid-thirties meant that she found it harder to lose weight and this led to her passion for weightlifting and cooking healthy meals.
Over the next 15 years she re-focused her fitness on weights rather than cardio and this helped her build muscle and lose her baby weight fast. Her figure has maintained its shape at 8st 6Ib and UK size six, despite increasing her calorie intake by 600 a day.
Her muscular figure has prompted many positive comments from strangers who tell her she looks better than girls in their twenties.
She has since created a fitness community called Ageless Women and has over 26,000 followers on Instagram and now gets requests from men who slide into her DMs (direct messages), which she says her husband, Jay (49) is cool with as they have been married for 20 years.
“When I was in my twenties and early thirties, staying thin just came naturally to me; I exercised a little but can’t say my diet was that great,” Laura said.
“After I had my daughter at thirty-five; it was a little more difficult to lose the weight and that was when I discovered my passion for working out and cooking healthy meals.
“I’ve been consistent with my diet and exercise for the last fifteen years which has helped me maintain my body.
“When I was in my twenties I never really thought much about my health; I just wanted to be thin, so I did mainly cardio, but really ate whatever.
“I probably had a lot less confidence at the time and could never imagine posting the pictures I do now, although I guess that wasn’t an option since there was no internet.
“I think when I first started getting really serious about my health and fitness at thirty-five it was to lose the baby weight, but then I discovered weight training and how I could change the composition of my body and I was hooked.
“Now it has become more about my health and longevity. My father suffers from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and that has really motivated me to stay healthy and fit.
“Being consistent has been the key to my success; I eat a diet of whole foods which is largely plant based along with some organic chicken, turkey and wild caught fish. I weight train several days a week and also incorporate high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts and yoga.
“Maintaining my body has allowed me to live an active life with a lot of travel and it has also given me a platform in social media to help other women regain their confidence.
“My husband is proud to have a fit wife and he has been really cool about all the male attention I get especially since I started my IG account which sometimes seems more like a dating site because guys are always sliding into your DMs.
“But I don’t think much of it because my pictures are there to inspire women to not give up on themselves.
“I get comments like, ‘are you really fifty?’ ‘You look like you’re in your twenties’ or ‘do you date younger guys?’ To which I respond that my husband frowns upon that.”
Laura says that her husband is also into his fitness and her fitness has positively affected their marriage.
“I feel that I have so much more body awareness and confidence than when I was in my twenties. I truly know what it feels like now to have an abundance of energy and I don’t suffer from constant stomach aches that I had in my twenties due to poor diet,” she said.
“I feel more confident in my skin and I’m proud to be fifty-two and tell people my age, because I feel my body reflects someone that has taken care of their health.
“I started my IG page the year of my fiftieth birthday to document my journey to turning fifty; I wanted to share the changes I was making to improve my health and body, also I wanted to hopefully inspire other women to not give up on themselves.
“My husband is also very fit so it’s a passion that we share, and I think we both appreciate that about each other because we still find each other ‘hot’.
“I no longer do long sessions of cardio like I did in my younger days but stick more to a regimen of weight training.
“I love to be active on the weekends outdoors by hiking or walking on the beach. I also no longer eat processed foods like I did in my twenties, but rather I cook most of my meals from scratch using whole foods.
“When people see my now, they always comment on my being fit and then when they find out how old I am I usually get the comment, ‘you look better than girls in their twenties’.
“When I was in my twenties people used to ask how I stayed thin and honestly I didn’t have to do much back then. Now it definitely takes a lot more time and effort to maintain.
“My advice to someone getting started would be start off slowing with creating healthier habits. Eat a diet of real food and avoid processed food.
“Concentrate on weight training as you get older, because we naturally lose muscle as we age and need to constantly be working on building more.
“Don’t starve yourself. Your body needs healthy food and protein to grow and maintain lean muscle. Stay away from long intense cardio sessions as this only produces more cortisol in the body which leads to weight gain.”