Celebrity trainer to fit 51 year old pop icon Janet Jackson, Paulette Sybliss reveals the most important healthy habits you can do now to protect your health in ten years’ time
Pop icon Janet Jackson was in the news last week as fans supported #JusticeForJanet. It was the eve of the 14th anniversary of her Superbowl performance with Justin Timberlake, whereby Timberlake accidentally ripped off Jackson’s top and revealed her breast.
Jackson, instead of Timberlake, was punished for the nip-slip, having to issue a public apology and face being ostracized by the media. But 14 years later, the #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay was born on Twitter and became viral. During Timberlake’s return to the Superbowl 2018 half time show, the hashtag jumped to number one trending spot, and her Spotify streams increased by 150 per cent.
Fans celebrated the choreography, style, music, and even feminism Jackson has given the world, and at age 51, nothing is holding her back. She continues to perform after four decades in the bizz, most recently finishing her 56 city State of the World tour in December. All whilst juggling the challenges of being a new mother – Jackson had her baby in January 2017. How does she do it? This time round, she trained with Paulette Sybliss, meeting two months into motherhood and sticking together whilst on tour.
Paulette did resistance training with light weights with Janet, repeating back to back movements for short and intense periods. Paulette says Janet was ‘dripping in sweat’. ‘We did three exercises back to back – 15 squats, 15 press ups and 15 lunges, sometimes with plyometric (explosive) movements.’ But there was no cardio involved, with a focus on lifting light weights.
Lesson one – why women should weight train
If there’s one thing Paulette feels strongly about, it’s the importance of lean muscle for women. ‘I hear every day women want to keep their curves, look feminine and be toned. But women focus too much on cardio in their 20s and 30s and they should really focus on getting lean muscle’, Paulette says. ‘When you reach my age its harder to get it, and when you get much older you really need the muscle because the body becomes frail.’
With 15 years experience in personal training women, Paulette is always reminding women, ‘You can lose weight but if there is no muscle underneath, you’ll have that skinny fat look.’
‘Healthy has no age limits’, says Paulette, who manages a fitness modelling career as well as being a mother at the age of 47. Her passion for educating women was sparked since a young age when her sister got Type 1 diabetes at the age of ten, which later onset epilepsy. ‘My parents didn’t really know what she should’ve been eating and they were feeding her the wrong type of carb such as bread. I know now, as a nutritionist, she should have had eaten things high in healthy fat and protein because that levels out your blood sugar. Her diabetes just got out of control.’
Paulette’s sister died at age 34 after a fatal fit. ‘That stayed with me and I thought I needed to get the message out and educate women on healthy living.’
Here, she gives her most important tips for every age (and we’ve thrown some JJ throwback’s in there too).
Healthy habits in your 20s
1. Find your hobby: Its important you enjoy exercise because then it won’t feel like exercise and you won’t get bored of it easily. There are so many different types of exercise and you’ll find one. Do it with friends to add a fun element. I never force what I liked to do on my 21 year old daughter, although she’s asked me what she can do to get fit. I’ve said go for a walk with your friends, that will never feel like work.
2. Enjoy socialising: In my 20s I felt like I could eat anything. At this age you should never stop enjoying yourself. If someone is drinking every night, that will become an issue. But it’s ridiculous to stay stop drinking. Keep incorporating exercise because what you do when your 20 will support you when you’re 40.
3. Surround yourself with positivity: Surround yourself with people that appreciate you as you are, rather than pointing the finger and peer pressuring you.
Take everything you seen on social media with a pinch of salt
4. Get confident: Its really key to build confidence when young. Everything is about looks now and its very hard – I’ve had my daughter in tears before. You have to remember there is only one of you. Take everything you see on social media with a pinch of salt. Do you know how many pictures Instagrammers have taken to get that angle?
5. Prepare for the period: When pre-menstrual (one or two weeks before your period), your body will probably retain water so you may put on weight or crave carbs. Do not battle it. I have a period diary so I know why I feel a certain way.
Healthy habits in your 30s
1. Start exercising now: You may not have thought about your health in your 20s and that’s fine. At this age you may feel things changing and it’s going to be a key time as things slow down in the 40s. There is lots of help on the internet, but a personal trainer will understand where are you in life and help you manage exercise realistically.
2. Focus on being a healthy mum: If you want to be a parent, I’d say focus on one thing at a time. If you’re pregnancy, enjoy the pregnancy, and they key is to stay healthy for that baby. There is too much pressure to get back into shape, but focus on what you need to do right now and what is in your control.
If you’re constantly drinking alcohol with a poor diet, you’re always getting an influx of sugar.
3. You don’t need a gym: If you do want to shift some baby weight, you’ll be surprised at how successful walking with a carrier or pushchair is. It’s the exercise I used and my baby loved the fresh air, too. With Janet, we did very short and intense exercise to get the heart rate up, burn fat and build muscle. If you’d saw here you’d think she’d come out of a sauna. There was no extreme diets or starving herself.
4. Understanding hormones: Some contraceptive pills contain more oestrogen than others and therefore you can put on weight and not understand why. GPs are great but they’ll give you what you ask and not think about your weight, so you could research and monitor how they effect you.
5. Leave out the sugar: People are getting type 2 diabetes a lot younger now, it’s quite frightening. At your 30s, you are on the cusp of developing a disease like this. If you’re constantly drinking alcohol with a poor diet, you’re always getting an influx of sugar. If you’ve been doing that for over ten years, eventually your body will say I’ve had enough. You can make changes now before it gets worse.
Healthy habits in your 40s
I love this age because I think you find yourself and focus on you.
1. Get off the scales: Don’t be too focused on the numbers. If someone feels good in a bikini or pair of jeans, why worry about the scales? I can never understand that. BMI isn’t right either. I come up as overweight due to muscle. Focus on fitting a size in clothing.
2. Don’t follow new fad diets: Monitor what you eat daily with a food and mood dairy and that’s a good indication of what you should be eating. I think a lot of people jump on the gluten or lactose free wagon but we need to do the research ourselves. Ask yourself, am I feeling ok? Am I bloated? Am I putting on weight? Don’t be afraid to eat or try things that others aren’t.
Eat things that have good fat in, such as a handful of nuts or avocado, in moderation.
3. Don’t fear fat: People said for years don’t eat fat, and now when I ask for full fat milk in a coffee shop, they often don’t have it. It’s only four per cent fat, but skimmed milk has been marketed and labelled as skinny milk which is ridiculous. Eat things that have good fat in, such as a handful of nuts or avocado, in moderation. These protect the heart.
4. Rev your metabolism: It’s harder to get rid of body fat round places like the waist and legs than it was when you were younger. Firstly, ask yourself if it is necessary to eat as much as you used to. Secondly, get the metabolism working by doing resistance training, rather than cardio, to rev the muscles and burn more calories.
Try to leave work on time and don’t answer emails at home
5. Sleep well: This is the age group where many are now mums and at the same time firmly established in their professional careers. These two things can be very stressful in their own rights as well as clashing. You should aim for a good seven hours of good quality sleep. Try to leave work on time, don’t answer emails at home, put your phone on silent, take at least two days off work a week, try to unwind an hour before bedtime, drink chamomile tea to relax you, and prepare for the next day the night before.
Healthy habits in your 50s +
It’s here we think, ‘I wish I had known this in my…’. At this age, you want to get the body working for you and not against you.
1. Nutrition is key: This can be a frightening time when the body is going through changes you can’t control. Being active and eating well can make things easier, even if it takes a few months to see the benefits, it’s worth it.
2. Try a holistic approach: Some women are given oeastrogen tablets to help symptoms of the perimenopause but lead to weight gain. Try to look at holistic approaches before taking a tablet. (Read: Perimenopause – a doctor’s guide to facing it the natural way)
3. Take time out: I think this is very important especially if you live in the city. People need to take at least one day a week to look forward to and do what they enjoy. Put your feet up, turn your phone off and just relax. Cortisol is a hormone that raises when you’re stressed and it can restrict weight loss.
4. Resistance training: Muscle is so important because the body naturally wastes it as you get older. Don’t worry, we don’t have the genetics to get ‘bulky’. Develop it slowly and try Pilates – the reformer bed is challenging and feels amazing. There is also types of yoga that count as resistance training which are great for mental health, too.
5. Supplement: These are not a magic pill. However if there are things you lack in your diet, you might want to try one. Good ones for women are fish oils for bones and skin, primrose oil and B complex. Vitamin D is also good during winter.
Paulette Sybliss is a certified female personal trainer with over 15 years experience in the Fitness Industry including one to one training, Group Fitness training & Presenting,Nutrition & Healthy Eating Coaching. She is also a Fitness Model Athlete, former Sprinter and long jump athlete and mother.
Visit her website. Follow her on Instagram.