Fitness expert Joanna Hall answers your questions

I’m female, mid-50s, 5ft 2in, and I weigh 14 stone. I am an apple shape, carrying excess weight around my stomach. My normal weight used to be nine stone, but I’ve never had a waist to speak of. I am planning a fitness campaign: I enjoy rowing and swimming at the gym.

You need to attack the apple from two perspectives: health and appearance. Nutritionally, I’d recommend my carb curfew – no bread, pasta, rice or potatoes after 5pm. Your evening meal is based on vegetables, fruit, pulses, lean protein (fish, lean red and white meat) and essential fats (nuts, avocado and a little olive or canola oil). Physically, introduce more weight-bearing activity, and add brisk walking and resistance classes, such as body pump, to help maintain bone density. Split into three phases of four weeks. Starter phase: three sessions a week, comprising one 20- to 30-minute swim session (alternate two easy lengths to one hard), one aqua class, and one gym session (rowing machine, four minutes; treadmill, 1% gradient, eight minutes’ brisk walk; repeat three times; stretch; plus five minutes’ abdominal exercises).

Grooving phase: four sessions a week. Increase swim to 30 minutes, and number of lengths by 10%. Add ab exercises to end of aqua class. Add extra gym session; increase incline on treadmill to 4%, and distance rowed by 10%; add three minutes to row and treadmill after week two. Attack-apple phase: four sessions each week. Swim 40 minutes; increase lengths by 10%, alternating one easy to one hard. Complete three times 30 seconds of treading water after acqua class. Gym: two sessions; increase treadmill to 12 minutes, and row to eight minutes, and repeat. Start and end all sessions with a warm-up and cool-down. Incorporate your daily accumulated step with a pedometer and the apple is good to go.

· Joanna Hall is a fitness expert ( Send your exercise questions to: Weekend, 119 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3ER ([email protected]).

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