Fortieth birthday party, celebration and gift ideas. Happy 40th Birthday!

I'm 40. Time to Get Back in Shape:
40th birthday presents that changed my life

by Roberta Trevelyan

Slim and fit after 40When I turned 40, about six months ago, my younger daughter (last child) was just over a year old but my body was still nearly as big as it was when I was expecting her. Both my pregnancies were difficult, in that I ballooned early on and just got bigger as time went by, and my body didn't have time to recover from the first one before the second was on board. I'm not complaining - I would happily have gone through much worse to achieve the fabulous result of the two lovely daughters I've got - but, after more than five years of it, I was keen to move on from the Michelin-man look.

My 40th birthday was a wake-up call, prompting me to start work on getting back into shape before I settled into middle age and it all became more difficult. Having nurtured me and my self-esteem valiantly throughout my hugeness, my dear husband has done - and continues to do - everything he can to support me in my quest to get my body back to a size that feels natural and normal, rather than swollen and cumbersome. My brother, my sister and my friends have also played their part and I'm most grateful to them all for their help, both in looking after the children while I work on my body and in the generous presents they gave me.


My husband, Tom, signed me up for WeightWatchers and I wasn't sure what to expect. I thought it might be competitive and judgemental but it isn't at all; it's encouraging. In fact, I came to actually look forward to the meetings! I learnt to understand what I'm eating and how to avoid things that are bad for me while also still being able to enjoy eating. I learnt that by making small adjustments to how I shop and cook, I can cut down on calories almost without really noticing. The recipes are sensible and the results taste good, so Tom is happy to eat what I'm eating too, which is another worry dispelled!

It's so reassuring to have a community of people to support me when I'm struggling or fed up with it all. It's also very useful to have people giving me sound advice, such as that if I don't eat enough I won't lose weight. It's counterintuitive but it's true and it's a mistake I used to make before WeightWatchers explained to me that my metabolism slows down if it's not getting enough fuel, so as to conserve energy. Makes sense now I put it that way, doesn't it?

WeightWatchers have helped me enormously and I can't recommend them highly enough.


My brother, David, gave me a year's membership of a local gym. This was an incredibly generous present and much appreciated! I go twice a week, once to walk on the treadmill and use the machines and the other time to swim and, when I've got time (not very often), to relax in the sauna. Slowly, I've increased my strength and stamina - and improved the shape and tone of my body.

Essential oils

40th birthday body-shaping massageMy sister, Laura, sent me a lovely parcel of essential oils, carrier oils, bottles to mix them in and a book to tell me how to use them. This book, Maggie Tisserand's 14-Day Aromabeauty Plan, is inspiringly written and made me feel good before I even opened the oils. The idea is to massage parts of my body with different oils, to eliminate toxins, reduce cellulite and help shape and tone that area. The oils are also good for the skin and some of them even enhance mood, which is always a bonus! Of course, it took much longer than two weeks before I noticed a real difference but it does work. Unlike the gym, this is something I can do at home, in front of the television or while I'm chatting to Tom at the end of the day. It feels indulgent as well as useful and I'm very grateful to Laura for her imaginative approach to the problem of getting my body back in shape.

My 40th birthday was a turning point. The (for me, rather stressful) child-production phase of my life is over and now, as my 'normal' shape is returning, I'm seeing myself in a different light. It's easier and easier to remember that I'm a wife - and an individual in my own right - as well as being a mother. While my body was swollen, I felt as if I was just a person, whereas now I feel like a woman again. I'd forgotten how much fun being a woman can be!

Inspired to ask for or give 40th birthday presents to faciliate getting back in shape?

If it's your 40th birthday we're talking about, you go ahead and ask for whatever you want! If you're looking for gift ideas for someone else's 40th birthday, please be sensitive! Someone's shape can be a delicate subject and you don't want to end up upsetting the person you're trying to make happy. Perhaps some discreet enquiries might help you ascertain whether this sort of present will be well received.

Suggestions for gifts to facilitate losing weight and getting fit

WeightWatchers - A supportive organisation with a proven track record of helping people lose weight and keep it off by adopting a healthier lifestyle. You can sign (the person) up online with just a few clicks.

If you don't think membership is the thing, perhaps a WeightWatchers recipe book would be a good present.

Wii Fit Plus and Balance Board - The Wii Fit craze is helping thousands of people of all ages and fitness levels to enjoy exercise. The Playstation becomes your gym and the whole family can join in the healthy fun!

Zumba Fitness DVD Exercise Kit - A very popular kit for dancing and getting fit at home.

Mini Trampoline - A great way to get fit and tone your body in the privacy and convenience of your own home.

The Official British Army Fitness Guide - An excellent book full of sound advice, which builds you up gradually and realistically, over several months, to army-level fitness.

A magazine subscription makes a nice, ongoing present. Depending on the 40-turner's inclinations, he/she might like: Country Walking magazine, Trail magazine for walkers, Trail Running magazine or Outdoor Fitness magazine. Alternatively, perhaps a female friend or loved one would enjoy reading Top Sante magazine for the body and health conscious woman. Check out GreatMagazines for details and deals.

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