Fifty, fit and fabulous! – 10 tips.

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This morning I weighed myself and didn’t dread it. Why? At 50-something years old, I took those impossible ten pounds off, kept them off, and have (mostly) maintained good eating and fitness. And, in spite of all the fun and food of the holidays, I only gained back a pound of it.

I didn’t keep the weight off by starving myself, not drinking alcohol or being a workout nut. I just kept some simple practices I’ve developed over the years. I’m sharing them in the hope that they might encourage you — and keep my own resolve strong!

Love yourself. Unconditionally, right now, where you are, who you are, and how you look. Stand naked in front of a full-length mirror and take in your beautiful body — bumps, bulges, warts and all. Self-loathing has no place in your tool kit and can only sabotage you. Look at yourself and love yourself. No exceptions.

Weigh yourself. Not hatefully or self-punishingly, but mindfully. Accept where you are, but have a goal weight that is reasonable and achievable. Weigh yourself daily or weekly, whatever keeps you aware of your progress.

Move everyday. I didn't say exercise. Every January the gym is jammed with folks who want to lose those holiday pounds (again) and start an exercise program. By March they are all gone. Instead, embrace movement that you like; gardening, walking with a friend, running, skating, swimming, yoga, dancing or whatever works for you.

Eat chocolate. There. I said it. People wanting to lose weight frequently punish themselves and refrain from all desserts and sweets. This degree of deprivation can only last so long until natural cravings kick in and all resolve crumbles. Yes, refrain from donuts, cookies, pie and ice cream (fat, salt and sugar bombs), but eat that dark chocolate truffle and savor it.

Cook veggies. And not frozen peas boiled in water. Experiment with herbs, oils, cheeses and nuts. How about roasted asparagus with basting oil, pepper and sea salt? Or fresh green beans with butter, fresh dill and almond slivers? The proper seasoning and cooking method can make a hum-drum vegetable into a treat.

Avoid the whites. White sugar, flour, pasta and rice provide empty calories and spike blood sugar – this leads to cravings, binging and ultimately more pounds. Cut out sugar and substitute whole-wheat products for white. You’ll feel fuller and eat less.

Lift weights. I hate lifting weights, but notice that the women at the gym who are slim and sexy lift weights. Strength training is the secret weapon in a fit girl’s arsenal. Muscle burns energy (calories) and shapes a body beautifully. Start out slow and moderately and build up to 2 - 3x a week. And don’t worry, unless you’re a body builder you won’t bulk up.

Dress beautifully. Whether or not you’re near your goal weight, dress as though you like yourself. Choose clothes that are neither too loose nor too tight — clothes that enhance your curves or height — your unique features. The better you dress, the better you’ll feel about your body.

Get a buddy. Enlist the aid of a spouse or friend to encourage you in making better choices. Walk with them, share your goals, cheer each other on and win together. Most communities have running, hiking and walking clubs. Find one and join with others who are like-minded.

Embrace moderation. Do nothing today that you can’t see continuing for a lifetime. Fitness and good nutrition need to be slowly incorporated one-day-at-a-time into a healthy lifestyle. Fad diets and harsh workout regimes don’t work for anyone. Right now, make one or two simple, achievable goals. In the months and years to come, build on that.

I hope these tips inspire and show that fitness and good health belong to all of us — even you!