"I want to get old gracefully. I want to have good posture, I want to be healthy and be an example to my children." ~Sting

Living in the Northeastern part of the country, I’m finding it hard to remember what warm temperatures feel like.  What does the sun feel like, and how does it feel to have a gentle breeze softly blowing through my hair?

Sigh.    

But spring will be here soon enough.  And in preparation for it, I thought now would be an ideal time to begin thinking about losing any weight we’ve put on, and getting back into shape.    

In other words, now is the perfect time to cut back, get up and get out! 

With each passing year, losing weight and getting into shape becomes harder and harder.  Also, if you have any health issues, playing sports, running or even walking seems almost impossible.

Then there’s the wonderful world of menopause, which has reared its ugly head by redesigning my body to look like a cubist painting by Picasso.

And, by the way, what was up with that Isaac Newton guy? I curse him for introducing the world to the concept of gravity. If you’re a baby boomer, you know exactly what I mean.

Why, oh why couldn’t I have been born with the genes of Christie Brinkley? But, alas, even she works out like a good little soldier.  Have you seen her lately?  She still looks as radiant and shapely as ever.   

We all need to maintain a good weight and live a healthy lifestyle.  It’s so important for each of us to find an eating regimen that suits our specific needs in order to safely lose weight and feel better.  

My head is spinning with all of the information about new cleanses and detox programs claiming to help us regain control over our bodies.

Thirty years ago the decision was easier.  There were a few popular diet programs to choose from: Weight Watchers, The Scarsdale Diet, The Stillman Diet, The Atkins Diet or The Ayds Diet.  These were the go-to programs.

"After trying Atkins and doing Nutrisystem a few times, now I'm just focused on maintaining a healthy lifestyle rather than dieting." ~Miranda Lambert

Today, consumers have become savvier about diet and exercise. We’ve learned that eating too many carbohydrates and consuming too much fat and sodium may lead to obesity, high blood pressure or heart disease.  

We need to stay away from hydrogenated and trans fat oils, and too much sugar may lead to a whole host of diseases.

I’ve cut out white flour and sugar from my diet.  I don’t eat red meat, and consume oily fish at least 3 times a week.  I use only olive and grapeseed oil sparingly. I consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and only buy low fat dairy products.

Sweets are reserved for special occasions, and I drink only water, coffee or tea. No soda.  Ever.

So why are these pounds creeping up on me?

The culprit may be exercise; I’m not getting enough. Exercise helps to control our weight by using excess calories that would be stored as fat, as well as boosting our metabolism and lowering insulin levels. 

As for menopause, the American Council on Exercise states, “The good news is that a regular program of physical activity can help manage many of the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause.”

Making better food choices, and exercising regularly, is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves during midlife.  These positive steps will help to sustain us for the rest of our lives.

Read this next: Superfoods to Stay Young and Fit

Cathy Chester blogs at An Empowered Spirit, which won third prize in Healthline’s Best Health Blog Contest in 2014, was named #2 of the “Top 10 Social HealthMakers in MS” by Sharecare “ and received a nomination for the past 3 years as WEGO Health’s Best in Show Blog. She is a contributor for The Huffington Post as well as a blogger for MultipleSclerosis.net and Boomeon. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Midlife Boulevard, BetterAfter50, Erma Bombecks’ Writers Circle, The Friendship Circle and Woman at Woodstock.