March is one of my favorite months. The earth is waking up and there’s more sunlight. And while it’s still cold outside the days of  -13 are over and spring is almost here.

I also love March because it’s National Nutrition Month. To celebrate I’m sharing some of my favorite tips, techniques and strategies to help you lose weight and boost your health and wellbeing.

Too many women struggle with their weight and health especially at midlife. Most women in their 40s and 50s gain about a pound a year. They tend to blame the spread on menopause. But the reality is that those extra pounds are more due to aging, muscle loss, poor lifestyle choices and genetics than hormones.

Midlife weight gain isn’t inevitable. There are many steps you can take to have a beautiful, svelte body that you love.

And you don’t have to diet. In fact dieting is the worst thing to do if you want to lose weight. Research shows that diets, especially fad diets, are associated with weight gain, not loss. When you diet your body thinks that you are starving, so it slows down metabolism and ramps up hunger – two things you definitely don’t want when you’re looking to slim down. Plus, when you diet your adrenal glands pump out cortisol, a stress hormone associated with weight gain especially around the middle.

So how exactly do you eat right and slim down with ease? What’s key is making small, simple, sustainable changes. Over time these changes result in long-term health and weight loss.

Here are 8 tips to get you started:

1. Swap smart

In your 50s your body requires about 200 calories a day less than it did a decade or two ago, so it’s important to reduce total calories. Cutting down is easy. One of my clients lost almost a pound a week just by trading her sausage egg and cheese sandwich on a croissant (700 calories) with a Mocha Swirl Coffee (260 calories) for ham egg and cheese on an English muffin (360 calories) and an iced coffee (0 calories).

Here are a few other ideas: Have an apple as a snack instead of an energy bar. Cut down on portion size. (Use smaller plates, it really helps!) Eat fewer desserts, sweets and processed carbs and more fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean proteins, which will also help you maintain steady blood sugar level.

2. Be mindful

Not only will mindfulness help you reduce stress and increase productivity, more and more research is showing that mindful eating can enhance weight loss and maintenance. Why is it so powerful? Unlike restrictive eating patterns and dieting it’s a long-term behavioral change that you can stick to. A review of the mindfulness research published in Current Obesity Reports found all studies showed weight loss results and concluded: “Increased mindful eating has been shown to help participants gain awareness of their bodies, be more in tune to hunger and satiety, recognize external cues to eat, gain self compassion, decrease food cravings, decrease problematic eating, and decrease reward-driven eating.”

Eating more mindfully is simple. Start by making eating an exclusive event. Turn of electronics while you eat. Eat slowly, show gratitude and savor every bite. Eat until you are satisfied, about 80 percent full, not stuffed. Notice how food looks, smells and tastes and how your body feels as you eat. You’ll enjoy your food more and will eat less.

3. Plan

One of the biggest mistakes many of my clients make prior to working with me is failing to plan. They arrive at home starving with nothing healthy in the frig, so they just order Domino’s or stop for take out on the way home. Sure the kids are happy, but that double stuffed crust pie with extra cheese or burger and fries doesn’t do a thing for your waistline and wellness. What I recommend is on the weekend create a weekly dinner menu, check what you have in stock and then go food shopping. Stick to your list! Healthy eating starts in the supermarket.

4. Load up in the am, go lite in the pm

Yes, it’s a cliché, but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Eating more in the morning helps stabilized hormone levels and keeps you fueled all day. So rather than skipping breakfast, grabbing a light lunch and overeating at super, take a few minutes to have a smoothie or fruit and yogurt in the morning with whole wheat toast. Pack a big, healthy lunch and eat a lite, early dinner.

5. Pack snacks

Finding healthy snacks when you’re busy can be challenging, so always carry snacks. Stash a small bag of almonds, a piece of fruit and a cheese stick in your purse to eat when you’re hungry.

6. Don’t deprive yourself

Choose healthy foods 80-90 percent of the time and then fit in that treat. Savor a few pieces of dark chocolate (It’s loaded with antioxidants.). Have a cookie or a cocktail. All foods fit into a healthy diet so enjoy. When you don’t incorporate the foods you love into your diet, you may end up overeating because you feel deprived.

7. Fit in fitness

You don’t have to go to the gym to get exercise. Walk throughout the day or take a long walk at lunch or after work. Dance in your living room or watch a fitness video. The point is to move your body (Aim for 20-30 minutes most days.) and schedule exercise into your day.

8. Get help

Taking care of your body can be challenging. When I start working with new clients I often find they have a lot of competing commitments and limiting beliefs that make getting fit and maintaining a healthy weight feel like climbing Everest. For example, they put everyone and everything else first and feel guilty when they practice self-care. They may have this crazy idea that eating right is difficult and means you can’t eat foods you love. Or they need to swap out the self-loathing for self-love so they want to take care of themselves.

The journey to a healthier you needn’t be an impossible drag. I’d love to help you. Just click HERE to schedule a complimentary consult and start your wellness journey today.

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