Linda Melone
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How to break the rules and still see results

I confess, I don’t always follow the rules.

Don’t get me wrong, I walk my talk.

But I sometimes fall victim to laziness, procrastination, and allow my obnoxious inner child to run rampant through supermarket aisles, opening up all the coffee bean dispensers just for fun.

For example, a fitness friend told me she’s sworn off all artificial sweeteners. I nodded my head in agreement over the evils of putting such horrible chemicals into one’s body.

Then I went home and drowned my sorrows in a Splenda-laced cup of tea. I know better, yet I do it anyway.

Wherever you fall on the issue, eating chemicals of any type is not usually a good thing.

Although there’s a lot of debate as to the real dangers, I believe it won’t be long before someone grows an extra arm or sprouts an ear out of their kneecap and it’s traced to excessive use of Splenda. 

I’m sure of it.

Yet, I continue to dump the little packets into my coffee each morning. So I can’t exactly get all high and mighty when someone tells me they drink diet soda (I don’t eat or drink artificially sweetened products, not that adding it on my own is any better).

I’ve tried to quit many times, believe me. “That’s my last box,” I’ll say, dropping the empty container in the garbage like a smoker ditching her last pack.

I then vow to switch to only real sweeteners and stevia (a natural source) from here on… and, damnit, it’s about time!

But things don’t taste as sweet. So I buy a small box of the yellow packets to “wean” myself off gradually.

Clearly, going cold turkey is a ridiculous approach and probably not even recommended by healthcare professionals, I tell myself.

I mix half stevia with honey or sugar. Much better.

Until three days in when I run out of stevia and go right back to mainlining two packets of Splenda. Seriously, who can afford to buy two different sweeteners, anyway?

My point is this: We all have our challenges and we don’t always make the right choices. Even professionals like me. 

I feel justified as long as I add the disclaimer, “Don’t try this at home. Professional driver behind the wheel.”

It all goes back to the 80/20 rule. Behave yourself 80% of the time and the other 20% works itself out.

So I thought I’d share with you some of the “cheats” I do that may ring a bell with you, too, and how to turn them around…

1.If you don’t always warm up

I rarely do. I have no excuse other than it’s 5 a.m. and I don’t follow any rules at that hour. But I absolutely should, especially since I have arthritis in my knees. (I know, right? How bad is that?)

If you do the same, do what I do and just be sure to start slowly. Use a smaller range of motion on the first couple of sets and only your body weight. For example, if you’re doing squats go only halfway down until you feel warmed up.

But seriously, warming up for five to 10 minutes is best.

2. If your food journal is more fiction than fact

I keep a semblance of a food journal most days or enter it on my phone or I go old school and write it down on a piece of paper in the kitchen.

And even though I know the importance of recording everything, sometimes I grab a bite of something and pretend it doesn’t count.

My fat cells and I have a good laugh and it inevitably shows up on the scale if I do this often enough. In short, I end up fooling no one.

If you’re trying to lose weight and find yourself acting as if you’re 25 years old again and can eat donuts for breakfast and still fit into your cheerleading outfit, just be sure to tack on another couple hundred calories to your day’s total.

Studies show most people underestimate calorie intake by around 40 percent. Do NOT give yourself the benefit of the doubt.

3. If you skip weight training

I never do this because I actually enjoy lifting weights, but I know many women who do only cardio in an effort to lose weight.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there’s simply no substitute.

You need resistance exercise of some type, done two to three times a week, to keep your metabolism up and your body firm. Why? Because you start to lose muscle in your 30s, which slows your metabolism.

End of story.

So if you really truly hate it as much as I dislike it that I can’t get a massage because I have to pee halfway through it, consider the different types of resistance: body weight, tubing, kettlebells, dumbbells, home exercise machines, suspension systems (straps you use at home that allow you to use your own body weight)… or try a combination.

Trust me: It’s worth it.

(And yes, I’m aware this was a trick question since I actually don’t cheat on this one.)

4. If you will not ever give up [favorite food here], even though doing so would help you reach your goals faster

I love bread. There, I said it.

“Ooooh, she eats carbs! Bread, no less. Someone quick – sprinkle this girl with holy water!”

Yes, and I’m proud of it. I will never give up bread.

In fact, if it weren’t for nutritional deficiencies, I could live on nothing but warm, crusty French bread quite nicely for the rest of my life.

And chocolate, of course. I’m not completely crazy.

Here’s the deal: You need to incorporate your favorite food or drink *cough* wine *cough* into your meal plans or you will be miserable. And it’s not something you can do for life.

Yup, it’s the PC word again: PORTION CONTROL. Boring but true. A treat does not have to result in an all-out binge followed by tears of regret. In fact, it never should.

The exception to the PC rule: If you absolutely positively cannot control your intake of your favorite food you may have to cut it out completely – at least temporarily.

In other words, if you believe you can eat a small handful of M&Ms and then end up in a sugar coma with red, green and yellow fingers (they actually DO melt in your hands), surrounded by little brown bags with the corners ripped out, you may need to take a step back.

Your call.

5. If you eat next to nothing until dinner

I don’t do this often except times when I travel and don’t plan appropriately and am out all day and end up starving. But it’s a common pattern I hear from a lot of working women.

You think you’re saving calories but it backfires in the long-run. You end up eating way more than you should at night and more than make up for the calories you “saved” during the day.

If you find yourself in this situation, here are a few ways to keep calories down to a low roar when you’re ravenous:

–Before you dive into your food with both feet, start by eating something that takes time to eat: a big salad or bowl of broth based hot soup… Fiber in salad helps you fill up and you can’t easily wolf down hot soup

–Drink a glass or two of water first… You’ll feel full and it will slow you down.

–Eat what you want but record the food as you eat it –and be accurate. Measure and weigh… this makes you conscious of everything you’re eating and may help you stop sooner than if it were a free-for-all.


What rules do YOU break most often, even though you know it would behoove you to stick to you plan? Fess up! No judging here, but I may be able to help. Please post below in the comments…

And please share this post with your ageless friends if you enjoyed it. They will thank you a thousand times over.

Check out these other posts you may also enjoy:

5 ways to eat less without cutting calories

How to get better results by taking a break

3 Ways to cope with life’s challenges

Your Ageless Body Coach,

About the Author Linda Melone

Linda Melone is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, certified trainer and award-winning health and fitness writer. She specializes in helping women over 50 get in shape and lose weight.

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Leave a Comment:

Denise says

I HONESTLY break the soda rule more often than I care to admit…they are just so darn tasty! I mostly drink them on the weekend (too much caffeine for the work week:)). I love a good cold Coke. And it’s not one or two, it’s 3 or 4, 20oz of deliciousness. I once told my doctor that if she’s going to tell me to quit drinking sodas, I may have to find a new doctor – LOL! I was mostly kidding but not really. Why o why do I NEED them? I’m not a big junk food eater (although I shared my boss’s birthday dessert yesterday! Who says no to the boss?!). I have resigned myself to the fact that I DON’T want to give them up. How bad is that?

Thanks for reading! You are truly amazingly funny!

    Linda Melone says

    LOL! I love how you told your doctor you’d be shopping for her replacement if she tells you to quit drinking soda! I seriously don’t know of a single person who doesn’t occasionally stray from being 100% on point with his or her diet. Actually, I think I do know one person, but he’s a jerk. LOL! Carry on :).

Donna says

Great article

    Linda Melone says

    Thanks, Donna! 🙂

Patricia Scott says

I find it difficult to give up my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’ve reduced to a half, but man I enjoy it.
So does that count as 3?

    Linda Melone says

    PB&Js rock! Anything in moderation is fine as long as you’re happy. I’ve had many clients tell me they were not giving up [fill in the blank here] and for me to deal with it. lol! So yeah, it’s fine.

Patricia says

Loved this one. Thanks

    Linda Melone says

    Thanks, Patricia!

Debra says

I struggle getting enough water. I fill my 24 oz cup up first thing and drink it. That’s it, why I don’t fill it up as soon as it’s empty and start again is a mystery 🤔

    Linda Melone says

    Hi Debra! What about keeping another, insulated, water bottle with you, too? I use one that keeps liquids cold all day long, so if I don’t drink it right away it’s still appealing :).

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