Linda Melone
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How the holidays can help you LOSE weight

Looks like you’re caught between a rock and hard place!

It’s time to sink or swim!

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

All of these sayings revolve around the importance of adapting to your environment or situation or suffer the consequences.

Typically, these pop up at times when we’d rather be taking a nap, watching Netflix or otherwise not dealing with life and death situations.

But ignoring the issue at hand is not an option.

Case in point: THE HOLIDAYS. Here’s what I mean… how you may be caught between:

  • THE ROCK: being surrounded by tons of treats and food, travel, and less time than usual to exercise
  • THE HARD PLACE: feeling you don’t have a choice other than giving in to the pressure

I’m here to tell you you DO have a choice. In fact, you can turn all of this around in your favor.

If you view the time between Halloween and New Year’s as a”legit” excuse to eat anything you want (“Who deprives themselves during the holidays??”), lie on the couch in a vegetative state, and lift a finger only to use the remote, you will be hurting in January.

Sure, it’s easy to say, “I’ll deal with after New Year’s. For now I’m living for the moment!”

Then you realize it’s only 9 a.m. and you’ve already consumed a week’s worth of calories in the form of eggnog and pecan pie.

So here’s the thing.

If you throw caloric caution to the wind for that long, there’s a good chance you won’t mend your evil ways come the New Year.

For one, you’ve “trained” yourself to eat more. So going back to your previous intake level will feel like deprivation.  

Plus, laziness has embedded itself into your very lifestyle by now. Your desire to get moving left with the last sweep of confetti. Add to that the cold weather, dark days and thoughts of warm weather and sleeveless tops and bathing suits seem lifetimes away. 

Hey, why not continue wearing your bathrobe and expandable sweatpants until they’re no longer acceptable at the beach, right?

But you can flip this way of thinking on its head and make progress at a time of year when everyone else has basically given up.

Use this time time of year as your personal bootcamp.  

Every single thing you’re trying to do — eat healthy, exercise regularly, take time to de-stress, etc. — meets situations where your resolve and motivation to maintain these good habits gets pushed to their very limits.

It’s like a Worst Case Scenario Immersion experiment. If you implement good practices now, the rest of the year will be a breeze.

Here are three practices to integrate now and through the year


Oh, the lure of SO much tasty food! Herein lies the biggest challenge by far. Not only are you likely around treats you see only this time of year (I’m looking at you, chocolate yule log…), but in bigger volumes than ever — and being pushed on you by people telling you to, “Lighten up! It’s the holidays!” as they pile yet another mound of whipped cream onto your pumpkin pie slice.

Keys to staying on track:

– Plan ahead. If you know you’ll be around temptations you’re trying to avoid, choose the one you really want, have a reasonable portion and get on with your life. Avoid seeing this one treat as an excuse to go hog wild for the entire rest of the day. One treat won’t wreck you, but a day or weekend’s worth of overindulging WILL set you back.

– Plus, think of ways you can rein in other calories during the rest of the day

— Add extra fiber in the form of salad or vegetables, which will keep you full longer

– Plan on adding more activities, an extra 15 minutes of cardio, for example

– Choose a slice of dessert OR an adult beverage — but not both


If you’re traveling, call the hotel ahead of time to see if they have a gym or if one is nearby.  If you’re staying with family grab someone to walk or work out with you.

Pack tubing or Aquabells (plastic dumbbells you fill with water) and work out in your room. They take up next to no space and can work every major muscle group.

Planning ahead is crucial!


Stress does a lot of nasty things to the body. If you’re spending time with *cough* difficult people, stress can make you reach for all kinds of sweet treats in an effort to comfort yourself.

Plus, hormones released during stressful situations (namely cortisol) makes your body more efficient at fat storage, especially belly fat.

You don’t want either of those things.

Since breaking away from the family to sit cross legged in meditation may be a bit disruptive (“Why is Suzie ‘oommm-ing’ to herself in the kitchen?”), the quickest way to bring down your stress level is with deep breathing.

No one needs to know you’re doing it. You can even practice this during a stressful political conversation (is there really any other type?): simply exhale for twice the length of time as you inhale. For example, inhale for a count of five, pause, then exhale slowly for a count of 10.

Keep going until you feel yourself become more calm. It works.

 Lastly, remember why you’re doing all of it.

Whether it’s to lose weight for your health, have the energy to play with your grandbabies or simply feel better in your clothes, strive to be the person you want to be as if you’re that person NOW.

When any temptation rears its ugly head, ask yourself: What would Person B [your goal vision of where you’d like to be] do in this situation?

Then go do that.

What’s YOUR biggest holiday healthy challenge? What do you do when you’re between a rock and a hard place? Let me know in the comments section below!

Other posts you may enjoy:

The one thing no one tells you about getting in shape

3 surprising reasons for weight gain after 50

5 ways to de-sress anywhere (so you lose belly fat)

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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