Ep. 262: Can You REALLY Lose Weight During the Holidays?

Ready to change your mind about weight loss? Grab The 5-0 Method to lose all the weight you want and keep it off forever.

Today I’m clearing up some myths about gaining weight and deliver practical, actionable advice for how YOU can handle your holiday season.

It feels inevitable to gain weight during the holidays, doesn’t it? But let me assure you that you don’t have to! And on today’s episode of the Fitness Matters podcast, I’m diving in to clear up some myths about gaining weight and deliver practical, actionable advice for how YOU can handle your holiday season.

What You’ll Learn

👉  WHY gaining weight seems unavoidable
👉  HOW to lose weight without restricting yourself
👉  WHEN to start planning for success (hint: it’s now!)
👉  WHAT TO DO if your plans go sideways

This incredible episode puts the power in your hands to create the holiday season you WANT, whether that includes weight loss or not!


You're listening to the Fitness Matters podcast with Pahla B, and this is episode number 262, "Can You Really Lose Weight During the Holidays?" Welcome to the Fitness Matters podcast, where every week, we talk about the fitness matters that matter to you. I'm Pahla B, YouTuber, certified life and weight loss coach, soon to be author and your best middle-aged fitness friend. Are you ready to talk about the fitness mindset that matters to you? Me too. Let's go.

Real quick before we get into today's topic, I want to invite you to join the Pahla B Wellness Over 50 Book Club in partnership with Chirp Audiobooks. The book we're reading for November and December is The Wisdom of Your Body by Hillary McBride, which you can grab a steep discount with no monthly subscription fees at chirpbooks.com/pahla. That's P-A-H-L-A. While you're there, be sure to click the follow button to get exclusive access updates and register for the Live Book Club event on Friday, December 16th. I'll see you there.

Hello, goal friends. It is so good to be here with you today. And yes, you know I am excited to talk about our topic today. And in fact, let me right here at the very top of the podcast, let me answer the question of can you really lose weight during the holidays? The answer is unequivocally yes. Yes, you can absolutely 100% lose weight during the holidays, and I have a lot to say about that, but I'm also going to totally take a little left turn right here before we even get started, because I've been thinking for a while now. And especially if you do follow me on any kind of social media and really please come do follow me on YouTube, follow me on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, all the places, because I wanted to give you guys a little bit of a heads up that some very, very, very exciting changes are coming.

And I want to be really clear that yes, there are changes and yes, they're exciting because I know that sometimes when I start talking about changes, it's like, "Oh my gosh, Pahla's changing everything. That means that everything is bad and that everything is going to be different and that I'm going to have to readjust all of my thinking." And you're not wrong, but also, having it in your mind that some changes can be exciting and really specifically having it in your mind that any time I personally make changes, I'm always changing for you. When I make changes in my business model, which I'm actually doing quite a bit of right now, I'm going through an entire... Wow, this is definitely a podcast all by itself, but I'm going through what I would consider a metamorphosis in a lot of ways. I am taking a big pivot in my business right now that feels messy and feels scary.

And the thing that I keep reminding myself is that I don't just make changes to make changes. That's not fun for me. I am making changes to get better, to serve you better. And when you think about it like that, and hopefully you do, hopefully you and I have a level of trust between us that when I start talking about how I'm going to be making changes and how things will be different, that you already have it in your mind that any change I make is so that you can get the results that you want. My goal as your coach is to help you, right? I know that's kind of implied, but maybe I don't say that enough. And therefore, when I'm telling you, "Oh, by the way, I'm going to be making some changes," I hope you hear it as, "Oh my gosh, that means that I will get what I need."

That means I will get more of what I need. That means that I will get the exact things that I need, that I didn't even know that I wasn't getting because of the way Pahla was presenting things before. There's more for me is a thought that I'm going to hand you because sometimes it's kind of nice to have somebody hand you a helpful thought, am I right? I know. In fact, I'm going to hand you a couple of them today. Oh, but let me tell you really specifically one of the changes. We talked about it a couple weeks ago. I kind of threw it out there offhand, and I've been thinking about it ever since then about rebranding the podcast. Oh, and this is where I started with this. Don't mind me, finding my own train of thought.

So this past week, by the time you hear this, it was a couple of days ago, I announced on Instagram and YouTube and Facebook that the cover of my book has been revealed. And it was so exciting. My book, my book, which by the way, I'm finally going to tell you the title because the cover and the title have been revealed. It's called Mind Over Menopause. So the cover and the book are available for pre-order, so far only on Amazon to the best of my knowledge. And I will have a link for you in the show notes or the description box, depending on where you watch or listen.

As of right now, I think that's the only place it's available. The book doesn't even come out until July 2023. So you've got plenty of time to hear all about me talking about this, but it'll be available in more places. Right now, as far as I know, it's only on Amazon. It's super exciting. And so what I was thinking to myself is that I need to... We talked about several weeks ago, it's time to rerecord the intro of the podcast that explains that I am the author of Mind Over Menopause, even though technically the book hasn't come out yet.

I did finish writing the book. It is being published, it has an ISBN number, it is already listed on Amazon. I'm calling it good, you all. I am an author, not a soon-to-be author, and I have been for a while. I stepped into that self-concept several months ago at this point. But anyways, was I was thinking about how I'm going to rerecord the intro. And I had also been talking somewhat recently about how I really think it's time to rebrand the podcast because yeah, we do talk about fitness, but really, it's not the crux of what we talk about. I am a weight loss coach, I am a goal coach. And so I really wanted to personify that a little bit better. And the thing that I talk about so often is how to get your goal. That is the name of my membership mastermind where we talk all the time about getting your goals.

Yes, I do really specifically talk about the goal of your weight, but I actually, I mean, for those of you who are not losing weight, you know that all my lessons apply everywhere. Honestly, even today when we're talking about can you really lose weight during the holidays, there will be lessons because we are talking about your mindset, of course. There will be lessons that apply to every kind of goal. So come the first of the year, the podcast, the Fitness Matters podcast will be rebranded as the Get Your Goal podcast. And I am so excited about this. The way I'm so excited about everything, but this to me is physical evidence of my transformation from I used to just always talk about fitness, and then I kind of started talking about fitness and mindset and then I acknowledged finally, because it took years for me to finally talk about how fitness is related to weight loss.

I shied away from that for so long, which is so ironic to me now. But then really moving into the mindset of weight loss and goals in general. I feel like this is such a beautiful evolution of the podcast where we went from the Let's Run podcast to the Fitness Matters podcast, and now, it will beautifully be the Get Your Goal podcast as of the first of the year. However, nothing else about it will change. Just so you know, there will not be a to... Well, I don't want to say never. I don't like saying never because I really truly don't know what my next evolution is or the evolution after that. For me personally, I am going to be wildly surprised if there comes a time when I type out an entire script of a podcast and then just read it. I can't picture myself behaving that way.

It doesn't feel to me like a better version of who I am. And I know some of you are like, "Okay, but Pahla, we're five minutes in and you still haven't really talked about the topic." I know, I know. And personally, I think that's part of my charm. And if you don't think that, then I respect your opinion and I disagree with you. So I don't picture a time when the podcast will change away from me being irreverent, taking lots of left-hand turns, taking my time to get to the point and being a little bit all over the place. I do feel like that models for you, that you can be all over the place and be successful. I truly feel that this is why I'm here and why I do what I do to show you that you never, ever, ever have to be perfect and you can still have what you want.

So anyways, can you really lose weight during the holidays? Yes, you can. And we're going to talk about it today on the soon-to-be Get Your Goal podcast, which is currently still the Fitness Matters podcast, you all. Here's the thing about losing weight during the holidays. I want you to understand that the fact that this is even a question in your mind means that you have some thoughts about whether or not it's possible. And in fact, generally speaking, when you come up with a question during your journaling, which is how we talk about mindset, and my personal recommendation for you to examine your thoughts and decide if they're helpful, is to journal on paper so that you can really just see what it is you're thinking. If you even have a question in your mind, can I really lose weight during the holidays? What we do as a general rule is rephrase the question as a statement so that you can hear what your brain is actually offering you.

In this case, your brain is offering you, I can't lose weight during the holidays. Let's just recognize that as a thought really quickly, really specifically recognize that's a thought. When I said I can't lose weight during the holidays, you were like, "Oh yeah, that's totally true." And your brain came up with all kinds of evidence. Oh, last year, I gained five pounds. The year before that, it was 10. I've never been able to control myself around all the cookies or the Turkey or the stuffing, or... Your brain already started corroborating and saying, "Oh, this is the truth. This is a fact about that sentence." And I want you to know it's not the truth. It's not a fact, it's a thought. It's a thought that you have that you can't lose weight during the holidays. And what we're going to do today is just dismantle that.

And I actually have really practical things to do so that you can lose weight during the holidays. But the first thing always, the first thing is to simply examine your mindset. And I'm going to just really quickly here, I want to talk to you about what it means to have a mindset. I like to think about mindset being like a collection of thoughts, like you have a picnic basket and you've just gathered some thoughts about a topic. And the reason this is important to think about here and now really specifically is because you already have a mindset about weight loss. And maybe your mindset about weight loss, you've really been thinking about those thoughts and you're like, yes, you know what? I really can lose weight. I'm really capable of counting my calories. I'm capable of drinking my water, capable of going to bed at the same time every night, getting up at the same time every morning and not worrying about how much in between that was actual sleep because sometimes it's not.

I had to say that. It's such a muscle memory, a mouth memory now to say it exactly like that, which is particularly apropos because this morning when I woke up, I had to examine my thoughts about how much sleep I had last night. Also, you're capable of exercising every day, you're capable of journaling every day, you're capable of doing all the things in general when you're on your routine maybe. And yet, as soon as the holidays come around, all of a sudden, you have this different picnic basket of thoughts that are readily available to you. Automatic thoughts that you might not have examined yet. That's what we're doing today. We're examining that picnic basket of thoughts because let's be honest, you have had socialization your entire life, which is to say you have had other people's opinions come into your brain via the internet, people's words, magazines, advertisements, all kinds of places that maybe you just haven't examined before.

And if you haven't examined them, those thoughts haven't met any resistance. And then they just became very readily available, very automatic. This is what thoughts do, this is how we have all of our thoughts. They come into your brain, they meet no resistance, they get practiced in the background subconsciously, and then there they are. Those are things that you believe to be true. So you might believe to be true that you cannot lose weight during the holidays. And that's why we are opening up the picnic basket and taking a look inside and examining the thoughts that we have about the holidays. Here's what I want you to know from a truly factual point of view, holiday food is food. What? I know that's so obvious, but sometimes, well, not even sometimes, frequently we have this thought that certain foods are automatically fattening. This is a word that I grew up with and I understand how that can be an alarming word these days.

There's a lot of not using the F word, but I want you to know that you might still have that thought in your brain because you heard it when you were a kid and it just never met any resistance. I'm going to say all if you don't have this thought, good for you and not sarcastically, but actually good for you. I'm really glad that you don't have to untangle this one. This is something that took me years to untangle in my own brain. All foods have calories. Healthy foods have calories, less than healthy foods have calories. Foods that you would call junk food have calories. There's nothing inherently fattening about a certain kind of food. The reason you would store fat AKA fattening is because of either eating too much, more than your body needs, or under lots of conditions, being in a position where your body is in chronic stress from, for example, undereating and/or over exercising and/or having mental stress that isn't being managed.

And I said that and I want you to know that that's not a judgment. Honestly, until you learn how to manage your mind, you don't know how to manage your mind. Nobody has ever taught us this. We've heard our whole lives, "Oh, if you're feeling stressed out, go for a walk." Going for a walk does not in and of itself take care of your stress. Examining your thoughts, especially the ones, the thoughts that are creating feelings of stress, that's how you relieve stress, is to understand that it's coming from your thoughts, not from external circumstances. That's a whole podcast in itself. In fact, I have a podcast about stress. I think I might even have more than one. I'll look that up and I'll put them the links in the show notes or the description box. But here's the thing, so there's actually no such thing as a fattening food.

All foods have calories including holiday foods. So it's time to untangle that thought that holidays are automatically fattening because of the foods. Holiday food is food. Every time I say it, it just makes me laugh because on the one hand, it sounds so obvious, and on the other hand, it's really not, right? We all come to certain situations in our life with these preconceived ideas that we have actually just never listened to out loud. And that is what's so important about examining your mindset. It's just get all the thoughts out of your brain and onto paper, or out of my mouth so that you can hear it. So that you can see, oh my gosh, this is just a thought. So the thing about not being able to lose weight during the holiday, it has nothing to do with the food and it has nothing to do with not being able to resist, to your willpower, to who you are as a human being.

You have lots of thoughts about your behaviors during holidays and about the foods during holidays. You have lots of thoughts, your mindset about the holidays that are probably different than your mindset at other times. When you are on your routine, you have lots of thoughts that you have probably examined that have become more automatic to you. Like I'm capable of this, this, I've totally got this. But then as soon as you are out of your routine, even that thought right there, I am out of my routine. How did you feel when I said that? I know for me, I automatically had that low grade panicky sort of a feeling. Out of my routine for me, I actually just examined this somewhat recently with a coach friend of mine who asked me a really innocent question. And I felt the feeling immediately, and I was like, I've never examined this.

The feeling for me of being out of my routine is a feeling that I call borderless, which doesn't necessarily sound panicky to you because sometimes borderless means really expansive and it's a really good thing. Yes, absolutely, it could be. But for me, the visual image that came with the word borderless, and again, this might sound fun to you, but to me, it feels very panicky. I totally thought of open water swimming. I did not grow up swimming even though I'm a water baby, I'm a Scorpio. I should love swimming, I do not. Swimming to me is swimming is really scary. I mean, I'm capable of swimming. I have the skill. I don't have the self-confidence to think that I am good at swimming, and it's very easy for me to panic when I'm swimming. So for me, when I'm thinking open water swimming, all I'm thinking is, "Oh my gosh, there's nothing to grab onto."
I'm much better swimming in a pool than I am out in open water. And I totally understand that some of you are just like, "Wow, really, Pahla? I love swimming in open water." I know, which is why it's so important to examine your thoughts and your feelings because they're always opinions and they're always unique to you. So for me, when I think the thought I'm out of my routine and it gives me that borderless feeling, which to me, feels very panicky, very black water, very seaweed grabbing at my legs kind of a feeling. That already puts me in a position where I'm thinking something is wrong. Therefore, feeling like something is wrong, I will behave in a way because this is how everything works. You have a thought, it creates a feeling. That feeling drives your actions. When I feel panicky, I'm not thinking through my decisions.

I'm not doing things that I would normally do in a way that feels like self-love. I'm at that low grade panic just trying to survive, just trying to get through, just trying to grit my teeth and/or avoid the feeling of panic. So for me, being out of my routine, even if that's just on the weekend or if we're talking about holidays, I'm already not coming into it feeling confident. Like I understand what's going on, like I'm capable of doing what I want to do. I've already got a feeling that isn't going to help me reach my goals. So let's examine that. When I say anything about the holidays, about eating, what is your gut reaction? Which by the way just means what is your feeling like when you have a gut reaction, my friends, that is information that you are having a thought. And if your gut reaction is something that doesn't feel good, you know what that means?

It means you're having an unhelpful thought. This is great information. When you can sit down and open up the picnic basket and really take a look at what do I think about my weight during the holidays? Asking yourself this beautiful question can really help you see that you might even be going into this season feeling defeated, frustrated, low grade, panicky, unconfident, all kinds of things that aren't helpful. So my friends, you know what you're going to do? You're going to find those thoughts and you're going to recognize them as unhelpful, easy peasy. Maybe not easy, but pretty peasy. And then, okay, so I actually said that I have some practical advice for you for how to take a look at the holiday season. And my instinct here was to say having a plan will help you feel a certain way. No, it won't. Unless you like the feeling of being decisive or of knowing ahead of time what you're going to do, which is also decisive.

I love the feeling of being decisive. It's truly my favorite feeling in the world, which is why I offer it to you and why I'm really specifically going to offer it to you as a strategy. Because my strategy is to plan ahead and to plan ahead in a way that feels really open and generous and loving towards yourself, as opposed to planning ahead and thinking, "Well, I'm just going to restrict myself and not eat any cookies at all." Oh my gosh, my friend, if you are me, because I love cookies, that's not even ever going to work. I know making that plan that that's not going to be helpful for me at all because the thought... You know how it's not helpful? Because the thought, "I'm not going to eat any cookies," instantly squeezed my stomach, squeezed my heart, squeezed my shoulders. It felt terrible to even think that thought.

It's not a helpful thought. When you plan ahead, the way that you can test whether or not your plan is going to work is to do a gut check and see how it feels. So here are my three practical steps for you. Number one is to plan ahead for the whole season. To really take a look at, okay, we've got whatever it is, six weeks between now and the end of the year. I know there's going to be some parties. I know for example, that I'm hosting Thanksgiving. I know that I will probably bake, probably not cookies actually, I don't usually bake cookies anymore, but I usually make holiday bark, which is one of my favorite things because it's so easy to make and everybody loves it, like it's hard, but it's not. It's really simple and it tastes good and it's fun. Anyways, I know I'm going to be doing that.

I know that there will be holiday get-togethers. I know I will see my family. So my plan for the whole season is to enjoy myself in a way that makes sense for me personally. That means enjoying the treats in a way that I can also enjoy the rest of the work that I've done the rest of the year to maintain my weight. I am personally not losing weight during the holiday season and you my friend, have permission because you are capable of doing anything you want. You have permission to think about the holiday season any way you want to. When I say plan ahead, I don't mean plan ahead like I have to lose five pounds between now and the end of the year. I don't mean plan ahead like I have to maintain my weight. And I don't mean plan ahead like well, I have to gain.

I mean, you get to choose. If you choose to, for example, and I know that you're going to look at me even though it's a podcast, but you're going to look at me like, "What? Why would I choose that?" But if you choose to gain five pounds over the holidays, five pounds might be less than you have ever gained before. That might be a huge win for you. I want you to really think about what you want from the holiday season, as opposed to what you think you have to do or should do. When you choose, all the power is yours. You can choose anything you want. There is no choosing police that's going to come knocking at your door like, "Well, that's a terrible choice." No, the choosing police is you. Your gut reaction, your feeling about your decision is the only answer that has any weight to it.

You can choose anything and I urge you to choose a plan for the whole season that feels good. Know that you have every option in the world. Literally an infinite number of options. Well, probably infinite, but countable. Thank you, Sally. My friend Sally gave me that phrase and I love it. I use it all the time in my brain and out loud because it makes so much sense to me. Yes, technically it's probably an infinite number because you could string together words that don't really make sense and technically that would be a thought. It could be a choice, but truly, the sentences that would make sense and that would be relevant to choosing your plan for the holiday would be countable. Anyways, choose what you want to do for the whole season. Also know that you can choose, you can plan ahead. You can decide what you'd like to do for any individual event.

I love this because I know that there are some events that are, I'm going to call it easier than others. It's easy because I have automatic thoughts. I know that there are some places I will go and things I will participate in that it doesn't feel difficult to eat within my normal calorie range because, and I say this with so much love, but because the foods just aren't tempting, because the foods aren't things that I would enjoy enough to be like, "Ooh, I could have more of that," and then do the mindset work and then figure out how I want to do it and what I want to do. I know that each individual event is going to have its own picnic basket of thoughts that I can sort through and decide, you know what? I actually really love Thanksgiving food, so I'm going to choose on Thanksgiving Day to give myself a different calorie parameter.

Choosing that means that I have decided ahead that this is what I'm going to do. I don't get to the day and then I'm all of a sudden flummoxed and then I'm surprised at how much I overate or any of that. I chose. I chose, I decided, and then I also know, oh my gosh, there's this other event where the food's not going to be very good. Or there's this other event where I'm the one doing the cooking, so I know I've got leftovers. So yeah, of course, it'll be totally easy to eat within my calorie parameter because I know I'm going to be eating those foods for the next three days. Win-win, it's all good here. I can eat the way I want to on the day of and I can continue to eat those delicious things for a couple of days afterwards. Planning ahead for your individual events also can, if you have thoughts about it, give you that feeling of being decisive, of being in control, of being the one who's making the decision and of being really happy with the decisions that you've made.

Again, do your gut check. If you feel restricted or unhappy or like you are not sure, think again about your plan. Make sure that your plan feels amazing, loving, caring for yourself. And then, my friends, the third thing that you're going to do, the third plan you're going to make, and this one hands down, the most important one is to plan ahead how you are going to talk to yourself. My friends, you have at your disposal an infinite, but countable number of unhelpful thoughts that could come up afterwards. Even if you plan ahead and you're like, okay, today for this particular event, I'm going to give myself a calorie window that's twice my normal and it feels really loving to offer yourself that in the moment. But then afterwards, oh, here comes the picnic basket of regret. Here comes the picnic basket of shame. Here comes the picnic basket of you're never going to lose weight.

Knowing ahead of time what those options are means that you can choose ahead of time what you'd like to think. And here's what I really mean by this. Sit down right now and pretend... Maybe not right now, I don't know what you're doing. Sit down before the event. How about that? Not necessarily directly before, but at some point in time; today, tomorrow, within this week, sometime before Thanksgiving, sometimes before Christmas, if Christmas is your thing, Hanukkah. If Hanukkah is your thing, whatever your event or holiday is that you are preparing for. Sit down before it with your journal and pretend for a quick moment that you went off the rails.

Pretend. Did your stomach just clench when I said that? I know, I know because off the rails is a thought. It's a thought that feels lousy, and this is what I'm offering you, the opportunity to feel every lousy thing that you might throw at yourself just so that you know it's coming so that you can examine those as thoughts. Off the rails is a thought. I blew it is a thought, I'm never going to get back on track is a thought. All of those thoughts feel lousy and none of them are thoughts you have to think. There is no imperative to beat yourself up.

However, your brain will automatically choose those thoughts because it's really efficient at them. So you can journal and find those thoughts now ahead of time and decide what you'd like to do. You can decide, you know what? I don't have to think this thought. This thought doesn't have to feel believable. I can recognize this as a thought right now. Recognize what feeling it's bringing me right now and label it as unhelpful. And this brings me to a really important point that I don't know that we've actually talked about before. Generally speaking, when I'm talking to you about mindset work, about journaling with the two step tool, about finding your thoughts and deciding if they're helpful. We're almost always talking about something that has happened in the past, something that's already gone on that you have thoughts about.

My friends, did you know that you can journal about the future? This is what I'm offering you here. You can journal about the future in a way that helps you find the thoughts before they attack you. And I say that, well, obviously with a laugh in my voice, but also with love. Sometimes we're surprised by the automatic thoughts that come to us in a particular situation. We're surprised by the picnic basket of thoughts that come to us after we've overeaten or after we've eaten in a way that we didn't intend to. You have access to those thoughts right now. You can find those thoughts any time you want. This is your superpower. You have imagination, you can picture anything. And while you are picturing it, you have access to the thoughts that will be the most automatic, automatically available to you in that currently pretend moment that could happen in the future.

And having access to it now means that... I mean, it's the whole forewarned is forearmed kind of thing. Having access to those automatic thoughts now means that you can do the work on them now. Isn't that amazing? You can decide right now that your automatic thoughts that could be available to you six weeks in the future, you can decide whether or not those are helpful. And I will tell you, if they feel lousy, they're unhelpful and you can choose. And my friend, having the power of all of those choices, having the power of being able to plan ahead, being able to decide, being able to understand now what you have available to you in the future in terms of your automatic thoughts, all of that gives you all of the power to lose weight during the holidays if you want to. Because my friend, there's the thing that really matters, if you want to.

Yes, you can if you want to, and you can choose whether or not you want to. I really hope this was helpful for you, and thank you for being here. Thank you for listening. Thank you for coming along on this glorious ever-changing ride that we're on. I'll talk to you again soon. If you are getting a lot out of the Fitness Matters podcast and you're ready to take it to the next level, you are going to love the Get Your Goal Coaching and Accountability group. We take all the theory and knowledge here on the podcast and actually apply it in real life on your real weight loss and fitness goals. It's hands-on, it's fun, and it works. Find out more at pahlabfitness.com/get-your-goal and let's get your goal.

Listen to the full episode here, and be sure to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts.

Originally aired November 20, 2022
Today I’m clearing up some myths about gaining weight and deliver practical, actionable advice for how YOU can handle your holiday season.
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Meet Your Host

Mindset expert and certified life coach Pahla B knows a thing or two about changing your mind to change your weight and your life. She’s the creator of The 5-0 Method, Amazon-best selling author of the book “Mind Over Menopause,” and former yo-yo dieter who has cracked the code on lifelong weight maintenance. Join Pahla B each week for the personal insights, transformative mindset shifts, and science-backed body advice that can help you lose all the weight you want and keep it off forever.