It’s that time of the year again, one of the biggest celebrations for the Chinese – Chinese New Year! And that usually translates to endless feeding sessions. Somehow, your stomach turns into a black hole during this season.
Runners, health freaks, fitness enthusiasts and gym goers are probably more worried than they are excited. They are faced with the dilemma of enjoying and indulging or staying fit and on track with their healthy eating habits. I say, why not both? There is always a need for the ultimate balance, the best of both worlds. Indulging in your favourite foods AND staying in tip top condition. In reality, it is easier said than done.
I know how it feels like, been there done that! Once you hit the relaxed and stress free mode, you tend to want to go all out and indulge in all the glorious rich foods that Chinese New Year (or any other celebration) has to offer and break free from your healthy habits. You comfort yourself by saying that you’ll “get back on track” once the holiday season comes to an end. I usually fall into this trap. I tell myself that I’ll indulge NOW, and work twice as hard LATER. Well, that usually never happens.
And if you’re living in Malaysia, festivities occur all year round. There is always a reason or season to be stuffing your face. Chinese New Year, Mooncake Festival… not to mention taking advantage of our multiracial culture by riding on other celebrations such as Hari Raya and Deepavali!
STAY CALM, I am here to help you! Here are my Top 5 tips on how to stay on track AND live a little. OM NOM NOM NOM……
- Pace Yourself…
…when it comes to food. Like running, there’s a set pace for everything. Don’t start out at an interval pace when you should be going easy.
Your brain takes a while to register (about 20 minutes) the feeling of fullness. When you eat, the hormone leptin is released which sends signals to your brain to inform it of the nutrients that the body is receiving. Cholecystokinin is also released by the intestines to further enhance the feeling of fullness.
If you don’t pace yourself, you end up eating a lot MORE than you should within a short span of time. You will be stuffing your face faster than the brain can tell you that you are FULL! In a study published in the European e-Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism in 2014, subjects who consumed their meals at a fast eating rate had a reduced perceived level of fullness.
Don’t rush through your meal. Indulge, enjoy and savour every bite…… SLOWLY! You can also aim to eat many small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism going!
- The Choice is in Your Hands
Get picky when it comes to snacks. CHOOSE WISELY. There are many other “healthier”, less calorie dense foods like Mandarin oranges! I love them. I remember eating 10 a day.
What you can do is, start off with fiber rich foods: fruits and vegetables (and drink plenty of water)! This should leave you feeling partially full.
Decide on what you want to eat. If you want to spend your calories on that slice of cake/cookie that you’ve been eyeing on, then cut back on your mains.
You can have your bakkwa (or keropok/cookies) and EAT it too!
If you are really stressed out on your health and fitness goals during the holiday season, DON’T! It is not worth it. If you are struggling to stay motivated and disciplined, change your goals (for just a few weeks).
Rest well, eat well and run consistently.
- It is OKAY to Indulge
Yes, you heard it from me. The most important thing to remember is: Don’t beat yourself up. If you slip up, forgive yourself and move on.
Instead of spiraling into negativity, go for a slow walk, do some yoga or hit the pool after a binge. Trust me, you’ll feel a lot better!
Try eating a healthier meal the next day and slowly get back on track. You can do it!
- Just RUN Lah!
With all of that said, the best way to still be on track is to just STAY on track. This one is obvious and full proof against weight gain. It works well if you are highly motivated, determined and self-disciplined.
Quick tip: GET IT DONE FIRST THING IN THE MORNING! Get it over and done with and out of the way. That way, you’re free to help out around the kitchen or do your last minute shopping or maybe just spend quality time with your loved ones. If you’re back at your kampung, this is a great opportunity to explore on foot!
Don’t have time? INCREASE the INTENSITY of your workout. Turn your moderate pace 1 hour long run into a fat blasting HIIT session! Incorporate some speed work into your training. It takes half the time, burns more calories during and after the workout and leaves you feeling AMAZING! The only catch is: it will feel like death (but just for 25-30 minutes).
You’ll be lean and mean, ready to stuff your face with food. Ok, I’m kidding. You’ll just feel less guilty because you know you’ve worked your butt off for it.
The main focus during this season should be your family and friends. Use this time to catch up with them instead of stuffing yourself silly. Opportunities like these don’t come very often! There’s something so comforting and warm about being surrounded by your loved ones while enjoying a home-cooked meal.
So, there you go! I hope this helps! What are some of your tips to stay in shape for the holiday season? Do SHARE!
Happy Chinese New Year! For those of you who are traveling back to your hometown, have a safe trip!
Word text/pictures from various sources: Tumblr, Instagram