It’s not unusual to hear friends complaining about gaining a few extra kilograms during the holiday season, with most of them blaming it all on the excessive feasting. How could one resist all those delicious pineapple tarts, bak kwa and round after round of hotpot, right? But wait, there’s one more reason everyone’s forgotten: the lack of physical activity and exercise.
Because staying in shape might not be the easiest thing to do with relatives and friends passing food to you every which way you turn, here are a few really practical and doable tips to keep your weight and health in check this CNY!
1. Never Go Hungry
Now that’s a tip we all could use! When you are headed for the next house visit, be sure to eat something at home before leaving. This ensures you are half full even before arriving, and will discourage you from nibbling more than you want to. Another benefit of snacking at home is the power of deciding what goes down your tummy – pull in a platter of fresh greens and fruits, to balance out the festive food coming later.
2. Just Enjoy Yourself
What’s Chinese New Year without the goodies, and sloshing them all down with a soft drink? How can you miss out on the fantastic feast laid out by your family, and wouldn’t it just be so miserable to watch everyone else chomp away happily? Trying to restrain yourself will only cause you to eat (and perhaps binge) more, so allow yourself the freedom to enjoy the treats. The trick is to eat less and more often – so instead of having two gigantic meals, opt for five small ones instead.
3. Drink Up!
If you are planning to celebrate over rounds of alcohol, do try to drink in moderation as too much could dehydrate you, not forgetting the hangover you’ll get the next day too. As a basic rule of loving your skin and body, try squeezing in a daily cup of green tea, its antioxidants will help to detoxify your system. Another totally inexpensive way is drinking water to cleanse the toxins, or a fruit juice high in vitamins B and C to up your energy level and immunity. Also, your brain may at times confuse thirst with hunger, so a large glass of water before your big festive meal could help lessen the amount of food you eat.
4. Keep Moving
Everyone’s crowded around the table, on the floor, watching a funny movie rerun, and just having a good time. Before you realise, you’d have been sitting for a good few hours. A 2015 study from Indiana University indicates that it takes just an hour of prolonged sitting for a decrease in blood flow from the legs to the heart by 50 percent. Coupled with the fact that many of us sit at the desk for an average of eight hours daily, this “parking in a chair” routine could lead to impaired blood vessel functions – which is an early marker of heart disease.
Before you scramble off, the study’s author Saurabh Thosar and team claims that the damage of sitting can be reversed by taking five-minute walks every hour. So, after that hearty meal, walk it off by the park, or if you really need help remembering – how about adding a little walking session for every toilet break you take?
Read the article “Effect of Prolonged Sitting and Breaks” here.
5. Plan Your Exercise Wisely
Just for this festive period, plan appropriately and practically, starting by reducing the intensity of your normal workouts. The best home exercises are really easy, such as lunges, crunches, squats, kettlebell swings or anything that’ll give you a good sweat session – even if for 15 minutes. Most find it easiest to work out in the morning before the day begins, so you don’t get distracted by the feastings, events or other holiday hoopla.
After Chinese New Year is over, the wisest move is to ease back into your fitness regime gently, and not directly back to the level of intensity you were at before – since the sudden change might cause injury.
6. Leave The Leftovers
The bigger the family, the higher the chance of leftovers – in sizeable portions at that too. Avoid falling into the trap of packing them all home or reusing them for breakfast the next morning, because it’d really be that much better to begin your day with a wholesome breakfast instead. It’s after all Chinese New Year, and there’ll surely be plenty of opportunities to indulge!
7. Catch Your Zzzs
Festive season or not, do create a balance between your recreations and rest. Try to target for seven to eight hours of sleep, so you wake up refreshed the next day. Keeping extremely late nights over the CNY weekend, and then having to suddenly go back to your nine-to-five office routine will also inevitably prove to be difficult on your body.