The Pujas and Diwali might be over, but very soon the wedding season will commence and then the winter party season will take off. Even people who are very particular with their eating habits and meticulous in calculating their macros for the day find it hard to strike a balance between satisfying and nourishing food choices during the festive season. The holiday season comes with enticing temptations and therefore, prioritising health, nutrition and fitness takes a back seat. It leads to skipping workouts, indulging in some really high-calorie foods, sleep deprivation and hence weight goals are thrown in an obscure corner and even maintaining our weight seems like a big challenge.
So, here’s a holiday survival guide for you! These are strategies that will not only let you sail through the busiest time of the year, but also define small efforts that will definitely accumulate over this period and yield results.
1. Ditch the ‘all or nothing approach’ or ‘the pause button’ mentality
It might sound absurd to try to improve your eating and exercise habits in the midst of the festivities but so does getting rid of all your health-promoting habits or the progress made till the end of the holiday season. The idea of “starting over” after completely falling off the bandwagon feels comforting and assuring to a lot of people and justifies their overindulgence during this time. The problem with this approach is that the perfect magical time to pursue health and fitness never comes, or as soon as you feel it coming, life throws something else at us. So instead of the “all or nothing approach” try to follow the “always something” approach. It’s a good idea to dial up the efforts post the festive season, however, instead of completely switching off the dial now, focus on adjusting the dial to some realistic level.
2. Aim for progress and not perfection
Modify your health and fitness plan so that it is better suited to the current scenario. It’s understandable that taking out an hour for a regular routine workout, sourcing organic produce or getting eight-nine hours of uninterrupted sleep might sound over-ambitious. So let’s shun the activities that are not achievable and focus on those that are, considering the frenzy all around. This can be done by focusing on what is the absolute most you can do! What is the easiest for you to follow?
Make a list of the top three healthy habits you can follow irrespective of the festivities around, such as:
- Going for a 30-minute walk every day
- Eating at least one healthy meal in a day
- Consuming a portion of salad or veggies with lunch
3. Focus on intuitive eating
It may appear difficult to stick to a salad or healthier stuff when everyone around is feasting. So instead of attempting a rigid diet plan, try to eat intuitively. Eat slowly to be “satisfied” and not “stuffed”. This is a very simple strategy to avoid overeating. It takes 15-20 minutes for your digestive system to let the brain know that you are full. Eating slowly allows that to happen before you overeat. Also, when you savour the food you eat or sense into each bite that you take, it helps you feel content with much less.
4. The workout routine — let’s keep it short but not sweet
Let us now assume that we may not have the time or inclination to dedicate one full hour to our customary workouts. Hence embrace HIIT (high-intensity interval training) as the fitness mantra for this period. Characterised by short bursts of very intense workouts (think burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, squat jumps, cycle lunges etc.) with short breaks intermittently. These short tabata, amrap (as many reps as possible), for-time or other cross-training formats are completely doable as they cause cardiovascular fatigue and not muscular fatigue. The demand on lungs is higher and a lot of muscles are involved in a short time to optimise calorie burn. The duration of these workouts could span from something as short as 3 minutes to 30 minutes depending on one’s available time and mood.
Even a 20-30-minute continuous routine would be adequate to burn 150-200 calories (equivalent to a dessert portion) and result in one feeling drained yet satisfied on doing some justice to last night’s dessert!
5. Focus on your N.E.A.T.
Small movements that can lead to big calorie burn and help you maintain your weight during the festive season. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis or N.E.A.T. is the energy burnt through non-exercise activities. The activities include anything from walking to the parking lot or the grocery store, mowing the lawn, taking the stairs to mindlessly walking around the house. Around 15 per cent of the daily energy expenditure in sedentary people and more than 50 per cent in highly active people can be attributed to one’s N.E.A.T. Therefore, it’s a good idea to focus on burning more calories just by consciously being more active throughout the day.
6. Try intermittent fasting (IF)
IF is a practice of occasionally going for extended periods without eating. The time from one’s last meal of the day until the next meal is termed as “the fasting period” and the time from one’s first meal of the day to the last meal is termed as the “feeding period”. IF could help in controlling the calorie intake by encouraging you to consume fewer calories by skipping one or two meals a day.
With the help of these strategies, you can enjoy the holidays without any guilt or extra pounds!
Nutrimend is a diet consultancy clinic founded by sister duo Neha Patodia and Nupur Arya in 2016. It works towards helping people reach their health and fitness goals by providing them with customised plans that promote health in a holistic manner.