It’s that time of the year again! Christmas and New Year celebrations are rolling in! When you think of these festivities, you’d think of your loved ones and of course, FOOD (the best part!)! There’s something so comforting and warm about being surrounded by your loved ones while enjoying a home-cooked meal.
Once you hit the relaxed and stress free mode, you tend to want to indulge in all the glorious foods that this season has to offer and break free from your healthy habits. You tell yourself 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!
You may tell yourself that its only 1 pound of weight gained over the festive season, but 1 pound times 3-5 seasons a year adds up and you could be gaining a lot of weight over a few years. What’s the harm you say? According to an article in the Nutrition Journal, it is difficult to lose the weight gained during the Holiday Season, even if it’s just 1 pound. This retained weight gain could have potential long-term health consequences. It is also important to note that this is a factor which contributes to adult obesity.
We all know that the key to enjoying holiday treats without the extra pounds is portion control. The problem lies in executing what we already know (portion control!) when temptations are right before our eyes. The next question would be: does this even apply to us runners? What better way to clear all speculations than to experiment with your own body. Studies and scientific research will give you many different views and answers, some saying that you may gain weight and some saying that you may not. So, the best way is to be your own lab rat. For me, I find that when I over-indulge for just over one week while still continuing my weekly mileage, I’m pretty much immune to the unsightly tummy bulge. Of course, if you plan to continue at this rate without doubling your weekly mileage, you’ll be in for a surprise at the end of the holiday season!
Portion Control. Hmmmm…
I came up with a few tips on how to not go overboard during this festive season! I am sharing what has worked for me but they may or may not work for you. At the end of the day, it is not what we know or don’t know. Rather, it is whether or not we are willing to and determined enough to avoid temptation.
- Put in that workout! This one is obvious and full proof against holiday weight gain. I know it is hard. I’ve been there. 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.
- Pace yourself. If you know that you’ll be attending a party that night, avoid heavy meals and unnecessary snacking throughout the day. The point is to eat light and not starve yourself.
- Doubling up! If you want to eat and not gain weight, you have to put in the work. Try doubling your workouts one month before the holiday season or slowly increase the intensity of each workout to burn off the excess fat. Come holiday season, you’ll be lean and mean to stuff your face with food. I’m kidding. You’ll just feel less guilty because you know you’ve worked your butt off for it.
- WATER WATER WATER! I cannot stress this enough. Hydration is so important! We tend to mistake thirst for hunger. And this is true because I have experienced this myself. Also, when we’re dehydrated, fatigue sinks in. And when that happens, we look for FOOD! Always keep a water bottle with you. STAY HYDRATED!
- Reflect. Think back on all those hours, blood, sweat and tears that you put yourself through. Waking up early in the morning when you’d rather be sleeping just to put in that run. Think about how far you’ve come on your journey. This should give you enough will power to say NO to over eating. Well, if it doesn’t then I don’t think you’re working hard enough! (HAHA!)
- The main focus. The focus during these festive seasons should be on your family and friends. This is the one time when family and friends from all over the world gather together. Use this time to catch up with them instead of stuffing yourself silly. Opportunities like these don’t come very often!
- Choose wisely. Always start off with fiber rich foods: fruits and vegetables! This would leave you feeling partially full. Decide on what you want to eat. If you want to spend your calories on that slice of cake that you’ve been eyeing on, then cut back on your mains.
- Maintenance. The goal for the holiday season should be focused on maintaining instead of losing or gaining. Rest well, eat well and run consistently. Put your weight loss goals on hold and don’t miss out on the holiday treats!
- It is OKAY to indulge. If you slip up, forgive yourself and move on. Don’t beat yourself up. Try eating a healthier meal the next day and slowly get back on track. You can do it!
Ahhhh. NOM NOM NOM!
So there you go! I’m still cracking my head to come up with a 10th tip. Just to make things even. I’m OCD like that. When I eventually come up with one, I’ll add it in. Till then, BLESSED CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR GUYS!