I swear Christmas + New Year JUST passed and a lot of us are still working on losing the holiday weight. Guess what? Tomorrow's the first day of the Chinese New Year, and then comes Valentine's Day, presenting you with an endless buffet of sweets, treats and indulgent meals. All these festivities can be daunting to the weight conscious. Don't give up just yet. Here are 8 tips ( you should know why I chose this number, it's a lucky number for the Chinese! 😉) to help you enjoy the holidays whilst staying in shape.
1. BREAKFAST, EVERYDAY.
Having a breakfast will stop you from overeating later on in the day. This has been scientifically proven. So remember, kick start your day with a healthy breakfast! Think whole grains, fruits, eggs.
- Here’s a breakfast example: Handful of unsweetened muesli topped with yoghurt, apples, bananas, nuts & a dash of cinnamon.
2. MORNING WORKOUT.
Be ahead of the game and hit the gym early in the morning before all the festivities begin. 30 minutes will totally suffice, that's not too much to ask for, is it? This will raise your heart rate and boost your metabolism. I can assure you, you'll feel great after. TRUST.
- Here’s something that I do: Warm up (5mins); HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) on the treadmill, sprinting for 1 min on my max speed with 8% inclination, then hopping off the belt onto the sides of the treadmill for a 1-min rest. x10 times (20mins); Cool down & stretch! (5 mins).
3. THE ORDER OF EATING.
Always choose to drink your SOUP FIRST at meals. It will fill you up and save you from over-consuming calories. Then make way for the veggies! Leafy greens, root veg, mushrooms & other fungi… all these plant-based goodies are rich in fibre and water, helping you feel satiated with fewer calories but more nutrients!
It can be hard to practice portion control or keep track of what we eat at Chinese meals because we typically all have a bowl of rice, and are free to pick any food item from a vast assortment of delicacies galore. Here's when you practise mindful eating. Assess how hungry you really are and determine how much you need to eat. Reassess during meal to avoid over-consumption. For weight loss/maintenance purposes, I would suggest composing half of your meal with veggies.
5. HYDRATE YOURSELF.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day! Hydration is essential for keeping your appetite at bay, clear your skin, aid detox... amongst many other benefits. In fact, oftentimes when we feel hungry, it’s actually our brains telling us we are thirsty. So before you reach out for a slice of fried turnip cake, treat yourself to a glass of refreshing water, wait and see if you are hungry, or just dehydrated. Having a cuppa' tea after meals will help digestion and alleviate bloated-ness.
6. LESS IS MORE.
Use a non-stick pan to fry the yummy cakes we have during CNY. This will decrease your oil intake by more than half. Better yet, there are these pans from Korea that require absolutely no oil when frying as it's 100% non-stick! Likewise, steaming the cakes can also achieve an oil-less finish. Minimise your sauce for less calories. Try to appreciate natural flavours rather than adding sauce to every bite. Remember, every little effort counts!
7. JOY FROM WITHIN.
Consuming alcohol will lead to excess calories, without even realising. It also comes hand in hand with snacking, driving you away from your weight loss/maintenance goals. I'm not saying "NO ALCOHOL.", but let's practise mindful drinking. Opt for a glass of wine (or two), or cocktails made of clear spirits such as g&t or vodka soda to minimise added sugars. Remember that holiday celebrations are all about enjoying time with your family & loved ones, it doesn't equate to indulging mindlessly on food and drinks!
8. PLAN AHEAD.
The most important thing is to plan ahead, be it your workout routine or eating pattern. Set boundaries for yourself and stick to them.
- For example, setting a one dessert a day rule for yourself, and truly savour the one you choose.
- Bringing a healthy snack to share is also a great way of showing your care for everyone's health & wellbeing (including your own) and actually practising it!
With these tips in mind, and practising them of course, you're more than well-equipped to go enjoy the holidays! I wish you a prosperous year of the monkey! May you all have good health and fortune!