FITNESS COLUMN

Don't let Diwali celebrations throw you off the fitness wagon

Here’s how to manage your fitness goals while having a whole-hearted Diwali celebration

Don't let Diwali celebrations throw you off the fitness wagon

Representational image. iStock

Vishnu Venugopal

What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Diwali? Quality time with family, great food, sweets, Diwali parties… amidst the joy, we often hear jokes on how Diwali season is a culprit for weight gain. Statements like ‘now it's Diwali and soon it will be Christmas holidays—so I might as well get back on track with my fitness post New Year celebrations’ are very common around this time.

If you are thinking along the same lines, think again! You are procrastinating or rather putting a pause on healthy eating and exercising for 2 months. That is 16% of a year.

But is it possible to balance out healthy lifestyle strategies with festivals? While dealing with such questions, remind yourself that the key to long-term success is adopting a healthy mindset. This is not a diet or exercise programme that has a start and end date. You’re eating and exercising for a way of life.

There’s no doubt that festivals present a unique set of challenges with all the delicious sweets being served at every household. And I bet that some of you go on a guilt trip when you pick up that extra peda or laddoo.

You not only feel guilty for allowing this to happen – you might even fear that these choices will undo all the hard work you’ve put into getting in shape. Sounds familiar?

Here are ways to enjoy the festival while your lifestyle doesn’t take a hit.

 

Keep a control over meals

First, control the meals that you can. So, just because there are a lot of sweets in the house, doesn’t mean you have to have sweets to wash down every meal. Control the meals you have control over. Stick with your plan for the meals you can. Have a bite of that sweet, not the entire box.

Eat slowly, watch your portion size

Eat your meals slowly. Slow eating is the number one technique to limit the portion sizes of the meals you can’t control. It’s that simple. So, even if you’re enjoying a fabulous spread on Diwali, how much of it you eat will be the biggest determinant of the effect that big meal has on you. Eat slowly, have a normal serving and you’ll be fine.

Be mindful of how much you’re eating

Go in with the intention to adhere to your plan for the majority of your meals. However, since it is holiday season, make sure you also allow for both flexibility and forgiveness while also being realistic about the expectations you place upon yourself.

It’s the constant partaking in large quantities of Diwali treats that’ll catch up to you. And you end up here only when you allow yourself to, by ignoring the choices you are making and the impact it is having on you physically and emotionally. Give yourself permission to enjoy! When it’s well thought out and logical you’re less likely to overeat.

Don't skip exercise

Do not skip your exercise routine, just because it's Diwali. However, do not look at exercise as a means to burn calories. If you are choosing to do some extra cardio to offset the Diwali calories, it represents a dysfunctional relationship with food and exercise. Exercise because that's part of your lifestyle, exercise to stay fit, exercise to get stronger.

Get back on track post Diwali

There is only so much you can control during festivals. However, get back on track with exercise and healthy eating immediately after Diwali instead of waiting for New Year. In all probabilities, a good chunk of the weight gain you see after a few big meals will be water-weight. As long as you don't let that get into your head and get back to exercising regularly, eating more home-cooked food and making sure that you are drinking enough water and getting enough sleep, you will be back on track in a week.

After almost two stressful years of the pandemic, we deserve these celebrations and accompanying joys. But be mindful.

The author is co-founder and Product head at Alpha Coach and will be writing a fortnightly column on fitness for www.tribuneindia.com

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