Fitness experts lend us hacks to stay fit through the holidays

Keep your fitness and nutrition in check as you waltz through this year’s party season with our holiday survival hacks that promise not to be a party-pooper 
Fitness experts lend us hacks to stay fit through the holidays
<em>Shvetha Jaishankar</em>
Shvetha Jaishankar

Shvetha Jaishankar, author of award-winning book Gorgeous: Eat Well Look Great and Miss International ’98 runner-up

Detox: I embrace the season’s excesses with gusto because I love December and all that it symbolises. To compensate, 
I hibernate and am careful in the interim month (November) between Diwali and Christmas!

At the party: I try to minimise tempting situations while trying not to minimise the events I want to attend and the friends I want to meet. For instance, I say no to nothing. But I savour a drink or two (instead of guzzling a few cocktails at a go). Try not to wolf down sugary treats and don’t commit to more than one outing a day or night, during this season.

Workout tip: Fit in a plank and five surya namaskars

Fridge essentials:  I rotate things at a good clip — cake comes in, we eat a bit and I distribute the rest. We make cookies — we have some and I give the rest to neighbours and friends. Essentially, what I eat during this season, or otherwise, is the same except for eating out more.

<em>Pradhayini Sarvothaman</em>
Pradhayini Sarvothaman

Pradhayini Sarvothaman, Model and everyday yogi

Detox: Rather than go for juice, I prefer the whole fruit. It hydrates me and keeps me full, without feeling heavy. At the moment, I am hooked on a big bowl of pomegranate and granola for breakfast.

At the party: I believe in a balanced diet, so I eat everything, including dessert which is a must for me at every meal. But in terms of portions, I would say, go for all the bite-sized appetisers and skip the main course.

Workout tip: I swear by the surya namaskar

And when I'm travelling, I spend my wait time stretching out my hamstrings and doing little things that are good for my body — like stretches and leg lifts. I once did my surya namaskar at the Kuala Lumpur airport to get a good stretch and improve my blood circulation. One of the advantages of an airport is that you can pick a section that is carpeted so you don't need a mat!

Fridge essentials: Fruits and veggies that are local and seasonal. I enjoy passion fruit, red bananas and oranges for energy. If I’m craving something savoury, my cupboard is always stocked with roasted puffed rice (pori) and peanuts which I mix with diced tomatoes, cucumber, hummus, flaxseed powder and a slit green chilli for a hit of heat — it’s a whole meal by itself.

<em>Praveen Raja</em>
Praveen Raja

Praveen Raja, fitness blogger at on Instagram

Detox: Drink lots of water. During the day, stick to lean protein and veggies, leaving most of your calories for the dinner party. Have a light, healthy meal before stepping out.

At the party: If you drink, stick to spirits mixed with soda, water or zero calorie beverages. 
Avoid beer and cocktails. Don’t go overboard on the short eats. They are generally loaded. Note, these are deceptively high in calories. Between drinks, sip on a glass of water — a good way to cut down on how much alcohol you drink. Fill up most of your plate with lean protein. Find a smaller plate if that’s an option.

Workout tip: Do not skip your workout. Focus on compound movements. In case you end up over- eating, the calories might be put to good use to build some muscle! If you end up overindulging even after taking precautions, don’t beat yourself up about it. Everyone trips up sometime or the other. Get back to your routine as soon as you can. There’s no need to starve yourself the next day just because you over-ate one night.

Fridge essentials: Avoid keeping high calorific snacks, instead stock up on healthy bites. And do not doggy-bag food back home!

<em>Ajit Sigamani</em>
Ajit Sigamani

Ajit Sigamani, founder of Combat Kinetics

Detox: Instead of a detox drink the morning after, I recommend the preventive approach. Drink about 500 ml of water before you sleep (after a night of partying). Alcohol is heavily dehydrating and so this goes a long way to help you wake up feeling better. Post a party session, with alcohol, have rice at your next meal — it makes for a slow release of water and this helps with staying hydrated.

At the party: Sip, don’t chug when you’re drinking. And try combining your drink with food so you consume less alcohol. Also, I would say, stay away from the sugary treats being served.

Workout tip: Honestly, during the party season — I don’t suggest you push yourself physically because when you are sleep deprived or just tired from a long night — recovery is slower and pushing yourself can lead to injury or burnout. So wake up, eat a high carb breakfast like a dosa or idli and then march straight back to bed. 

Fridge essentials: Oranges are great for hydration, energy and electrolytes.

<em>Vikram Menon</em>
Vikram Menon

Vikram Menon, co-founder of Wild Warrior Race, obstacle course athlete and callisthenics expert

Detox: Just hydrate and catch up on your sleep.

At the party: Balance is the key. Whether it is going out,  eating, drinking — it has to be in moderation. Planning ahead really works. Not in terms of fitness, but in terms of your lifestyle. So if you have a Saturday night out, then finish all your chores during the day, so you can sleep in, and enjoy your Sunday by recuperating from all the partying. 

Workout tip: The most important thing is when you’re having fun — don’t feel guilty. Just go with it without beating yourself up over it. Eat all the cake happily, get enough sleep and keep hydrated!

Fridge essentials: Water, oranges, berries, tender coconut water and dark chocolate.

Mansi Gandhi, Vinyasa Flow yoga practitioner

Detox: However late the night it is, I am sure like me, we all have kids to send to school, classes or work to run to, courses to study for, and yoga to do, all before 6.45 am. So here is what I do to tackle the season. I drink a cucumber-mint- corriander juice every morning to give my kidneys a boost. This is my go to every day. 

At the party: I get at least two healthy meals in. Breakfast and lunch are super nutritious, especially if I know I have a big night coming up. If the party is a lot later than my dinner time... which is usually the case since I eat dinner at 7, I eat a good snack before I leave so that I don’t pig out at the party. I try and fill my stomach with proteins — think chicken, fish, mutton, eggs, paneer, tofu. And then sample the rest including dessert. I love my food, so I am definitely going to be eating! Just in reduced quantities. 

Workout tip: I commit to exercise but tone it down during the holiday season. So if I work out for one hour, four days a week usually, then at this time —  I definitely get in half an hour, three days a week. Come what may, even something as simple as a walk.

Fridge essentials: Oat bars, yoghurt (is a great probiotic snack) and peanut butter.

What’s the science behind eating slowly? It takes approximately 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full. If you slow down eating to match the rate that your mind communicates to your stomach — you’re more likely to eat less and feel more satisfied!
— Jen Thomas

<em>Jen Thomas</em>
Jen Thomas

Jen Thomas, Nutrition and fitness coach

Detox: And did you jump on the scales this morning, panicked that you gained 1 kg magically overnight? I know it can be disconcerting, but it is remedied quite quickly. Water (keep yourself hydrated during the day), make your breakfast a healthy one (aim for a meal that’s high in protein and vegetables) and sleep! A good seven hours that night!

At the party: I love food, especially Christmas-y food, so how do I eat over the holidays and still stay on track with my diet? I’ll let you in on my little secret. I eat slowly. It works wonders. I take my time while eating, and do not gobble! When it comes to the cocktail conundrum, the tip I give my clients is this: imagine an elaborate spread, where on the left are your sugary cocktails and mocktails, loaded with sugar and fruit juices, the middle having dry wines and champagnes, and on the right are your clear spirits (whiskey, light rum, gin and vodka).

When going out to celebrate with friends or enjoying a bubbly beverage on the couch with your loved one this holiday season — opt for the drinks that are found on the right. 

Workout tip: Go for a brisk 30-minute walk or swim.

Fridge essentials: Don’t let your body’s aches and pains get the better of you this holiday season. By consuming high-quality Omega 3s (essential fatty acids), it helps reduce the chronic inflammation in your body, making you feel energetic and light on your feet. Stock food that is rich in omega 3 — like mackerel, salmon, sardines, walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds.

<em>Jeffery Vardon</em>
Jeffery Vardon

Jeffery Vardon, founder Hot Shoe Dance Company

Detox: My wife makes me an ABC (apple, beetroot, carrot) mocktail every morning. I have been drinking it for the last two months and not only have I been feeling great energy-wise, but I am told that my skin is looking better as well.

At the party: I am never that person at a party who says: ‘I’m on a diet.’ But I do eat very carefully. Instead of avoiding a certain dish or food group, my focus is on portion control — I go for one piece of every appetiser and then usually skip the rice or main course altogether.

Workout tip:  Go for a jog and if you are in shape to handle it, try Tabata which is high-intensity interval training. There are plenty of videos online and you don’t need any equipment to do it.

Fridge essentials: I am not the one who stocks the fridge at home (laughs) so I can’t answer that one to the tee. But what I can tell you is that I am always carrying an assortment of nuts and seeds to snack on. In my car at the moment, I’ve got almonds, pecans, sunflower and melon seeds, dried blueberries and apricots. I munch on these whenever I am hungry, between dance classes during the day... They’re great because they give me that boost of energy without making me feel heavy like rice or even a sandwich.

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