Fitness expert Brinda Sapat tells you how to enjoy the festive season without packing on the pounds.
Let's be honest, you don't want to miss out on the delicious goodies, late nights and alcohol this festive season. And of course, you don't want to pile on the kilos! There are a few good ways to ensure you don't gain weight (but postpone the weight loss plan for now!).
The common mistake people make is to mark out a good chunk of party days as a whole and take them as a time out to eat as much as they want and take a vacation from exercise, consequently ending up a few kilos heavier.
The key is to eat whatever you want only at the party, wedding, or whatever celebration it is that you are attending, but watch your food at home and keep up with the exercise routine.
If you are already on a fitness programme, continue with it and step it up a notch. For those who haven't been exercising regularly, carve out 30 minutes five days a week for a brisk walk, a swim, cycling or aerobics. Then thrice a week, do a resistance training workout at home (see exercises in the following pages) and a couple of minutes of deep breathing and relaxation every day.
Not only will you be maintaining your weight but the exercise will make you feel rejuvenated d(o not exercise if you are feeling unusually tired).
Please consult your doctor before starting any exercise programme.
Brinda Sapat is Group Exercise Instructor at Gold's Gym, Napean Sea Road, Mumbai. Certified with Training Zone & Progressive Fitness (USA), she has been a fitness instructor for over a decade.
Photographs: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters; Inset: Courtesy Chef Vicky Ratnani
Start off your day with a good breakfast: A bowl of cereal, boiled/poached egg white, wholegrain toast, fruit and tea/coffee with skimmed milk and minimal sugar.
Grab a handful of nuts or dry fruit for your mid-morning snack and a glass of fresh juice.
Eat a lunch of a wholegrain sandwich with a low-fat filling of your choice or chapatti, vegetables and dal.
Have an evening snack of fruit or raw veggies with a low-fat dip or a low-fat yoghurt.
Dinner should be light. A bowl of soup, salad and fish/chicken/lentils is just perfect. Make sure you eat your dinner three hours before you go to bed.
Eating out, alcohol and late nights dehydrate the body. Drink plenty of water to replace fluid loss.
To avoid over-indulging when you go out, eat a filling snack before you leave. This way you are more likely to choose your party foods wisely!
If you are planning to have a few drinks, alternate them with a glass of water.
Healthy party foods
There are safe foods at parties too! So even if you indulge a little with the fried stuff and desserts, add these to your plate too -- tandoori dishes, raw foods, stir fried-dishes, grilled foods, soups and salads.
Photographs: Courtesy Anima Creatives; Inset: Pedro Simoes, Lisboa, Portugal
Catch up on lost sleep by taking a short nap in the day, if possible. Give yourself enough rest before exercising. If you are too tired, go easy on your workout by either working at a slower pace or shortening the duration. Do not push yourself if you are totally out of it. Exerting the body lowers the resistance level, making you susceptible to catching a cold, body aches etc. Listen to your body!
Photographs: Promotional still for She Wolf; Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
These exercises help to tone and tighten the muscles and strengthen the body.
Do this workout thrice a week, each exercise done in two sets of 12-16 repetitions. Do a five to seven-minute warm up (jog, climb stairs etc) before you start exercising and do a few stretches after the workout to loosen up the muscles and relax.
For the thighs and butt.
Stand with your feet a little more than hip distance apart. Link your fingers and hold your arms ups in front of you at shoulder height.
Slowly push your hips back and down till your thighs are parallel to the floor. Imagine yourself trying to sit on a chair placed way behind you. Knees should be in line with the ankle and not surpass it. Press the heels into the floor and push yourself up to standing position without locking your knees.
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera; Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
For the thighs and butt.
Take a long stride forward with your right foot. This is the starting position.
Place your hands at your waist. Now bend both knees and lower yourself towards the floor, making sure your right knee stays in line with the ankle. Press the right heel into the floor and push yourself up to the starting position. The right leg is the working leg.
Finish a set with the right leg in front, then change to left.
Photographs: Tim Wimborne/Reuters; Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
For the calves and ankles.
Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Slowly come up on the balls of the feet by lifting the heels, and then gently lower. Before your heels touch the floor, lift up for the next rep.
Photographs: Still from Housefull; Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
For the chest, front of the shoulder and triceps.
Lie on your tummy. Place your hands on the floor near the shoulders. Come up on your knees. Maintain a straight diagonal line from head, shoulders and hips to the knees. Keep the abdominals tightly contracted and head and neck in a neutral position.
Keeping your hands wide apart, slowly lower your chest towards the floor and then push up again. If you are unable to bring the hips down keeping them in line with the body (ie if you tend to arch or round the back), then do the push up in the modified doggy position.
Bent over rows
Photographs: Susana Vera/Reuters; Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
For the large muscles in your back, back of the shoulder and biceps.
Stand in a lunge position. Hold your abdominals tight. Hold a pair of dumbbells or two bottles filled with water in your hands and hang them down.
Raise the hands up towards your shoulders by bending the elbows and pulling them up towards the ceiling; the elbows should graze past your waist. Squeeze your shoulder blades and slowly lower the hands to starting position without locking the elbows.
Overhead shoulder press
Photographs: Courtesy ActiMedia India Pvt Ltd; Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
For the top of the shoulders.
Stand holding the dumbbells or water-filled bottles in your hands at the shoulders with the palms facing forward. Raise your arms straight up towards the ceiling without locking the elbows. Then lower the arms to starting position.
Photographs: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters; Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
For the upper and lower tummy muscles.
Lie face-up on the floor on a mat. Link your fingers behind your head and keep the elbows out to the sides. Your head should be comfortably positioned and the hands should bear the weight of the head.
Raise both the legs with the knees bent. This is the start position. Now contract the abdominal muscles and lift your shoulder blades off the floor while simultaneously lifting your hips off the floor. Squeeze the tummy hard and then slowly lower.
Photographs: Still from Tees Maar Khan; Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
For the waist.
Use the same start position as in the previous exercise, but place your feet on the floor and knees bent. Raise your upper body and bring your right shoulder towards the left knee. Gently lower.
Finish one set then do it moving the left shoulder to the right knee.
Photographs: Steve Marcus/Reuters; Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
For the back.
Lie face down on a mat on the floor. Link your fingers under your nose and elbows out to the side. Legs are straight and feet on the floor.
Now raise the upper body as high as you can, squeezing your back. Keep your nose pointing down towards the mat at all times. Lower the upper body and then lift both the legs off the floor, squeezing the lower back. Lower the legs. Keep alternating between the upper and lower body.
Finish off with a few stretches like toe touchs, side bends, pulling your heel in to the hips etc.
Enjoy the party!