The happy season is about to kick off. All of us are going to get busy with festivals, weddings and parties from now till the new year rolls in. Most times, the first casualties of this hectic partying are our food, fitness and sleep routines. “The festive season can put your fitness and health at risk in a number of ways, including overindulging in junk food, drinking too much alcohol, and skipping workouts. These may result in gaining weight, having trouble sleeping, and feeling more stressed,” says Chandni Haldurai, head of nutrition at Cult.fit.
However, a little forward planning goes a long way. You could avoid losing all the gains, putting on weight and keeping your training on track by simply planning ahead for the next few months, say fitness experts and nutritionists. “The best solution here is to schedule your workouts strategically and set realistic goals, so you can stay on track while enjoying the festivities,” advises Haldurai.
While planning for the next three months, it helps to have a tentative event calendar in front of you so you have a rough idea when you won’t find the time to exercise or are likely to eat and drink more than usual, says Sandeep Sachdev, a Mumbai-based coach and co-founder of Easy Human fitness studio and cafe. “Apart from exercise and food, the third thing you need to focus on is sleep because if you are not well rested and sleep-deprived, things will just become worse,” he adds. To ensure that your training is on track, try to stick to your regular workout routine as much as possible. On the days that you cannot, turn to shorter workouts, says Sachdev. High-intensity, shorter workouts can be effective when time is limited, agrees Haldurai.
“In the realm of physical activity, the ‘all or nothing’ attitude can often stifle progress. Short workout routines address this issue by offering a feasible solution for those who struggle with time constraints or lack of motivation,” says Spoorthi S., a Cult.fit fitness expert. “Research consistently shows that even brief bouts of exercise can contribute to overall health and fitness by elevating the heart rate, improving blood circulation, and boosting metabolism.” The other thing you want to pay attention to is not to go three-four days on the trot without a workout.
As far as food and drinks are concerned, you need to be a bit more careful than usual, because over the next three months there will be plenty of temptation. “During the wedding, festival and party season, we end up eating a lot of sweets and savories which are high in calories, sugar and salt, says Simrun Chopra, a deep health coach and founder of Nourish With Sim. “Festive celebrations encourage overeating and indulgence in a range of traditional sweets and savory snacks. However, you don’t need to completely let go of your favourite festive treats during these months of indulgence. Just swap them with something healthier, avoid unhealthy snacking. Be mindful of the quality of food you eat by avoiding fried and unhealthy delicacies,” adds Chopra. Portion control can also help navigate this time of the year. However, you must remember never to starve yourself.
Another thing you need to watch out for is your liquid calories intake. It is best to limit your intake of high-calorie beverages, says Chopra. “Packed juices and other calorie-rich beverages contribute a significant amount of sugar and calories to your diet, which can lead to weight gain. Additionally, too much alcohol intake can cause dehydration and promote fat storage. It is advisable to alternate your alcoholic drinks with several glasses of water,” she says. Planning and anticipating a big night of drinking and eating with less sleep helps too. If you are headed for a night of indulgence try keeping the remaining calories in your day lower by switching your snacks to a single portion of fruits.
Above all, the key to successfully navigating the next few months is moderation, says Haldurai. “At gatherings, prioritise protein and fibre-rich dishes, avoid sugary beverages, and select healthier options when on offer. Stay hydrated and limit your alcohol intake. When time is limited, plan shorter, more intensive workouts and invite friends or family to participate in active holiday activities. Most importantly, accept occasional indulgence and place more of an emphasis on overall balance than on perfection,” says Haldurai.
Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and the co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.