It’s the last week of the year. It’s a time to let go, let your hair down, relax, be kind (to yourself too), treat yourself, and be grateful for making it through a challenging year. To that end, for all the fitness enthusiasts (don’t call them freaks) and health conscious people out there, don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t worked out today (or the past last week for that matter), or don’t plan to exercise for the next few days. If you have been even semi-consistent in 2023, you have earned yourself this break.
Fitness experts and writers firmly believe that exercise and fitness ought to be fun and not a chore, or worse, punishment. Even the best professional athletes in the world take it easy and indulge themselves from time to time. After all, a bad apple might rot the entire box, but one bad day or week won’t undo all the hard work you have put in consistently over the last year.
Lounge writer and football commentator Pulasta Dhar loves cake. “I can never say no to any cream-free cake. For my end of the year indulgence, I like plum cake because it is very Christmas-y. Also, it’s dense, has a fruit in it, and has rum in it. Who can say no to a cake with rum at this time of the year?” says Dhar. And no, he doesn’t plan any compensatory post-cake exercise over the next few days, nor does he force himself to exercise beforehand just because he feels like indulging in a slice of cake. He’d rather just enjoy the cake with a cup of coffee, while listening to some good techno.
Delhi-based coach and founder of Kosmic Fitness, Gagan Arora, loves spending his Christmas and New Year with family. He does go on short runs and does some strength work during the holidays, but the one thing he enjoys most about this time is bingeing on gluten-free desserts and going for long drives. Like Dhar, he doesn’t feel any guilt in eating sweet things, because he knows well that a short period of indulgence does not undo a year’s worth of work. “My biggest guilty pleasure is to watch Disney movies with my niece and nephew with a late night strawberry cheesecake,” he adds. Is there anything happier and more satisfying than that?
For Abraar Khan Waryah, co-founder and coach at Gridiron Fitness Centre in Kolkata, there is. In fact, he has more than one thing that he thoroughly enjoys guilt-free. “Treating myself to a rest day, savouring a post-workout snack (deep fried preferred) and skipping a workout altogether because I feel like having an easy day are my guilty pleasures this season. Balancing discipline with the occasional indulgence is key to a successful fitness regimen and a healthy and happy life,” says Waryah. He is looking forward to a few decadent meals as well.
Nutrition and body image coach and mentor Shannon Beer says, “It’s festive season, we are surrounded by tasty, calorie-dense food… it is common to hear people complain about how much weight they have gained or why they shouldn’t be eating what they are eating.” A better approach would be to just enjoy instead of feeling guilty. “Give yourself unconditional permission to eat those tasty foods you are craving and practice staying connected to the eating experience. Plate whatever you want to eat, sit down and allow yourself to savour it,” she adds. Doing things that make you happy is part of caring for yourself.
Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and the co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.