Malaysians and food are pretty much inseparable. Our diverse food culture is made even better with the myriad of festivals that we celebrate throughout the year making it tough sometimes to regulate our well-intentioned plans to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Earlier this year, a British medical journal named Malaysia as the most obese country in Asia for 2016. Our list of delicacies is almost proportionate to the number of Malaysians being unfit with the study suggesting half the population as being overweight or obese.
So, if you are the type who live to eat but want to stay fit especially during festive seasons, keep these tips in mind as part of your eating game plan.
1. Fitter, fabulous, faster.
Did you know a 30-minute short workout at a higher intensity is more productive than completing 60 minutes of cardio workout? This is because the bursts of amplified intensity increase the amount of calories your body burns, even more than a longer sustained workout. Go with a combination of strength training with cardio and complete exercises back to back to get the biggest bang for your minute. Exercises can range from jogging in one spot for 30 seconds to jumping jacks. Other examples include lunges, arm circles or something as simple as getting some squat jumps done. Of course, high-intensity workouts mean doing it repetitively for a few times at one go, so think reps and sets. Focus on the mantra: get fit to eat!
2. Bloat no more
To beat festive food bloating, up your intake of garlic. We’re all familiar with the benefits of garlic, but how does it really work in combating bloating? Garlic contains Allicin which supports the body in flushing away unwanted bacteria and yeasts in the gut. This will be especially helpful if you are consuming food that contains rich ingredients that you don’t eat on a regular basis.
3. Plan like a ninja
Strategy is everything when attacking the festive buffet line-up. When you arrive at your first open house, we suggest scanning and assessing all your options before digging in. If you plan to indulge, choose smaller portions so you can sample everything minus the guilt. That is, however, easier said than done. When temptations are at an all-time high, count from one to ten, then drink a glass of water. This helps buy your mind some time to reconsider before diving into the dishes.
4. Keep calm and keep on moving
In addition to staying active, avoid sitting for long hours as it’s damaging to health. Research shows that getting up for just five minutes every 30 to 60 minutes and performing light activity reduces the risk of diabetes and other heart-related problems. Start small by doing a little more around the house for the festivities like vigorous sweeping, mopping the floor or even painting. Besides earning you some brownie points with your family, the activity will also help speed up your digestion and keep your metabolism stable.
While you help out around the house, make those hours of partial exercising count. Honestly, isn’t technology just amazing? Get a Fitbit and track your activity. Everyone’s approach towards fitness is different; this is definitely yours to own. Psst…AIA Vitality members enjoy offers on Fitbit devices! Find out more here.
5. Good chef or smart chef
Part of celebrating the festive season is inviting your friends and family over for a scrumptious meal together. When you’re made in charge of preparing the food for guests, pick recipes that are healthy or even cook meals that have ingredients that help the body keep fit. Nuts about Ladoo? No seriously, if you love Ladoo, try baking some oats-nuts Ladoo instead. Love those chocolate truffles? Try making coconut based chocolate truffles instead! Replacing an ingredient for almonds works too. Think out of the box and make your delicious healthy festive meals.
6. Drink it up
Your brain can sometimes confuse thirst with hunger. A large glass of water before a meal can help lessen the amount of food you consume. Drink up to eight glasses of water daily. One of the ways your hydration level impacts caloric burn is the relation to the body’s ability to perform physical activity. Lean muscles in the body are made up of 80% water and need water for better functionality. When the body is dehydrated, muscle tissue starts to lose water thus making it harder for the body to contract effectively and ultimately reducing your strength and endurance. In essence, water keeps your body hydrated enough to complete short high-intensity workouts effectively to maintain your fitness level during the festive season.
7. Get fit with family and friends
Snacking on festive goodies isn’t the only way to bond and catch-up with family or friends. Try community-based activities that everyone can enjoy like badminton or walking. The more, the merrier. It’s even better if everyone’s in the mood to try something new. When was the last time you had some fun on a trampoline with friends and family? Head on to Jumpstreet if you’re celebrating the festive season in the Klang Valley. Studies show that you’re more likely to burn more calories when you’re having fun completing an activity. Psychologically, this makes sense as you’d be distracted from the fact that the body is exercising and more focused on the activity itself.
There is nothing wrong with indulging during the festive season, but do it in moderation and purposefully. The key to maintaining your health and fitness during the festive season is spending some time to create a plan, and making sure that you stick to it. We know how tempting it can be to compromise and not follow a plan during the festive season, so it also helps to have self-discipline and a buddy to help keep you in check. Happy eating!
Twelve Weeks of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices of Cardiometabolic Health Similar to Traditional Endurance Training despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment, Jenna B. Gillen, Brian J. Martin, Martin J. MacInnis, Lauren E. Skelly, Mark A. Tarnopolsky, Martin J. Gibala, 2016.
The Food Doctor: How to beat the bloat; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/
Chapter 4: Active Adults; https://health.gov
The above articles are intended for informational purposes only. AIA accepts no responsibility for loss, which may arise from reliance on information contained in the articles.