How to Get Back in Shape Quickly After Chinese New Year

An 11-minute run to burn off five tiny pieces of hae bi hiam rolls. Thirty-one minutes for just three pineapple tarts and a whopping 47 minutes for one slice of bak kwa. If you’ve successfully avoided — or ignored — that killjoy list that has been making its rounds on social media since those delicious Chinese New Year snacks made their tempting annual appearance, this would be around the time you start ruefully rubbing that tummy that can no longer be reined in, and wondering how to bring it in.

The truth is, we all know what we are supposed to do in order to be of a healthy weight: Eat regular meals, have plenty of fruits and vegetables and cut down on deep-fried and high-sugar stuff, don’t skip breakfast, opt for high-fibre choices, drink plenty of water and exercise more. Yet, what most of us need is the motivation to stick to this sensible advice, and a clever trick or two to make it fun, or at least interesting, to do so.

So before you start shipping in the treadmill and heavyweight multifunctional home gym equipment — which may not actually be a bad idea if you have the space for it at home, and a Prime membership on that enables you to ship anything for as little as $2.99 — here are some quick tips to get you on your way to a trimmer, healthier body.

Start immediately

Once you have decided that you want to lose weight, embark on your new diet immediately. Don’t set aside one more day to indulge yourself — you will binge-eat through it and regret that additional inch you have to work off.

Play it like a numbers game

In order to lose weight, the number of calories you burn needs to surpass the number of calories you consume. Any calories in excess of your daily needs will be stored as fat and become weight gain. So start thinking of everything you eat in terms of how much you need to do to work it off. Taking responsibility for every single calorie you ingest helps to curb mindless eating and increases the enjoyment of what you do choose to eat. Those pineapple tarts that your mum made, for example, are totally worth the calories. But if you don’t even like bak kwa, why eat it just because it’s there?

Track your activity, and do what you love

It goes without saying that in order to lose weight, you need to increase your level of physical activity. Use a pedometer or fitness tracker to set daily goals and keep tabs on your progress. Seeing the numbers creates a sense of accomplishment, which in turn keeps you motivated. Take this change of lifestyle also as an opportunity to try new things. Pick a mix of exercises that you will enjoy — you don’t have to be a gym rat unless you actually like it. Learn to swim, join a yoga or dance fitness class, try indoor climbing, go cycling or hiking, rope in your colleagues for regular badminton sessions after work, or try kayaking. The variety keeps you from getting bored and when it’s fun, you stop thinking of it as torture.

Drink plenty of water — and only real sugar

Drop the diet soda. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame can increase cravings for more sweet stuff. If the desire is for bubbles in your beverage, opt for sparkling water — instead of buying bottled, you can even make your own carbonated water at home. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, add a splash of juice or infuse the water with fresh fruit like lime, kiwi or anything citrusy — you can easily do this with tumblers designed for the purpose.

Lastly, don’t assume. Always check nutrition facts

The Health Promotion Board has a searchable database of local foods and dishes so you can easily find out the nutrient composition of what you are eating. Counting calories sounds like a miserable thing to do but the goal is simply to make you more aware of what you put into your body. A bowl of ban mian soup, for instance, seems like a healthy enough diet choice. Yet, it contains 475.2kcal of energy, 21.65g of fat and 2196.48mg of sodium. To offer up comparison, black carrot cake offers 556.47kcal of energy, 26.74g of fat and 1937.08mg of sodium, while fish bee hoon without milk contains 331.36kcal of energy, 7.23g of fat and 1341.06mg of sodium. In other words, if you are eating ban mian to lose weight, you might as well be enjoying black carrot cake.

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