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The Season To Be Jolly!
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By Nawaz Modi Singhania  

It's that time of year again! With Diwali gone, & X'Mas & New Year's around the corner, this means innumerable get-togethers, parties, weddings & dinners. And with that, there's always- food!

Looks like it's the food festival again! You'll be surrounded by mounds of dessert, starters, heavy food, alcohol, & the list goes on.... Which will tempt even the most conscious dieter. Are the coming weeks supposed to be filled with joy & cheer? Maybe. But for those of us who're trying to get that fat off & keep it off, this time of year can be most stressful. You still have another couple of weeks to go before you can surf into the New Year safely.

Aside that, the extra time we may spend shopping at this time, is bound to knock any exercise routine right off it's feet!

Let's face it. The odds aren't in your favour. Just relax. With a little careful handling, & some amount of jugglery, you can come out on top of this. Today's article will show you how.

Some Holiday Survival Tips

Have dinner before you go.

If your dinner invitation says 8 p.m., that probably means that dinner won't be served till it's time for Cinderella's coach to turn into a pumpkin. As the evening drags on, even your fingernails will start to look appetizing. Not looking good! When you're hungry, you'll give into eating anything, & you'll tend to really pack it in.

But if you've nibbled before leaving the house, if you've had a sandwich, salad or soup, you'll be just fine. It'll curb the temptation of eating all those deep fried kebabs, & mini pizzas drowned in melted cheese.

Get a grip (of yourself, not of your love handles!)

Get real. You'll probably end up attending 2-3 parties per week over the next couple of weeks. Opt for wine instead of beer. A glass of wine (especially a red) can lower your cholesterol level.

And remember, if you drink too often to other people's health, you'll end up ruining your own!

This, clubbed along with nibbling away on those appetizers is going to leave you wanting for a new wardrobe at the end of the season, so go easy!

Imitation is the best form of flattery.

The best recipes are on the dinner table during parties. Super! The only problem is that your host expects you to actually eat all that food! In our society, cleaning your plate & going back for seconds & thirds, is the only way to say you enjoyed the meal. Great for the cooks ego; suicidal for your hips!

Instead, why don't you do the sneaky thing & ask your host for the recipe? Imitation is the best form of flattery. Your host will be thrilled that you loved the food so much, that you want to share it with others.

Score brownie points.

Score points with the host by offering to bring some appetizers of your own along. Bring something that pleases both your taste buds, & your hips!

Tit bits.

It's okay to try what looks yummy, but just take a bit, rather than going the whole hog. This way you'll cut down on the calories, but still please your taste buds.

If you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem!

At your own party, practice what you preach! Limit the number of appetizers you serve, & make sure you keep them as healthy as possible. Choose fresh veggies with light dips & slices of fruit, rather than deep-fried bhajiyas & cheese balls.

Serve dinner at a reasonable hour, & choose seafood or chicken (without the skin) rather than mutton, beef or pork.

If you're like a kitchen mouse, who likes nibbling away constantly while cooking, be smart about it. Keep healthy snacks like grapes or cucumber slices close at hand.

When it comes to dessert, make sure that you serve the same in prearranged bowls, so that they can be served in individual portions. If you're having a dinner for 12, make sure you have only 12 bowls, so there's no extra gooey chocolate cake to wake upto the next morning.

Stay active.

Try to incorporate some additional activity to compensate for the hazards of the season. For instance, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk to work. If you've got even just a few minutes, you've got the time for a workout. Where fitness is concerned, something is better than nothing.

Short, effective workouts that combine cardiovascular activities & strength training can help raise energy levels, tone the body, alleviate stress & much more.

Don't forget to warm up & cool down. Preferably, get yourself a good pair of cross training, air-soled shoes, to give you adequate shock absorption & support. Ideally get into cotton gear only. Avoid synthetics such as lycra, spandex & nylon. These synthetics do not allow the body to breathe through the skin, thereby retaining the temperature build-up, which is natural during exercise. Cotton, on the other hand, allows the body to breathe. This will make things a lot easier for you during your workouts. Stay well hydrated. Keep sipping on water during exercise, & drink plenty both before & after.

Remember that activity of any kind is better than nothing.

Of course, if you have the time, then hit your local fitness centre. Sweat it out in the cardio studio, or target strength or resistance training.

If you don't want to do an organized workout, then engage in any activity that you enjoy. If you feel like doing the salsa, or climbing up & down stairs, that's fine too. Just enjoy whatever it is that you're doing. It's all about getting you activated!

Put on your dancing shoes.

If it's a dance party, then dance! You'll burn calories & become a better dancer! Practice makes perfect!

Healthy self-image.

Almost everyone seems to have a problem with themselves! The thin think they're too thin, the fat think they're too fat, the short think they're too short, the tall think they're too tall, & the list goes on! These paranoias seem to peak in the party season, where people feel that they are more on display than before.

Go easy, & be good to yourself! After all, you're all you've got! Relax, & get comfortable with your body, & with who you are as a person.

If you're overweight, stop wearing dark colours in the hope of looking thinner. You won't. You'll just look dreary & dull! Instead, focus on looking the curvaceous, wholesome woman that you are! Wear something that reflects your personality.

Don't compare yourself to everyone else. Genetics, body frames, basal metabolic rates, & many other factors go into our physical appearance. Not all of them are within your control. Be the best that you can be, & be happy about it!

Cut it out.

Many standard recipes can be modified so that you can cut back on the fat, but not on the taste. Here are some ideas.

Instead of using: Try using:
Eggs Egg whites only (two egg whites for every whole egg)
Cheese Light cheese
Whole milk No-fat milk
Sour cream Light sour cream or low fat yogurt
Oil Use less oil, & a non-stick pan
Chocolate Cocoa
Meat Use lean cuts. Use less, & cut them up into small bits.
Mayonnaise (in salads) Lighter salad dressings like olive oil or vinaigrette
White bread Whole grain bread

Remember that you're not alone. Everyone hopes to watch his or her weight through this season. It's just a matter of striking the right balance!

All the best for the season! Have a great X'Mas & New Year. See you again on the eve of it. Same place, same time!