Xin Nian Lai Le!
The Chinese New Year celebrations are a beautiful time of reunion with the family and of course, when you see “reunion” and “family” in the same sentence, you can expect food to be involved. As the CNY snacks and dinners pop up around us, it can be easy to decide to forgo our healthy diet.
Photo Credit: shopandbox.com
BUT, wait a minute.
You’ve worked so hard these few weeks! You've made the effort to prepare nourishing meals and you've pushed yourself further and smashed your workouts.
(Take this moment to look back on how far you've come and give yourself a pat on the back ☺️)
To help you keep that progress going, without missing out on the CNY celebrations, we’ve round up some top tips on how you can survive the calorie-loaded snacks and dinners that are coming your way.
1. Eat Mindfully
As we are surrounded by packs of bakwa and boxes of pineapple tarts, we understand it is near impossible to resist them. We’re not here to say run away from them, but a little mindless snacking over a conversation with your cousins can pump in hundreds of calories without you even knowing!
To give you an idea of how many calories you could be putting into your body and how long it’ll take to burn them off:
With all these snacks around, how do you stop yourself from going overboard?!
Choose a few of your favourites, place them on a small plate and slowly savour each bite. This way, you won't end up finishing the whole box, and you can truly enjoy their taste!
2. Eat Slowly
Slow down. You are not in a rush to finish all the food before your family! It can take up to 20 minutes before your body realises you are full so eat slower. Take small bites, enjoy the conversations and you'll be closer to avoid overeating!
3. Choose Healthier Alternatives
For the most part, CNY snacks are calorie-packed with little nutritional value.Instead of avoiding them completely and putting yourself through the torture of watching your family take bite after bite of deliciousness, here are some healthier alternatives to try!
Pineapple Tarts v Organic Dried Pineapple
Or spend some time in the kitchen with your family and make some healthi-fied pineapple tarts here .
Store-Bought v Homemade Bakkwa
Ready for some yummy bakkwa without the calories? Find the recipe here.
YeeSang v Salmon Salad
You can also choose to enjoy the traditional Yee Sang, but fill up on the vegetables and raw fish with minimal plum sauce, deep-fried crackers and oil.
Fried v Steamed Nian Gao
This is a useful tip to remember. When possible, always opt for steamed or boiled, instead of fried cooking methods.
Sweet Drinks v Mandarin Orange
Craving for something sweet or looking to quench your thirst? Forget the packaged sugary drinks and go all-natural with mandarin oranges. Eat one on its own or add some slices to a salad for its sweet goodness and vitamins A and C!
4. Fill Up Before Going Out
You can’t control the menu when you visit relatives or eat out. But, you can always make healthier decisions at home. Eat a healthy breakfast or snack before going out to meet with your friends or family. This way, you will feel fuller and be less likely to overindulge on snacks.
Like these #angang smoothie bowls by @frederikkewaerens
5. MOVE With The Family
Remember to keep MOVE-ing this Chinese New Year! It is the perfect time to gather your friends and family for some active outdoor fun! Go hiking as a family or just for a walk and picnic around the park!
As the CNY heat kicks in, remember to drink lots of water to stay hydrated! You can also enjoy a cup or two of that special tea your Auntie brought back from China. Tea and water are great choices with very little to zero calories.
These BPA-Free Infuser Bottles will do the trick!
With a timeline to remind you to keep sipping!
In this annual occasion where cousins, aunties and uncles from all over reunite under the same roof, it is a tradition for us to be reconnecting and catching up over our favourite foods. So while we work towards our health and fitness goals, let’s not forget what's truly important: Family.
Have a Happy Chinese New Year, ladies!
Disclaimer: We do not encourage anyone to be on a calorie deficit diet. This article is written for sharing purposes only and does not serve as a guide. We strongly recommend you consult a physician before beginning a new diet or exercise program.
Many of you have messaged me asking about weight loss and most of them come down to these two concerns:
“How do I lose my love handles, muffin tops and jiggly thighs?”
“I just want to lose weight. I don't want to get bulkier.”
Now, I want to tell you that if you try to lose weight by doing light exercises, such as cardio, dance, and resistance training, and couple that with a low-carb, low-sugar, low-calories, low-protein and low-everything diet, you will be able to see results fast.
But it is not going to sustain.
I no longer want to force myself to stick to a strict diet and end up binging, again and again. In my current training and diet plan, I don't binge. I make sure I eat enough every single day, even though I'm on a calorie deficit diet.
My body fat percentage: Flexible Diet vs Calorie Deficit Diet
So what is a calorie deficit diet?
Calorie deficit is when you burn more calories than you put into your body.
For example, if you burn 2,500 calories per day but only eat 2,000, you have a deficit of 500 calories. When you eat more than you burn, your body stores the extra energy as fat but when you eat less than you burn, you create a calorie deficit.
That’s when your body is forced to burn that stored fat to give you the energy you need. This leads to weight loss.
What is your calorie maintenance level?
Before you go on a calorie deficit diet, you need to know your calorie maintenance level. This is the level at which your weight maintains, because you are consuming and burning the same number of calories.
Everyone’s calorie maintenance levels are different because we are all different! Not everyone with a certain goal or body type has the same maintenance level. That means, not everyone should eat or burn the same amount of calories. So don’t compare yourself to that person who is eating or exercising more or less than you.
Your calorie maintenance level is dependent on many factors including gender, height, weight, age, activity level, metabolic rate, and thermic effect of food.
You can calculate it here.
Keep in mind that while these calculations can be quite accurate, they are still just an estimate.
Why is it important?
Once you've found your calorie maintenance level, you can then determine how much you should eat or burn to reach your goal. This is important.
If your goal is to lose weight, ideally, you should be consuming about 20% below your maintenance level each day. For example:
If you wanted to lose weight and had a daily calorie maintenance level of 2500 calories, you would need to create a caloric deficit of 500 calories each day. This is because 20% of 2500 is 500 (2500 x 0.20 = 500). This means eating 2000 calories per day.
Never overdo it.
Yes, to lose fat, you need to be below your calorie maintenance level, but I want to stress that you should never go too low and expect fast results. This is a journey, and if you want it to be long-term, take it step by step.
Once I know how many calories I should consume and burn to reach my goals, I need to track it each day. I use the MyFitnessPal app to help me with this. It’s free and quite easy to use but any calorie calculator or app can do this. Remember, these calculators give just an estimate so use them as a rough guide only.
As a standard, for a one-pound-per-week rate of weight loss, we need to create a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day by eating 250 calories less than we usually need to maintain our weight, and burning off the other 250 calories through exercise.
Eat more. Eat right. Not less.
When it comes to eating, I don’t just limit my portion sizes and eat less. I actually eat more often, to prevent myself from getting hungry. I also make sure I eat right. This means, I choose healthy. For example, whole grains like oats, vegetables and lean protein. Like my favourite, chicken breast.
When I really feel like a treat, I look for healthier alternatives. There are a whole bunch in the market like QuestBars and granola. Just make sure you read the nutrition labels to see what you're putting into your body and don't go overboard. This is where the sacrifice and discipline comes in.
Try to stay away from foods with empty calories. That means, those that are high in calories but low in nutrients. You know, the ones that are so hard to resist, like sweets, chocolate chip cookies, potato chips and most processed foods. When you fill yourself up with a lot of carbs from these foods, you might create a calorie deficit and lose weight, but you'll lose up to 50% of that weight in muscle.
What I eat in a day
MOVE when you can.
If you don’t want to sacrifice your food intake too much, exercise. Try moving, whenever you can. Start with what you are comfortable with, be it walking 30 minutes a day, yoga, dance or swimming. If you can fit in more, do so. This will also boost your energy! For me, I do weight lifting. When I’m able to lift heavily, I can really feel the excitement inside me. It makes me feel good.
This also depends on your goal. My goal is to be strong and lean. When in calorie deficit, cardio will help with fat loss, yes, but weightlifting will make you leaner.
Remember, there are a lot of ways for fat loss. This is just my plan at the moment because it helps me reach my goal. Calorie deficit is a choice and it might not be right for you.
For motivation to get you breaking your limits...
MAKE YOUR MOVE
The weight-loss business is a multibillion dollar industry. Every year, women subject themselves to fad diets, funny pills, and fat-burning electric belts in pursuit of an ever-changing notion of an “ideal” body size. At the end of the week, we pray to our weighing scales, hoping for that little needle to move just a smidge lower than what it showed last week. And when it doesn’t, we slink away and gorge on ice-cream to cheer ourselves up.
“Back then, the weighing scale was my television – I was glued to it. I thought I had a good idea of what my ideal weight was supposed to be, so I often went on crash diets,” explains Sherlyn Tan, founder of Twenty3. Uncomfortable in her own skin and often picked on for her size in school, she suffered from low self-esteem, equating her weight with what she perceived as how people judged her. Although it is a common fear among women, Sherlyn went a step farther than most, resorting to just eating a single egg and a bowl of Campbell’s soup every meal, to the point of collapse – her father carried her in his arms to the nearest clinic when she fainted one day.
“That was my life for years. My weight would balloon up and crash down frequently, often with a 10kg swing each time. I thought it was normal,” says Sherlyn. That was until she was hospitalized with dengue in February 2015. Vomiting daily, her weight quickly fell away. There was also the mental burden of leaving her rapidly-growing business on its own, as well as the emotional depths when she came under attack from cyberbullies who called her a fraud and a slut, among other things. “That was absolutely the lowest point in my life, and I just wanted to end it all.”
She was discharged a week later, at her lightest weight in all her life, but a physical and emotional wreck. “I hated how weak and lowly I felt, so defenceless and allowing myself to be trampled by a mosquito and a bunch of anonymous bullies. I wanted to change all that, but didn’t know how,” says Sherlyn.
A month after, fully recovered, she tagged along to her first gym session with her boyfriend. It was an eye-opener, and while digging deeper into the world of fitness, she discovered Instagram fitness sensation, Kayla Itsines, and her world-famous Bikini Body Guide (BBG). “I’m a very structured and regimented person, so having a guide really helped me. The community aspect of it was also very encouraging, and they all shared their progress pics, which inspired me further,” she explains. “I wanted to look like those girls – fit, lean and happy.”
Sherlyn started her Instagram account, @sherlyn_fitness, to keep up with the BBG community and to keep herself on track. Her single-mindedness pushed her to keep improving each day, with the memory of her lowest point driving her on. She knew her mind would make excuses each morning, so she started sleeping in her workout clothes, sometimes even with her ponytail, so that she could jump out of bed and straight to the gym!
Her Instagram account grew quickly, attracting support from like-minded people from around the world who love to work out. “It’s a two-way thing – I share my workout routines and my clean-eating meals to help educate and advocate a healthy lifestyle, and the encouragement from my followers inspires me to go further!” she says.
Fellow Malaysian devotees of the BBG phenomenon began congregating on her Instagram. This gave her a lightbulb moment to hold the very first BBG community meet-up session in Malaysia. “I'm an ultra-introvert, and especially just recovering from the lowest point in my life, it was extremely difficult to get myself to do anything like this. However, I knew I had to overcome it just like my previous challenges – the small victories do count!”
The first BBG meetup was held in October 2015 at KLCC Park, spread out over 2 weekends to accommodate over 100 girls! Boyfriends, sisters and even mothers of the BBG girls were present too to show their support.
She has organized BBG meetups each month when able, paying from her own pocket to rent gyms and once, even to host a clean eating meetup and discussion. The response has been overwhelming from women all over Malaysia, and once, even a Singaporean virtually took part in the workout!
OUR FIRST EVER MALAYSIA PINK @kayla_itsines BBG MEET UP VIDEO TEASER! I can't wait for this Saturday part 2 meet up and combine both group photos & videos already! Im so happy seeing these video! I'll be posting this video on our FACEBOOK PAGE : BBGMY so you may grab it from there! Special thanks to @titus_tjt for helping us with this! ??????#bbggirls #bbgmy #bbgmalaysia #bbgmeetup #bbg #fitness #healthy @kayla_itsines @bbg_my @bbgmeetup #bbgvideochallenge #sweatwithkayla
Within these few months of healthy living, Sherlyn realized the importance of the adage, ‘mind over matter.’ “It's our mind that limits us. My advice to those looking to start fitness is the same as what I tell every budding entrepreneur – don’t overthink it. You don’t have to be great to start, you just have to start to be great. Go ahead and test your limits, then break them.”
Inspired by her own fitness journey, she created a new sportswear line called MOVE by Twenty3. “New, cute workout outfits – especially sports bras – always pump me up! I wanted to create a line that was equal parts functional and fashionable. Most big sportswear companies neglect the latter,” she explains.
"As for the name MOVE, I hope more people realize that fitness isn’t a destination. It’s not a bikini body, it’s not a flat tummy, it’s not a number on your weighing scale – once you’ve achieved those goals, it becomes easy to lose the initial motivation. Fitness is about motion, the movement, and the journey. I started my journey because I wanted to be as slim as what society demanded, but now I just want to be better and stronger than I was yesterday. The last time I stepped on my weighing scale, I was 5 kgs heavier than before I fell sick due to my growing muscles. But when I look in the mirror and at the things I am able to do with my body now, I realize that I really don’t care about my weight anymore. I just want to keep moving and breaking my limits!”
Note: MOVE by Twenty3 is launching in Atria Shopping Gallery on the 19th of March 2016!
The next BBG meetup is happening on April 2, 2016 at Bangkung Park, Bangsar. If you’d like to be a part of a warm, friendly, and supportive community of MOVERS, drop Sherlyn a DM @sherlyn_fitness. Beginners are absolutely welcome!