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Health: How to fight the flab this Diwali

Saying no to goodies and staying fit during the festive season is a challenge. Mumbai's famous faces reveal easy routines and cheat sheets to fight temptations that rule at this time of the year

Sophie Choudry, VJ/actor
Fitness Mantra: I train in pilates and the fitness studio is shut for all five days of Diwali, so panic has already set in. I will try and do some cardio, and I swear by the Jawbone and maintain my 10,000 steps a day. I believe in being consistent with diet and workouts, but Diwali comes just once a year. More importantly, it’s about spending time with your loved ones, laughing and making memories

Sophie Choudry
Actor Sophie Choudry (front) practises pilates with fitness trainer Yasmin Karachiwala

Diwali special: I always eat at home before stepping out, so that I know I have eaten healthy and hence, won’t be gorging on whatever food comes my way. I don’t drink much anyway, so I just stick to a normal vodka lime, which is the lowest in calories. And if I do end up playing cards till late, I tend to get a bit hungry, so I opt for lighter options like nuts to munch on.

Sophie Choudry
Snack before a party

Past laurels: Eating healthy is most
important. Avoiding junk, oily and fried food, along with following my exercise routine religiously, has always worked.
Cheat sheet: I love mithai, so, during Diwali, I help myself to a few pieces. Besan mithai is a big favourite. However, since I am aware that I will indulge in a lot of sweets during the festival, I ensure to keep the rest of my diet well balanced. I stick to salads and grilled food, and avoid bread and roti.

Rehan Poncha, champion swimmer
Fitness mantra: My workout regime always gets affected during the holidays because of family visits, get-togethers or other commitments. I give myself the flexibility to change the time, but not the hours, I spend on workouts. I’m disciplined about my fitness, and ensure that every week, I get a minimum of three to four sessions of fitness along with five sessions of golf.  It’s hard, especially if you’re a foodie like me! There’s such an abundance of unhealthy stuff, that tastes amazing, during these holidays. If you remember all the effort you’ve made all year to eat clean, work hard and stay fit, it’s easier to make better choices.

Rehan Poncha

Diwali special: Treat yourself to what you crave but eat within reason. Don’t deprive yourself. If you make yourself miserable about it, you’re more likely to crash and binge. If you do end up eating some really rich food, spend extra time at the gym, especially on cardio, to burn off extra calories. Drink lots of water. Often people end up eating excessively because they mistake thirst for hunger. Eat a snack before you go to a party — a salad for instance; this will cut your craving for unhealthy starters while you wait for dinner to be served.

Rehan Poncha
Don’t deprive yourself. Eat but moderately. Pic Courtesy/ Subi Samuel

Past laurels: I’ve been a competitive swimmer, and one of the upsides of the gruelling training hours is that you can eat as much as you like, since you burn it all off in the pool the same day. I managed to always stay fit. Now that I play golf, I have to watch my diet. My desire to look  good, always helps me watch what I eat and keeps me motivated to gym hard too.
Cheat sheet: I don’t avoid sweets. I love chocolates
and Indian sweets, and since my family does too,
there is always something sweet at home, even when there’s no celebration. When I do have that craving, I force myself to ignore it for a minute. If I can get through that first minute, I don’t need to have that sweet anymore.

Rithvik Dhanjani, TV actor
Fitness mantra: I find it difficult to stay fit during the festive season, due to a lot of eating and celebrating. During Diwali, I can afford to go a bit easy unless there is a project that comes up. Since I know I am going to end up eating a lot, I try and increase the duration of cardio; it is a very old formula; ‘Zyaada Khao aur Zyaada Bhago’. I have a big sweet tooth and eating sweets in moderation during the festive season does get difficult for me, so I avoid all sweets.

Rithvik Dhanjani

Diwali special: Opt for sugar-free options in mithais, easily available these days. They don't taste as good as the original, but then fitness always comes at a price.  


You could try sugar-free options in the market

Past laurels: Sticking to my diet plan, working out extensively, and avoiding any kind of sweets, no cheat meals and no eating out has worked. There are no shortcuts.
Cheat sheet: To make it a bit easier on yourself, you could mark a day when you binge on everything you like to eat, and then go easy on your intake for the rest of the days. That works and is definitely a healthier option to follow.

Juhi Chawla, actress
Fitness mantra: I have a very simple fitness regime, which I continue irrespective of festivals. I try to walk and practise yoga regularly. I eat in moderation. I eat everything, especially desserts, but I never take a big piece of anything. I take a bite of everything, so I don’t miss out.

Juhi Chawla

Diwali special: I am not a big fan of mithai, and don’t like receiving it during the festive season. Hence, I have started  sending out dry fruits or dates to friends and family. Whenever a sweet or mithai platter appears during a visit to somebody’s home during Diwali, invariably, what also comes with it is a platter of dry fruits. I always reach out for the kishmish, badams and apricots. If you are going to have rich food, try and eat it during the day, as you are always moving around and can burn the calories off. Avoid heavy food at night.

Choose dryfruits instead of mithai
Choose dryfruits instead of mithai

Past laurels: When tempting sweets are in front of me, I immediately say, “just a little!” I let that little voice in my head control me and that has worked wonders.
Cheat sheet: Having said I don’t like mithais, I want to confess that I cannot resist a rasgulla, rasmalai or gulab jamun. So, if these are in front of me, I succumb! Then again, I don’t eat too much (of it).

Yasmin Karachiwala, fitness instructor
Fitness mantra: On days that I don’t get to spend enough time in the gym, I make sure I compensate by walking extra. I wear my Jawbone to help me count the number of steps I have taken on a particular day. Walking is quick and easy; there is no warm up required, and it can be done anywhere you are, and cuts down on the time taken to reach the gym. Consistency is of prime importance; a slight change in your routine won’t affect you as much as slacking off. This way, even if you don’t lose weight, you will at least ensure that you’re not putting on a lot.

Yasmin Karachiwala
Use jaggery and dates instead of sugar

Diwali Special: This festive season, I am supporting an initiative by NGO, CRY, called Get Healthy, Give Healthy. They are helping bring nutrition to children between the age group of 0-5 and reduce chances of malnutrition and looking into the nutrition of pregnant mothers in order to help them deliver healthy babies. So, this Diwali, I have decided not only to stop myself from gifting sweets but also encourage everyone else who intends on giving me sweets, to donate to this cause instead. It’s natural to indulge a little; however, it’s necessary to make healthier choices. If there is a plate of sweets, don’t dive in. Choose what you want and eat smaller portions; don’t treat it like a meal, just satiate your taste buds. If you can’t go in for a full workout, at least, opt for a quick jog. It will compensate. Once the festive season is over, don’t procrastinate. Get right back into your fitness routine.
Past laurels: I pre-eat before I head to a party, and mostly, it’s a big bowl of salad. This helps me monitor what I eat. Starters are usually fried or low in nutrition value, so it gets easier for me to skip them completely and still not end up starving by the time dinner is laid out.
Cheat sheet: I have educated myself on ways in which sugar harms the body. Earlier, my sweet tooth used to be bigger than my molar; I could finish half a kilo of cake! However, after learning the disadvantages of sugar, I decided to go in for a healthier choice. Now, I’ve started using substitutes like jaggery and dates. Desserts made using dry fruits, also taste delicious.

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