Ho! Ho! Hold it!

“Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we shall…. diet!”

Haven’t you noticed? Santa Claus singing this tune every single Christmas for hundreds of centuries now to no avail? And for good reason…

Think of that mouth-watering La Marea warm-brownie cup. Or the turtle pie only Coffee Bean perfects. Or Homebakers’ merceditas and Leona’s Chocolate Surprise. Feast your taste buds on Victoria pineapple ham, Marca Piña queso de bola, fruit cake, Dondi Joseph’s red wines…

But wait, ho-ho-hold it! Before gorging any further, did you know that U.S. studies have concluded that the average weight gain during Christmas is seven pounds! Yup. Seven pounds of excess baggage. And we’re going to pay for it. Funny how we spend 11 months flicking that shuttlecock, pushing that barbell, or rolling down those tenpin orbs—only to lose it all in three weeks!

A hopeless cycle? Is there some anti-food-temptation tablet to swallow? As a native Ilonggo, I’d say “Nga-a indi haw!” (Translation: Why not!; not “Na-a ba’y inihaw?”)

With the help of a few pointers from top fitness guru Tina Juan, here are some tips.

Balance. Don’t decline that Christmas party invitation. Instead, take a light lunch that noon. Compromise. Mix the party’s high-calorie intake with low-calorie food at home.

Two, drink more water. Medical researchers have discovered that water may be the single most important catalyst in losing weight. Water is a natural appetite suppresser and actually helps the body metabolize stored fat. Here’s a nice tip: Make a glass of water the first course of every meal.

Three, sleep right. Don’t laugh, it’s true: studies have shown that when we’re short on sleep—remember, Misa de Gallo dawned on us today—we feast more. Imagine your body trying to gain energy from food that was supposed to come from plentiful rest.

Four, take it easy. Keep this in mind: “stressed is desserts” spelled backwards!

Five, share. Overflowing food isn’t a rarity during the holidays. Why not share some to the street children? The extra calories will look better on the malnourished than on your hips.

Six, buy a fitness gift. Books, apparel, equipment, or even gym memberships. Reward yourself—or your spouse or friend. (To the men, a serious warning: Women are sensitive to insinuations that they are out of shape. Never—unless you want to fly to the moon with Rudolph—while handing out a size 28 Nike gym outfit to your size 34 girlfriend, say, “Don’t worry, honey, you’ll fit into this in two weeks!”)

Seven, exercise. Choose an exercise you enjoy. I run 10 to 15 kms. everyday. Experiment. Don’t force yourself to go to the gym if it feels like entering a torture chamber. There are tons of “B” options: bowling, ballroom dancing, badminton, basketball—excluding Bata’s billiards—anything to get you bouncing.

Eight, plan your exercise time. “Failing to plan is planning to fail” can’t be truer. Schedule your exercise time as if it were a business meeting. And stick to it. My dad Bunny, who’s taught me to sweat it out since I was sweating pee in my diapers, has this axiom: it takes 21 repetitions to form a new habit. So don’t quit on Day 10, tread on until the 21st and beyond.

Nine, “overspend” in exercise. Join an expensive gym. Buy the latest from Adidas. Invest, if you can, in a P120,000 Kettler treadmill. Get a Casino Español share. The idea of all that money going to waste will, believe me, spur you to exercise.

Ten, work out with a friend. A tested technique, a friend will encourage (and many times, pester) you when you don’t feel like exercising—and vice versa.

Finally, remember that 20 minutes of exercise a day can mean the difference between ‘fab’ and flab. So this Christmas, better work out, not just pig out.

Unless, of course, you wouldn’t mind getting that call from your child’s school principal asking you to play Santa.

John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

1 comment

  1. wow… thanks for this tips… its really helpful for my friend.. i probably share these to him.

    can you gives some tips for me…?
    i want to be fit.. because I’m so thin.. i just like a bamboo right now.. i don’t know why I’m like that.. i always eating lots of food.. such as fruits, vegetables.. and even sweet food….

    one of my friend suggest to me that, i try eating chocolate… i try it.. i eat chocolate everyday… but nothing change to me…

    i hope you can help me…=)

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