Along with home schooling and DIY haircuts, one of the most common complaints of the first lockdown was weight gain. Research carried out by OnePoll of 2000 UK adults, reported that almost half (47 per cent) had put on weight since lockdown began in March. I’ve routinely heard of friends and colleagues gaining a stone plus, most of which went on in the first month as there seemed little else to do other than eat. With the possibility of a second lockdown looming and you’re still carrying some of those unwanted pounds, now is the time to make some serious changes. Key to this is understanding how you gained them in the first place so you don’t make the same mistakes again. Reasons for weight gain have been numerous and inextricably linked. And it is by recognising and understanding the causes behind the weight gain, that we can learn to change our behaviour to prevent it getting worse or happening again.
It’s not all about exercise
Conversely for many, lockdown was a time when more people engaged in exercise for the first time, particularly running and cycling. Bicycle retailers had virtually sold out of all their stock and the running challenge ‘couch to 5k’ became extremely popular. Despite these efforts, many did not escaped the lockdown look of spare tummy tyre and love handles. So it’s worth remembering that while exercise is a crucial part of keeping healthy you cannot run yourself slim. Weight loss is 80 percent what you eat and 20 percent what you do. Once you’ve lost weight, exercise plays an important role in maintaining your new weight.
Given the stressful situations many of us have faced, worrying about family and loved ones along with constant upsetting news updates, it is no surprise that we turned to food to provide comfort. However, this comfort is short lived and can quickly turn into feeling of guilt and self-loathing. Rather than ‘eating your feelings’, seek comfort in healthier indulgences, such as finding time to enjoy a candle lit bubble bath or curling up with a good book. Every time you reach for a snack, ask yourself ‘am I really hungry?’. If the answer is no, work on identifying what it is you really need to fulfil your emotional needs.
Eating foods you wouldn’t normally consume
Hopefully there won’t be a return of the crazy food shopping that happened last time when too many of us bought far too much and found ourselves consuming foods we would never usually even look at, Pot Noodle anyone? Naturally, the best way to avoid eating foods you wouldn’t normally eat is to not buy them in the first place! Make a shopping list and stick to it. It can be easy to graze your way through the day with easy access to the fridge, but aim to avoid mindless snacking and unhealthy meal choices by planning your meals, and meal timings, in advance. Make sure you have everything you need for the week ahead, allowing for the occasional treat such as a Friday night takeaway or Sunday roast.
Drinking more alcohol
With nothing to do and nowhere to go, alcohol consumption at home has increased. Excessive consumption promotes weight gain not just through it’s high calorie content, but also in less obvious ways. It increases feelings of hunger and cravings for unhealthy foods. It also weakens your resolve to limit your portion size and a hangover the next day means you are much less likely to want to exercise. Keep a track of how much you’re drinking in a week and make sure you’re not regularly exceeding the government’s recommended 14 units a week – equivalent to seven standard glasses (175ml) of wine (12%ABV) or fourteen single shot (25ml) gin and slimline tonics.
Whatever the reasons behind your lockdown weight gain it is important to remember that we often turn to food for many reasons other than satisfying genuine hunger. Identifying these triggers and finding healthier ways to address them is one of the keys to successful and lasting weight loss.