How to Deal With Lockdown Weight Gain
A lot of people have noticed that the number on the scales has been creeping up since lockdown began. This might be because we’ve been moving less, eating more to ease anxiety, or maybe it’s just the result of all the baking we’ve been doing. Whatever the reason, gaining weight can be tough both mentally and physically. And at a time when gyms are closed and it’s hard to find the motivation to move anywhere (other than to the fridge and back), it may feel harder than ever to lose weight. If you’re feeling down about the extra pounds, rather than going on a crazy crash diet that will get you nowhere in the long run, take this advice instead.
When working from home, it’s so easy to forget to move our bodies. Even for those who drive or take public transport to the office are likely to move around more once they’re at the office because they need to attend meetings or take coffee breaks. We might also find ourselves getting outside less in our free time, simply because there’s less to do. Going for a walk isn’t as exciting when you can’t stop off for a latte at the end.
But moving our bodies is a key aspect of keeping them healthy. Having a sedentary lifestyle not only makes it more difficult to lose weight because it leads to us developing a slower metabolism, but it also puts us at risk of other health issues, such as heart disease and muscle degeneration. Even just standing up and walking around your house every hour could mitigate the impact of sitting down all day. And now a lot of us have got more free time, we can use this to find a form of movement that we find fun. This doesn’t necessarily have to be an exercise routine either. Dancing around the living room to your favourite playlist is a free and fun way to move your body, and is also a good way to beat stress.
Understand and Embrace Body Positivity
Understanding of the body positivity movement has significantly increased since activists have spread the message of the movement online. Many supporters of the movement use Instagram to educate others, as the image-based app is a hotbed for insecurity and body image issues. Scrolling through images of influencers sharing their daily workout routines and meal plans, all whilst looking completely flawless, can make us feel even worse when we’ve gained weight.
To make yourself feel more positive about your body, start to learn about the movement. A good place to start is by following body positivity activists on Instagram, such as Megan Crabbe and Stephanie Yeboah. As well as learning more about the movement and the benefits it has, you’ll also be diversifying your feed as you’ll be following a wide range of different body types. This alone is beneficial, as it dismantles the subconscious belief that there is one, homogenous ‘normal’ body. To expand your education further, read Megan Crabbes’s debut book ‘Body Positive Power: How to Stop Dieting, Make Peace With Your Body and Live.’ Reading this will give you an understanding of how and why diet culture was created, whilst demonstrating the importance of learning to love yourself. If you understand the movement but don’t know how to apply it to your own body, try reading our previous article ‘8 Tips for Staying Body Positive’.
Try Intuitive Eating
The concept of intuitive eating sounds simple enough: eat what your body tells you to eat. You might think ‘this sounds great, but I’ll just end up eating bad food all the time!’ Firstly, it’s important to understand that there are no ‘good foods’ or ‘bad foods’: there are just foods. Of course, some foods have more nutritional value than others. But limiting ourselves to only foods with high nutritional value is unrealistic. This is why a whopping 98% of people who follow restrictive diets gain back most of the weight they lost within two years. And although the first week or so of eating intuitively may make you feel like a kid in a sweet shop, you’re likely to crave something different after a while. When you choose not to restrict your diet, the ‘bad foods’ don’t seem as exciting.
Intuitive eating not only gives us a better body image and a healthier relationship with food, but it has great effects on our physical health too. People who have taken up intuitive eating have been found to have both fast metabolisms and improved levels of cholesterol. Although learning to eat intuitively can be difficult, the effect it has on our wellbeing makes it worth it. Start off slowly and be patient with yourself. The kinder you are to your body and your mind, the easier it will be to master the art of eating intuitively.
Go Easy on Yourself
With the emphasis on trying to adapt to the ‘new normal’ and the expectation to make your lockdown productive, it can make easy to forget to give yourself a break. We’re living through a pandemic that has completely changed life at practically every level and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. If you find yourself putting on weight from the stress of the way the world is at the minute, this is completely normal and not something to waste your time worrying about. Have you managed to feed yourself, bathe yourself, or even just get through the day? If you have, you’re doing a pretty great job. Just remember to look after yourself, and don’t sweat the weight gain. You are more than the number on your scales.
Written by Siobhan Kelly
Siobhan is a recent Sociology graduate, with a passion for writing. Her degree has given her experience researching a range of topics relating to the Sociology of both physical and mental health. She has a particular interest in understanding how the effect that body image has on mental health.