What to do about that lockdown weight gain

If you gained weight in this last lockdown, you’re not the only one.  An ExerciseNZ study showed that over the last year to July (incorporating our initial time in lockdown), if you gained weight, you gained an average of 5.4kg – about 10 times the normal amount an adult would gain in a year.

Maybe we should count ourselves lucky though, in the US 42% of the population reported unwanted weight gain since the pandemic hit, with the average weight gain being 29pounds or just over 13kg.

We can point to several obvious contributing factors for this – changes in routine, exercise habits, food intake, sleep quality and stress.

So, as we emerge from this current lockdown and head into spring it’s a good time to reassess our lifestyle habits and get back on top of our health and wellbeing.

Routine: Changes in routine are always unsettling.  Some of us might have added things to our day that made things better (for example, a slower start to the morning or afternoon walks) or worse (more snacks, later nights).  Choose what worked well to help your health and wellbeing and hang on to those, and ditch what didn’t work.

As we transition back to the workplace, establish a routine that you’re happy with right from the start so you don’t need to change it again once you ‘get used to’ going back to work.  This might be a morning routine you’ve been thinking about creating and it could involve anything from intention setting, meditation or exercise.

If you used to exercise before work, get back to it straight away.  If you’re thinking about exercising before work, do it now, like it’s something you’ve always done.  The days are getting longer, so if after work exercise is your thing, this is the perfect time.

Exercise: Maybe you exercised more over lockdown, but the weight still piled on, if that’s the case, maybe it’s the wrong exercise for what you’re trying to achieve or something else is out of balance (for example, sleep, food, stress).

If the stress of lockdown got on top of you, steady state cardio exercise for 20min or may have worked against you as it can increase the amount of stress hormone cortisol (in an already high stress state) leading to increased body fat.

Use exercise as a way of calming your body down to let go of weight. If you need help to exercise smarter not harder to get to your results, get in touch.

Food: While a level 4 lockdown means we need to cook more and this generally means better food all round, it also means that the kitchen is not far away and so neither are the snacks. If things got out of hand on the food front over the last few weeks, I don’t blame you but remember that ‘getting back on track’ and ‘eating healthy’ may not necessarily mean calorie counting or food restriction.  Focus instead on what your body needs, what you can eat, and the nutritional properties it provides.

If you want to know more about why calories don’t count, check it out here.

Sleep: As we don’t need to be up quite as early to get to work, you might have found you were also getting to bed later.  If that’s the case, consider how the quality of your sleep could have contributed to your lockdown kilos – more on that here.

Stress: I mentioned stress above, and its important to remember that stress comes in many forms – from the psychological stresses of lockdown, financial and family worries to the physiological stresses of lack of sleep, environmental toxins, and under and over exercise.  How the body deals with all this stress is all the same.  Chronic elevated cortisol levels has many impacts on your health and you can find out more here.

Shift your focus away from losing weight and towards being healthy to help rebalance your body systems and the weight will take care of itself.