If you struggled with excess weight before the pandemic, the lockdown certainly didn’t help. The closing of parks, gyms, and schools was probably a huge disruption to getting the exercise you needed. Add to that the stress of stay-at-home orders and loss of jobs and you have a recipe for poor health and fitness. If you turned to COVID comfort food to ease your pain, it’s not surprising you put on extra weight during lockdown.
Now that the lockdown is over and many parks, schools, and businesses have reopened, it’s time to take on the weight loss challenge. Losing those extra pounds may not be as easy as it was to put them on, but with patience and perseverance, you can make it happen. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Adopt the Right Mindset
It doesn’t help to get discouraged or angry over gaining weight during the lockdown. Under the circumstances, it was only natural to turn to food for stress relief and comfort during that time. To get back in shape, you’ll need to adopt the right mindset. A can-do, positive attitude toward weight loss will do more for you than anger or frustration.
Develop a Weight-Loss Plan
Next, develop a plan for losing excess pounds, focusing on such essentials as exercise, diet, sleep, and stress management. As many states still have restrictions on gyms, you may need to look into other means of getting the exercise you need. You may also need to tweak your dietary habits.
Take stock of habits you adopted during the lockdown that contributed to weight gain so you can replace them with new behaviors conducive to regaining your figure. Don’t fall for the “all or nothing” mindset that severely restricts your food choices as this can lead to feelings of deprivation and resentment. Think slow and steady over the long term so you can enjoy favorite dishes in moderation.
Routines are good for you as they make it easier to stick to a weight-loss program. Start by creating a daily schedule that specifies a wake-up time, meal times, snack times, break times (from work or homeschooling), exercise time, and bedtime. Other activities can be worked into this schedule at your convenience. Routines help develop discipline, and discipline is what you’ll need to succeed in reaching your weight-loss goals.
Revamp Your Eating Habits
If you work from home or plan to spend a lot of time at home during the pandemic, it’d be good to change your culinary habits. Replace processed and fast foods with wholesome foods that contain fewer calories and more nutritional value.
Hone your culinary skills by experimenting with healthy recipes that call for fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. A healthy diet will boost your health and help you lose weight at the same time.
The quantity of food you eat is just as important as the quality when you’re trying to slim down. If you’re used to large portions, cut back to smaller amounts and eat more often, like every three hours or so, to help control your appetite. Eat more veggies that are low in calories and loaded with nutrients for a healthy body. Fill up on protein first during mealtimes to reduce your craving for carbohydrates. Portion control is one of the keys to successful weight loss.
Stock up on Healthy Snacks
There’s nothing wrong with snacking as long as you choose your snacks wisely. High protein, low-carb snacks will satisfy your hunger without packing on extra pounds. You should also regulate your snacks so you’re not eating mindlessly out of stress or boredom.
Drink More Water
Staying hydrated will help reduce food cravings to facilitate weight loss. If the thought of plain water doesn’t appeal to you, jazz it up by adding diced fruit, mint, or cucumber slices. The recommended eight glasses of water daily should suffice in keeping you hydrated throughout the day. For an extra weight loss boost, try drinking two glasses when you first wake up and two more after your workout.
Get Enough Z-Z-Z-Z-Zs
Shoot for at least seven hours of sleep or more nightly to recuperate your strength after a long, hard day with the kids or at the office. Sleep regular hours, not sporadically. Sleep helps regulate hunger hormones, reducing your desire to fill up on junk food.
Move, Move, and Move Some More!
Gyms may still be closed in some areas but with parks reopened, there are countless other options for exercising. Walking is a great way to manage your weight and tone your body. You can also try jogging, hiking, biking, rollerblading, or swimming at a local lake or beach. If workouts are your thing, check out the dozens of aerobics, dance, and strength training workout videos you can find online.
Exercise burns calories, tones the body, builds muscles and boosts energy levels for daily tasks. By doing something you enjoy, you’re more likely to keep up with your exercise regimen. Diversify your exercise times by alternating between indoor and outdoor activities. Whatever you decide, make exercise sacrosanct to ensure it happens.
Manage Stress Levels
Stress can derail your weight loss plan before you even get started. If you’re under a lot of pressure, find ways to reduce or manage your stress levels. Take long walks to give you a break from stressful situations. Meditate or take up yoga. Skype with friends or watch a wacky movie that makes you laugh out loud. Don’t forget that exercise is also a tremendous stress buster.
Cut Back on Alcohol
Increased stress is an unfortunate byproduct of the pandemic. If you relied on alcohol to deal with stress, you’ll need to rethink this strategy. Alcohol is high in calories and low in nutritional value, making it a poor choice if you want to maintain your figure. If you’re serious about losing weight, you’ll need to forgo (or at least cut back) on your wine and beer intake.
In addition to high-calorie content, alcohol can disrupt your metabolism and hinder the body’s ability to absorb nutrients in food, sabotaging your efforts to lose those extra pounds.
If you’ve developed a drinking problem during the pandemic, don’t wait too long to turn things around. Research alcohol treatment programs near you to get professional help in this area.
What’s the Goal?
Ultimately, your goal should be to establish a sustainable lifestyle that will enable you to stay healthy and fit long term. Otherwise, you could wind up losing weight only to gain it right back by reverting to old habits. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, you benefit from weight loss, improved mental and physical health, a stronger, more attractive physique, increased energy levels, and more.
Gradual, flexible changes in your lifestyle can help you reach your weight loss goals in a safe, sustainable fashion.