Pandemic weight gain?
Yeah, we're all with you. Stay-at-home orders might keep COVID-19 in check, but it's brutal on the waistline.
Why are so many people struggling with weight gain right now? It actually comes down to two very simple factors: moving less and eating more. With remote work dominating and gyms closing, it's no wonder the world has collectively put on weight.
So, what can you do about it?
Stop gaining weight
We all want to dive in and fix the problem, but it's harder to lose weight than most people give it credit for. Therefore, making a goal to quickly lose all the pandemic weight you've gained is likely to end in failure.
A better approach is breaking the task into more attainable phases. The first phase is to stop gaining weight. You aren't pressuring yourself to lose weight yet, you just need to stop putting on more weight.
It's best to quantify this in some way, whether it's by using a scale or a measuring tape, you need to have a starting point recorded. Aim to maintain this starting point for at least two weeks. If you've been gaining weight rapidly, you'll have to cut back on calories just to get your weight at a constant number.
Once you've documented two weeks of not gaining weight, you are ready for the next phase.
Make a new routine
Your new weight gain likely came along with a new routine. Perhaps you started eating more frequently because your access to food became simpler. Perhaps you stopped exercising because your gym was forced to close. Identify those contributing factors and aim to change them.
Again, it comes down to eating a little less and exercising a little more in order to lose weight. You'll need to make a new routine that addresses those issues.
If you have been eating more, design a meal schedule for yourself and stick to it. For example, eat at 8 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., and 6 p.m. Don't eat outside those designated times. Don't eat because you're bored or because you're sitting close to your kitchen. Eat when the clock says to eat.
If you haven't been exercising, you'll need to change that. There are only two variables we are working with here, and one of them is exercise. Therefore, if you want to do something about your weight gain, you must exercise.
Invest in a few at-home exercise items like resistance bands or glider discs. They won't be too expensive or take up a lot of space. Set a time when you will exercise, even if it's only for 10 minutes each day. Commit to this new routine.
Slowly lose weight
Okay, now you're ready to start losing weight. It's important to be realistic about how quickly you can lose it. A healthy goal is 1-2 pounds per week. Faster than that and you are likely losing muscle and water, which will hurt your efforts in the long run.
Stick to your new routines of eating on a schedule and exercising daily. You can tweak these variables as needed to get to your 1-2 pounds/week weight loss. If you start losing weight rapidly, increase your portions a bit or add a snack time at 10 a.m. If you aren't losing weight quickly enough, add minutes to your exercise routine and consider cutting the 3 p.m. snack.
Bodies adapt to routines quickly. They start to anticipate and crave them. So, just create a solid routine that promotes weight loss and stick to it. Never beat yourself up if you stray from your routine. It happens because we are all humans. Just let it go and try to get back on track.
Weight loss seems to happen in fits and starts rather than a consistently gradual decline. Listen to your body and congratulate yourself for all the small, positive choices you make. It's all about commitment and consistency.