Hands up who put on weight during lockdown?

I know some people do lose their appetite through stressful times so this won’t affect everyone.

But many of you will be more like me. My daily exercise was regular trips to the fridge! I often found myself standing at the fridge door, looking in blankly, hoping for inspiration and usually settling for more chocolate! Or cheese, or bread, or whatever was closest, but then I literally inhaled everything I ate and found myself back on the hunt just minutes later.

So firstly, if you’ve been beating yourself up about the weight. Give yourself a break.

There was a global crisis, our routines were upended, our lives full of fear and uncertainty and food was a brief, welcome, comforting respite.

But enough is enough! Let’s get these stubborn pounds shifted…

1. First, and most importantly, you have to actually want to lose the weight. So find your WHY. And at times when you’re struggling, remind yourself of WHY you want to lose weight to help you keep focus and motivation.

2. Sorry to be the bearer of bad, boring news but there are no short cuts to losing weight. Get organised. Plan your meals, buy healthy and prep plenty.

3. FAD or lose weight quick diets might help you kick-start the weight loss, but they’re not sustainable, often not healthy and you don’t break your old habits. To maintain your weight long term, you need to learn how to eat. Find a way of eating that suits your lifestyle.

4. Move it. Find an exercise you enjoy and get moving. It’s great for endorphins too which will help you feel so much better. But bear in mind, you can’t exercise away a bad diet.

5. Drink lots of water. Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger. And it’s important to stay hydrated, helps with digestion too. But stick mainly to water, even fruit juices can be packed with sugar.

6. Write down what you eat. It’s sometimes surprising how much more you’ve eaten than you thought. You might also find patterns of when and what you eat. I’m a grazer and snack constantly and eat throughout the day. That all soon adds up.

7. Food is fuel for our bodies. Would you put cheap, nasty fuel in your car? Let’s treat ourselves as carefully by trying to eat more fresh, nutritious, unprocessed ‘fuel’. Read the labels, avoid high saturated fats, hidden sugars, high salts, E numbers and names of ingredients you can’t even pronounce.

8. Don’t call it a diet. It’s a way of eating that will enable you to lose weight and a new way of eating that will make sure you stay at a healthy weight you’re happy with. My diet is how I eat, I’m not on a diet.

9. Learn to love (and trust) food. Your body needs carbs, your body needs fats. No food is bad, in small amounts. Chocolate is good for the soul. Just not in the vast quantities that saw me through lockdown!

10. Try smaller plates or portions. I don’t know about you but I was brought up to clear my plate. Whatever the size! So maybe fill a smaller plate at first. Eat slowly, eat mindfully and stop when you’re full.

11. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. That’s bulls*t. And whoever said that had clearly never tasted Lindt dark chocolate with sea-salt, or meringue with fresh cream, or cheesecake, or freshly baked bread with butter, or cheese, or… you get my drift. HOWEVER, when tempted by any of the above or your own tasty pleasure, just take a moment to reflect on your WHY. Do you want that chunk of cake more than you want to lose weight? If the answer right now is yes, which sometimes it might be then either try having a little, or eat it with unbridled pleasure and savour each mouthful. You’ve made a choice. Own it and enjoy it.

12. When you eat something ‘bad’, ENJOY it! Stop whatever else you’re doing, sit still and enjoy every last morsel. Don’t ruin it by eating it with a huge side-serving of guilt. Savour it with intention and satisfaction. Otherwise it wasn’t worth it. So if you’re out for your friend’s birthday lunch and you had a nice healthy meal but find you can’t resist the dessert menu, just have the cake/cheesecake/tart/cream filled pastry and enjoy it. Maybe you’ll share it with someone, maybe you’ll eat the lot. But you’ve made a choice to have it, so give yourself permission to accept that decision, lean into that and enjoy it!

13. But don’t let that de-rail you. Don’t decide you’ll start your ‘diet’ again tomorrow, or the next day or after the weekend or whenever… Eat the next meal as you had planned and prepped. You’re making mostly ‘healthy’ food choices and sometimes you have treats. That’s life.

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