If you’ve gained weight during the pandemic, you’re not alone. The COVID-19 crisis has had a major impact on our normal routines and behaviors. For many of us, life has changed in a profound way and we’re experiencing significant amounts of stress. Though it may feel like an impossible task to get your weight and health back under control, it doesn’t have to be. With a little help, you can start on the road to well-being. Here are five steps you can take right now to start shedding the pandemic pounds and get your health back on track.
Examine Your Eating Habits:
One of the most important steps you can take to reclaim your health is to take control of the food you are eating. Meal planning is the easiest way to do this. By planning, preparing and cooking all of your own food, you can be sure you are eating a balanced diet that includes foods high in protein, fibre and healthy fats. Planning out your meals and snacks ahead of time will also simplify your meal-time decision making.
In times of increased stress many people tend to snack more and seek out comfort foods. These foods are often high in sugar and unhealthy fats, and we tend to overeat them. Look for healthier alternatives to your favourites and keep them on hand. This will empower you to make good choices when you find yourself reaching for a snack.
A simple trick that can help reduce the urge to snack is to drink more water. Increasing your water intake does more than just curb your appetite. When you are properly hydrated, your metabolism increases, and you burn more calories.
Get Enough Sleep:
Proper rest is important for more than just energy levels. Sleep disruption affects the hormones your body produces. Not only does this make it harder to lose weight, it also can cause long term health problems.
Reinforce good habits by having a set bedtime and wake time. A routine allows you to tap into your body’s natural circadian rhythm, a cycle that regulates metabolism and the functioning of the immune system. When your circadian rhythm is disrupted, it puts you at risk for exhaustion and illness.
Be sure to turn off your electronics at night. The blue light that comes from our phones and tablets has been shown to disrupt production of melatonin, a hormone that is essential to a good night’s sleep.
Increase Your Activity Level:
Lockdowns and restrictions have forced many of us to spend more time indoors in the past year, and as a result, you may have become less active. The lack of structure we are experiencing during pandemic life can make it hard to find the motivation to exercise.
There are some easy ways to become more active, even while working from home. Take regular movement breaks, even if that simply means getting up from your chair once an hour and doing a few stretches. Try standing while you work instead of sitting. Walk up and down the stairs a few times a day. Take a short break and go outside for a walk. Schedule a workout for yourself during the day and treat it just like a meeting or other work obligation. Whichever steps you choose to start, remember that consistency is key to establishing a new routine.
The link between physical activity and our physical and emotional health are well proven. Regular exercise can boost your energy levels and decrease stress and anxiety. It will increase your chances of being successful with weight loss. You don’t have to go to the gym; any activity you add into your daily routine will help you to feel better and increase your overall quality of life.
Make Smart Goals:
You don’t have to go big right away, in fact, you are more likely to succeed if you make small, sustainable changes. A good way to measure your progress is to use SMART goals. This means setting goals that are: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.
Don’t expect perfection from yourself. Being too restrictive with your food choices or expecting to jump into an advanced workout program may hinder your progress and make you feel discouraged. Start small and focus on one goal or change at a time.
Be gentle with yourself through the process of adopting new routines. Change is hard and controlling your stress level can help you succeed. Every time you create a new and healthier habit you move closer to your overall goals of weight loss and well-being.
Get Advice from a Professional:
If making the changes you need to lose weight and live healthier seems overwhelming, it’s a good idea to seek out professional help. Experts can help you come up with a plan and provide support along the way.
Nutritional counselling can help you understand the role diet plays in your health. Working with your goals and personal history, a dietician or nutritional counsellor can provide you with a dietary plan customized to your individual needs.
Exercise experts like certified personal trainers can help with creating a routine for you, but if you’ve been experiencing any pain or weakness it might be better to work with a Physiotherapist. A physiotherapist can identify your specific issue or issues and develop exercises that will help you lose weight safely while also addressing your pain and any underlying conditions. With many gyms still closed, a lot of this can be done virtually, even physiotherapy.
The pandemic has put a lot of things out of our personal control. However, your ability to lose weight and improve your health doesn’t have to be one of them. Start with one small change at a time and begin creating new habits that will help you to look and feel better. Remember, you don’t have to do it on your own. At Physiomed, our health professionals can help you bounce back from pandemic weight gain and improve your overall health.
Contact us today, and let us show you why, at Physiomed…Healthier starts here.