Gaining weight during the lockdown? Here are some ways to get back in shape
There are multiple reasons why people have gained weight during the lockdown. One reason is simply because it has been a sedentary time, without much movement. If you have been always on your feet and suddenly found yourself sitting at home all the time, you may have piled on some extra weight.
The second reason for weight gain is stress. The lockdown has been a stressful time for many people. Stress is linked to higher inflammation in the body and weight gain. In my case, adding extra pounds was mainly because I have had no access to many groceries. Since I had to rely on rice and local vegetables, and not as many proteins as I would have liked, there has been some weight gain.
Whatever the reason, this is a time to take a breath and pause. It’s not too late and if you begin now with some simple steps, you can shed any weight that you’ve piled up and get back on track. The time ahead is going to be challenging for everyone, which is why you need to be healthy to handle problems and setbacks.
Get back into an exercise routine
The first thing that you need to do is simply look at what has been your reason for weight gain through lockdown. If your reason has been the lack of movement, then you first need to bring that into perspective. I often see clients struggling with weight and getting frustrated because they are changing their diet, but they do not exercise even one day of the week. If your reason is similar, then you need to make sure that you sort that out first.
Calm the mind
If your reason for weight gain has been stress, you need to calm down and improve your resilience. You need to support yourself through the tough times ahead. I know people who say that they cannot meditate. If you think the same, try some simple breathing exercises instead. Even just listening to music you love, and unwinding can help you destress.
Check what you are eating
Now when it comes to food, begin to look at what caused you to gain that weight. Stores have opened up, so you can buy the right kind of groceries. If your reason for weight gain was due to overeating, especially sweets, alcohol and fried foods, look at the present moment as a time to start cleaning up. It’s a new phase and it’s in your hands.
Here are some tips on how to get rid of excess weight...
• Optimise your blood sugar balance by starting your day with adequate protein. The first meal of your day decides how your blood sugar levels will behave for the rest of the day. Make sure that you choose from free range eggs, sprouts, sambar, dal or even a protein smoothie if you are tight on time. This will ensure that you have more satiety and less cravings and this will support you in losing weight.
• Eat regular meals with some healthy snacks in between if you need to. These could include nuts and seeds, vegetable sticks and hummus, nut butter, fruit, avocado or even a smoothie. If you find yourself frequently hungry and craving food every couple of hours, it simply means that you do not have blood sugar balance. Without first restoring this, it will be challenging to try and lose weight.
• Increase the amount of healthy fats from avocados, nuts, seeds, ghee, coconut oil, coconut milk and olives, Increase high quality proteins from grass-fed meats, wild caught fish, free range eggs and lentils and beans. Fats are fantastic for satiety. The caveat is that you need to be able to digest fats.
If you have challenges with your liver or gallbladder you will struggle to digest fats. If you do increase the quantity of fats, do it slowly, but support your digestion through drinking ginger water and lemon water.
• If you find yourself having weight in the belly, it usually means that you have higher cortisol. In that case, work on your stress. If you have weight gain in your hips, then it might be due to estrogen dominance, in which case you should work on hormonal balance through stabilising blood sugar and eating more healthy fats. If you have weight gain in your upper arms, it might be because you have challenges with your lymphatic system, in which case you should work on having more movement and exercise. Swimming is fantastic as it moves the arms, which you can take up once the lockdown is over.
• Another great tool that you could have in your hands to lose weight is to reserve one day a week for purely plant-based foods, without protein, fats and starches. Focus on increasing your vegetable intake through juices, soups, steamed vegetables and smoothies to give your digestive system a break with a light diet.
You have to be very cautious with this meal plan. If you find yourself getting headaches and feeling irritable, your blood sugar could be fluctuating too much to be ready for a day free of proteins and fats. If your diet is not optimal on other days, this can be detrimental as well, as you will miss an entire day of proteins and fats.
• In ancient cultures, man had fasting and famine cycles, which is what many diets today are based on. If your diet is rich in protein, fats and non-starchy vegetables on most days, you will also benefit from a day of dry fasting. This just means that you have no water through the day and then break the fast towards dinner, first with water and then a light meal.
This also requires caution, and it only works if you are eating healthy food on other days. If your diet is filled with sugars and starches, low protein, no vegetables and hardly any fibre, you will find yourself feeling dizzy and uncomfortable. If you have a great diet in place, then go for it!
• Finally, chuck the fried foods, alcohol and sweets for a while. Give yourself a realistic time frame to get back on track. Once you do that, you should be able to enjoy the occasional indulgence every now and then.
Edited by Asha Chowdary