It’s no secret that a lot of us have been struggling to stay healthy and in shape since the start of the pandemic's first lockdown. From working at home, gym closures, stress and snack eating - it can all act like a cocktail for weight gain with subsequent lifestyle and routine changes. Those extra, pesky pounds can creep up on you before you even know it!
The latest results from the Covid System Study app’s behavior change questionnaire (which has been completed by 1.6 million people within the UK) shed light on the public's fluctuating waistline. Overall, 29% of participants had gained weight. Figures show weight gain averaged from 1.6 to 6.5 pounds - of which 35% attributed their weight gain to snacking and 34% due to lack of exercise. A separate country-wide survey of 5,000 adult participants revealed that 4 in 10 had gained an average of half a stone (just over 9 pounds) since March 2020.
If you can relate to these statistics, don’t forget you’re definitely not going through this alone! It’s never too late to make the necessary changes to get your body back into peak physical condition. If you’re looking to make alterations to your eating habits and ease your way back into fitness, we’ve got some encouraging tips and suggestions to start you off.
There’s no time like the present to ditch your junk-food
It’s hard to let go, we know. But by either giving away or scrapping the chocolates, cookies and other not-so-healthy food items from your kitchen is an ideal starting point to have a clear slate and avoid temptation.
Obviously, this isn’t going to be possible for everybody but if this is a feasible option for you… go ahead and remove the junk from your sight!
Focus on finding new, healthy food to try out
Keep it interesting! Just because you’re seeking a cleaner diet doesn’t mean you absolutely have to stick to particular fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, meats etc. Why bore and frustrate yourself before you even start? Think of it as an opportunity to experiment and try out new healthy food and recipes. You’ll end up discovering loads of amazing finds and gain more nutritional value in the process.
A great place to start if you’re feeling at a loss would be Pinterest - it’s a treasure trove of recipe ideas! From loaded sweet potatoes, courgette pasta and chili garlic cauliflower, there’s tons of yummy meal ideas to inspire your culinary skills.
Don’t be hard on yourself! Start off with gentle goals
If you’re getting back into working out after a long spell of not being so active, take the time to recharge your stamina and set buildable goals. Accept that you might need time to get back to however many miles you could do running, laps in the swimming pool or how much time on average you could spend in the gym. Slow and steady, get your momentum going at a pace that works for you.
Personal trainer Zanna Van Dijk imparted some great advice in a recent BBC article: “Don’t think ‘I have to do one whole hour of exercise all at once’. You could do 15 minutes after your morning coffee, and take a 15-minute walk at lunch and in the evening.”
Building Muscle = faster Metabolism
The metabolism is often misunderstood as a very adaptable component of the body, a calorie burning engine that can be revved up by drinking green tea and lemon juice. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case. There are some foods and drinks that increase your metabolism like coffee, chili and certain spices - but the effects aren’t long lasting enough to enact any kind of weight loss. Besides that, genes, gender and age are factors that determine how high or low your metabolism is.
However, hope is not lost! By working on strengthening your muscles, your metabolism will reap the benefits as muscle cells require more energy to maintain than fat cells. Even while resting. Therefore, gaining lean muscle will do wonders to really get your metabolic rate higher than before.
Find extra motivation with a fitness tracker
Investing in a fitness tracker (or smartphone app) is a really effective way to increase self-motivation and will actively help you pursue your fitness goals. By recording your daily steps, monitoring your heart rate and calories burnt.
It can be addictive (in a good way) as it will motivate you to increase your steps, see the progress logged and provide physical activity guidelines.
It’s been proven that those using fitness monitoring tools attain 1,850 extra steps per day than those not using one, this adds up for a little under a mile more. Not bad, right?
Snack! But reconsider late-night trips to the fridge
Having a lil' snack in between meals isn’t going to derail your health and fitness goals. It’s just a matter of downsizing your portions here and there whilst picking foods that you know are much better alternatives to crisps, chocolate bars etc. Having a healthy snack can prevent you from overeating your next meal and give you an energy boost after exercising.
But what about those impulse, late-night snacks? Probably not a good idea. It’s not that you’ll automatically gain weight by eating in the evening - in fact - as long as your daily calorie intake isn’t exceeded, you should be fine. However, studies have shown that those who opt for night-time snacks often consume more calories throughout the day and maintain a less nutritious diet.
It’s easy to forget, but experts recommend drinking 2 litres of water a day. In terms of weight regulation, water is essential for burning fat from food and drink as well as stored body fat too. Also, when working out, water is important for maintaining regular body function and performance.
Instead of picking sweet teas, fizzy drinks and squashes, it’s worth prioritizing your water intake to reduce fat, hydrate yourself while feeling full and satiated.
Getting back on the scales and checking your BMI
Be mindful of where your weight’s at on a daily or weekly basis, ideally. Staying aware of your weight can help you identify patterns while ensuring that your positive lifestyle changes are leading you in the right direction. For those of you with a love/hate relationship with scales, consider it as therapeutic, a tool for weight-loss clarity and ultimately a motivator.
Also, keeping track of your BMI (body mass index) is a useful way to understand whether your body fat percentage is healthy based on calculating your height, weight while factoring in gender, your physical activity levels and age. You can use the NHS BMI calculator to check yours!
Want to be your own expert with all things Nutrition?
If you’re looking to take a deeper dive into all things Nutrition, why not explore The Training Room’s online course selection! There’s plenty to choose from in our Health and Fitness offerings, such as our Personal Training course that includes:
Active IQ Level 2 Certificate in Gym Instructing
Active IQ Level 3 Certificate in Personal Training
These courses can be completed part-time, full-time or done entirely online!
Or, if you’re gravitating more towards the Nutrition aspect, don’t worry! The Training Room has a Nutrition course that could spark your interest:
TQUK Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Nutrition and Health
Focus Awards Level 4 Certificate in Nutrition for Weight Management and Athletic Performance
Our Nutrition course is entirely e-learning based and although there is a set schedule, there’s an option to complete modules at a faster pace if you so wish.
You’ll receive excellent tutoring and career support along the way, find out more today!
Find out more here