Ever noticed that when you're close to your fridge, you tend to find yourself snacking for no reason? A major downside to working from home is that food is in constant reach. And that means more snacking, and more snacking equals more calories, and more calories usually equals weight gain. So it comes as no surprise that one in three Australians have gained weight during the pandemic! But fear not, in this article we'll look at ways to combat lockdown weight gain, and actually reverse it!
I'll start by saying that anything worth having in life requires some sort of sacrifice. If you want to lose weight and get fit, then you need to be prepared to get uncomfortable.
This is how I got fit in lockdown and actually lost weight. Remember, this is my personal story and not intended to be medical advice. Always seek out medical advice if concerned!
- Firstly, I started by setting and committing to a routine. To survive lockdowns, a routine is a must! I set out an exercise routine for Monday to Saturday and rested on Sundays. My routine is as follows:
Mondays - ABS & LEGS/BOOTY WORKOUT WITH LIGHT DUMBBELLS plus morning cardio
Tuesdays - ARMS/BACK & ABS plus morning cardio
Wednesdays - ABS & LEGS/BOOTY BODYWEIGHT WORKOUT plus morning cardio
Thursdays - ABS AND ARMS WITH LIGHT DUMBBELLS plus morning cardio
Fridays - LEGS AND BOOTY WORKOUT WITH DUMBBELLS plus morning cardio
Saturdays - INTENSE ABS WORKOUT plus morning cardio
Keep in mind that each body workout lasts about 10-20 minutes, I do all of my workouts off YouTube. This means I do about 1 hour of exercise per day. Check out Pamela Reif's channel for some great bodyweight workouts. I bought my dumbbells and exercise equipment from Kmart.
- Do your cardio first thing in the morning, it'll set the pace for the whole day! I do a 45 min run/walk/jog every single day and even if you cannot run or jog, a brisk walk is the best way to get the blood moving in lockdown. I work out twice a day in lockdown, only because I have more time and it makes me feel good!
- Do your cardio on an empty stomach (fasted state). For me, this works very well as I feel light and I have more energy to run faster. I have a black coffee and off I go!
- Practise intermittent fasting. I have been doing intermittent fasting for just over a year now and it has helped dramatically with stubborn fat loss. I typically fast from 7 pm-10 am every day. Exercising while fasted can be tricky, don't overexert yourself. Stick to no more than 25 minutes of cardio. I find that brisk walking is best when choosing cardio to do in a fasted state.
- Eat two meals a day. As I have gotten used to intermittent fasting, I am no longer as hungry as I used to be! I eat my brunch at around 11 am and dinner at 6 pm with a snack in between. Of course, you can eat as many meals as you like, just remember you need to be in a caloric deficit to lose any weight.
- Break your fast with a high protein/high-fat meal. This ensures that you don't give yourself a crazy sugar high and then crash a few hours after. A good example of a balanced meal is: spelt bread toasted with olive oil, avocado, a tin of red salmon, goats cheese slices and spinach leaves. Don't stuff yourself when breaking an extended fast either—even though you may really want to! Your stomach isn't prepared.
- Focus on high protein meals. I am on a CARNIVORE/KETO diet and around 70% of my diet is protein. Keep in mind that I am not telling you to go follow either diet, but if you want to lose weight, you must increase your protein intake!! Protein is more satiating, combined with some good quality vegetables and grains, can keep you feel full for hours! A good example of a dinner I eat regularly is lamb cutlets, kale and carrots sprinkled with sheep's milk feta cheese. Nutritional Guidelines suggest a daily intake of 1.6 and 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram to lose weight.
- Snack on coffee, green tea, dark chocolate, walnuts, almonds, Greek yoghurt and honey, macadamia nuts, berries and water. You want satiating snacks, with high-fat content. I also snack on organic beef jerky, it keeps me full for hours and is so delicious! Avoid snacking on crisps or high sugar food, you'll just crave more later on.
- Sit outside and read for an hour a day! You might think, what does this have to do with losing weight? So much! Reading reduces stress and makes you smarter by exercising the brain. Vitamin D is essential for overall health, and getting outdoors reduces stress. Stress hinders weight loss, and ages you. Stress causes the body to produce more of the hormone cortisol: cortisol is a stress hormone that promotes body fat and makes it harder to lose weight, especially around the middle of the body (stomach fat).
- Prioritising good sleep. I don't think many people understand how important good quality sleep is! The Sleep Foundation says that 'A lack of sleep may affect the body’s regulation of these neurotransmitters. In one study, men who got 4 hours of sleep had increased ghrelin and decreased leptin compared to those who got 10 hours of sleep. This dysregulation of ghrelin and leptin may lead to increased appetite and diminished feelings of fullness in people who are sleep deprived.' I aim for 8-10 hours of good quality sleep a night (more realistic when working from home).
- Drink a minimum of 2 litres of water a day! Water flushes out toxins and keeps you hydrated. I find that sometimes when I think I'm hungry, I'm actually really thirsty!
So, these are the steps I implemented to establish an exercise routine during lockdown. I made a promise to myself that I would take this time to look after myself, and in the process, I lost weight and got fitter in the process!
During this time, don't put extra pressure on yourself to lose weight, just make a promise that you will look after yourself. Prioritise eating whole foods, getting good sleep, drinking water and daily exercise and the weight will come off naturally!
Note: the advice in this article is not intended to provide medical, nutritional or fitness advice, please seek a medical professional's advice if this article raises any questions for you.
Despina Karpathiou is an experienced freelance lifestyle journalist, accredited makeup artist and certified beautician based in Sydney, Australia. She is currently studying a Double Bachelor of Communications and Business and is passionate about glam makeovers, healing yourself with food, diagnosing and correcting skin conditions naturally, and living your best life from the inside out. Follow her here for all things skin, health and beauty.