Even though being in a healthy weight range and developing holistic health rituals is an ongoing struggle for most of us, pandemic has made this even more difficult.
There are a variety of factors, peculiar to pandemic, that have contributed to those pandemic pounds.
Stress: Pandemic related financial problems, health concerns and a general feeling of uncertainty, triggered stress among people, causing intake of more carbs and sugar. There is also lesser willingness, and energy, to fight back mood disorders.
Restricted access to gyms: An at-home gym works great but the prerequisite is an iron will. It is easy to procrastinate when all we need to do is head over to the living room or basement for some push-ups. Not to mention how kids need a snack right when mommy is doing a yogaasan.
Mental health: People have had a general lack of feelings of well-being due to isolation. There is always a risk of depression and anxiety in these uncertain times.
Lifestyle changes: Due to increased work from home, we no longer felt those office clothes bursting at the seam. Instead, they got replaced by stretchy PJs and loungewear. Might seem trivial but hey, our bodies are flexible and sartorial choices sometimes have an effect.
Lesser me-time: With the whole family quarantining, parents have had to juggle between work, constant kids’ care and their own mental and physical well-being. Easy to guess what gets tossed aside first.
How to drop those pandemic pounds then?
Somehow we have gotten tricked, or conditioned if you will, into thinking that getting into shape is hitting the gym. Unfortunately, this can not be further from the truth. Over the years, through numerous trials and errors, I have now realized that is the very last aspect we have to improve upon.
For starters, this approach does not give not give long lasting results if practiced by itself.
Unless there is a change in mindset and everyday lifestyle, we will keep on falling into the trap of hitting the gym with a gusto for short intervals, and again relapsing into old and comfortable habits. And then this becomes a pattern that is difficult to get rid of.
And so, shedding those pounds, especially post-pandemic, needs a what I call a 3Ms approach:
MINDSET, MEAL, AND MOVEMENT
Mindset: The body follows the mind
In his book, The Biology of Belief, Dr. Bruce Lipton, a cell biologist, has laid out that our thoughts, positive or negative, each release an energy which affects every cell and every system in our body. And that is why, it is imperative to focus on mindset first. Everything that runs through our mind has the ability to strengthen or weaken our body.
As a start, we need to recognize and address negative emotions inflicted by the pandemic. The pandemic gave us time to reflect on what really is important to us. We all got a chance to introspect and discover aspects of ourselves which were hidden in the daily hum drum of life. Validate them by actively working on them. This will give you on that general feeling of well-being which we were robbed off due to the pandemic.
Another aspect is to be grateful. I cannot stress it’s importance enough. Come to think of it, just the fact that you are able to read this, shows you are a survivor. Many people have had their lives altered and essential faculties like sense of taste and smell taken away in this pandemic. Appreciating the little things in life gives way to striving for even more betterment.
It is up to us to find silver linings in situations. The pandemic has given us so much time with ourselves that it is imperative we get more in touch with ourselves. Take cue from introverts who view this as an opportunity to avoid some of those fake social interaction and forced smiles. This might be your chance to finally just “Be Yourself”!
MEAL: A fit body is made in the kitchen, not gym
I have always believed, a healthy weight begins in the kitchen, not the gym. And in these times of reduced public gathering and the resulting restricted visit to gym, the importance of kitchen vis-à-vis gym has been amplified.
But in this pandemic, we are guilty of using kitchen as a source of comfort food and emo eating.
And hence the first step would be to recognize your comfort food, and then improvise! You don’t have to ditch it altogether.
During quarantine, my SAHF (stay at home food), on a busy work day was a toasted bread with butter…I didn’t have to think much, it was quick, and it satisfied my carb craving. But now I put a healthy spin on it. I replace butter with EVOO, and sprinkle on some hemp seeds. Doesn’t take much time, and is so much healthier!
Sometimes boredom and other times just a low feeling during pandemic, has given way to emo eating. Recognize when you are about to indulge in emotional eating and pause. Then try to find a healthy diversion. Resist the urge to indulge in carb and excessive sugar for a happy feeling. Maybe go for a walk instead. Or just journal about your emotions, or maybe even shed some tears, if it helps you feel better.
Another step is to make a few key changes which will go a long way. As parents, we are often on lookout for recipes which are easy, won’t take much time and of course, packs good nutrition. Some replacements here and there do the trick. Maybe replace that mayo with Greek yogurt…. or sprinkle some chia seeds on that guilty pleasure of a dessert to get some nutrition, while indulging that sweet tooth.
Movement: Make it a way of life
While many of us are hitting the gym now with vaccinations, not all of us feel safe enough to get back to the grind in a very public place, the gym. It simply makes more sense to integrate movement into your everyday lifestyle.
A busy parent? Take out time for physical activities with your kids…go play soccer or even a game of tag. Or maybe make walking in the sun a everyday morning ritual, just to say hello to the sun. Love music? Put on those dancing shoes and dance like no one’s watching, every once in a while.
Carve a little me-time every week to make out time for physical activity.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or certified nutritionist. The advice above is from what I have learnt over the years by extensive reading of mental and physical health journals and from both, first-hand and second-hand experiences as a parent.