COVID weight gain

At the start of lockdown my partner joked about the COVID-19. Not the actual virus, that’s not funny, but the 19 extra kilos we were probably going to put on being stuck inside the house. Luckily the batteries in our scales have died and I am in no rush to replace them so I can’t reveal if he was right. I do have to jump a little higher to get my jeans on so that may be some indication. 

Working from home – with many of us enjoying the added bonus of kids homeschooling – means the past few months have been an exercise in restraint. While some have seen it as an opportunity to set up the home gym or ramp up the running – others have found proximity to the fridge the only thing keeping their step count up.

Experts have been urging us all to go easy and not beat ourselves up about putting on a few COVID kilos. Psychologists say the stress and anxiety many have been feeling is completely understandable. Dr Kiera Buchanan specialises in body-image and eating disorders, she says a little comfort eating right now isn’t actually the worst thing in the world. 

“We are taught through our early experiences that food equals love and comfort so it’s no real surprise that in uncertain times we look for things that will soothe our distress. “Not knowing what tomorrow will look like means we’ve found ourselves in a state of fight or flight. This leaves us exhausted with no energy to spend on exercise and home workouts.”

Dr Buchanan says keeping things in perspective is best, she advises making your mental heath a priority before you worry about what the scales say. 

“Our bodies are sophisticated and adaptive. We’ve got to trust that as our lifestyles go back to normal our bodies will too.”

So, while we aren’t giving ourselves a hard time, it’s no secret that health eating and exercise will always make us feel better. With the gyms opening again and the kids now at school there many ways to get back into your healthy lifestyle groove.

Nutritionist Amber Rowe – who’s cooked for stars like Chris Hemsworth and Jason Mamoa – says right now is a really good time to change our mindset.

“If you’re heading to the fridge out of boredom- accept that you’re doing it and reflect on it, give your self the feedback to change. Once you acknowledge you’re in a routine of snacking out of boredom you can start doing things like going for a walk around the block and come back and see if you’re still hungry.”

Amber says you can make it easier for your self by trying to be a little more organised.

“Always have healthy things ready in the fridge. Broccolini sticks, carrot sticks, celery, green beans – try different things to see what you like. If you need a dip then hummus is always good or pesto.”

Another good way of sidelining the cheese and wine heavy meals is by avoiding the supermarket and hooking yourself up with a food delivery company like YouFoodz, Lite n’ Easy or Hello Fresh.

Currumbin based Sol Cleanse provides home delivered organic juices, curries and salads and has seen a 150% spike in business during lockdown.

Owner Miriam ter Borg says it’s down to people focussing on their own health and well being. She says one of the best things we can do right now is think about what we can add to our diet rather than what we should take out.

“I’m all about the ‘crowding out’ philosophy, not cutting things out and ending up with a deprivation mindset,” she says.

“Think about where you can add rather than subtract. For example, if you just have a smoothie in the morning change it up to a piece of gluten free toast with avocado, tomato, sprouts, rocket, spinach and pesto. Adding loads of goodness rather than worrying about what not to have.”

So, if your jeans are a little tighter you have full permission (from the experts) to give yourself a break, and if the past few months have taught us anything it’s that we should be grateful for our health and focus on that rather than what the scales say. 

I’m still glad mine aren’t working though. 

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Alex Hyndman-Hill
Alex Hyndman Hill is an internationally recognised journalist who has anchored and reported for Good Morning Britain, ITV’s London Tonight, ITV National News, Channel 5 and Sky News. She has interviewed everyone from Boris Johnson to Lewis Hamilton and Bill Clinton to Samuel L Jackson. After 20 years in London, Alex is now based in Brisbane where she works as a journalist and media consultant. As well as acting as a spokesperson for RSPCA Queensland, Alex now leads clients through media training preparing them for their time in front of the camera and helping them tell their stories through the media.

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