Lockdown Weight Loss


So, it looks like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We have a glimpse of normality coming back into our lives, how exciting is this? Looking at social media after the PM’s announcement I was sure there would be lots of posts from people rejoicing in our nearly-back-to-normal future but, what were most of the comments based on? Weight loss.

“OMG, I only have seven weeks to lose lockdown weight until the gyms open”.
“This is me now”- photo of a Barbie who no longer looks like a stick. “I need to lose weight, NOW!”

My heart sank. It sank because I know that people are going to be desperate to shed the lbs, kilos, whatever metric form you choose to work in and they will be going on unrealistic, strict diets to get the results that they want.

During this winter lockdown, it’s been hard, really hard for lots of us and when we’re feeling low we will be more inclined to reach for the comfort foods instead of the food that we know is better for our health. We probably couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm to be active. Life sucked. But now, with the promise of getting back to normal and having our bodies on show to the world people are panicking.Of course, there will always be those of us who want to lose weight, but dieting isn’t the way to do it. They actually make things worse.

Here’s some for you to choose from;
Diet one - Cut your calories to 500 a day
Diet two - Skip breakfast, have a supplement bar or bowl of watery soup at lunchtime and then eat whatever you like for your evening meal
Diet three - Eat nothing until 6pm in the evening
Diet four - Eat nothing two days of the week
Diet five - Join a slimming club and count calories, learn what your sins are
Diet six - Only eat meat with a ketogenic diet
Diet seven - Take a diet pill

Or... you could choose not to go on a diet.

Why? Because they don’t work!

Of course, all of the above will work in the short term, you absolutely will lose weight, 100% you will. You’re looking at everything you’re eating, you’re cutting down on the amount of food you have during the day, you’re counting calories, everything is great, the weight is falling off. But... What happens when you can’t survive on 500 calories a day, or counting calories is so time consuming and boring or, you want to do exercise but you can’t eat that day and feel like you’ve got no energy, or, if you see another piece of meat you’ll scream?

I’ll tell you… You go back to your old eating habits And guess what happens? You put the weight, and some, back on. You see, our fat cells are laying there, ready. When we lose weight, they deflate like little balloons. When we put weight on again, they inflate and multiply so we end up with more of them. Classic yo-yo dieting.

Let’s have a look at these diets in more details...

Claim: helps to detoxify the body, results in weight loss, rests the digestible system.
Problems: Lack of essential nutrients, lack of energy, headaches, bad breath
Very low calorie- Claim: designed for rapid weight loss, often in the form of supplements
Problems: fatigue, constipation, feeling sick, lack of vitamins, not sustainable long term
Slimming groups- Claims: Group involvement creates accountability, calorie intake is controlled, guidance on food and recipes
Problems: Tends to be a short –term fix, leads to yo-yo dieting, can feel shame if they don’t lose weight

Meal replacements
Claim: the meal are calorie counted so the dieter doesn’t have to work them out
Problems: Boredom, lack of flavor, lack of some vitamins,
Fat burning supplements (slimming pills)- Claim: Supposed to boost the metabolism to burn body fat
Problem: May cause health problems, even heart attacks!

Ketogenic diet
Claims: High saturated fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrates , reduction in carbs reduces blood glucose causing the body to have metabolic changes. There is a rise in fatty acids in fat reserves which circulate to the liver where they are converted into ketones and go back into the circulation. These ketones are used as fuel when people are in a ‘ketogenic state’
Problems: People eat more fat, which can lead to coronary heart disease if this diet is over long periods of time, low carb can mean lack of energy in people who are active. Not sustainable for most people.

Let me ask you some questions, and be honest - How many of these restrictive diets have you been on throughout your life?
Did they work? Did the weight stay off? If they worked, why are you on another one? Can we agree that people are all different, they come in all different shapes and sizes? The ‘perfect’ body, what is that? Who made the decision that we have to look a certain way?

I have worked in the fitness industry for many, many years and it really does make me sad that people are so tough on themselves when it comes to their weight. What we need to get away from is that we all can’t ever look like the super models we are told we should do unless you are born with those genes, or a great skill in photo shopping! What we do need to focus on though, is our health.

Assuming that we are able bodied, are we able to do our daily living activities well? Can we walk to the shops and carry the bags back? Can we do the housework and gardening? Can we play with our children and grandchildren in the park? Are we able to go for long walks, ride a bike, go for a swim if we choose to? Are we able to be active without discomfort and breathlessness?
Of course, there will be people who really want to be able to run a half marathon, lift weights, swim the channel, but, we don’t all have to be super athletes. The majority of us should just aim to be as active as we can to maintain our health without going to the extreme.

If you really want to lose weight, don’t diet. Think about what you eat in a day. Choose healthy options, don’t snack on sugary high saturated fat foods, look at the portion size, even healthier food options have calories and so if you overeat, you will put weight on.
As I have said in my previous Podcasts, weight gain and weight loss is extremely complex, it’s not as easy as eat less, move more. As this pandemic has shown, many people have put weight on during lock down because of low mood, boredom and change to their regular routine.

Fitness professionals can be criticized because we are seen to promote weight loss as the primary goal for people using the gym. The fact is, most people join for just that reason. Believe it or not, we are normal human beings too you know and we face the same challenges that the general public do. In my career it can be even tougher, as a fitness instructor as part of my job, I know that I am a prime subject for unkind remarks if I don’t look the part, it did affect me when I was younger and I had a period where I struggled with food. But, I never diet, I eat healthy 90% of the time and enjoy a treat, I work out and to be honest, this is me and if anyone has a problem with how I look, I really don’t care!

So, to sum up, don’t panic people! When life gets back to normal, when we can start to rebuild our lives hopefully we will slip into a healthier routine and our heads will be in a better place. In the meantime, try and eat as healthy as you can afford, cut out the snacks and enjoy the better weather that will be coming our way.

- Juanita

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