Did you gain weight during lockdown?
If you gained weight during lockdown you may be on a mission to lose it again now that things have returned to something more normal.
While it may seem obvious to look for a diet to get you there, overhauling how you eat may be unnecessary, perhaps even counter-productive.
Taking a moment to reflect on why you gained the weight could save you that effort and expense, and open the way to a simpler lifelong approach to managing your weight.
Why did you gain those pounds?
Think about what happened to your eating during lockdown – did you totally change how you ate? Or was it particular things that changed, that upped the calories? Here are two key questions to help you work out a plan to lose the weight and keep it off…
- How did your eating during lockdown compare with your usual eating patterns?
- For many of us, lockdown meant that we were at home when we’d normally be out at work.
- Routines that worked for us previously may have been thrown into turmoil.
- In frontline jobs, stress was often heightened and meal breaks may have been harder to take.
- What were the specific things you started or stopped doing?
- It may be that you changed when you ate, or who you ate with.
- Perhaps you grazed more than usual or used treats to perk you up when there was little else to do.
- Meals may have become a bigger part of your day, and portions may have grown larger.
When you’ve identified what was different eating-wise, see those changes as specific habits that you picked up (or dropped).
It may be that it’s just one or two things that you started doing differently. By noticing what they were, you can focus on changing back, one habit at a time.
Why you shouldn’t go on a diet
If you react to weight gain by choosing a diet, the chances are you’ll be changing more than the particular pesky habits you picked up in response to lockdown. Overhauling how you eat, whether that’s with calorie-counting or limiting particular food types, might end up with you feeling deprived and demotivated.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
What you can do instead
By focusing just on the things that led to weight gain, one at a time, you’ll be focusing on the things that went awry, not tinkering with things that were OK before.
The way to do this is to tackle one specific unhelpful eating habit at a time (unless you have the energy and focus to do more in which case, great).
Be clear about what you’ll gain that really matters to you – habit change can be tricky, and is made much easier when you are clear about why you want to resist that chocolate. The deeper values behind wanting to shed pounds are important here.
We illustrated this on the Channel 4 TV show I took part in recently, “Don’t Diet, Lose Weight”. In the show we had tech that enabled the contributors to see themselves at a lower weight, and we super-charged this using mental imagery.
Cici wanted to relax and let her hair down socialising with friends instead of mentally comparing herself with everyone else. She works hard in her demanding job in Intelligence and really loves her down-time!
What gave Andreena a buzz was being able to visualise herself walking onto stage in front of a huge audience and not feel self-conscious about her arms. She is a public speaker and poet so talking to audiences is what she does.
You won’t have the tech from the TV show to help you, but you can use the same sort of imagery. I explain mental imagery in an earlier blog and you can watch the show on catch-up via the link below.
Why this is better than dieting for those lockdown pounds
Taking this approach targets the specific things that led to the weight gain.
Being specific about what you’re changing reduces the amount of effort required to lose the weight you gained. That’s a biggie! It means that you have a greater chance of success and of sticking with those positive changes for good.
Watch the TV show and read the book!
The TV show “Don’t Diet, Lose Weight” is available until about 10th September 2021 on All4 https://www.channel4.com/programmes/dont-diet-lose-weight
My book “How to Retrain Your Appetite: Lose weight eating all your favourite foods” shows you how to identify and change specific unhelpful eating habits and overcome mental blocks along the way. It guides you through a series of practical steps and is full of helpful information about the psychology of weight loss.
A different relationship with food
Cici and Andreena, the two contributors to “Don’t Diet, Lose Weight” had spent years and plenty of money dieting. Despite their successes in other areas of their lives, eating and weight had become an internal battle. They were intrigued to learn about a fresh approach that helped them re-think their relationship to food.
They were both amazed that once they focused on specific changes, with the help of goal imagery that was aligned with their true values, making changes to how they eat was easier than dieting. The pounds they lost were only part of what they gained, as you can see in the Reveal on the show.