I’m not the kind of nutritionist who focuses much on numbers, if you’ve worked with me you know that! We don’t talk much about the number on the scale as long as you’re feeling good in your skin, and confident about your relationship with food. BUT the truth is sometimes we still want to lose weight. And I can still support that, in my gentle, nourishing, whole-health way. Let’s be honest, the past two years were something we never could have prepared ourselves for. Life happened AT us and that felt like we were left quivering in the corner after a whirlwind of chaos passed by. Our weight may have crept up without us even realizing it, because we were, well, in crisis mode for most of the time!
Am I right?!
Living a life more isolated at home, with fewer places to go, with stress and panic oozing from every news outlet, easier access to the pantry and fewer belts to wear, let us relax into this unscheduled, comfort filled, emotionally charged life. It was a perfect formula for weight gain. Many of us feel like our lives have now returned to some semblance of normality, but for some of us that still means working from home which can make navigating a work/home/eating/exercising balance difficult!
Let’s pause first though and let me say…. who cares!!?? Yes, you heard that right, so what!!? We, collectively as a planet, just went through some heavy, hard stuff! Our priorities shifted, our focus changed and we did what we had to do to get through. No one gave us the “living through a pandemic” handbook before Covid entered our country and turned our lives upside down! So rather than thinking we NEED to “get back on track” and “undo” the damage done while we were living in lockdown, let’s reframe.
Give yourself a little grace.
Feel grateful for where you are now, how we’re really starting to heal as a country and across the world. It’s not perfect, it’s not over, but maybe it feels a little less scary, more manageable. So maybe we can start to shift our focus back on to ourselves and work less on survival and more on balance.
So here are some tips we can adopt right now to help keep our bodies happy and healthy. Some things that are great for our mental health, our life balance and that will also keep our weight in check.
I have yet to figure out how to remove stress from my life. If you have the secret please share! 🙂 But what I have been able to do is find ways to manage stress better. Cortisol is the stress hormone in our body. When stress increases, cortisol increases. Too much of this can make weight loss difficult, so it’s important to partake in activities that reduces cortisol from the blood stream.
Some things that have worked great for me are:
Sleep is another way to lower cortisol levels from the body. And on the flip side when we don’t get enough sleep, we can begin to experience cravings. Our body will ask for foods that offer quick energy- like sugar and simple carbs. A good nights sleep can help alleviate those cravings!
Creating a set bedtime and wake time is essential to feeling refreshed and ready for the day. That can be hard when working from home without a set schedule. Turn off devices 2 hours before bed time and create a routine that signals the brain that it’s time to wind down. Warm tea, a shower, dim the lights, tap into breath. And keep the bed for sleeping only. If you only sleep in your bed then your brain will know that it’s time to sleep as soon as you lay down. If you read, or watch TV your brain may get confused as to what activity it’s supposed to be doing!
You don’t need to hit the gym every day for hours to get the benefit of exercise. Especially now, there are so many online exercise options! You’ve heard me say, the wellness community really stood up to the plate during the pandemic with online fitness classes, tele-health mental health support, and nutrition apps like Wellory, to name a few. It was perhaps one of the best things that came out of “lock down”. Streaming a workout is now the new norm so there is no excuse! Carve out some time in your day to move your body, every day. Some days can be more intense than others, rest and recovery is important too! But put your workouts right in your calendar and prioritize exercise just like you would a doctors appointment or a work meeting!
Also try to get up from your desk from time to time. Our commute is now from the bedroom to the desk to the pantry and back, and we’re missing out on lots of those steps we used to get! Can you stand while you work? Can you take a walk or a stretch break every hour for 5 minutes? Getting up away from your desk will also give your eyes a break and help to avoid those technology headaches!
Keep to a routine as much as possible and don’t skip meals. Your body loves structure and your hunger cues will be easier to translate if you’re used to eating at certain times of day. If we allow ourselves to get too hungry in between meals its harder to make smart choices and it’s easier to over eat.
Eat full, balanced meals with whole food ingredients. Aim for filling half of your plate with non starchy veggies, then add a serving of lean protein, a serving of healthy fats like avocado or some walnuts, and then some complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes or quinoa. Eating in a balanced way like that will prove to be much more filling and satisfying and will provide you with long lasting energy.
Think of snacks as nourishment, not as something to “hold you over” until your next actual meal.
Plate snacks as you would a full, balanced meal and include a source of protein, fiber and healthy fats for optimal satisfaction.
Reach for minimally processed foods with whole food ingredients.
When all else fails, remove temptations from the house! Just like you had to avoid the staff break room and those pesky bowls of candy people put on their desks, try to avoid sweets, treats and junk food in the home as well. Out of sight out of mind!
Consider meal prepping! When you went into the office you’d pack a lunch and some snacks- do the same for your home office. This will help avoid making less than ideal decisions in the heat of the moment. Pack up leftovers from last nights dinner, throw together a simple salad with grilled chicken or PLAN to make something like a veggie omelette.
Stay hydrated! Drink half of your body weight in ounces of water every day. So for example if you weigh 160 pounds, drink 80 ounces of water each day! Water is needed to digest and metabolize food, to create energy in the body and to help make you look and feel your best.
So while we begin to navigate this “new normal” we still need to prioritize our health and wellness. Life may look different but we still want to be able to feel our best and use those healthy coping mechanisms we all have in our tool box (even if we haven’t opened that tool box in about 2 years)! What is one thing you can do today to make a change toward a healthier lifestyle?