15 Tips to Lose Your Lockdown Pounds
- Written by Kelly Harris
- August 1, 2021
- 7 min read
Many of us put on a few pounds during the various COVID-19 lockdowns we’ve experienced since the start of the pandemic. The excuse to cuddle up with the family and binge on Netflix has simply been too irresistible. Rather than turning to gimmicky and unhealthy diets though, I’d encourage you to incorporate our 15 simple tips to help you lose any extra pounds you may have acquired.
1. Drink More Water
Drinking water boosts your metabolism and helps you burn extra calories. If you drink a glass of water around half an hour before mealtimes, you’ll also find yourself eating fewer calories when you do eat. Try drinking around two litres of water per day which will also assist in maintaining a healthy bladder and achieving good bowel mobility. If you’re not having one or two bowel movements per day you are probably constipated.
2. Start Walking
The length of the walk depends on where you’re starting from. Some people consider a stroll from the car park to the supermarket a walk! Walking can also depend on your mobility level and able-bodiedness. If you’re new to walking for exercise, start with a gentle ten-minute daily walk and each time increase the walk by 5 minutes until you’re getting a 30-40 minute brisk walk every day. If you are able to walk at a brisk pace, that is best because your rate of calorie burning will be much higher. If you have mobility issues and can only walk at a slow pace, that’s okay too. You’ll still burn calories but at a slower rate and it will just take a bit longer to lose weight.
3. Try the NHS Couch to 5k App
If you’ve been thinking about taking up running, then the NHS Couch to 5k app is a great tool for beginners. I know so many people who have used the app and are now daily runners. They even give you tips on managing all the aches and pains that new runners experience and help motivate you on how to progress your training after you’ve completed the initial programme.
4. Reduce your Carbohydrates
We all love bread, white rice and pasta, but including processed carbohydrates in our diets makes losing weight a lot harder. You can still include these foods in your diet and lose weight, but by measuring out smaller portions you may find yourself unsatisfied and hungry after your meal. Many people have success on the keto diet (and other lower carbohydrate diets) by eating a reduced number of carbohydrates every day and filling up on fat and protein-based foods. You don’t need to resort to extreme diets in order to cut carbs though. Try making some easy swaps instead, such as swapping pasta for butternut squash noodles, zucchini noodles or calorie-free shirataki noodles. Likewise, cauliflower rice is a good substitute for rice in stir fry dishes. Avoid using gluten-free items as substitutes for your favourite comfort carbs, as often these items are much higher in calories, fat and sugars than the original version.
5. Swap Sweets for Stevia
Do you have a sweet tooth? I know I do. I would encourage you to start weaning yourself off of having a daily biscuit or after dinner pudding. But when the cravings are just too much, thankfully there are healthy sugar-free treats available on the market for just such emergencies. Always check the labels and avoid items with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame K or sucralose. Instead look for items sweetened with natural low carb sweeteners like stevia, erythritol or monk fruit. Often dessert items marketed for people on keto diets will be suitable.
6. Learn a New Activity
When you spend more of your free time learning a new activity instead of hanging around at home on the sofa, you’ll be out having fun while you’re burning calories. There are plenty of exciting things to do like indoor rock climbing, ice skating, paddleboarding, kayaking or cycling. You could join a local yoga, pilates or kickboxing class. There are also free activities like local walking groups where you can easily power through an hour or two of walking while chatting with a group of like-minded friends or neighbours. If you have a disability, connect with your support group networks for ideas on activities or sports that will work for your particular needs.
7. Stop Watching TV
We all love a good Netflix binge, but your TV is hindering your weight loss efforts and it is impacting your health as well. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that for each hour of television watched after the age of 25 the viewer’s life expectancy is reduced by 22 minutes. Isn’t that shocking? By spending every evening using the television as your main de-stressing tool, you’re more prone to being sedentary and reaching for unhealthy snacks. You’re also missing out on other great ways to wind down after work. Consider joining a gym with a spa so you can spend a few evenings a week having a good workout followed by a relaxing sauna or soak in the hot tub.
8. Stop Snacking
Some people spend their days grazing on mini-meals and are able to maintain a healthy body weight, and others are able to maintain their weight by including mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks in addition to their three meals a day. But it is worth keeping in mind that snacks are additional calories you’re piling onto your already adequate daily calorie intake. Putting a stop to evening snacks will be very helpful in helping you achieve your weight loss goals. You can find some tips on ways to reduce nighttime snacking here.
9. Calories do Count
So often, we’re encouraged to listen to our bodies and eat when we’re hungry. That way, we will maintain a naturally healthy body weight. This is absolutely true, but…after a lifetime of poor eating habits and ignoring our body’s natural signals of hunger, fullness, pain and stress, as well as dealing with a constant onslaught of visual marketing advertising delicious-looking foods we’re told we want to eat and drink, it’s no surprise that we have no idea when to start or stop eating. By keeping an eye on our calorie intake from time to time, we can be a bit more realistic with ourselves about our actual calorie intake. There are some great free calorie-tracking apps and websites like MyFitnessPal and Cronometer. Tracking your calories obsessively every day is to be avoided as it can lead to disordered eating patterns, but there’s nothing wrong with the occasional reality check by seeing just how much you’re really eating!
10. Eat a Protein-Rich Breakfast
Eating a protein-rich breakfast is a great way to start the day as protein requires more calories to metabolize than carbohydrates or fat and it also keeps you fuller for longer. People who eat protein-rich breakfasts tend to eat fewer calories throughout the day as they’re more satisfied by their first meal of the day.
11. Build a Healthy Plate
You might be eating healthy foods, but if you’re tucking into a plate full of spaghetti bolognese with a small salad on the side, you might want to rethink how you’re building the proportions of foods on your plate. To build a healthy plate of food, you want half your plate to be vegetables and greens, a quarter of your plate to be whole grains and a quarter of your plate to be animal or plant-based protein foods.
12. Favour Fibre
A diet rich in fibre can help with weight control and can help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. An adult should consume around 30 grams of dietary fibre per day (the average adult only consumes around half of that). When you’re increasing your fibre intake, it is important to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water in order to maintain good bowel motility and avoid becoming constipated.
13. Chew Your Food
Digestion starts in the mouth, when we chew our food. This is what allows the nutrients to be better released in preparation for the food for further digestion in the intestines. Chewing our food slowly and properly (aim for around 30 chews per mouthful) also sends satiety signals to our brain which then tells you that you’re full and it is time to stop eating. If you’re eating too fast you’re more likely to surpass your ideal caloric intake before the brain gets the signal that you’re full…and you’ll probably end up with indigestion too.
14. Don’t Drink Your Calories
This goes for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. It is easy to forget just how many calories we can get from even “healthy” drinks like fresh-pressed juices and kombucha. Wine and alcoholic drinks can be very calorific as well. They stop your body from burning fat, as well as making you feel hungry and leading to poor food choices.
15. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Finally, getting a good night’s sleep seems to be strongly linked to maintaining a healthy body weight. While researchers are still struggling to understand why good quality sleep is linked to weight loss, they do know that poor quality sleep is linked to weight gain. Sleep-deprived individuals make poor food choices and have less energy to engage in physical activity throughout their day.