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Friday, July 10, 2020

How To Shed Those Lockdown Pounds And Start Living Healthier

It happened to the best of us - as the world descended into uncertainty following the global spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and countries went into lockdown, so we fell into unhealthy habits. At first, it felt something like a snow day - being unexpectedly out of the office meant an initial flurry of excitement over being able to watch Netflix all day in our pyjamas while gorging on pizza, chocolate and other unhealthy foods. Then it may have developed into eating the wrong foods as a result of boredom or comfort eating. With all the gyms shut too, not many of us were dedicated enough to take up running instead or stick to home workouts. Before we knew it, a few days of bad habits had turned into weeks and months. The pounds crept on. We felt sluggish and unmotivated. Our physical and mental health began to suffer. We had officially entered the lockdown slump. Now that conditions are beginning to ease a little, and the world is slowly starting to open up again, many of us are wondering how to get our health back on track. The good news is, it's never too late to turn it around and get started on a better path. So if you’ve been one of those giving in to bad habits - here’s how to turn it around and make sure you’re ready to greet the world again…

Amp Up Your Walking
One thing that is really simple to implement is upping the amount of walking you do. Many people have gained weight simply because they have been moving around less under quarantine conditions. Even those with a fairly sedentary desk job may have had more pockets of movement during the day - walking from the bus, train or car into the office, walking out at lunchtime, even walking to the kitchen to make coffee. These little pockets of incidental movement during the day do add up, and although on their own they aren’t going to make you super-healthy, when they’re absent you can soon begin to add pounds and feel more sluggish. It’s very simple to add more walking into your routine. Try a brisk ten minute power walk around the block after each meal. This helps get you moving, increases blood circulation, refreshes your mind, gains you some Vitamin D from sun exposure (also vital for keeping your immune system strong), helps with food digestion and gets your daily step count up and your metabolism revving. There are so many benefits to this one simple habit. Make the time count by listening to your favourite podcast or mentally sketching out a to-do list for the day while you walk - or call a friend or family member for a catch-up. As you walk, aim to ‘tuck under’ your pelvis as this engages your glutes and abdominal muscles for even more of a calorie burn and a toning effect.

Make Small, Healthier Diet Swaps
Sometimes, especially when you’ve been knee deep in comfort food and unhealthy snacks, making the move to a healthier diet can feel quite overwhelming, and it's like you’ve forgotten where to start. If that’s the feeling you’re experiencing, the key is not to try and change everything at once - simply focus on making some simple swaps and healthier substitutions in what you do eat. Weight control is about 80 per cent to do with what you eat, so getting into better habits really will pay dividends. Introducing straightforward changes gradually that you will be able to stick to is the way to crack it. You could start off by setting yourself a simple challenge, such as aiming to ‘eat a rainbow’ every day of different coloured fruits and vegetables, or making sure that you add in an extra portion of veggies to your evening meal. Or perhaps swapping one of your snacks for fruit. There are lots of healthier subs you can make within your diet as well - try swapping sandwiches made with bread for lettuce wraps, regular rice for spiced cauliflower rice or spaghetti for courgetti. If you crave an ice-cream fix, try freezing bananas and then blending them up with some vanilla essence for that creamy, sweet hit, or if you love jelly sweets try frozen grapes instead. If you want something crunchy baby carrots or cucumber sticks and homemade hummus are a much better choice that crisps. Get smart and you can find a healthier alternative for almost everything. You could also try swapping meat for vegan or vegetarian dishes a couple of nights a week, using almond or oat milk instead of cow’s milk and ground almonds instead of flour to make cakes. These little things don’t feel as much of a challenge, but get going with a few of them and you’ll soon start to look and feel a lot better.

Stay Hydrated
Not many of us are drinking enough water in lockdown, and that’s a great thing to address. The benefits of being well-hydrated are immense - from better mental focus to improved digestion. Purchase a reusable metal water bottle which you can take around the house and out for your walks with you, and make sure you sip from it throughout the day. If you struggle to drink enough plain water, try adding chopped ingredients like lemon, strawberries or mint, or you could try a cold water infusion tea bag to add some taste without calories. Often when we think we are hungry, we’re actually dehydrated instead, so drinking two litres or more a day is a great habit to get into. It will also help your skin and your overall look, so get sipping!

Add In Some Supplements
Although they are no substitute for a healthy diet with fresh produce, lean proteins and a small amount of wholegrains, some substitutes can really help to improve diet, weight loss and how you feel. Something to try could be a powdered supergreens supplement that you can add to smoothies or soups. They can take your five a day up to twelve a day, and give you lots of additional benefits with vitamins and nutrients. Those trying to lose weight will also want to know about the power of probiotics. The health of our gut microbiome is key to controlling the inflammatory response of the body, which can have far-reaching effects on everything from weight loss to our immune systems. Dieters also like to know about things like the Resurge supplement to help them control their weight - this article at Raving Trends explains more. Taking Vitamin D has also been shown to improve the immune response of the body and even help recovery from coronavirus, so that’s well worth adding to your shopping list. Some personal trainers also swear by Omega 3 oils for aiding joint recovery from exercise and supporting a weight loss regime. Adding the right mix of nutrients into your diet should be a mixture of the food that you eat and the supplements that you take as well.

Making changes to reverse the gains of lockdown doesn’t have to be difficult. By starting small, and gradually building up you can make change realistic. You might not be running marathons overnight, but you can build from one walk a day to two, from there into a Couch 2 5k programme and maybe one day you will be running that marathon! And although not many people eat clean all the time, a few easy substitutes and limiting fattening treats to one day of the week can also support you to drop the lockdown weight and live your best life.
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