My 3 Step Plan To Reverse My COVID-19 Pandemic Weight Gain

I have a widget on my phone which shows random photographs I have taken over the years. Recently a selfie popped up from a year ago. I knew that I had gained a lot of weight over the last year thanks to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but seeing just how much fuller my face looks now shocked me.

side by side images of my face with 1 year difference showing weight gain during 2020 coronavirus pandemic
What a difference a year makes (when there is a pandemic)

Over the last year I have been running regularly (more regularly some months than others), but other than that I haven’t been very active. There have been many days I haven't even left the house. I have gone through small windows of time where I tried to eat healthily, but something always happens and I turn to comfort eating. I have come to terms with the fact that on the days I am really struggling and feel trapped at home with grumpy children it is food which has kept me going. Without the options of time to myself, going for a walk or even a hot cup of tea in peace I have searched for the answers in the fridge and biscuit barrel. It’s not a healthy solution, but it has felt like a necessity.

I’m not alone, in one survey 42% of people said they gained weight in lockdown, but the days are getting longer and it is getting harder to hide under a big coat. I need to face the facts that my clothes are too tight. The selfie was just a reminder of what I already knew, I can’t let this continue. According to this calorie calculator I should be aiming for 1810 calories a day at my current activity level to maintain my weight (let’s not even think about weight loss for a minute).  Being a little more active each day gives me around 200 extra calories, going for a run a few times a week means I can consume roughly 500 extra calories a day and still not gain weight. That’s a huge motivation to spend a little bit more time walking around or get my running shoes on. 

Why Did I Gain Weight During The Coronavirus Pandemic?

When we went into lockdown a year ago it was a stressful time. Just like many people I suffered with depression and anxiety triggered by the pandemic. I was scared to go out, worried about whether I would get the food we needed (especially non-dairy milk) and I was stuck at home with my family who were all struggling a little too. Like many people suddenly finding themselves at home all the time, my partner and I took to relaxing in the evenings with a glass of wine or beer and the weight gain started with earnest.  Despite my concern about buying food I ended up cooking more for something to do and as a valid excuse to not be playing with my children or homeschooling all the time. In 3 months I gained a stone.

Over the Summer and into September I managed to slow down the weight gain and even reverse it at times, but then mid December I was back to home schooling. This time with two of my three children having work set daily I had to motivate them through. The long planned for family Christmas was cancelled and we couldn’t see anyone because of being in Tier 3. This soon turned into a National Lockdown and endless weeks of home schooling. It was a struggle to get out because of the horrible weather and I felt utterly miserable. So I ate and ate and ate. I am now at one of the heaviest weights of my life, only equalled to my weight at full term pregnancy.

I love food and losing weight has never been easy for me, plus I’m one of those difficult people who want to do something as soon as you say no. So as soon as I think “I need to eat better” I want to eat a biscuit, but I am not happy with how I look and I feel really unhealthy. 

My 3 Step Plan To Reverse The Weight Gain

1. Track Calories. 

Studies show that just tracking how much you eat can lead to a reduction calories.  While I am going to record how much I am eating, eating less isn’t my current goal because I want to make the changes achievable and long lasting.

2. Be more active. 

Knowing that if I exercise more, but keep my eating levels constant I should lose weight I am motivating myself with a list of what I can do to burn more. This calories burned calculator suggests that I don’t even need to work in traditional ways to burn calories with: walking (160kcal), gardening (180kcal) and housework (140kcal) all burning good amounts of calories in half an hour at my current weight. Although high impact aerobics (281kcal) and running (361kcal) obviously burn higher amounts I’m more likely to fit in 1 hour of housework than 30 minutes aerobics.  

3. Self-help. 

The biggest challenge is going to be my mental health. I know that how I am feeling is very unstable and while today I am feeling happy, bad news and unexpected changes quickly unsettle me. Alongside looking at getting healthier and happier with my body I am looking at self-help for my depression because I feel a holistic approach is the way forwards.

***Disclosure: This is a collaborative post***

1 comment

  1. Always available for child free walks on a Monday and Friday!


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