If lockdown has taught us anything, it’s where the snacks are, and that has played havoc with our waistlines. The problem is that us furloughed staff have found that time has weighed heavily on our hands, and that weight has been transferred to our midriffs. Now that we are heading back to work once more, it’s time to shed a few pounds, mostly because our work trousers no longer fit and wearing sweat-pants to the office will likely be frowned upon.
Lock down weight gain would appear to be the product of eating too much of the wrong thing, but there may be other underlying reasons too; there’s a science behind emotional eating and comfort food and stressful situations - like COVID and a precarious job market – flood our minds with stress. To combat the flood of cortisol, dopamine and serotonin hormones that stress produces, we eat sugary and carbohydrate-heavy foods. In short, if you are feeling a bit low, your brain makes you reach for comfort foods. Boredom is another factor; if our routine is upset, many of us don’t know what to do, so reach for another bag of crisps, just to fill the void that we are staring into!
According to a recent poll, the most popular lockdown snack is cheese on toast, for 22% of the nation, followed by crisps (21%), bacon sandwiches (19%), chocolate cake (19% and cheese and crackers (18%). After those delicacies, biscuits, assorted sandwiches and chocolate bars feature heavily. Apart from the fact that your shirts and trousers no longer fit, the bad news is that eating in this way can have a profound effect on our hair and skin too.
Our hair, nails and skin are composed fundamentally of protein, and consuming protein will help repair and nourish them. Unfortunately, there is scant protein in any of the above foodstuffs – and don’t even try justifying a bacon sandwich!
The recommended amount of protein that the average person needs will depend on factors like age, lifestyle, activity levels, gender, and so forth but as a rule of thumb, aim for 0.8 to 1g of protein, per kg of body weight, per day. As you’ve put on at least four stone since the start of lock down, that’s a fair bit of protein that you need to start eating!
And then there is fat. Yeah, it sounds bad but some fats are actually essential. Omega 3 and fatty fish oils keep your skin supple and your hair shiny. You won’t find those in any of the popular snacks, and so our bodies start to look saggy and dishevelled.
So, we know how it got on there, but how do we get it off again? What you need is a plan and, luckily there are certain steps you can take to melt away the excess weight.
Step 1: Step back from the cupboard. Cut out the poor diet and start eating lean and healthy food. Do it now!
Step 2: Exercise. Now that we can go out again, go out and actually do something even slightly strenuous.
Step 3: Treat your body. Start getting your skin and hair back in order with some decent products.
Step 4: Motivate yourself. Imagine turning up at the school gates/office/job centre looking like ten kilos of spuds in an eight-kilo bag! It’s not pretty, so do something about it.
We have all put on a few pounds over lock down, but now is the time to do something about it. Seize the mantle, not the meat pie, and get your life back on track!