WORKING FROM HOME AND GAINING WEIGHT?
With working form home as the new norm, you may feel like you’ve gained a few extra pounds over the last few years. With unlimited snacks available, more time sitting and less time moving, and boundaries between office hours and personal life being blurred, this isn’t surprising. But instead of slashing calories or trying to follow a fad diet to drop those pounds quickly, changing your daily habits one by one will be the one thing that will help you lose weight for good. Read on to learn more.
DIETING WEAKENS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
The last thing you want to be doing during a pandemic/flu season is making yourself more susceptible to getting sick. Viruses are highly contagious, so even healthy people are at risk. This alone should be enough to deter you from putting yourself in a huge calorie deficit. Not only that, but when you diet, you likely miss out on key nutrients (like vitamin D, C, zinc and protein) that help keep your body and mind strong and healthy.
STRESS EFFECTS WEIGHT LOSS
If you have a high stress job, work long shifts, have a very physical job, been working on the frontlines, and/or have loved ones at home you are taking care of, make sure you are keeping your overall stress level in mind. Excessive exercise with limited rest days and low calorie diets are all very stressful on both the bodyu and the mind. The last thing you want to do when you are already stressed, is add more fuel to the fire. This will make it very hard for you to achieve your health goals and stick to any sort of dieting or exercise plan.
BE MORE MINDFUL
So what can you do if you have gained weight and are looking for some motivation to feel fit again? Do a quick mental scan of your day-to-day. Are you eating more takeout than usual, snacking or boozing more, moving less, sleeping poorly, skipping meals, or not drinking enough water? Once you figure out what is dragging you down, you can focus on changing it. More often than not, a few simple tweaks make all the difference- no drastic measures required.
KEY TIPS FOR WEIGHT LOSS
- Think about the things you were doing when you felt healthier and how you can get back to those things. Many times when we start chipping away at our bad habits, we end up achieving our end goal (weight loss, body comp changes, improved health) without really trying.
- If you are currently exercising, make sure you are eating enough to fuel those activities AND taking at least two days/week off from exercise. I like to track calories for a few days periodically to make sure I am fueling properly. Cronometer is my favorite food tracker and is very user-friendly. Unsure of how much you need to eat? Precision Nutrition has a great calculator to estimate how many calories you need each day based on your goals. Most active people should have no problem crushing at least 2000 calories daily.
- Are you moving enough? Increasing your daily movement (or NEAT) outside of your workout is much more beneficial for weight loss and maintenance than doing long, grueling workouts, as these calories account for most of your day. NEAT includes fidgeting, cooking, cleaning, walking, standing, carrying groceries, playing with pets and kids. These are all “fat burning” activities that help you preserve muscle vs. break it down like too much cardio/HIIT can do. Research has shown that 7-10k steps/day is all you need (too much, and your body quickly adapts, so you have to do more for the same outcome). Why do more, when you can do less?
- If you aren’t already incorporating strength training into your exercise routine, you should be. Strength training will not only increase your lean muscle, it also protects bones, makes you strong and positively alters body composition. Since muscle increases metabolism, you can eat more food without working too hard for it. And another benefit is, instead of focusing on your weight, this will help empower you to focus on how strong and capable you feel. Read how to build a home gym here.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS TIPS
1. Drink half your body weight in ounces of fluids daily. Start with 16 oz. when you first wake up. Read this hydration post for more tips. Cut back on alcohol intake. For more on how to incorporate alcohol into a healthy lifestyle, see this post.
2. Prep some meals ahead of time. Cook protein, carbs and have some veggies and healthy fats to add to each meal. I am a huge fan of frozen veggies, fruits, and steam rice!
3. Make sure you are eating enough protein (1g/lb. body weight) and fiber (25-35g/day. Try adding two handfuls of veggies at each meal.
4. Stock some healthy snacks for when cravings hit. Fruit and nuts or peanut butter, Oatmega bars, yogurt and berries, pretzels and nuts will keep you full and metabolism humming. Here is a list of healthy snacks I am loving right now.
5. Get 7-8 hours of restful sleep every night. Establish a bedtime routine, limit stress, caffeine, alcohol, and blue light.
6. Aim for 7-10k steps daily, or just try to move more throughout the day. Start your day with a quick walk around your neighborhood, or add a walk at lunchtime or before dinner to relax. You can even listen to music or a podcast to unwind.
7. Take care of your mental health by doing something each day that feels good. Reorganize a closet, do some light yoga, cook a healthy meal, read a book, watch a good show or call an old friend. Carving out time for yourself is will help you recharge.
8. Set a schedule for the day and week ahead. Prioritize exercise, walks, meal prep and meal times. Make sure to schedule rest days and relaxation/fun time. That way you know what days you will workout and what days you can take “off”. This saves little room for procrastination and takes the guess work out of things.
Hopefully these tips will help you get back to feeling healthy and strong. On tough days it will be discipline that will get you through, not motivation. Creating a routine that you can stick is absolutely key!