Having recently attended a workshop for professionals in my line of work, I wasn’t surprised to hear that 47% of Brits have put on weight during the lockdown.

If you think about it, lack of routine, more stress, lack of sociable contact, eating foods you wouldn’t normally, plus many of us are also exercising less. It’s understandable many of us may have been challenged with maintaining our usual body weight. However, as we start to prepare for moving back into the outside world, it may be a good time to check back in with ourselves, so we’re going out there healthy and happy with ourselves.

Below are some takeaways from the workshop which was in relation to Weight Control during and beyond Covid-19. These are all things I’ve said before and they work as it’s about sustainable behaviour change. It can be beneficial to re read what you already know as when you hear it again or in a slightly different way, things can click more and it can reset you. Also, we forget things when our routines change.

A number one habit for maintaining weight and losing weight can be easily overlooked and it’s staying properly HYDRATED. Not hydrating well is a common mistake as we often mistake thirst for hunger. Hydration is also important for mental wellness as we are water. Our bodies are 70% water, so if we’re not hydrated properly, we’re not going to feel or function well.

The guidelines for hydration are to drink between 2 and 2.5 litres of water a day. This can vary depending on your size,  activity levels and how much you sweat. The best way to check if you’re properly hydrated is to check your urine. The first wee of the day will be more yellow (that’s ok) and then after that it should be a pale straw colour and not be changing.

It’s best to consume more of your water intake earlier on in the day when your body needs it and uses it. This also prevents you waking up during the night for the toilet and having your sleep disrupted.

Establishing a good eating pattern: There may be new things to navigate during lockdown with eating habits. The one thing you’re less likely to be doing though is rushing out of the door early morning for work. One common unhealthy habit of the old modern world was skipping breakfast, rushing out of the house, not eating much in the day and then consuming the entire contents of the fridge at night.

What we want to be doing is the opposite of this and front loading our calories . This can mean a bigger breakfast, a decent lunch, a mindful snack and a lighter dinner. We want to be eating more earlier as this way we’re using our calories and we’re not starving at night.

Balanced Eating: Funky, faddy diets do not work long term. Rather than counting calories, it’s better to know what your plate should look like and focus on portion sizes. A balanced plate is half full of fibrous rich food (fruit, veg – foods that grow above the ground), 1/4 rich of protein based food (fish, meat/meat alternatives), 1/4 full of starchy carbs (wholegrains) and a portion of good fats (a thumb of cheese, 1 tbsp oil or nut butter). This can be variable depending on activity levels.

Conscious Eating: Mindful eating is a highly beneficial and overlooked tool. It’s especially useful if you fit into any of these 3 eating types – a grazer, a gorger or an emotional eater. A food journal is a great tool for emotional eating as it retrains the subconscious and brings more control. It’s much easier to make a plan and replace food with other rewards when you can see the pattern in black and white. For gorgers using a 20 minute rule to eat your meal can work wonders for feeling full quicker and enjoying your food. It takes 20 minutes for the brain to register to the stomach that it’s full. Using a hunger scale is another beneficial tool to train the brain and re train hunger cues. On a scale of one to ten (one being starving and ten being uncomfortably full), We want to be eating at a 4 when we’re a little bit hungry and stop eating at around a 6 when we’re lightly satisfied. Don’t do anything else when you eat. This will help you get in tune with your portion sizes.

Twelve hours: It’s good to leave 12 hours between your last meal and your first. (dinner and breakfast). This gives your digestive system time to repair and reset. It also helps the metabolism to function well.

80/20 Rule; This is good for maintaining weight – eating healthy and balanced for 80% of the time and then 20% what you fancy and when. However, if you’re wanting to lose weight this is more like 95/5. It looks like one treat a week and the best way to do this, is to plan your treat and really look forward to it. Black and white thinking rarely works for long so play a little with what does and doesn’t work for you. You can find your own way of following the guidelines by tuning into your own body’s wisdom (Mindful eating/Conscious eating).

Liquid Calories: One of the biggest mistakes is drinking your calories. These can be the killer calories even when you’re doing everything else right. The obvious ones are alcohol which turns off fat burning whilst your body’s processing the alcohol. However, fruit juices can also be part of the killer calories as they’re full of sugar. Creamy type coffees are another one to watch.

Sleep and Stress: It’s never just about the nutrition. Sleeping less than 7 hours a night for just two nights running releases cortisol (the stress hormone) which makes nutrition less successful and causes unhealthy cravings. It’s really important to find ways of managing stress through relaxation activities, such as meditation. Moving more and managing stress are the two other big cogs in the wheel of making nutrition work for you. You can have the best diet in the world, but if you don’t sleep enough or stress out too much your body won’t create the correct hormonal environment for weight loss/healthy maintenance.

Know your why: Do you have a strong motivation to keep you accountable and keep you going when the going gets tough and the temptations become stronger? Establish what your big hook is.

Weight loss and weight management can be a complex and challenging journey. It’s not always as simple as just doing what you know you should do. To be successful we need the why, the how, the what and then there’s the journey.

I would say don’t try and do everything at once. When I’m coaching a client around weight loss we work out what needs to change and which ONE thing the client is most ready to change. Starting with ONE thing you’re most ready to change makes for a successful start which then builds the momentum of success for the other things.

Simple changes can make a big difference and sometimes we forget, especially when our lifestyle routine changes. If you need more of the how, get in touch as I have a guide with all the how’s you’ll need and two videos that show you how to make it work for you

You’re also more than welcome to reach out to me at JayneSpenceleyWellbeing@gmail.com for a free discovery coaching call if you’re struggling to do it alone.