Has being a homebody made you gain weight? When the pandemic hit, it forced us to abruptly shift our everyday routine to the confines of our home. And as we adjusted and acclimated to this new way of life, so did our habits.
Things that were once reserved for weekends, such as taking a break from exercise, swapping business attire for sweatpants, ordering takeout, or sneaking in a sweet treat, became a more common practice. Unfortunately, this mindset can cause the pounds to pack on fast.
More than ever, it’s imperative to recognize the fat traps associated with the pandemic. This is especially true as motivation and workout options begin to dwindle when the colder months roll in. By gaining awareness now, you can save yourself from unnecessary weight gain, and the dangerous side effects associated with it later.
The button is your best friend. If your work meetings are online now, chances are you’ve switched up your wardrobe so the upper half of your body is presentable, polished, and professional looking for Zoom meetings, while your hidden lower half is in a relaxed pair of sweatpants. But stretchy pant lovers beware: While cozy and comfortable, the sweatpants or pajama bottoms can sabotage fitness because as your gut grows, so will the band. But a snug pair of jeans can be quite unforgiving, pinching at your paunch as a warning sign that you may be overdoing it.
A recipe for disaster. Whether you get your groceries delivered or venture out to the market, it’s probably fair to say we are all a little tired of cooking every night. Sometimes you just want to hang up the oven mitts and enjoy the ease of a delivered dinner. But just know that takeout will likely boost your daily caloric intake because most restaurants prep their pots and pans with lots of butters, oils and other fat-filled ingredients to make food taste delicious. This translates to more calories, saturated fats, sodium, and sugars than you may have consumed if you were cooking your own cuisine.
If you’re craving takeout, an easy way to cut some of these additional calories is to forgo dressings, ask for a plate to be cooked without oil or butter, and to opt for fresh dishes instead of fried, cheesy, breaded fare. And remember to limit alcohol, specifically those with pre-mixed fruity fillers and sugary syrups.
Moving is a must. We know we need exercise to feel good, maintain a healthy weight, and sustain muscle mass and bone density. But finding ways to fill your fitness tank can be challenging if you don’t want to step into a gym or are new to working out. Fortunately, now is the perfect time to get outside as the weather is in that sweet spot that is not too hot or too cold. Regardless of your athletic level, there are two forms of exercise that are easy to start, require no equipment, and are effective: walking and body weight training.
To make walking work toward weight loss, good heart health, lung endurance, and other wellness benefits, aim for at least 30 minutes each day. If you prefer a faster pace, running is great for pumping up your pulse, too.
For bodyweight training, try the following no-fuss, foundational fitness moves before venturing out for cardio. Repeat this entire circuit three to five times.
- Start in a hand dominant plank position, with shoulders stacked over hands, spine straight, and feet about hip-width apart.
- Drop your right elbow so your bodyweight is resting in your forearm. Repeat the same motion on your left arm. Hold for a count then push through your right hand, followed by your left to return to the starting position. When doing this up-down motion, try your best to avoid rocking at your hips. This entire sequence is one repetition. Continue for 8 to 10 reps.
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Hinge back at your hips and lower your hands to the floor so they are shoulder-distance apart.
- Jump your feet back so your body forms a high plank position. As you do, avoid dipping your hips. Hold for a count.
- Then jump your feet forward, landing by your hands, and push through your heels to stand. For more of a cardio boost, explosively jump up from the squat position. That’s one rep. Repeat 10 times.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a big step forward with your right foot.
- With your weight in your right foot, lower your body until both knees form a 90-degree angle. Avoid dropping your back knee to the floor. Instead, allow it to hover above the floor.
- Push through your right heel to stand as you bring your feet together. Now step forward with your left leg. Continue this forward walking lunge for 30 total reps.