There’s no reason why you cannot maintain your physique throughout the 21-day Covid-19 lockdown.
Julia Lamberti explores 10 strategies to help you stay on track once the lockdown kicks in…
Why Do We Gain Winter Weight?
Desi Horsman, a Johannesburg-based Clinical Nutritionist who specialises in Sports Nutrition, explains that consuming comfort foods, constant snacking, partaking in fewer activities, and generally spending more inactive time indoors will contribute to weight gain.
“Eating out of boredom, dehydration, drinking more sweetened or calorific drinks and mindless munching in front of the television are also common reasons for packing on the pounds.”
So, how can you counteract these factors to remain fit and focused during the lockdown?
Tip #1 – Set a post lockdown goal
“Setting goals is one of the ways I help keep my clients on track,” says Bruce Namhing, a Johannesburg-based ETA certified personal trainer.
It is an ideal time to reduce your body stats, or prepare for a new sport or use the time to improve your strength and mobility.
“Otherwise, simply aim to maintain your current condition during the period,” suggests Bruce. “I would also recommend that you write down your goals, as this creates a concrete vision to strive for.”
Tip #2 – Become a shrewd sipper
“We often don’t drink enough water, which can lead to dehydration, and this is often mistaken as hunger”, explains Desi.
She recommends that you drink enough water throughout the day and switch to zero-kilojoule and unsweetened drinks, instead of sugar-laden options.
“Try to limit or eliminate alcohol as boozy beverages are calorific, devoid of nutrients and lower your inhibitions around food. Alcohol can also negatively affect your blood sugar, leading to an increase in appetite, cravings and energy dips.”
Tip #3 – Schedule and stick to training sessions
Committing to a regular training schedule is the most effective way to maintain your fitness momentum and keep that winter weight off, even when you don’t have access to the gym.
READ MORE: Try our Home Workout Blitz routine
Furthermore, preparation and planning are an essential part of sticking to your training schedule. Find yourself a suitable training plan, download a workout app, or sign up for virtual classes and then stick to your schedule.
“Regular training should remain a non-negotiable part of your weekly schedule, and you should plan around it,” reiterates Bruce.
Tip #4 – Adjust your attitude
“Avoid blaming your circumstances every time you fall off the wagon”, asserts Bruce. “Instead, keep a positive outlook during the period, because your thoughts determine who you are and the lifestyle you want to lead”, he adds. “It really is about mind over matter!”
Bruce also reminds his clients that maintaining training momentum is important because it is much harder to regain fitness and conditioning if they have slacked off.
“It is important to constantly refer to your goal and note your progress, as this will inspire you to stick to your training schedule and maintain healthy eating habits.”
He also recommends that you invest in a personal trainer if you are really struggling to stick to your plans. “A good trainer will help you set and stick to your goals, boost your attitude, and will hold you accountable for arriving at training sessions.”
With gyms closed for the period, many trainers are offering virtual training sessions via Skype, or various web platforms and apps.
Tip #5 – Switch things up
Rather than lament the fact that you don’t have access to weights, use the opportunity to change your usual training routine to keep things interesting and refreshing. And bodyweight training can be challenging with the right type of program.
Tip #6 – Get cooking
Now that you’re confined to your home, there’s no excuse for not cooking healthful meals.
Studies show that meals cooked at home can help you maintain a healthy weight because you control what ingredients go into the meal.
Adding veggies to hearty meals and making salad a part of each meal is another smart way to fill up on good foods that nourish and sustain, without the weight gain. It is also important to ensure that you still enjoy plenty of raw foods, in addition to cooked meals.
“Raw foods provide enzymes for your body that are vital for the immune system,” adds Desi. She suggests using spices like ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves and cayenne pepper to add flavour without the excess kilojoules.
Tip #7 – Pick the right foods and be prepared
Desi also offers the following tips for healthy eating during the lockdown:
Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar because you’re inclined to crave more of them and they can affect your insulin levels and metabolism.
Eat as much fresh, seasonal produce as you can during this time, as these foods are readily available, aid with digestion, and provide your body with potent nutrients, antioxidants and immune-boosting enzymes.
Eat moderate amounts of healthy fats like nuts, avocados and olive oil to keep you satiated and your cravings in check. Enjoy vegetable-based snacks between meals, instead of a cup of coffee and a bun or biscuits.
Tip #8 – Pump up the protein
Include a portion of lean protein such as chicken, fish, eggs, lean red meat or whey in all meals to keep you feeling full for longer, and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
The body also burns more energy digesting proteins, and this important nutrient is essential for the structure, function and regulation of all the body’s cells, including immune cells.
“However, it is important to include vegetable proteins in your diet too. Eating animal protein at every meal can become an overload on the kidneys and can make your system more acidic, which can lead to a host of other ailments”, asserts Desi. Sources of vegetable protein include beans, lentils, legumes, quinoa, nuts and soya.
Tip #9 – Out of sight, out of mind
Avoid temptation by keeping your home free of any other food with minimal nutritional value. Instead, stock your kitchen with healthy foods and, if you feel like an indulgent snack, opt for nibbles like nuts, fresh fruit, lean biltong and air-popped popcorn.
Tip #10 – Eat regularly
If you eat regular healthy meals and snacks throughout the day you are less likely to crave comfort foods”, says Desi.
In fact, consuming small and balanced meals that contain a mix of complex carbs, healthy fats and lean proteins, every three hours, is the cornerstone of any sound dietary program, and assists in maintaining blood sugar levels, prevent cravings and sustain energy levels.
By remaining disciplined and mindful of your fitness goals, there is no reason why you cannot emerge from the lockdown feeling rejuvenated and energised. This vigilance will also ensure that you maintain a strong immune system during this crucial time.
Written by Julia Lamberti
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.