Many of us have gained weight during the lockdown due to all that comfort and stress eating, lack of quality sleep, snacking and a little or no exercise.
If you find yourself in this situation, don’t put off your weight-loss plans any longer – don’t wait for Monday or the next lockdown phase to take control and regain your health.
The time for procrastination is over
“You cannot keep doing what you are doing and expect the weight to change, so procrastinating is not helping anyone. You need to start today”, says Claire Julsing-Strydom, a dietician in private practice from Bryanston in Johannesburg.
“The fact is that in real life, we are all going to go on holiday or experience life-changing events that might shift our weight. The key is to always return to your correct weight,” says Claire.
If you have gained weight during lockdown, it’s time to invest effort and energy to get back to pre-lockdown levels.
Small increments add up to big gains
Claire highlights the dangers of slowly accumulating weight in small increments. Those 1kg or 2kg that creep on ‘now and then’ often ends up causing severe obesity, with patients who weigh over 100kg often bemused at how they got there.
Claire, who provided virtual consultations long before lockdown to patients as far afield as New York and Australia, says that while some of her patients were battling with healthy eating during lockdown, many others were thriving by embracing their health goals and putting effort into nutritious cooking. But that required a conscious decision.
Balanced eating is the key
Claire says that people need to stop yo-yo dieting. “This all-or-nothing mentality about weight needs to end,” she says.
Claire explains that all foods can fit into a healthy, balanced lifestyle. “We need to be eating well 80% of the time, but 20% can be pleasure food.”
By not depriving yourself and still including the food that you enjoy, she says that you are in a much better position to change bad habits and lose weight. But those who continue to eat pleasure foods must learn how much they can have, how often they can have it and develop a plan of action, she continues.
Educate yourself to achieve success
That is why education is a major focus for her with her patients. Her goal is to educate them about what their bodies really need.
“I want their knowledge about nutrition to be so significant that they never battle again,” she says. People who understand nutrition are also less likely to fall for fad diets or the fear-mongering that goes with the marketing of over-the-counter weight loss pills.
Claire says those patients who have most successfully lost and kept off their weight, these are not the ones waiting to start yet another new diet next week, but those who never really went on ‘a diet’ in the first place. “The ones that weigh the most are the perpetual dieters waiting for Monday,” she says.
You can change your weight!
The good news is that you can change your weight tomorrow by having a decent day of eating today.
“If you’ve picked up weight during lockdown, know that you are not stuck there. You can very quickly make shifts to your everyday dietary patterns”.
The bottom line is that you can never ignore total caloric intake. You must create an energy deficit to lose weight, but the quality of those nutrients is also important as all foods have a metabolic impact. Simply put, this means a lot of vegetables, and portion control for everything else.
“Quality is key, quantity is key. If we do not get those factors right and do not eat the right amount of food that you need, you will not lose weight,” she explains.
She also says that there is just no quick fix. “You are going to have to fundamentally change your lifestyle behavior and patterns to help you achieve good weight loss.”
There are different aspects to helping with weight loss. She says people need to seek out the support they need in an area that they battle with when it comes to losing weight.
This could include seeing a dietician, a psychologist, looking at prescription medication or seeing a bio kineticist or personal trainer. We also need to steer away from the stigma when it comes to using medically-approved weight loss medication.
Claire says that people often do not know where to start when it comes to losing weight and may be confused and overwhelmed by all the available information.
The bottom line is that you need to start eating for you, adopt healthier eating habits to change your health status now and for years to come.
Claire recommends that a body composition assessment and consultation with a dietician is a good way to assess your muscle mass, your fat percentage and to learn more about what nutrition your body needs.
Claire has been working with the iLiveLite program from iNova Pharmaceuticals to develop dietary guidelines and has created different meal plans to suit various lifestyles and energy requirements.
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.