This post was most recently updated on September 19th, 2023
[A collaborative post]
Did you or someone you know gain weight during lockdowns?
Well, COVID-19 has shaped our world for more than a year. Not only has it led to life disruption, schedules, and routines – but some people also experience the impacts of COVID-19 on weight management.
We’re working from home, moving less, burning fewer calories, stressing, and snacking more. The short-term impacts of COVID-19 are evident everywhere. But the long-term consequences of the pandemic – how it will impact our health habits and feelings of the stress of quarantine, isolation, anxiety, and financial worries – the list goes on and on.
The pandemic also left many people isolated in their homes with plenty of food and little to distract them. When adding the stress factor, you have a perfect situation for unwanted weight changes.
Rise in anxiety, overdose, and weight gain
It seems that many individuals have encountered challenges in maintaining their weight throughout the pandemic, a task that can already be demanding even in non-pandemic times. A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association reveals that 61% of adults in the United States have experienced undesirable changes in their weight since the onset of the pandemic.
I can empathize with this situation – the stress associated with a pandemic can disrupt one’s eating habits and make it challenging to maintain a healthy diet. The past year has undoubtedly been stressful for everyone. While stress will remain a part of our lives, there are strategies you can employ on difficult days to help alleviate stress and mitigate some of its adverse effects.
When I am faced with stress, my body wants to keep my brain alert. I and many people find comfort in high-calorie food – like chocolate and other sweets. This is because they make you happy by boosting serotonin levels in the short term.
Yet, from my experience, the sugar in your body clears very quickly when your brain keeps working, face stressful situations, or when you’re too focused on something. Your mental boost is extremely short-lived, leading you to eat more and eventually gain weight.
Eating more can be a natural response to stress during isolation, but when combined with the low-nutrient and less exercise, the stress can result in unwanted weight gain. In the same case, weight gain has caused some people to be depressed about self-image.
Remote learning and people sleeping less
Across the world, people have been observing the lockdowns and following government advice to stay home, keeping themselves as safe as possible from Covid-19. Pre-coronavirus, our lives were hectic – school run, exercise classes, being out with friends, running at a nearby park – burning calories and helping us to maintain a healthy body. However, during the pandemic, our activities also slowed down.
Staying home has impacted school closing and remote learning, which led to young children being more sedentary and gaining weight 20 to 30 pounds in a year! Can you imagine that?
Working from home, remote learning, and the closure of sports clubs have drastically reduced the level of physical exercise, and the impact of that on our health is starting to show. Not only young children, weight gain has also hit young adults during the pandemic.
With the uncertainty of when school or office will open again, people are struggling with their daily lives and state their mental health declined. When your mental health declines, it also produces less of the sleep hormone melatonin, leading to trouble sleeping.
Gyms and other facilities closed
COVID-19 has given many people ample time to be in their own houses to build connections with their families. However, many people have been struggling with the cycle of gaining and losing weight during the pandemic.
Moving less, taking less exercise, and consuming more calories during lockdown could be seen as an acceptable consequence of everything we have had to cope with. If you ask me, do a few extra pounds really matter? Unfortunately, YES – they do and it is important to take action to protect your health.
I have experienced that being on lockdown with a lot of snacks has had a huge impact on my life. My job needed me to sit down for hours in front of my computer and this has given me more time (excuse me) to grab snacks out of the fridge. If I was not stuck inside, I would be able to go places and not snack every few minutes. I’m always hungry when staying at home!
I can say the longer this pandemic goes on, the more people have found themselves trying to lose those pounds by working out. But how can you work out if you do not have a gym or other facilities closed?
Of course, you can work out at home, you don’t have to go to the gym or other facilities only to work out. Those who managed to make the transition to at-home workouts are likely to continue working out at home, even when the gyms reopen again.
However, one of the gym’s big appeals besides easy access to equipment and workout space, two things that may not be available at home are both the expert knowledge of trainers and the support of other people working out. Also, gyms still offer a lot of things that people are struggling to achieve at home.
How to manage your weight during lockdown
As many countries are now entering a second/third/fourth lockdown or period of restriction, it’s important to understand your current health and start measuring your body composition.
Other than measuring your nutrition, you definitely need to estimate your:
- macronutrient consumption needs,
- body fat percent,
- body mass index (BMI),
- how many required calories are needed to lose weight or to find your ideal weight.
These steps will reserve any negative impacts of COVID-19 on weight management that you may be experiencing. This will also give you a good insight into what your body needs in terms of nutrition and exercise. Nice, isn’t it?
Have you been struggling with the cycle of gaining and losing weight during the lockdown? How do you do with weight management? Let me know your story below.