If you've opened this blog post because you feel like you've gained weight over these last few months, and are feeling not yourself or just a bit low, you are not alone. In fact, nearly 60% of Australians reported a decreased satisfaction in life since the COVID-19 outbreak, and nearly 1 in 2 feel like they have gained weight. What's alarming is that those with decreases in satisfaction in life were most likely to be emotional eaters or have gained weight during this time.
The correlation between weight and happiness is problematic. Working against the mainstream narrative to believe that the scale does not define our worth or happiness is an ongoing struggle that most of us experience at the best of times. But then there's a very fine balance of feeling and looking our best which is the result of a healthy lifestyle, routine and as a byproduct a healthy weight.
The pandemic has thrown all of these factors into disarray, which is why we have been left feeling the way we are feeling today, dissatisfied and possibly hopeless.
This is why we are tackling this important and personal topic today and sharing how you can regain a sense of control in this aspect of your life, and consequently greater satisfaction.
In this post we will share with you three reasons why we turn to foo to fill us up instead of filling up on life, and, as a result, gain additional weight. We will also share practical lifestyle advice that you can incorporate into your day - if this is a health goal you want to focus on right now.
1. We're in a pandemic!
We're in such unknown and extreme times that our stress response is literally falling into the fight or flight mode (the real life or death kind), where the priority isn't and should not be maintaining a lean or "aesthetic" physique. In this state our body isn't thinking about resting or digesting and therefore, we are naturally more inclined to gain weight. This physiological stress response may be even higher than our "busy" pre-COVID-19 lives.
Navigating these uncharted waters is difficult to plan, so our body responds with actions to help us cope through our stressful experiences. For some of us that means heading to the fridge or pantry to give us a that instant dopamine hit and satisfaction.
If you're following us from Australia, we're also in the depth of winter, and naturally our body wants to store fat, seek comfort food and slow down. Pre-COVID we may have naturally already found ourselves during winter gaining a bit of weight as a result of eating food and moving less. What we're saying is that gaining weight during winter is a natural and healthy response and we would be going against the odds of nature if we felt that we should be at our 'ideal' body weight during this time, let alone during a pandemic.
With all of that in mind, we ask you to above all else be understanding and kind to yourself. Remind yourself that you are in an extreme situation, and maintaining a certain weight isn't and should not be an area of focus.
To cope with the emotional eating you can try treat yourself every now and then as turning to new cooking techniques, or trying different flavours may be something that's bringing you joy during this time. You could also consider other creature comforts that are not food related i.e. a long bath or staying in and reading a good book.
2. Relying on food to fill us up in life
Do you ever wonder why you reach for a packet of chips when you're not even hungry?
The pandemic has meant that we've had to isolate and move away from our "Primary Food" - elements such as movement, nature, passions, relationship and spirituality, that usually help us fill up on life, rather than turning to food to give us that feeling of short term satisfaction like when we snack, a lot.
Even in pre-COVID times we are more inclined to use food to fill us up, rather than Primary food, so with the restrictions and stress of not being able to do some of the things that make us happy and fill up our minds and hearts, we are more easily using comfort food as a substitute.
We wrote an article all about Primary and Secondary food here if you'd like to deep dive into this concept a little more.
So what can you do to get back to filling up on your Primary Food, and life? Stop and think about some of the elements that have been depriortised in your life and be a little creative about bringing Primary food elements into your days and weeks. Here are a few examples:
Relationships - how could you ensure you're keeping in touch with family, friends and showing up for your partner more i.e. messaging, give them a call or sending a 'just because' gift
Physical activity - find a friend to help hold you accountable for hitting at least 5,000 steps a day and together work up to maintaining 10,000 steps
Nature - could you bring nature to you? Purchasing an indoor plant or start a small herb garden on your kitchen bench
3. Our routine has been turned upside down
For many of us life in "lockdown" has changed the way we have been moving and eating, so it is no surprise that maintaining our "normal" weight is challenging.
Being forced into a completely new routine, coupled with the circumstances surrounding a pandemic which we spoke about above mean that falling into a less "healthier" routine and habits.
Just like any habits, with the right guidance you can work around your current situation to create a routine that will make you healthier and happier.
What we recommend for you is to start with one area of your routine and focus on this: this may be your morning, midday, afternoon or evening routine. Look into that period of time and itemise the habits you want to keep and want you want to remove. Starting on small areas and working towards bigger habit and routine changes is key to success As you work on these areas one by one, you will naturally see a positive halo affect occurring across your days and weeks. For example; by starting the day off with exercise, you may be more inclined to eat a healthier breakfast.
Your weight does not define you.
Whilst reading this article we do hope you've come to the conclusion and the last point on your own - it is just weight.
We're living in an unknown time and we only have control over so much. Focusing on mental health as well as our fundamentals such as our relationships and work will need to take priority over a few extra kilos we may have gained. Your weight does not count for you happiness, nor does it define you. By giving you an understanding of what you may be currently experiencing our hope is to empower you to recognise this, and if you choose to, make changes that will increase your satisfaction in life.
If you would like more support with the topic of weight gain and if you're wanting to speak with a professional, please reach out to us and we can work with you to find the best professional for your individual circumstances.
Contact us at: email@example.com