'Flattening the curves': How to fight lockdown weight gain
You've probably heard the term "flattening the curve" more times than you can count over the past couple of weeks. But if we're being totally honest with each other, there's a good chance there's something else that needs flattening, too.
In the United States, they call it the "Quarantine 15", and they're talking about the 15 pounds people find themselves putting on as they remain stuck at home with no access to gyms and unchecked access to the refrigerator.
We don't have the same kind of catchy name for it in Australia (though getting 'lockdown large' has a nice ring to it), but we're facing the exact same problem.
With millions of Australians now at home, and with gyms shut and public exercise equipment roped off, the battle with the bulge has never been more one-sided.
Worse still, plenty of us are feeling stressed and tired - another two key factors when it comes gaining weight.
Put all of those things together and the lure of the fridge can become too much to resist. And, unfortunately, walking to and from it doesn't count as exercise either.
But you can use being at home to your advantage. It all comes down to being in charge of how your day unfolds and that begins with winning the morning, every morning.
At my house, every morning starts with a glass of water to reset hunger levels and kickstart the metabolism. Studies have shown that those who start the day with 500ml of water go on to consume far fewer calories at breakfast, as a lot of what we consider hunger is actually just dehydration.
From there, it's straight into what I call snack exercising. While I'm waiting for the kettle to boil, I might do 10 squats.
While I'm waiting for my Man Shake to blend up, I'll do as many push-ups as I can. Before you know it, I've jump-started my metabolism, got my heart beating and blood flowing, and the day has only just begun.
That routine taps into the same philosophy the military uses when it insists recruits make their beds and polish their shoes first thing in the morning. The idea is to get the wins in early, which sets you up to make better decisions for the rest of the day.
So with that in mind, here's how you can win the battle of the lockdown bulge.
PACK YOUR WORK-FROM-HOME LUNCH
Just like experts suggest you get changed into work attire so you set the right tone for your working day, you should also plan your meals just like you're heading into the office.
If you start thinking about what you'll eat once you're hungry, you'll never make healthy choices. So pack your lunch in the morning, and then stick to the plan.
SEE NO EVIL
There's a reason supermarkets put their in-house brands at eye level - studies show we're far more likely to grab what's right in front of us. And it's the same at home.
If you see treats, you'll be eating them in no time. So put them out of sight and out of mind. Or better still, leave them at the supermarket.
STICK TO THE SCHEDULE
You know how you used to make time before or after work to hit the gym or go for a run? The same rules should apply at home.
So make sure you schedule time in your day to do some training at home, go for a run, or to take a walk.
Snack exercising is your friend here. Doing even two minutes of exercise 10 times throughout the day means you'll hit a total 20 minutes without even trying.
SLEEP THE WEIGHT OFF
Both sleep and stress play a huge role in your overall heath, including weight gain.
A study by the US Government's National Institute of Health found that participants who got less than eight hours sleep a night would eat more unhealthy snacks between meals, as well as make less-healthy meal choices overall, which researchers attribute to a lack of willpower caused by exhaustion.
Did you know that, when asked to take a guess on how much they eat versus how much they work off, the average person underestimates how much they consume by 40 per cent, and over-estimates how much they burn off by 40 per cent?
So spend an entire day tracking exactly what you eat, and how much you move, and use that as a baseline for where you want to get to.
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Originally published as Battle of the bulge: How to fight lockdown weight gain