Any weight loss journey is hard work, requiring willpower, determination, courage and support. But the fact that we’re in the winter season and in the middle of a global pandemic adds a different dimension and a set of additional challenges. This article aims to explore the additional challenges these factors present us with, and give you some tips on how to overcome them.
Exploring the challenges
Spelling out the challenges can be a helpful way of enabling you to understand why you’re having difficulty staying focused. You might identify with some, or all of these.
- Having to stay at home - at the moment we’re all still in the midst of a national lockdown, with so much uncertainty on when we’ll be able to get out and about again. The government’s ‘stay at home message’ means we are all doing less outside, doing less steps, and probably doing less exercise (or having to be far more intentional with exercise). The cold weather can also prevent us from having the willpower or motivation to get out for a daily walk. In addition to this, because we’re home more (and maybe working from home), we are potentially snacking more (or being tempted to eat foods that should be avoided).
- Not being able to see family and friends – When we’re dieting, our family and friends are our key supporters. When their ‘presence’ is not there to help us, this can be really challenging. Not seeing people is also having a major impact on our mental health
- Stress and anxiety – stress during this challenging season can be caused by many things – for example, having to manage home schooling with working from home, the relationship stresses of all being home together (all the time!), worry about finances, job security and furlough.
- Winter blues – we’re also at the end of winter, and the cold weather is known to cause some of us to really suffer with the ‘winter blues’. Whilst spring is just around the corner, it still feels so far away, especially with all the other challenges we’re faced with due to Covid.
Tips for overcoming
We hope the following tips will be helpful for you in terms of spurring you to on to keeping moving forward in your weight loss journey.
- Plan your course of action - acknowledge the challenges you are personally facing and decide on a plan to implement them. If you’re really struggling with exercise, for example, why not set yourself a daily step challenge? If you’re missing friends, why not schedule in a few extra walks with your mates?
- Finding other ways to connect with friends and family – we all know that seeing people online is no substitute that seeing people in person, but it can still really help us feel connected. Why not plan something fun like a games tonight or quiz, rather than just meeting for your usual chat. Laughter is such a great tonic!
- Getting support from the Slim & Save community – since you may not be able to get as much support from family and friends due to lockdown, try connecting with others on a similar weight loss journey to yourself, by chatting on the forums / Facebook page etc. This is a great way to realise that you’re not alone, and others are experiencing very similar challenges
- Be kind to yourself – looking after your mental health is so important at the moment. Take it slowly and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet your targets or if you mess up your eating one day. The next day is a new day and the perfect time to get back on track.
- Practice mindfulness - Mindfulness is all about encouraging yourself to live in the moment, becoming more aware of what you’re eating and taking a pause between your triggers (or feelings) and actions. It involves asking questions like “Am I really hungry?”, “Am I feeling full?”, rather than simply thinking you’re hungry and grabbing a snack. A good time to try out mindfulness is in the evenings, when you’re sat down with Netflix on the sofa. Often in the evening, we confuse feelings of boredom with hunger, so asking yourself if you’re really hungry is a great start.
- Find other ways to get your ‘endorphin high’ – endorphins are chemicals naturally produced by the body to relieve stress and pain. We all know that eating certain foods (like sugary foods) can give us an ‘endorphin high’ – but whilst you’re not able to ‘treat yourself’ in terms of your favourite foods, there are lots of other ways to get this high, such as:
- Regular exercise - Exercise is one of the best ways to help reduce stress and anxiety, and lift the mood. Whilst it can be a challenge to get outside during the winter, there are also lots of ways to get fit into your house too (for example an online HIIT or aerobics workout, running up and down the stairs during ad breaks). Start slow, and aim to build up to 30 minutes of ‘huff and puff’ exercise at least five times a week.
- Giving – Giving of your time (e.g. volunteering), money (e.g. donating to a new cause) or food / clothes (e.g. to a food bank) also releases endorphins. You could even combine giving and exercise to do a run or walk (or other challenge) for a charitable cause
- Laughing – make yourself laugh more can work wonders to lift the mood – for example watching comedy, or see friends online
- Sex – if you’re in a relationship, sex is a great way to destress, relax and lift the mood!
We hope this article has given you some ideas to help keep you motivated during this challenging season. We hope it has enabled you to consider whether you need to have a shift in your thought process – rather than focussing on the challenges and how hard they can be to overcome, consider how this could be re-worded as ‘exploring the opportunities’. Whilst we all have challenges facing us, we turn these challenges into opportunities to overcome. And you can feel really proud when you’ve achieved something, however big or small.
Written by Annemarie Aburrow RD BSc (Hons) PGDip, Slim & Save Dietitian.
How have you overcome the challenges of lockdown, lack of socialising and coping with winter whilst dieting this last few months? Leave your comments below to be in with a chance to win 20 individual sachets of your choice! 3 Winning comments will be chosen on Thursday 4th of March at 4 pm.