Pandemic Pounds a Problem? Take These 3 Steps to Reclaim Your Waistline

The pandemic has not been kind to our waistlines. In fact, the “APA’s survey of U.S. adults, conducted in late February 2021 by The Harris Poll, shows that a majority of adults (61%) experienced undesired weight changes—weight gain or loss—since the pandemic started, with 42% reporting they gained more weight than they intended. Of those, they gained an average of 29 pounds (the median amount gained was 15 pounds), and 10% said they gained more than 50 pounds, the poll found.”

The good news is you can reverse this trend and reclaim your pre-pandemic waistline, and these 5 tips will help.

Create a weight loss routine: The number one factor that results in weight loss is consistency. It doesn’t matter how amazing your diet and work are; if you aren’t hitting the activities regularly, they won’t’ matter.

Establishing a system that includes daily activity, balanced nutrition, and a good sleep pattern is vital. One of the unforeseen issues that the pandemic left us with as people traded business casual for PJ’s was the loss of routine.

Working that 9-5 provided a nice frame to our days. One of the first things you can do to get your weight loss kick-started is establishing a new routine.

Your Mindset Matters: Real talk for a minute here. Eating is not an activity for coping with your feelings! Especially during the earlier days of the pandemic, we had a lot of time on our hands. Organizations didn’t have contingencies created for a scenario like shutting down businesses for weeks at a time.

Many of us were left home with little or nothing to do for a significant amount of time. It was easy to let terrible habits around drinking and food creep in and stick.

I have spoken to many people who started to use food as a catch-all for everything they felt. Food is easy and releases just enough dopamine to override any semblance of willpower that might squeak out resistance to what you want to put in your mouth.

The trick here is to understand your internal dialogue and learn how to challenge false hunger cues. When we learn how to listen and talk to ourselves in a meaningful and directive way, we don’t need the willpower to change our world.

Keep in mind that this is a practice that needs to develop over time which means that you have to be mindful of your thoughts and patient with yourself.

Keep nutrition simple: It can be very tempting to subscribe to the latest diet trend, especially if you have struggled with your relationship with food in the past.

The diet landscape is confusing at best. You would be doing yourself a favor to shrink your view of this landscape down to the basics. I feel that most people can tell the good foods from the junk. Poptarts, while tasty, are not a part of a nutritious breakfast.

If you are ready to take serious steps with food use and app, track your food for a couple of weeks across multiple situations, and get a good idea of what you are eating.

Adjust your meals to the calories the app recommends for weight loss and create a plan that has you eating every 2-3 hours during your day.

No fancy diet plan is needed. From my experience, most people that I have worked with over the years drastically underestimate their caloric intake throughout the week. I see people do well 4-5 days a week and consume calorie bombs on the weekend. This rollercoaster works against efforts to lose weight, and the sooner you break the rollercoaster, the faster you will lose weight.

You need to take steps today to start the process of weight loss. Keep activity consistent, set up a mindset to help you succeed, and simplify your meal plan. We’ve given some great tips here for getting started on losing weight, so let us know what has worked for you in the past or if we missed anything important. Have any questions? Let us know!

Matt Lawson, MA, NCC, LPC

Matt Lawson, MA, NCC, LPC

Hi, I'm Matt, and I'm a counselor who helps people achieve optimal health. I currently offer counseling services here at Chicago Compass Counseling and specialize in eSports and video game addiction. If you're interested, you can read more about me on my about page.