You might have heard of the quarantine 15 by now. In fact, gaining the quarantine 15 might be your reality at the moment and that can be quite worrying.
You may start thinking “I’ll try to lose about 2lbs a week. I’ll go for a run every other day. I’ll make sure I eat salad for supper and no sugar ever again!”
At the same time, you might be looking in the mirror and feeling really downhearted. It may not be easy for you to accept this weight gain right now.
In this post I want to share some words of wisdom on how to not lose your sh*t right now and how to go through this with a bit of grace, and hopefully some balance so that you can feel accepting of any changes, positive about managing your body and your mind, and feel a bit calmer overall.
Acceptance must come first
This is the first must-do, and it’s a toughie. It’s so easy to reject what your body is doing, and how it’s looking, and try to ‘solve this problem’ quickly and efficiently. But we know that this strategy never works, because it feels totally crap to hate on yourself. Trying to change out of self-rejection is never sustainable or satisfying.
It is far more balancing to work towards accepting. Accept that you might be eating more – see my recent blog posts on eating during quarantine here – accept that you might be gaining weight, and accept that you don’t feel totally comfortable about this.
If you skip this solid foundation that should be a part of your life long practice anyway, you’ll move onto making plans and changes that aren’t grounded on a solid base and they’ll end up collapsing under harsh and negative expectations.
If any changes aren’t based on kindness, and don’t feel good – don’t do them.
If you go for a 40 minute run and you hate it, and you feel like crying, but you don’t want to stop because you feel like such a slob right now and if you don’t lose weight then you’re going to scream – then you are doing this out of punishment, self-rejection and, let’s face it, a bit of self-hatred too.
Kindness for yourself and your mind and body means that you are going to do things that are kind! You will want to nourish yourself, and move, because you love yourself, not because you hate yourself.
Listen, it’s fine to look in the mirror and have a reality check and go “I think I’m gaining some weight right now.” That’s it – you don’t have to scream at yourself or hate yourself. You can make a decision to keep on loving yourself and treat yourself well.
Don’t partake in any activities or actions that are based on self-hatred. Don’t run if it’s because you hate your stomach. Don’t eat a salad if it’s because you are desperate to lose weight. Don’t skip supper as punishment for eating ‘too much’ yesterday.
What it looks like to treat yourself well
What is a treat really? Yeah, sure, it can be the sweet thing at the end of a meal. But really treating yourself well is caring for yourself as you would a child.
Children need love, acceptance, and freedom to be themselves. They also need kind boundaries and truth and positive expectations.
You can apply the same to yourself.
No hatred needed.
If you feel you are gaining weight and want to do something about it, as long as you are doing something about it because you want to treat yourself well, then this is a positive start. But I’d go a step further, and make it more about looking after yourself and take weight out of the picture. As soon as you plan to lose some fat, everything becomes about that instead of being about looking after your body.
Have choice based conversations with yourself.
‘Sure you can have all the ice cream you want, but how will you really feel about that afterwards? Is it really what you want? Is this the best I can treat myself right now?’
Sometimes you go for the ice cream, sometimes you decide you are worth more than having to sit on the toilet for ages because of your lactose intolerance or a sugar overload.
You can say: ‘I want to move my body most days in the morning. That’s going to make me feel good, feel strong, help my mental health so I feel more balanced during the rest of the day and help my immune system if I can.’
Going about this can look like: ‘My favourite ways of moving my body are dancing, walking, a jog sometimes, kettlebells and yoga.’ (Those are actually on my list).
Each day, you can have a kind expectation that you will move, but you can choose what you feel like each day. Some days you might have a surge of energy that means you can put on your trainers and go for a run. Other times, you feel your posture is getting bent out of shape so you might do some weights and focus on core strength to help you keep a straighter back, or some yoga to help tightness in the hips.
It’s okay if you feel that working out can be boring, but you are doing it like you’d help a child to complete a school project. You’ll feel better afterwards, and it kinda needs to be done because that’s life! Moving your body is something that you’ve decided is important to you, and it’s okay that it’s not always riveting. But I do listen to podcasts when jogging and watch YouTube whilst doing weights, because if you can have fun doing it, then go for it.
Basically – work with yourself, not against yourself.
Finally – don’t plan to lose weight or diet – and stay away from diet culture.
As I said above, take weight loss out of the picture and aim to treat your body with kindness, whilst balancing kindness with your mental health too. Sometimes wanting comfort will come from food and you need to allow that without punishing yourself afterwards.
Step away from before or afters, diet tips on social media, weight loss recipes and definitely stay away from the scales. Any adjustments to your way of eating is about how you feel, not how you look.
Instead of calculating that less sugar will equal less calories. Think of it as, not eating sugar at times will help you have a bit more mental clarity and that feels good to you.
Instead of looking at bread as your sworn enemy in the weight war – think if bread (for example) is something that makes you feel alive and bright, or sluggish and heavy and see what other delicious food you are excited to eat.
You can be excited over a nourishing salad if you like to look after yourself. Balance can be fun when you take rejection and self-hatred out of the picture.
So as I tell everyone, don’t work on the food so much as your mindset.
The food is really the last place to put your attention. Most of your attention will need to go on your mindset and its unhelpful stories it’s telling you about how you look. None of this is true, and you need to start working on a better, kinder and healthier self-talk.
I have lots of posts on this site about kindness to yourself – and if you’d like some body kindness affirmation cards, you can get them from here.
Look after yourself – work on your kindness!