By Gagan Dhawan,
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed us in many ways. Unwelcome changes like lockdown restrictions and work from home culture, our daily routine, activity levels, food habits, and sleep patterns have turned upside down. Several researches reported that these lifestyle changes resulted in weight gain/obesity amongst youngsters. With offices, schools, colleges, shops, etc. closing down, people spent an exceeding amount of time on TV, computers and smartphones which led to little to no physical activity. Besides, intake of excess high-calorie snacks and the lack of access to healthy food further led to lifestyle hazards and obesity.
Due to such weight gain, the chances of catching several diseases have become high. Without rooting for quick fixes, we can opt for the right way to get back to a healthy lifestyle. The most important life lesson that the pandemic has taught us is that our health matters the most. Instead of thinking about losing weight within a month or so, experts advise to choose a healthy lifestyle that helps us lose and maintain our weight lifelong. In case of any confusion, here’s a brief on how a healthy lifestyle eliminates the root causes of the problem- obesity.
As we all know, stress was the most significant issue every individual faced during the lockdown. Stress releases a type of a hormone called Cortisol, which leads stress eating or binge eating. Such poor dietary habits are mainly responsible for massive weight gain.
As the first step towards a healthier lifestyle, it is a must to indulge ourselves in activities we love, like swimming, listening to music, painting, reading, playing games, etc. Apart from this, we can practice deep breathing techniques that can help us relax and feel positive. Moreover, it is always advisable to discuss problems with family and friends as that relieves stress to the greatest extent.
Understanding our metabolism
Metabolism is the complex process by which our body converts food into energy. So, if we want to get rid of those extra kilos, we should concentrate on improving our metabolism rate as active metabolism leads to a healthy body. By understanding metabolism and how it burns energy, we can increase our Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) by increasing Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) in our routine.
Mindful eating means eating slowly without distraction, knowing the difference between true hunger and non-hunger triggers, quantity control, etc. This leads to better digestion and eliminates overeating tendencies. With mindful eating practices, our food choice should switch to the following 5 principles:
- From animal to plant based food
- From over processed grains to whole grains
- From frying and overcooking to steaming, roasting, and poaching.
- From all cooked food to 50% Fresh and raw food
- From chemical/pesticide-laden food to organic food.
Incorporating exercise routines
Our body cannot survive merely on food, just like the way plants cannot survive on sunlight alone. Besides a healthy plant-based diet, we must incorporate exercise routines into our daily lives. Regular exercise helps to boost our metabolism and immune system significantly. It promotes weight management and releases happy hormones like Serotonin and Endorphins that relieve stress and keep us highly energetic throughout the day. Witnessing the prevalent COVID-infused scenario where gyms are opening and closing due to restrictions, adding bodyweight exercises to our workout routine instead of depending on gyms can be a more consistent plan.
Drinking sufficient amount of water
Surprisingly, water helps us to burn more calories. Yes! You heard that right. Sometimes we confuse thirst with hunger and tend to overeat. So, we must drink at least 3-4 liters of water per day as it is a natural appetite suppressant that offers a feeling of fulness by reducing hunger. Besides, drinking water also detoxifies the body by removing waste, aiding weight loss.
Having quality sleep
We have spent the lockdown period mostly watching TV and surfing the internet mindlessly the entire night, compromising our sleep. The lack of sleep has significantly increased stress levels and lowered our metabolism, causing weight gain in return. So, to lead a healthy lifestyle, we must try to get at least 6-8 hours of adequate sleep. As our body heals between 10pm – 4am, following the good old golden rule, early to bed and early to rise can really be of help this time.
Importance of consistency
Consistency is undoubtedly the key to a healthy lifestyle. It helps us accomplish our weight loss goals slowly and steadily and also maintain the same. The key to remaining consistent with our aim is finding pleasure in our journey. So, starting with a small habit that we can be consistent with can be our first baby step towards a healthy lifestyle.
We must pen down our routine in a daily journal. This habit records our body measurements to compare the changes and reward ourselves for every achievement. Always remember that motivation may fade, but it is our self-discipline that keeps us going.
When people gradually introduce these aforementioned healthy changes into their lives, they no longer feel self-critical in dealing with the pandemic-driven obesity issues. These healthy practices also phenomenally support us in getting rid of all negative thoughts and emotions that take a toll on our mental health. After all, a healthy lifestyle is synonymous with an active body and mind that helps us improve for the better with each passing day.
(The author is Founder & CEO, The New Me. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)