- Covid weight gain can be lost in 3 simple steps
- the #1 thing NOT to change when you want to lose weight
- My Covid Weight Gain Experiment shows you how to lose up to 8 pounds a month without feeling hungry
Covid weight gain is real y’all.
Some call it The Quarantine 15… A “fun” spin on The Freshman 15 (!)
Others call it The Covid 19.
And then there’s The Pandemic Punch-In-The-Gut.
Um, Ok. No one’s saying that.
But that’s how I felt.
Covid weight gain happened to me
Around Remembrance Day of 2020 I realized I’d gained weight.
I’d been living lock down in leggings.
(Say to the tune of Ricky Marin’s Livin’ la vida loca.)
Then one day I slipped… shimmied… and finally FORCED myself into my favorite jeans.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you I had to tightly grip the waistband and jump on the spot to get into them.
Like I had to:
Jump up, jump up and get down!
– House of Pain
Let’s take a minute to visualize that.
Because obviously it was a really proud moment for me, having a blog about weight loss and everything.
The whole experience just felt a little bit like, you know, trying to squeeze an elephant out of the room.
…Let’s be real.
My Covid weight gain didn’t sneak up on me.
We all know our bodies and I’d been telling Alex for weeks that I felt a little bit “melted.”
But d*mmit. Isn’t Lycra just so forgiving?
Why Covid weight gain happened to me
Even before lock down I stopped going to the gym.
The Covid numbers were climbing all over the world.
Everything in Italy scared me. And there was so much uncertainty.
So by the end of February 2020 Alex was like:
“The gym is probably one of the worst places you can spend time right now.”
That’s when I stopped my regular routine of hopping on the elliptical machine three times a week for 25 big ones (that’s my new way of saying “minutes” and I’m really hoping it catches on).
I started running outside.
Trying to prevent Covid weight gain
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know I have bad knees due to obsessive exercising.
Like in Grade 5 I won the 100 kilometer club in a week.
Truth be told, I had a crush on Jeffery Harder. A strong and silent boy in Gr. 7 who (I made sure) was always just a few kilometers behind me.
(Flirting isn’t my strong suit. So I figured clocking in enough kilometers to stay just slightly ahead of him would
force him to notice me gently draw his attention in my direction.)
For years I ran between 10 and 20 km a day.
I’d always excelled at Cross Country because, like most things, I’m not naturally good at them—but I’m willing to do the work.
So on top of the team training at school, I ran most evenings, on weekends and all summer long.
Putting in the extra miles made the actual races easier, which quelled my anxiety.
Here I am at 14 years old, after the end-of-year Track & Field Day:
And before my eating became disordered.
So when I gained a few pounds (during a month-long, Griswold-style family car trip across Canada that summer), it was easy to disguise my over-exercising as business as usual.
I didn’t realize at the time, but overexercising makes it HARDER to lose weight!
By the time I hit Grade 11 my knees couldn’t pound the pavement anymore.
I had to quit cross country.
My Covid weight gain prevention plan
So as soon as I stopped going to the gym in early 2020, I started running around the block every other night to get my heart rate up.
You might remember the post I wrote about that:
(I know that pic looks cool and arty but it’s just because our camera is sh*te.)
But it wasn’t long before my knees hurt 🙁
Preventing Covid weight gain TAKE 2!
After 6 weeks of rest, hoping I’d healed, I changed tack.
It was near the end of April, and I thought:
How ’bout I just run a short loop FULL OUT 3 times a week?
…Na-uh. Scaling back further didn’t work either.
My knees spoke once again.
I’m in the habit of exercising.
It’s part of my healthy routine.
And during Covid I’ve really been missing it.
Just like you can get in the habit of NOT working out,
you can get in the habit of prioritizing moving your body regularly.
If not because you love exercise, then because you love how it makes you feel the other 166 hours and 45 minutes of the week.
(Apologies if I didn’t manage expectations. On first glance the above stanza looks like it was going to rhyme.)
Second Wave and 3rd attempt to prevent Covid weight gain
Summer 2020 came along and while we knew there’d be a second wave, and historically it’s worse than the first, I felt a little bit like I just had to ride out the pandemic and wait for my gym to reopen.
(I have OCD. And generally try to push a round peg through a square hole ’till it breaks. So I was actually pretty proud of myself for being flexible—knowing I could get back on track when the world reopened.)
But along came the November jean-squeeze.
Confirmation my muscle had melted.
And that something else was at play…
(Cue the organ to play Bach’s spooky Toccata and Fugue in D minor.)
By December 1st I had a plan.
A plan that worked!
Getting rid of Covid weight gain GAME PLAN
Alex took the photo of me (at this link) on our roof on December 1st, and I felt like even my stretchy, waistband-free onesie couldn’t disguise my extra weight.
It’s not super obvious because I needed to hold a platter, but along with my jeans not fitting, my stomach felt like jelly.
…All very glam, I know.
And that’s when I woke up to the realization that often our barriers are only as big as we make them.Everything is figureoutable— Marie Forleo, American Entrepreneur
So while I (reluctantly) got myself out of my onesie and into the kind of clothes you wear when choosing a Christmas tree (ours is still up BTW) I did something I NEVER tried over the 10 years my eating was disordered.
(This April I’ll be on year 22 since I got healthy!)
Rather than taking the dumpster-fire approach of changing up my entire eating and exercise routine in a desperate attempt to lose my Covid weight gain FAST (what I did for the 10 years my eating was disordered) I did something else.
Something much more effective and far LESS work.
…something I wish I’d known about when I first gained weight at 14 years old.
Super-sleuthing my Covid weight gain
While Rocky, Alex and I headed down to The Beach(es) in Toronto, to get our Xmas tree from the Lions Club (an annual tradition), I said to Alex:
The only differences are that:
I’ve stopped exercising
(despite my best efforts)
I’ve basically been drinking a bag-of-milk worth of milky coffees each day
Like, I hadn’t even been putting the milk away between coffees because frankly there was no point.
Along with not exercising I’d been working in front of my computer with a hot coffee in hand… a few too many times a day.
OK, I was mainlining it.
And like any unhealthy habit, it escalated.
I LOVE coffee.
In fact, I love instant coffee.
It started during my supply teaching days.
Getting to the bottom of my Covid weight gain
So there we were, wedging our Christmas tree into our car and carefully around Rocky…
When what to my wondering mind should appear,
The epiphany to drink less coffee and exercise without gear.
So without much thought I was able to isolate the behaviors that fell outside of my OWN advice.
…Advice I share all over my blog!
Coming up: I’ll show you how to pinpoint any problem choices you might make too.
Taking control of my Covid weight gain
So on December 1st, after we took the roof-platter-picture and got our Christmas Tree, I decided to cut back on milky coffees.
I didn’t make any rules.
I simply put off my next cup for a bit each time I wanted one.
We found the above mug on a dog walk. Alex was like: “We don’t need another mug!” But I love the sunflower. Sunflowers are my thing. So 10 intensive washes later, it’s out of the landfill and mine. All mine!!!
Delayed gratification is so underrated.
(Though Alex says I take it too far. You know, leaving tags on clothes and lipstick sealed… waiting for the perfect moment to wear them.)
But deciding to MAKE TODAY COUNT by waiting a bit before your next coffee?
And I decided to try an exercise app that one of my 1:1 Clients told me about a few weeks earlier.
“It’s no equipment!”
“You can do it at home!”
Resigning to the idea that I couldn’t workout because my gym is closed and I have bad knees is soooooo 1982.
With my new can-do attitude, I signed up for this exercise app, chose a module level: (BEGINNER!) and continued to slow my roll (baby steps!) when it came to my DELICIOUS hot whole milk with a sprinkle of instant coffee crystals.
What happened to my Covid weight gain
I’m super not into weighing myself.
Could that be any more counterproductive when unlocking your H 🙂 PPY weight?
(I’ve been watching 2 minute clips of FRIENDS on Youtube for breaks b/c I miss seeing my friends and walking past coffee shops full of people with their friends.)
The only time I step on a scale is when I’m at my annual check up.The body never lies— Martha Graham, dancer
Like I said, I know my body and when I feel good.
And I’ve got my trusty favorite jeans to keep me in check. (Leggings be d*mned.)
But when Alex appeared with a scale—one I didn’t even know we had (he found it in our complex’s garbage)—and told me this exercise app wanted my height, weight, age and all that jazz, I complied.
That scale’s pretty sleek, non?
After years of weighing myself MULTIPLE times a day (!) I stopped getting on the scale (almost) 22 years ago because it really got in the way of me listening to my body and working with it.
And to whomever this scale belonged, despite the fact they could have donated it to the Salvation Army, I applaud them for getting rid of it.
(Either that or they didn’t know how to change the batteries because that’s all it took for Alex to get it working.)
Like I said… you know your body. You know when you feel good.
Suddenly I found myself in a Covid weight gain experiment
Because I don’t have the disordered eating mindset that I used to, I felt comfortable standing on the scale.
I wanted to share my findings and offer a solution to anyone who’s also experienced Covid weight gain.
My BIG goal is to show you how small changes make a tremendous difference when getting your eating and exercise routine back on track.
Kelly’s Covid Weight Gain Experiment
Losing my Covid weight gain with just a few tweaks
a) cut out food that makes my meals and snacks unbalanced (Dairy: milk)
b) add exercise 3 X’s a week for 25 minutes
By drinking less milk and getting my heart-rate up, I’d lose the weight I gained during Covid.
milk (but less of it)
a workout app
& a yoga matt
(Rocky is 15 years old in March and our entire place is yoga-matted out
because he has arthritis and can’t grip the floor. So I just borrowed one of his.)
a) every time I want a milky coffee, put it off until I finish another task
b) pick 3 days to work out & make them non-negotiable
Then there’s no mental gymnastics wondering if I should workout today or tomorrow.
I chose: Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday’s
Start date: December 1st, 2020
Kelly’s Covid Weight Gain Experiment Results:
I have more energy.
My body feels strong.
Actually, my legs feel mechanical (love that).
I’ve awakened muscles I haven’t used for months!
Even my posture is better.
& My favorite jeans fit.
🌻 I lost 7 pounds in 4 weeks. 🌻
After a few rough workouts where I struggled to keep up with Kayla on the app
(getting back in the saddle hurts and I ended up yelling a few things at her that I shouldn’t have)
I fell in love with the online routine!
And it’s fun to listen to podcasts at the same time.
By NOT making coffee rules
but just cutting back with delayed gratification
I “instantly” began enjoying fewer (just 3 to 4) milky coffees each day
Simply by cutting out what was extraneous to my balanced meals and snacks
& adding the physical activity I lacked,
I got rid of my Covid weight gain,
unlocked my H 🙂 PPY weight
And best of all:
I just feel sooo much better inside and out.
Embrace natural consequences, like weight gain!
They help nudge you away from unhealthy choices.
Nobody needs the amount of caffeine I was drinking or that much milk.
And exercise has so many more benefits than weight loss.
FOLLOW UP to Kelly’s Covid Weight Gain Experiment
I felt even more toned and had more energy after Week 6 of my Covid Weight Gain Experiment.
So I stepped back on the scale a 3rd and FINAL time.
And found my weight hadn’t changed.
1. Muscle weighs more than fat.
Our health goals should be to become LEANER. Not lighter.
2. I unlocked my H 🙂 PPY weight.
In other words, when you get into a healthy eating and exercise routine, you naturally reach and then maintain your healthy weight. I was now at the stage of maintaining my healthy weight by maintaining my healthy routine.
Why my Covid Weight Gain Experiment is important
It proves that when you meet your body’s needs you naturally unlock your H 🙂 PPY weight.
I didn’t ever go hungry.
Our bodies WANT to be a healthy weight!
All the jobs our bodies do are
SO. MUCH. EASIER.
when we’re not
In my case?
I was carrying the equivalent of these 7 one-pound blocks of butter that did nothing for me.
The bilingual labeling is part of The Official Languages Act (French: Loi sur les langues officielles). The Act is a Canadian law that came into force on September 9, 1969, which gives French and English equal status in the government of Canada.
Those extra 7 Covid weight gain pounds just made my heart, lungs and liver… and every other organ, have to work harder to do their day-to-day jobs.
Trust your body.
Trust the process.
Focus on improving your healthy habits.
And be patient.
Or as Italians say: paziente!
Losing my Covid weight gain
Over the 10 years my eating was disordered (when I was 14 to 24 years old), I put my body through crazy extremes when trying (and failing) to lose weight.
Like I immediately cut back on my meals when I realized I’d gained weight.
But you should NEVER touch your healthy meals!
For instance this is what I ate when I didn’t know how to unlock my H 🙂 PPY weight:
BREAKFAST: only fruit before noon
LUNCH: a salad with no-fat dressing
DINNER: a tiny bit of boiled chicken (rinsed after boiled), ice berg lettuce (again) & as little baked potato (dry!) as I could get away with
Your body needs natural fat to keep you healthy.
Food that naturally includes fat, such as salmon, avocados, cheese, etc. helps your body transport vitamins through your blood stream, sharpen your memory and help you lose weight.
And looking back, under-eating always led to:
- skipping meals + doing extra exercise (to make up for overeating)
- snacking on unhealthy food
…and so on.
All these choices set me up to fail
Going to extremes triggers the stave-binge-purge cycle:
Then your body goes into survival mode which slows down your metabolism.
Dieting led me to gain 30 pounds which I lost and regained 100’s of times over a 10 year period.
If any of that sounds like you… or you just want to lose your Covid weight gain, I’m sharing this story with pom-poms in hand, cheering you on (begging you!) NOT to make the same mistakes I did.
And instead, do what I did in December 2020.
I simply followed the 3 steps below.
How to lose your Covid weight gain: Step 1
Remember What a Healthy Routine Looks Like
As I say all over my blog and explain in depth in my book with tons of pictures and examples, a healthy routine is:
Eating ROUGHLY balanced meals made MOSTLY of whole foods
& ROUGHLY balanced snacks made MOSTLY of whole foods
(when you’re hungry between meals)
Getting your heart rate up 3X’s a week for 25 minutes
& Moving your body every day
I also eat occasional treats.
occurring, appearing, or done infrequently and irregularly.
E.g. not every day.
And not occasionally throughout the day.
How to lose your Covid weight gain: Step 2
Assess Your Routine & ACT!
Stop Livin’ la vida loca and get into a healthy routine.
Your body LOVES routine.
(And most people thrive in one.)
1. What eating and/or exercise do I do that’s extraneous?
Over-exercising also makes it hard to lose weight!
e.g. For me, it was too much dairy via milky coffees. ☕️
2. What food and/or exercise am I not including enough of?
e.g. I never stopped walking Rocky during Covid (I always end up saying: rocking Walky!) So the exercise I needed to focus on was getting my heart rate up 3 X’s a week; the flushed-face, out-of-breath, Kayla-I-h*te-you kind (!)
How to lose your Covid weight gain: Step 3
Stay Calm & Carry ON
Unlocking your H 🙂 PPY weight is all about trusting the process (and your body. Remember, your body wants to be a healthy weight.)
And be patient!
Diet culture has taught us to think weight loss is overnight.
Losing 2 pounds a week is healthy.
(Doing the math… I lost just over 1.5ish pounds/week.)
And if you’ve been restricting what you eat, skipping meals, over-exercising, then eating too much, etc. for a while it can take a little longer.
All of these extreme choices put your metabolism into survival mode.
In this state, it can take a bit of time for your body to b-e-l-i-e-v-e that you’re really going to meet its needs CONSISTENTLY. So until you prove you will stick to a healthy routine, your body is going to hang on (for dear life!) to that extra weight.
Your body wants to be a healthy weight. But it wants to keep you alive even more.
And don’t worry!
- get into a healthy eating and exercise routine
- make it habit
- & get busy with the rest of your life
Your body will suddenly do a big sigh of relief and let go of the extra pounds.
So, there you have it!
That’s how I lost my self-isolation 7 (!)
I got rid of my Covid weight gain while eating avocado toast for breakfast, a big sandwich for lunch and even a turkey dinner with gravy at Christmas. And the occasional treat.
You ready to be kind to your body?
Your body will thank you. xo
Special thanks to Rocky for waiting around while we took photos for this post.
“I thought you put me in this coat because we were going for a walk?!”
Make Today Count
Whether you’ve been busy with your new born for months or you broke your leg, you can find ways to be active and eat better food (not less food!)
Don’t wait for the perfect day!
There isn’t one.
Have a look at the blue writing above that outlines a healthy routine.
What’s missing from your routine that you can add?
What are you doing that’s extra that you can cut?
Is it one too many glasses of wine?
Pastries from that cute little shop around the corner from you?
Maybe you’re doing too much exercise?
Or, perhaps the opposite… sitting at your desk all day (drinking milky coffee!) and never leaving the house.
Figure out what changes you need to make and get started!
But remember, don’t mess around with your healthy meals.
They BOOST your metabolism and help you unlock your H 🙂 PPY weight.
Build healthy eating and exercise habits. A healthy weight will follow.
The best way to make change is slowly. Here’s how to do that.
If you’re not sure what to keep or cut from your routine let me know. We can get you on track and get rid of the weight in a HEALTHY, natural way so you never have to think about it again. Learn more about a one-hour deep dive. Or maybe you know what to do but just need to check in with someone to be accountable. That’s how I finally got healthy for good, almost 22 years ago! Right now I’m doing this with a new client. She read my book and knows what to do, but wanted to make sure she gets and stays on track. By working together we’re creating a lifestyle she loves. And she’s doing AWESOME! I love her.
Do you believe “this elevator only goes up”?
This is such a fun quarantine video with important messages.
And a reminder not to let lock down stop you from getting creative and finding ways to do things you love to do SAFELY.
Just make small changes to what you’re already doing. Before you know it you’ll be in a healthy routine. Then you’ll have so much more energy, feel good about being proactive and even fit in your favorite jeans (without jumping around!)
COME AS YOU ARE.
I love this poem by Arthur Ashe:
Start where you are.
Use what you have.
Do what you can.
That’s me with no-equipment workouts!
What about you? Do you still have your Xmas tree up?
What’s the #1 habit you need to add or cut?
What’s the biggest take-away you got from this post?
Let me know in the comments below.
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Sharing what I learned makes the 10 years I STRUGGLED worth it