How to Lose Weight During a Pandemic

Or At Least Quit Gaining Weight

A woman taking a bite out of an apple
A woman taking a bite out of an apple
Photo by Khamkhor on Unsplash

Have you added getting on the scales to the things you can’t or won’t do during this pandemic?

I know how you feel. After six months, the sameness of the days has moved into monotony. Like water torture, a slow, steady, drip, drip drip. It’s easy to fall into the trap of lethargy and comfort food.

So, how can you stop this downward spiral? You quit getting on the scales, you’re not watching what you eat, and the only exercise you get is walking to the door to see what Amazon delivered today. Oh, a new blender and a case of Oreos.

As I outlined in my wildly popular article, The Only Thing You Need to Know About How to Lose Weight, the answer is easy. If you didn’t read that article, check it out. It contains all the answers.

But that was during normal times, you cry. Well, I have bad news for you, this is the new normal, at least for the foreseeable future, so get over it. How to lose weight now is the same as it was last year. It might be a little harder and require some imagination, but it still works.

lazy dog on the sofa
lazy dog on the sofa
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Sitting on the sofa, eating like a teenager isn’t going to work. You know this. And, like most things, there are simple steps to get where you want to be.

  • Stop doing that
  • Get up
  • Do Something

You want more details, you say? So, let’s break it down into two components, diet and exercise. If you’re going to lose weight, or even maintain it, you need not just to watch, but track what you eat, and you need to burn some extra calories.

Woman Cutting a Healthy Snack
Woman Cutting a Healthy Snack
Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash

I know this is a tough one right now for two reasons. First, if you’re like me, your regular eating schedule has been thrown out of whack. If you are the type person who has always cooked fresh meals every day, maybe not so much. We did and do a lot of that, but lunch was a special outing. Every day.

We had regular places and things we ate, a salad here, some fresh vegetables there, a light sandwich at another place. And after lunch, we went somewhere for a walk. Now both of those things are disrupted.

Adapt. Adjust. Overcome.

A penguin overcoming adversity
A penguin overcoming adversity
Photo by joel herzog on Unsplash

Some of the places you ate aren’t open or are only offering takeout — and at some of those, takeout isn’t convenient. Going to the market isn’t the pleasant excursion it once was.

But you still need to eat. And if you can manage to buy a quart of Chunky Monkey, you could contrive to throw a few veggies in the cart.

So, the first thing is to get back on the scales and get back to tracking what you eat. For the first week, don’t worry about either one. Weigh yourself and write it down. Track your food even if lunch is a pint (quart) of ice cream and a bag of cookies (you’re just supporting the Girl Scouts).

For the next week, come up with a calorie goal and start figuring out what you can change to achieve it. And about that calorie goal; maybe don’t worry about losing weight just yet. If your goal for weight loss was 1,500 calories, but you’ve been doing 3K every day, just try 2,000. That may seem like a big cut, but it’s 33% more than what you were eating for weight loss. That’s enough for a nice dessert.

Person cutting up broccoli and cheese
Person cutting up broccoli and cheese
Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

Find some ‘comfort foods’ that aren’t quite so comfortable. Maybe broccoli with a cheese sauce instead of mac and cheese. Yeah, I know, not the same. Also, for that first week at reduced calories, don’t weigh yourself. Your body will try to adjust, and especially if you throw in exercise, it might go up a bit. You don’t want to get discouraged at this point.

We used to go to the store every day; now it’s once or twice a week. But we still stock up on salad ingredients and veggies. At least once a week, I make a huge salad with everything in it. We eat that for a couple of days. Then, I’ll cook up a pot of brown rice that we will eat with some roast chicken, or black beans and broccoli. Or both. Get creative and have some fun. Make eating healthy food almost as fun as a bag of snickerdoodles.

At the end of that week, weigh yourself and spend some time with your food diary. What else can you do? Try some of the techniques in that other article to trim calories. Fifty calories here and there add up in a hurry.

Person walking up steps for exercise
Person walking up steps for exercise
Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

Don’t confuse lethargy with laziness. This thing has beaten us all down. But the reality is, you probably have more time, not less. So cut down on Netflix and get off your ass for a half-hour a day.

Maybe you can’t go to your Pilates class, but you can walk out the door.

Take a brisk walk around your neighborhood once or twice a day. Put a mask in your pocket in case you run into a neighbor. I can almost guarantee that you will. Everyone else is walking around your neighborhood too. Meet some new people and take some socially distant walks together.

If you have a bike, it’s a great time to go riding. There is less traffic, and you can probably find a reasonably deserted place to go ride.

If, for some reason, none of this is practical, exercise indoors. I know you are tempted to get on Amazon and order a home gym but resist it. You don’t need a new thing to hang your laundry on. Split your exercise into two to four fifteen-minute periods. If you have stairs, use them.

If you used to go for an hour walk every day, you could easily make that up inside. If fifteen minutes is too monotonous, do six ten minute sessions. Alternate between walking around the house, walking in place with high knee lifts and arm swings, and going up and down stairs.

Group of people walking at sunrise
Group of people walking at sunrise
Photo by leonides ruvalcabar on Unsplash

This thing will be over someday, and you don’t want to have to start over from scratch on your wellness plan. Get back on track with your diet and fitness routine. It will take some adjustments, but you can still meet your pre-plague goals.

Simplicity.

Eat less. Exercise more. Start Today. Start right now.

Written by

Photographer and Writer-I shoot what I see. I write what I feel. Read me in Publishous, Better Marketing, The Startup & Live Your Life on Purpose. You Do You.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store