Recently, my news feed on IG has been changing. I don’t know if this is now getting trendier, or if it has something to do with my activity, but instead of getting all these posts about losing weight, I am now getting a lot of body positive posts, real women, real bodies, no filters, no posing, “reversed” before and after. I have been meaning to address weight gain, nutrition and physical activity during lockdown for a while now, and this seems to have given me a boost to finally do so.
If you have been following my blog, you probably know that I am a Pilates and yoga (among other things) instructor and that I have been physically active from a very young age. I have also talked openly about the fact that I am naturally quite lean, and that I feel quite uncomfortable with people looking at me (as an instructor) for inspiration in that department. I can tell you what I do, but I am by no means an expert, and above all, I believe in a balanced lifestyle and a sustainable one. Having been said that, I think I can now tell you a little bit about my journey throughout these past few months.
When lockdown hit I (and probably many others) thought it was going to only last for a couple of months. I know that a lot of people got unmotivated, stopped doing any kind of physical activity, didn’t watch their diets etc. Other people, me included, actually took the time to try and stay in shape. For me, this was the perfect opportunity to stop living as hectically as I had been living. I took the first couple of months to allow my body to recover from injuries, and by listening to it I was able to become more fit and regain control and technique (I am also a dancer) that I had lost while taking less classes since not dancing full time. I was teaching as well as practicing quite a lot. At the beginning of lockdown I was taking a couple of circuit classes per week, plus raced up and down my single step at home, trying to do some aerobic activity, while staying at home as much as I could. This was also a good time for me to eat healthy. I was cooking all of my meals, didn’t order anything out. I had a pretty structured schedule, never had to rush trough my meals, skip them, as I am at work, eat late at night.
Though I was eating healthy food and though I was very physically active, I could feel I was gaining some weight. I don’t actually have a scale at home, so I didn’t know for sure, but my body just felt different. At first I tried to fight it, I tried to see what I could change in my diet. I was baking and having cake for breakfast a couple of time per week, so I though I should stop doing that, but then I realized that there was nothing wrong with it. Cutting anything else out of my diet would have meant starving myself, which I didn’t intend to do. As time went by I realized that I was also getting stronger, and for the first time in my life I was able to build some muscle mass. So yes, I was gaining weight, some of it was muscles, some was fat, but I was eating a healthy BALANCED diet, and I was happy. I was exercising, I was doing everything right! The inevitable conclusion was, that our bodies change. My lifestyle was very different, I wasn’t walking outside as much (I normally walk quite a lot around town), but also, my had slowed down quite a lot, and the daily anxiety levels, the rushing, worrying etc. all went down. AND, I, like all of us, was going through a global pandemic, with a lot of uncertainty going on, and this was really not the time to do anything extreme, as everything was SO extreme as is.
In late June things started opening up a little bit, and I started getting out of the house and walking around more. As a result I did less circuits. Then in mid July I travelled to Israel, and had to quarantine for 14 days. In Israel I had a scale. When I stepped on it I realized that I was pretty much towards the end of my weight range. I knew this was going to be the case, but it was still quite unpleasant. When I saw that my initial reaction was that I should do circuits again, as I was stuck at home. But I was exhausted. It was over 90 degrees, and the AC didn’t work where I stayed. Coming from Edinburgh (with the temperature being mid 50s the day I left) my body was so shocked that it couldn’t regulate its temperature and for over a week I was running a (low) fever. I took some Pilates, yoga, ballet and gentle contemporary classes, but was much less active physically. When my quarantine was over I was able to go to the studio for the first time in 5 months.
With all honesty, while I was feeling quite strong and satisfied with the strength I had gained during my time in lockdown, and also pleased with the fact that I was not simply lean, but that my muscles were now visible, I was still worried as to how people would react to the fact that my body has changed. And people in fact did react. To my surprise, all the comments were very positive! This, however, did not change the fact that I felt quite bad when trying to squeeze into a pair of shorts from last year that I left at my mom’s and not managing to fit into them. It took me time to be okay with that. I kept telling myself that the scale means nothing, and that it’s also okay if I can no longer fit into my previous clothes.
While at first I viewed this change as something temporary, and I was waiting to get back to my old routine, so that my body will go back to looking the way it did, it occurred to me that:
- This is not temporary, COVID-19 is here to stay and effect our lives for a while longer. None of us know for how long exactly, and what implications this might have on our lifestyle. We might be stuck at home for many more months. Hence, I can’t keep waiting for this change to happen, I need to embrace my new weight and shape.
- I am healthy and strong, probably the healthiest and almost the strongest I have ever been, and for once I am doing it in a balanced slow way, without heading towards overtraining / burnout.
- My worth is by no means determined by the shape of my body and my weight. Neither is my happiness. These are extremely stressful, uncertain and depressing times, we really need to do whatever makes us happy, and be kind to ourselves.
- I actually like the way I look!
I will conclude by saying that if you see any posts on social media about how to not gain weight during lockdown, honestly try to not read them. It is okay to gain weight during lockdown! It is okay to eat junk food and it is okay to not exercise. It is also okay to gain weight while eating healthy and exercising. This is not the time to be fighting against your own body. Try cultivating love and kindness towards yourself instead. Try to embrace the changes, both the external ones, as well as the ones happing on the inside. And whatever you might be feeling right now, know that it is okay!