I wanted to share a #COVIDFIT tip with you all in hopes that it might help anyone that’s struggling like I have been.

I have gained so much weight.

At first I was thinking that I would have a “break” from healthy eating until lockdown was over. Three weeks turned into 3 months, and by then I had lost the motivation and frankly the mental and physical desire to do anything about it. I’m an introvert and I was loving not having to interact with people face to face at first, but the pandemic has made me realise that even introverts have a limit! I need people sometimes! And all of the uncertainty about schools, working from home, travel plans, etc, it was and is just so draining.

Fast forward and my husband’s school friend was getting married at the end of last month. I knew I didn’t fit into anything that I currently owned. When I weighed myself and took measurements to determine my new size, and I was in complete shock. I had gained 10kg and 5 inches on my waist!

I’m fed up with my yoyo relationship with my weight. I can keep it off for a while and I do generally eat healthy, but when I start to spiral, it’s just uncontrollable, especially if it’s paired with me not being at 100% with my mental health.

Whilst I’m good at generally eating well, I’m not good at being active. I cycle, yes. Everywhere, all the time. I haven’t been on public transport since January and I don’t own a car. But, I take my time getting places on my bike, and it has pedal assist. I need to pedal, but 90% of the time it’s not a strain or a workout. Even if I cycle 33 miles in a day, which isn’t uncommon, it will usually be over 5/6 hours and really more of a leisurely stroll than an active ride.

Physical activity is really what I need for my physical and mental health.

So here’s what I’ve started doing. I have an active goal: either 30 minutes of cardio or 12,500 steps per day. I have to do this 5 out of 7 days during the week, like a 5:2 fitness plan, but in reverse. I’m using a Fitbit to track, but there are step tracking apps on your phone if you don’t have one. Thursdays and Fridays are school runs, which are 28 minutes each way on the bike, so those day’s I’m covered as long as I use pedal assist on the lowest setting (my daughter is heavy 😂).

The other days, I’m taking the 12,500 step goal and dividing it up throughout the day. I’m awake from 7am – 10pm, but split it up into 1,000 steps an hour. Some hours it’s tough. I might have spent the entire time sitting at my desk, which means I’m scrambling at the last minute. I know walking to the coffee shop in front of my building is 500 steps, walking to Tesco across the road and back is 1000 steps, and walking around the block 1.5 times is also 1,000 steps. When I can’t leave the house, I’ll march or run in place. I prefer running because I can do the 1,000 steps in 3 minutes versus marching which is double the time.

I’ve also started marching while I’m in meetings (with my camera off of course) or even running in place if it’s something I need to listen to and not take notes or speak. Random star jumps or running with the kids in the evenings as well. That way, I’m not scrambling to try to get 1,000 steps for that hour all in one shot.

I’ve been at it since October 1st. I give myself rest days on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Saturdays because I’ve been working all week, and Tuesdays because it’s kind of midpoint day from Saturday. If you don’t want to be rigid, just know that 2 days a week you’re not exercising.

Some benefits I’ve already felt:
  • It forces me to leave the house. I can’t tell you how many weeks, WEEKS I have been holed up without stepping foot outside at all. Trust me, it’s not healthy.
  • I have lost weight. I checked my weight this morning and I lost 1.5kg. Definitely not a huge drop, but I want to focus on slow and steady weight loss and overall improvement in physical health rather than quick results that won’t last.
  • I’m eating less. Knowing that I need to put in that 1,000 steps throughout the hour really makes me rethink how much I’m eating in one sitting.
  • I’m drinking more water. Running, marching, star jumping and walking throughout the entire day makes you thirsty.
  • I’m sleeping better. Besides my son going through a sleep regression, I realised that I haven’t randomly woken up in the middle of the night for about 3 nights in a row.
  • I have energy to work out… sometimes. There are days where I’ve been able to fit in a cardio workout or like 7 minute abs or whatever in there. The fact that I have energy left over for me is a huge positive.
  • I’m getting physically fitter. Thirteen days ago, it would take me 5 minutes to run 1,000 steps in place, and the idea of running for a whole minute seemed impossible. Now I can run 1,000 steps in 3 minutes, and I can run for 10 minutes in place without stopping or needing a break. I’ve also noticed on my fitbit that I can stay in a cardio zone for much longer without feeling like I’m going to drop.
  • I feel happier and more mentally sound. This is probably the most important one for me. My mental health had really taken a nosedive since March and I can feel that all being slowly lifted.

Regarding the steps, you don’t need to do 12,500 if that seems like too much. Even 10,000 steps per day split up over 12 hours would be a great place to start. The idea is to have a goal in mind, set the intention, and work on it throughout the day rather than trying to cram it all in. Physical activity really does have so many benefits, you just have to start somewhere.

Sometimes when we are in a rut, it can be hard to invest in ourselves. But at the end of the day, we can’t fill from an empty cup.