With ‘normal life’ being anything but normal lately, the current situation may have resulted in you gaining a little extra unwanted weight. Contrary to how you may feel, the world has not ended! Accumulating a little extra fat on your body due to certain circumstances is normal, and it’s okay.
The fact is, you are probably very likely going to gain weight and lose weight over your lifetime. Although this thought may be bothersome and make you feel uncomfortable, understand that the situation is manageable if you have the tools to navigate your weight gain in a healthy, positive way.
Weight gain is one of the things that may result from the regular ups and downs of life, including a few months of quarantine or isolation, and unsure future, economic insecurity and all the added stress many have experienced over the last few months.
Be confident that you can lose what you gained in a healthy and effective manner if you go with the flow and resist taking drastic measures to suddenly lose that weight. Freaking out about gaining a few pounds can make the situation worse both physically and mentally, and getting anxious about it is completely unnecessary. Life can be messy, but, thankfully, when it comes to the area of body composition and fat loss, you can also clean it up!
Be assured that I, along with everyone else, go through periods in my life, both positive and negative, where over-indulging or veering off my nutritional path happen. I too have experienced a myriad of negative emotions revolving around our current situation and the choices and indulgences that sometimes happen during these times. I have immersed myself in one of my favorite pass times - developing recipes and experimenting. This sometimes requires many a taste test to get things just right…
Once I return to my typical daily routine, my weight stabilizes and returns to where I am comfortable. No crazy diets required. Currently, routines may not now, or ever, return to what they were. This requires establishing some new ones to allow you to prioritize your health.
Through my personal experiences and dealing with my clients I have learned a few things, some do’s and don’ts, about dealing with weight gain and establishing those boundaries in a healthy way:
This sounds really simple and intuitive but it requires emphasis. If you have been following your Paleo lifestyle, continue on. Stop the behaviour that caused the weight gain, and return to your normal diet. Your body will take care of the rest. Following the basics of a Paleo diet by eating the best whole, real, unprocessed food that you can happen no matter where or how you find yourself.
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Access is everything. Having inflammation promoting, non-Paleo foods readily available will not support your getting back to your Paleo lifestyle. Make sure that you do the opposite. Stock your home and other areas your snacks like to hide full of healthy, minimally-processed food. Make sure you have a good supply of your favorites and easy recipe fixes like Pete’s Paleo bone broth and bacon. Get rid of the foods that you know are tempting. Order or make some Paleo alternatives if that will support you in getting back to your plan. If going to the store is not an option, use delivery – most grocery stores offer online ordering and delivery and a very low cost.
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Gaining a few pounds is not part of the global crisis the world finds itself in. We all inadvertently gain weight, and that is perfectly fine. You may have overindulged and it is not a big deal. Get over it and move on. This is not an invitation to continuously weight cycle back and forth, but every once in a while, you might accumulate a few extra and that is totally normal.
Nothing positive is achieved by obsessing over it and constantly reminding yourself of it. Stop telling your friends, who probably care very little about how much you weigh. Stop getting on the scale to check how much weight you actually put on. Focus instead on the good things in your life, those things you are grateful for and the stuff that really matters!
Avoiding the Overcorrect
Some people who gain a little extra weight will get really motivated to lose that weight, and do some crazy cleanse or strict diet. I see this often in my practice. Most of the time, these tactics fail miserably and the consequences can leave you in a tougher place than where you began. Avoid excessively restricting calories or following some crazy plan for the sole purpose of a quick and seemingly easy weight loss fix. This only leads you down the destructive vortex of yo-yo dieting.
Stay calm, remain focused and avoid any fad diets and crazy-sounding cleanses. A Paleo diet is supportive of your wellness and physiological function. At this point there is little need for a diet/liver/kidney detox and there is no need to buy into that hype.
Be Kind To Yourself
It always upsets me when I listen to people put themselves down because they may have made one or two less than optimal food choices and/or gained weight. Words have immense power and using them against yourself rarely accomplishes a positive outcome. Everyone has times and moments where their choices around food may not be what they consider ideal. Momentarily straying from your Paleo lifestyle is not a reason to put yourself down and negative self-talk may actually cause weight gain and emotional stress.
Practice speaking to yourself the same way you would to your best friend or your child. Practice reframing your negative thoughts into positive ones. For example, instead of telling yourself, ‘I’m so disgusting, I shouldn’t have eaten the cookies’, say, ‘I really enjoyed the cookies but they don’t always make me feel my best so I will only enjoy them very occasionally’
Repeating and focusing on what you think you may have done ‘wrong’ in order to gain the weight is stressful, exhausting, and unproductive. The emphasis should be to always treat yourself with kindness. You deserve it, no matter how much you may think you don’t.
Overindulging is fine every once in a while, but continuing to make poor choices based on the mindset of ‘I’ve blown it already, so what?!?’ is not helpful. All or nothing thinking can really impact your physical and mental wellness and it can set you up for a long-term ride on the diet rollercoaster. This is no fun! A short-term distraction is way easier to recover from than a few months of ‘letting go’. Try not to prolong things any more than you already have. The time to find your balance is now.
Most people need and/or seek out professional counselling at least at one point or another in their lives. If you feel challenged letting go of the diet mentality, you find yourself engaged in some progressively worsening food-oriented behavior or your negative self-talk is becoming overwhelming, it may be time to book an appointment with a qualified professional.
You might find that cleaning out your emotional closet can be life-changing. Consulting with an expert in the field that you require help with is essential, especially now when we are facing obstacles never seen or experienced before in our lifetimes.
Take that step when/if you need to and are ready.
Ignore the hype and stop believing in the latest trend or diet advice from celebrities, celebrity trainers, health gurus, lifestyle experts, random celebrity chefs and unqualified, self-proclaimed health experts.
At the end of the day it is important to remember why you chose a Paleo diet and lifestyle in the first place. Get back to basics. Your body is smart and given the right tools know exactly what to do and how to recover (and lose the extra weight too).