Has your waistline expanded since the pandemic began? Don't worry, you are not alone. A lifestyle that confines you inside the four walls of a house, with limited movement, is bound to add inches to your tummy.
Routines have been disrupted, stress has increased, and with the emergence of new variants of the virus at regular intervals, it is unclear when things will get back to normal.
Weight changes have come with good reason, as people's diets, activity levels, sleep habits, and daily routines have been turned upside down in this last year.
Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important for well-being and quality of life. If you are overweight or obese, you are at higher risk of developing serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers.
Obesity is also linked to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and so on. Keeping your weight under control will help in staying agile and strong and will also have a positive effect on your health and happiness.
If you are among those who have gained some inches on their waistline, do not start being self-critical after reading all of the above. Rather, make some changes to your lifestyle to help reverse the scale and feel better.
One of the main causes of unhealthy weight gain is having an improper diet coupled with leading a sedentary lifestyle devoid of physical activity. Additionally, emotional stress and improper sleep routines over the course of the pandemic have compounded the problem. Getting into shape requires a proper diet, regular exercise, and good sleep -- compromising on either of them can defeat the entire purpose.
Follow these simple tips to keep your weight healthy levels.
Eating right is half the job done!
Let's face the truth -- a healthy diet is a key to weight management. I cannot stress enough the importance of regularized calorie consumption. Although a calorie-restrictive diet does require eating food in measured portions, it doesn't necessarily require you to starve to death! Incorporating foods that are rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats is a great way to tackle weight gain. A recent study by researchers at the University of Leeds identifies almonds as one such food. The study found that people who snacked on almonds (compared to crackers with equivalent energy) as a mid-morning snack reported a lower overall hunger drive. Snacking on almonds also led to suppressed unconscious desire ("implicit wanting") to consume other high-fat foods, which could be useful in a weight management strategy. Another study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that a daily snack of 42 grams of almonds, consumed as part of an overall healthy diet, improved a number of heart disease risk factors. In addition to significantly improving HDL cholesterol, it also reduced central adiposity (belly fat) and waist circumference, all well-established heart disease risk factors. Additionally, almonds are also known to have satiating properties which makes them a good snack to munch on especially in between meals, as they will keep you satiated without adding to your weight. So be sure to add a handful of almonds to your daily diet, to manage your weight better. Besides almonds, you can also eat fruits, buttermilk, lemon-infused water to curb your hunger cravings.
Sweat it Out!
Yes, you read that right -- working out is a must if you want to lose weight. Did you know maintaining a workout routine of at least 150 minutes per week can do more wonders than you can imagine? Besides shedding those extra pounds, exercising helps in gaining muscle mass, increasing metabolism, and maintaining a healthy heart. It also releases endorphins or happy hormones in your body that elevate your mood.
Celebrity Fitness Instructor, Yasmin Karachiwala, recommends "By making sure to add both cardiovascular and resistance training to the mix, you will be shedding those waistline inches in no time!" She also recommends that "There must be a gap of at least 2 hours between a major meal and a workout. For an added boost of energy, I suggest my clients eat a banana with a handful of almonds at least 30 mins before exercising." She says "Almonds can satiate hunger without bloating the stomach, thus enabling a good workout session. They are a very convenient pre-workout snack and can be carried and consumed on the go."
There ain't nothing a good sleep can't solve
Adequate sleep is essential for your body to recuperate from daily exertion. Lack of sleep decreases your resting metabolic rate and can also cause insulin resistance. Moreover, it can increase appetite and reduce mental well-being by interfering with hormone production, making you more likely to indulge in binge eating unhealthy foods.
Losing those extra pounds may seem difficult at first, even unattainable. But remember that it is never too late to begin. Adopting basic, quarantine-friendly steps will help you remain in your target weight range. You might face setbacks and not be able to settle into a healthy routine as fast as you would have liked. But it's important to remember to keep your focus on the long term, and that will lead the way.
 Berryman CE, West SG, Fleming JA, Bordi PL, Kris-Etherton PM. Effects of daily almond consumption on cardiometabolic risk and abdominal adiposity in healthy adults with elevated LDL cholesterol: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Heart Association 2015; 4:e000993 doi: 10.1161/JAHA.114.000993)
 Hollingworth S Dalton M, Blundell JE and Finlayson G. Evaluation of the Influence of Raw Almonds on Appetite Control: Satiation, Satiety, Hedonics, and Consumer Perceptions. Nutrients 2019, 11(9), 2030; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu1109203