• olivia park

Why you don't need to go on a diet because your body has changed during quarentine


I’ve had many conversations recently with people concerned about their body changing during this pandemic.


Valid. SO, SO, SO completely valid. It doesn’t FEEL great when your clothes feel differently. But we need to spend some time dissecting this.


For me right now, I stay around a weight (which can fluctuate up and down 3-4kg—something to note here is that maintenance can be anywhere around 2-2.5kg up or down of your weight) where I have flexibility. I know that if I wanted to change my body in whichever direction I can do so, but I don’t stress if the scale goes up by 2-3 kg because I first remind myself that it is within maintenance. Secondly, I give myself context, remove the emotionality and be as objective as possible. 


With everything there is a cost-benefit right? First I think it is important to differentiate the difference between a calorie deficit and dieting. Dieting isn’t necessarily going to lead you into a calorie deficit (which is how fat loss happens). Dieting can, however, leave you spinning in circles feeling frustrated as hell because you are not eating X, Y, Z but still not getting anywhere.


Diets work—if you are in a calorie deficit. 


Popular ‘diets’ that promote foods as good or bad don’t necessarily mean a calorie deficit. This is why diet culture is messed up.


Right now, things are stressful. And going into a calorie deficit is not going to benefit you if you are feeling under pressure. You need food in order to deal with life stress.


And if you’re feeling stressed about your body, are your actions reactive or honoring where you’re at right now?


Being in a calorie deficit does require sacrifice. Cooking at home more (not hard at the moment!), saying no to occasions, to wine, tracking your food … it doesn’t have to be hideous but the point is it does require sacrifice of some sort.


When you are eating more intuitively you are eating for appetite, hunger, the social element, for fuel—all of the ways in which food enriches our lives and plays a role in our life. You get to autoregulate your nutrition more. Maybe some days you eat a little more, then some days you eat less because of your training schedule, how much you’ve moved, what you had on and so on. This comes from listening to your hunger and fullness cues (which takes practice).


Now, if you have noticed that you have gained some weight or your clothes are feeling different (this also applies if you have changed your body composition in the past then it changed in a way you don’t want), please don’t freak out. 


Do this instead:


GIVE YOURSELF CONTEXT!


I have been in New Zealand now for about 2 months (usually I live in South Korea but because of the ‘C’ I am here …). When I first got back I was lovvvving going to the supermarket and eating the beautiful foods without abandon that I can’t get in South Korea. One of these things is my favourite NZ peanut butter. Now, when I say without abandon, I mean a jar every couple of days. But I was also enjoying that. But I got to a point where it was accessible to me at any time so it lost it’s pizazz, and I also kinda got sick of it. I got sick of the taste and started to feel a bit blurgh from it. Now, in this time (I’m hesitant to say numbers here but I want to give you context) I’ve gained 4kg.


Am I freaking out? No.


Am I going on a diet? No.


Am I giving myself reasonable context for why this happened so I can not judge myself and move on? Yes.


I was eating more than two jars of peanut butter a week, plus everything else as well as moving less than I usually would have—of course there were going to be changes.


I don’t need to do more exercise. More intentional exercise is NOT the answer to undo food or fix. Relying on that and the amount you sweat is only going to lead to burnout, frustration and staying in this all or nothing mindset.


Instead, look at what health-promoting activities you were doing before and what you are not doing now—what has changed?


That is all you need to do. I know. It seems far too simple. But it is all you need to do. 


You do not need to diet.


You do not need to do more burpees and workouts.


YOU CAN MAKE HEALTH-PROMOTING CHOICES WHILE BEING WELL FED!


So, what are some easy things you can do?


  1. Look at your unintentional movement. Has your overall step count gone down? I don’t want you to be fixed on a number but can you build in just two 15 minute walks each day without having to track your steps?

  2. What time are you going to bed? And what is the quality sleep like? Can you get to bed just 30 mins earlier? Can you remove screens from your bedroom and read a book 30 mins before sleep?

  3. If you’re having dessert every night and that is a variable that has changed, can you have it every other night instead?


You do not need to cut anything, restrict foods, fight against yourself and willpower, but more look at what you can bring INTO your life rather than remove? 


There is a place for peanut butter in my life still and I have it each day. But I don’t need to eat a jar every two days. I just don’t.


You can make health promoting choices while being well fed!


And remember that ‘health’ is all encompassing. You decide what this is for you. But health is more than your physical health, it is your mental, your relationships with others and yourself, it is your ability to ‘grow and prosper across different domains of life’


Giving your context for the reality of what is going on and what has contributed to how you feel is how you are going to be able to develop more self compassion for yourself. When self compassion overrules shame, guilt and judgment, your choices are going to be self serving rather than self sabotaging. 


All you need to do now is get curious and then take the


Next


Best


Step.



If you're curious about how you can take the next best step, you can learn more about The Bold Collective and how we can work together 1:1 here.