Have You Gained Weight During Your COVID-19 Staycation?
We’re now a several weeks into this social distancing, stay home, quarantine business. Some have managed to stay on track with their health – they’re eating nutritious homemade meals and exercising regularly. They may even be getting into BETTER shape throughout this coronavirus twilight zone!
Then there’s the rest of us.
If your health wagon has gotten off track and you’re packing on the “Quarantine 19” or “Pandemic Pounds” of extra weight, keep reading!
For some of us, food has become the most exciting part of our days… or at least it provides a distraction. If you’re the type that doesn’t eat much when you’re stressed, then you’ll be doing all right in your swimsuit this summer.
For the rest of us, Lord have mercy.
It’s time to pull up our big girl/big boy pants, re-establish some self control, and turn this wagon around before it careens off the cliff!
Let’s jump right in. Here are 8 things to consider that will help you get back on track.
This is HUGE. It’s all about insulin. Every time you eat or snack, you have an increase in insulin. The point here is to give your body some time between feedings to allow insulin levels to drop back down – moving us toward insulin ‘sensitivity’ (good) and away from insulin ‘resistance’ (bad).
Eating too often is a sure fire way to stay trapped in insulin resistance… and therefore, weight loss resistance.
If you’re currently a big snacker or grazer, start reducing the number of snacks throughout the day and move toward eating 3 “square” meals per day instead. These are your times to EAT. All the other times in the day are NOT. Create well delineated meal times.
And when you eat a meal, make it count! Fuel up with plenty of nourishing food. Eat enough to energize you and satisfy you. This alone will improve your metabolism.
2. Then, eat fewer meals.
Drop either your first meal or your last meal of the day. By default, this means that your body will be spending more time in a fasted state, which is ideal… especially if you’re fueling up with healthy choices during your fed state (eating windows).
Some call this intermittent fasting, some call it time-restricted eating, and others call it delayed onset eating (if you opt to skip breakfast, rather than dinner). It doesn’t really matter what you call it… it matters that you do it!
If this is new to you, the progression will look something like this: start with reducing the number of snacks… then move to 3 meals… then move to 2 meals SOME days of the week… then most days of the week.
Then, for Bonus Points, throw in a day or two when you just eat ONE nice, big, healthy meal.
Wow! Your hormones are going to LOVE you! (And so will your waistline!)
Here’s the deal: Don’t make “eating LESS” your priority… instead, focus on “EATING LESS OFTEN”!
*** If you’re a female and you’d like some guidance, accountability, or good company as you’re implementing some of these things, I have a women’s therapeutic fasting & functional nutrition group on Facebook that you’re invited to join. Find me on Facebook if you’re interested.
3. Next, let’s talk about WHAT to eat during those specific meal times.
Start with more REAL food and less factory-made “Franken-foods”, fake food and ‘convenience’ foods.
Make sure you’re getting enough quality protein (meat, eggs, fish) and healthy fats (grass fed butter, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.), while decreasing the emphasis on “carbs”, particularly the low quality, toxic refined carbs. WATCH THE SUGAR!!!
Any & every time you can, upgrade to the healthiest, least toxic versions of these foods… e.g. grass fed, pastured, organic, NON-GMO, wild-caught, etc. It’s important.
Consider this: Toxins are harbored in fat cells. In the simplest sense, the more toxins you take in/expose yourself to and don’t get rid of, the bigger, fatter, and more numerous your fat cells will be!
TWO critical action steps here:
(a) Stop adding so many toxins via your FOOD, personal care products, cleaning products, cosmetics, insecticides/pesticides, drugs/meds, vaccines, etc.
(b) Get rid of the toxins you’ve been accumulating for YEARS that are wreaking havoc on your health at the deepest level, setting the stage for serious chronic illness down the road, AND making it very challenging for you to ditch your excess FAT!
This is hands-down the best way I know to detoxify all the way down to the level of your cells AND repair them in the process…
– don’t bring junk, sweets, refined carb & toxic fat foods in the house… don’t buy it, and if you do, make it inconvenient to access… keep it in the freezer… in the highest cabinet… or in the grocery store! 😉
-the more you eat sugar and (refined) carbs, and the more often you eat, the longer you’ll stay STUCK with sugar dependence (always burning sugar because you’re always supplying the sugar) and not be able to tap into fat burning (because your body needs to burn off the sugar you keep adding before it’ll tap into your stored fat)
– drink water especially when you’re bored and looking to mindlessly stuff your face… try different REAL foods/ingredients to flavor your water if you just can’t stand another drop of plain water! (lemon, lime, orange, cucumber, mint, frozen berries, etc.)
– give your bored taste buds something else to do – sip on tea, have the occasional sparkling water (watch your consumption of carbonated beverages, especially if you have any gut issues), sip bone broth, brush your teeth… but avoid gum or mints made with artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors
3.MOVE Every Day
I’m not telling you that you need to do a traditional “work out” every day. I AM recommending that you MOVE every day, in some way.
Consider all the different ways to move and all the things we could work on improving with our movement: resistance training, lifting heavy things, stretching and improving flexibility, cardio/endurance (steady-state, low-to-moderate intensity), cardio/burst training, HIIT (high intensity interval training), balance, agility, speed, power, functional strength, spinal hygiene exercises… SO many options for how we can move our bodies!
-Walking and steady state exercises will help with stress reduction… which makes it ‘easier’ for our bodies to shed excess fat… plus we FEEL better overall.
-Bursts and high intensity intervals will directly help with fat burning.
-Building lean muscle by challenging your muscles with resistance/weighted objects will also help with fat burning AND a host of other functional benefits.
This is what I have my coaching clients doing right now, every single day:
1 – Walking. Somedays it might just be walking to the end of your driveway and back, walking around your house, or walking in place… other days it’s a long walk or hike. Either way, we need to walk. For the rest of our lives, we should be able to walk.
2 – Spinal hygiene exercises. (Future post!)
3 – MINIMUM of 5 minutes of movement/exercise, in addition to walking and spinal hygiene. Usually it’s a series of strengthening functional movements that are some variation of squatting, lunging, and dead lifting for lower body, and pushing, pulling, overhead pressing for the upper body, and some core work. 5 minutes. C’mon. You can do that! Some days it might be some yoga or stretching or jump rope or pilates or dancing or hula hooping or calisthenics or going up and down stairs or jumping on the trampoline….
Come up with YOUR minimum daily requirement “Quarantine Routine”… and don’t miss it.
You can build from there.
– especially if you’re working from home and sitting a lot, or sitting with your home school students, take plenty of movement and stretching breaks INSTEAD OF snack breaks!
– add an EXTRA work out, walk, or cardio-type outing… if you’ve got some extra time on your hands
– Speaking of walking, practice great posture while walking (head back over the spine, not forward or down); practice some nice deep breathing in through your nose and out your mouth; stay off your phone for cryin’ out loud; think positive thoughts/count your blessings/think of what you’re grateful for; and don’t forget to take the kids along when you walk the dog!
Become a MOVER for life!
4. Take it easy with alcohol consumption.
When it comes to the effect of insulin on fat storage, the body just really doesn’t process alcohol all that well… or at least not as well as we’d like. It’s another sure fire way to pack on excess inches, fat, and pounds.
IF you’re going to drink but you’d still like to manage your body composition a bit more effectively, then you could opt to:
-drink less often
-drink fewer drinks when you DO drink
-stop drinking earlier in the evening
-“cut” (dilute) your alcohol when it’s realistic e.g. add sparkling water to hard seltzer or wine
-drink a different type of alcohol that doesn’t impact our metabolism quite as poorly – some forms of alcohol are known to be lower in sugar &/or carbs, like vodka, tequila, whiskey… or very low carb seltzers, beer and certain wines (my all-time favorite is Dry Farm Wines).
Traditional beer is notorious for adding unwanted inches to our waistlines and belly area, as are high sugar alcohols and all the toxic additions we make to them! Keep it simple, low sugar and low carb.
5. Take care of your gut!
Your “gut” directly impacts your brain health, as well as your immune function. In fact, the majority of your immune function comes from your GUT! There’s no better time than NOW to work on gut health!
Plus, if your gut is healthy, you’ll absorb nutrients better, eliminate waste better, have less systemic inflammation, have better energy, have better cognitive function and emotional health, have no bloating or discomfort, and maintain an optimal body composition MUCH more easily!
A great place to start is by reducing the toxic foods, refined carbs and sugar… and then adding a bit of traditionally fermented food &/or drinks occasionally… and perhaps taking a QUALITY probiotic/prebiotic.
If you really want to know what your gut needs and DOESN’T need, the “Gut Zoomer” test is the most thorough and advanced method for assessment. Then you can 100% tailor your approach to make sure you’re getting exactly what YOUR gut needs! (Contact me at AskDrColleen@gmail.com if you’d like to order the test.) It’s what we use to be the most specific with gut wellness protocols.
Along the same lines, if you have some chronic unresolved health issues, including weight loss resistance, having the right food sensitivity test done can help solve many mysteries! If you’re unknowingly consuming certain foods that you currently have a sensitivity or intolerance to, then you’re stuck in a vicious cycle of inflammation and hormonal resistance… which makes it very challenging to achieve your optimal body composition.
Let me know if you’d like to me to send you a test kit – you can do it right from home!
6. Prioritize your sleep.
This one’s pretty straight forward! Do whatever you need to do to get to sleep and stay asleep. The old adage “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is likely to come to fruition sooner if you don’t take this seriously now!
The quality and quantity of your sleep DOES have an effect on your body composition, as well as your overall health and happiness! Chronic sleep deprivation is a form of both toxicity AND deficiency… which sabotage our efforts to achieve and maintain a healthy body composition.
A few of the biggest pieces of advice I’ll offer here to improve sleep are:
- get off all the screens WAY before it’s time to go to sleep
- if you wake up every morning with back &/or neck pain, or you’re uncomfortable during the night, it might be time to replace your mattress &/or cervical pillow. We’ve had a Spine Align mattress for over 20 years and it’s still super supportive and comfortable! (By the way, it’s already WAY more affordable than other quality mattresses in the market, but by using this link, you save an additional $150! Nice!)
- quit putting negative, stressful, toxic crap into your brain!
- reduce alcohol intake
- correct insulin resistance by reducing sugar/carbs and eating less often
- no late night snacking
- sleep in a very dark room with good ventilation/air flow
- turn off electronics in your room
- if you consistently have trouble staying asleep, and it’s not due to your snoring spouse or insane cat who wants to torment you during the night, then consider checking on your adrenal function (and other hormones), liver, or gut health. If you need some help with getting the right tests, just ask!
I’ll trust your googling skills to research additional tips, tricks, and strategies for improving the quality of your sleep. There’s plenty more out there.
7. Avoid extra stress and do what you can to offset the stress you’ve got.
I know. Maybe this one isn’t as easy as it sounds. But you need to try. Not just for your overall health, but yes, even for your body composition! Just like chronic sleep deprivation, chronic stress is a form of toxicity… which contributes to the vicious cycle of weight gain/fat gain, and difficulty shedding the excess.
We can’t (and don’t need to) eliminate ALL the stress from our life… but we need to be intentional about how much we ‘allow in’, as well as how we respond to it.
Are there sources of stress you can change? Do so.
For all the sources of stress that remain, do what you’ve gotta do to offset the impact. Prayer, quiet time, time spent in nature, exercise, reading, journalling, art, breathing exercises, meditation, etc etc.
You know the drill.
8. Even though I touched on it earlier, back in #3, it deserves its own space here! Address systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, TOXICITY… and fix your cells!
Isn’t it interesting how many things simultaneously improve your HEALTH as they’re improving your body composition??
When there’s disruption in communication and function at the cell/cell membrane/hormone receptors, oftentimes as a result of inflammation and toxicity, then all hell breaks loose!
Changing when you’re eating, changing what you’re eating, reducing toxic intake & exposure, moving regularly, healing & sealing your gut, getting enough sleep, and responding well to stress are ALL key pieces of this puzzle we’re assembling.
HOWEVER, if we fall short of addressing health at a cellular level, we will fall short of our optimal health, as well as our optimal body composition goals.
That’s the name of the game when it comes to GAINING Health in order to LOSE Weight!
Dr. Colleen Trombley-VanHoogstraat (“Dr Mom Online”) is a long-time personality in Natural Health & Wellness and is in her 25th year of active practice in Michigan, along with her husband Dr. Marc VanHoogstraat. She’s also the proud mom of two fabulous kiddos that she currently home schools – really, she’s more of their Manager at this point in their education!
Her unique perspective of the science of Wellness provides predictable solutions and transformational results for those struggling with chronic health issues, as well as those seeking lifelong health. To discover her simple strategies for creating better health through functional nutrition, movement, mindset, cellular detoxification, hormonal optimization, therapeutic fasting, and metabolic re-setting, jump on board as a regular reader of Dr Mom Online when you plug in your name and email address and follow along on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/drmomonline/
Private health & wellness consulting is available in-person or via “distance care”. Contact Dr. Colleen at AskDrColleen@gmail.com for more information