By Stephanie Simons,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire
Feeling a little heavier lately? With the disruption to exercise and eating routines brought on by the pandemic, even the leanest among us have seen the pounds pile on. This is nothing to be ashamed of – after all, your body has survived a world health crisis! But while a little weight gain is nothing to worry about, obesity can put you at risk of serious health complications.
More than a third of adults and a sixth of children in the US are classified as obese, increasing their risk of at least 60 chronic diseases including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer, as well as poor mental health. It is also thought that the overweight or obese are at much greater risk of death when infected with Covid-19.
The pandemic changed everything, including our daily habits to manage our health. However, research suggests just a 5-10% reduction in your body weight can improve blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugars, thus reducing your risk of numerous serious conditions. There are several simple lifestyle changes that can make a big difference.
During lockdown, many of us were eating more food and using less energy, causing our weight to increase. Adjusting your diet, however, can reap significant rewards. Instead of turning to unsustainable fasts or celebrity diets, look to incorporate nutritious, home-cooked meals into your everyday menu.
Proteins like chickpeas or fish, wholegrains like oats or brown rice, and a wide range of fruit and vegetables, will improve your health right from day one. You can even add a multivitamin like Centrum, Alive or Nature’s Truth ABC formulas or a protein powder like Pure Protein, Sun Warrior, Lean Body or Vital Protein to make your meals work harder for you.
Too busy to cook? Plan your meals ahead and cook big batches once or twice a week to have handy when you need. There’s no need to give up snacks either – try nuts, dates or crudités.
Whether you prefer Pilates, the gym, or a quick dip in the pool, lockdown knocked our established routines out of whack. Many of us have struggled since then to regain our motivation. The key is not to strain yourself to resurrect your old habits, but instead create new ones that fit with your current lifestyle.
Online videos and classes are a great way to get back in the swing. Diverse, flexible and lower priced (or, indeed, free) this is exercise you can tailor to your preferences and your schedule. For those keen to get back to the gym, mark out small sessions of time, increasing only when you feel ready. Start with once or twice a week and build from there – you’re much more likely to keep it up – Vitamin B supplements like Nature’s Bounty or Nature’s Truth B-Complex will help you feel energised.
And enjoy the sunshine! A family hike or a trip to the beach is enough to get the juices flowing and help you feel more active again. Just don’t forget the sunscreen (try Blue Lizard or Neutrogena sunscreens!)
Diet, exercise and mental health are intrinsically linked. Many of us are still recovering from the mental strain of the past year and this can make it difficult to address physical health concerns.
It can therefore be helpful to talk to others dealing with similar experiences who can support you to improve your mood and wellbeing. This might be your partner, your family and friends, or even a local group. A cooking class could inspire you to more adventurous cooking, or a sports team could give you the boost you need to get moving. You can always talk to your GP or pharmacist too if you need to discuss any health concern.
As your mood improves, you’ll find yourself much more motivated to prepare that nutritious meal or head out to your first post-lockdown yoga class – which, in turn, will help your mental health too. The important thing is not to face things alone – you’d be surprised how many people are feeling the exact same way.
Times have changed and our bodies have changed with them. As we move through this transition, it’s important to take things slowly. If you’re concerned about your mental or physical health, do speak to your pharmacist or GP.
Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.