The pandemic has completely transformed our lives. If you have put on weight during the pandemic, don’t be too harsh on yourself.
You are not the only one. In many ways, weight gain was almost inevitable for those of us who didn’t have a strict fitness routine before the pandemic. Indeed, with gyms shut down, many people have found it tricky to stick to regular workouts. Additionally, it’s been a stressful time for everyone. Even if you’ve been able to self-isolate at home, it’s been even more difficult to find the time and space you need to build a fitness routine. When most of us have been struggling with improving a home office setup in a tiny space, it’s fair to say that we are running out of unused nooks we can use for gym purposes. Combined with vitamin D deficiency (aka the lack of direct sunlight), food has been a way of coping with the situation. Was it healthy? Well, yes and no. Food indulgence is not a body-friendly approach in most situations. However, if the extra cookie has helped you stay sane during a highly stressful and demanding crisis, then it’s been the right choice for your mental health at the time.
But, right now, vaccine rollouts have improved our pandemic response. You don’t need to self-isolate anymore as long as you take all the necessary precautions. So, it’s the right time to reconsider your post-pandemic fitness strategy. If you’ve already kickstarted your fitness journey and fail to see results, here are some of the reasons why your fitness levels are plateauing.
#1. Muscle pain
If you haven’t been exercising regularly during the pandemic, you might have lost some muscle strength and flexibility. Most of us have spent the pandemic on a chair and a sofa. Working from home has been a revelation for countless professionals. While home-based work has been decisive in the survival of businesses, it’s also had huge consequences on muscle health. Studies about the work-from-home environment reveal that employees tend to work longer hours, accumulating at least 2 additional hours every day. Besides, you are less likely to take regular breaks when you work from home. In other words, you’re sitting for an extended period of time every day. When you’re relaxing after work, it’s likely to in front of the TV. The bottom line: Extensive sitting can develop bad posture habits and lead to muscle soreness. Paired with the absence of training, you could be struggling with debilitating back and shoulder pain. If pain stops you from working out effectively, it’s important to seek helpful relief through alternative medication or yoga therapy. Managing pandemic-related soreness can help introduce a healthy fitness routine.
#2. You are already working out so much
You’ve got a plan. You are going to do long cardio sessions that can take your body to the fat-burning zone. The truth is that it doesn’t matter how much you exercise. Cardio workouts only are not effective enough to reach your goals. Cardio promotes cardiovascular health through repeated activities. Don’t judge the result of your workout by how sweaty you get. Cardio tends to produce more sweat, but it’s not the most effective solution to burn more calories. Indeed, cardio workouts are associated with a drop in blood sugar, leading to extra calories. Oops. If you want to get toned and improve your fitness levels, you need to introduce strength workouts. Aim for weight lifting activities at the gym. You can spice up your workouts with IRON COMPANY weighted accessories, such as plates or kettlebells if you are training at home. Your muscles burn more calories; hence building lean muscle mass will bring your goals closer.
#3. You are not eating enough
Fitness experts warn that your diet is 80% of your back-in-shape plan. So, in an effort to maximize results, you’ve cut out every indulgence from your food regime. Be careful, however, not to cut too much from your diet. You need to create a calorie deficit to see results, yet working out will also lead to a deficit. If you decide to restrict your diet to consume fewer calories (rather than eating a balanced diet and exercising to burn more calories), you ultimately force your body into starvation mode. Does starvation mode help lose weight? Yes, it will cause weight loss. However, the body slows its metabolism in response to starvation. Therefore, you may not lose as much weight as you expect. Additionally, you could also lose muscle cells as these are targeted in priority during the starvation mode. Finally, starving your body will affect the effectiveness of essential bodily functions.
#4. You’re eating too much
If you’re worried about avoiding the unhealthy starvation mode, you need to eat appropriately during your fitness journey. However, a common mistake for many fitness beginners is to grab a standard balanced diet from the Internet. Each body is unique due to the basal metabolic rate (BMR), which you can figure out with this online calculator. Your BMR is an indication of how many calories your body burns for the sole purpose of self-preservation. It’s the energy required to fulfill all vital functions. This will be your reference when defining a balanced diet. More often than not, sports diets tend to be higher in calories to cater to muscle mass and activity levels. Yet, they can contain too many calories for beginners.
#5. You are on a guilt trip
You may not feel happy in your body in your current shape or fitness level. But you are on a journey of self-improvement. Therefore, your performance and lean muscle mass will improve the more you work on it. There is nothing to gain in a self-blaming game. The pandemic has been difficult for everybody. You’ve done your best to cope with an impossible situation. Granted, you are not yet as fit as you would like to be. But is your guilt going to make you any fitter? The answer is no. It’s only going to put additional pressure on your body. Remember, self-love is part of your journey to a better self!
#6. You are losing weight, but you don’t notice
Let’s be realistic. You can’t shape up in a few days. It takes time to build strong and lean muscles and get rid of the pandemic bulge. It’s important to remind yourself that your body is going through a lot of transformation internally before you can see the positive results of your efforts. Yet, after only one week of regular fitness routine, you gain more mental clarity. After a couple of weeks, your digestion and sleep improve. After a month, your performance and endurance start to show. You will notice a variety of positive changes before you spot the weight drop in the mirror.
#7. You’re on your own
Transforming your fitness regime is a big step toward a healthier lifestyle. You will be changing your habits and challenging yourself throughout the process. There will be many (MANY) temptations along the way. Delicious junk food? Check. Lazy days watching Netflix? Check. Skipping the gym to go shopping? Check. We all have our weaknesses. So, why should you fend against them alone? You can share your goal with your family. Families who work out together build unique bonds. Reach out to friends who could be interested in training with you. You can even find a personal trainer who will keep you accountable and motivated. There’s no need to take on the challenge by yourself.
Fitness plateaux are part of the journey. More often than not, we accidentally create our own obstacles, either because we are not exercising or eating properly or simply because we don’t surround ourselves with the right supporters. Understanding the challenges can give us the key to rethink the fitness strategy and overcome the plateau.