Lockdown Weight Woes

Content warning: weight, dieting, mental health.

You’re probably aware of this, but there’s currently a global pandemic. I know, shocking! Anyway, at the start of the implementation of lockdown in the UK I decided on two things:

  • I wasn’t going to be a “get fit in lockdown” blog wanker
    Frankly, most people have more important things to worry about than adding a fitness regime to their already hectic lives. (This is my excuse for not blogging here.)
  • I wasn’t going to weigh myself
    Although I’m supposed to be getting back into my weight category (~65kg) for a powerlifting comp after a reckless Christmas bulk, I figured I didn’t need the stress of cutting/dieting at the moment and so decided to go with the flow and worry about weight categories later.

While I stand by the first one, the latter may be my undoing.

Unfortunately, as mentioned in my previous post (and heavily on my other blog) I suffer from something called PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder); women with PMDD are more sensitive to normal hormone fluctuations due to a molecular mechanism in their genes. Female body fat produces estrogen as well as storing it, so the more body fat a person has, the more estrogen they’re exposed to. As you can imagine, more estrogen doesn’t help when you have a hormone disorder! Maintaining a healthy body fat level makes it noticeably easier to manage my PMDD symptoms.

When I stopped weighing myself and stopped aiming for my old weight category, I inadvertently gave myself permission to eat whatever the hell I liked in whatever quantities I liked. Although I eat sensibly for the most part, I eat for my usual activity levels (working out twice a day most days as well as an easy daily ~15,000 steps). At the moment, I’m barely managing 3 workouts a week and 5,000 steps a day (which in itself will have a big impact upon mood.)

Unfortunately, this approach to my diet, combined with such a dramatic reduction in activity levels has seen my weight increase back to my post-bulk level (~75kg). I’m now 10kg up from where I “should” be, and feeling the consequences. Even accounting for pandemic related stress, my mood swings and depression dips have been significant (and difficult to manage).

While I’m a big fan of eating whatever takes my fancy, I need to address either what I’m putting in my mouth or the amount of energy I’m expending (or both). Unfortunately, with gyms still closed for the foreseeable future, my favourite way of increasing my activity level is off limits. However, I have options, and I don’t think it’s infeasible at this point to set goals of the following:

  • Minimum 10,000 steps a day. Although there’s evidence that the recommended daily 10,000 steps is just an arbitrary number by some random dude, it’s a nice round number that’s challenging but achievable.
  • Three weighted workouts a week. I love my weights, so this would normally be the easiest thing in the world to achieve, but mood swings and apathy are making it feel impossible. Three is an achievable number of workouts without over-stretching my already hectic (homeschooling! working! parenting! chores!) schedule.
  • Three bodyweight sessions a week. PE with Joe, yoga, stretching – any of those will do. I know the kids will keep me accountable for PE, so this should be a breeze!

In addition to that, I’m going to continue avoiding alcohol (which I’ve been doing for my mental health) and increase my fruit & veg intake (in times of stress, I lean too heavily on comfort carbs).

Hopefully, the increase in activity will give me an initial boost in serotonin while the more measured approach to my diet starts to take effect. As I’m only a few days into this menstrual cycle, it should be fairly obvious within a few weeks whether or not it’s paying off (vs the past few difficult cycles) or whether it’s all just a distraction from the reality of what is actually pandemic-induced CRAZY.

Photo by Ursula Spaulding

Jem Turner hello@strongmum.com +44(0)7521056376

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