Packed on the Pandemic Pounds? Ditch the Guilt and Consider These Weight Loss Tips
The stress and fear experienced by people over the past year disrupted hormones and contributed to weight gain, says celebrity nutritionist Haylie Pomroy
If your clothes are feeling tighter now than March 2020, you're not alone. Forty-two percent of U.S. adults said they gained more weight than they intended during the pandemic, according to the American Psychological Association's Stress in America survey. And according to a JAMA study, adults in lockdown gained more than half a pound every 10 days, which is about two pounds a month.
But now, with the light at the end of the tunnel, summer on the way, and pants with actual waistbands making a reappearance, you may be ready to take control of the bad habits that cropped up over quarantine.
While experts have different theories about the best way to lose weight, celebrity nutritionist Haylie Pomroy believes it's all about keeping your metabolism fired up. Here are her tips.
Give yourself grace
The stress and fear of the past year — worry about the virus, remote learning, job loss, ill loved ones — made it hard to stay fit. "We had hormonal shifts in our bodies that we didn't have control over," Pomroy tells PEOPLE. "Stress and fear create a spike in hormones that slow your metabolism." Add to that disrupted routines, closed gyms, less movement and more takeout, and it's no wonder people gained weight.
But don't feel bad about it. "Guilt and shame are fattening," says Pomroy, adding that our bodies did what they were supposed to do. "Let everything go that was in the past — start fresh from today."
Pomroy's approach is to eat within 30 minutes of waking up. The author of the bestselling The Fast Metabolism Diet says a good meal includes 10 to 15 grams of protein, a vegetable, a whole fruit and some sort of healthy fat such as organic eggs, coconut, avocado or a tablespoon of olive oil over a sweet potato. "You want to turn on your digestion and support proper blood-sugar based hormones."
Drink a ton of water
Pomroy advises drinking half of your body weight in water every day. "Dilution is the solution for pollution," she says. Not only does water make you feel full, but it helps dilute fat soluble toxins which are around all day long and can make people gain weight.
Choose whole foods
"Food should come from the sky, land, ocean, or lake," she says. Stay away from packaged or "diet" foods, which can actually make it harder to lose weight. "Read labels because they often have obesogens, chemicals known to proliferate fat-cell production."
Exercise most days of the week
Cardiovascular activity is not only beneficial for the heart, but it increases blood flow, delivering nutrients throughout the body to tissues, muscles and fat. Pomroy suggests rotating at least two days of cardio a week — get your heart rate between 125 and 145 — and two days of heavy weights to create the micro tears that build muscle.
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The other days should be devoted to stress reduction such as yoga, or meditation, massage, or acupuncture to lower cortisol levels and allow hormones times to rest and repair, she says.
Have a nighttime routine that enables you to get a good night's sleep. Stay away from screens before bed, and settle the mind by journaling or reading. "We lose all of our weight during sleep," Pomroy says. "Deep sleep is the most valuable time to burn fat. "