Just when we are getting used to life at home things change again we slowly reverse the process and establish a new routine.
It’s a little bit like a new year with a fresh start and is a great time to set resolutions for change and what we will do differently.
Now is a good example that life is constantly evolving and changing, and your diet needs to adapt to suit the lifestyle you’re in, rather than picking a diet and hoping that it works through everything.
The time in isolation was a perfect time to reflect on life and what is good and what’s not so good.
Applying this to your diet, ask yourself what you can reflect on in this space. Consider how to build on good habits or make the effort to move away from habits that may not be serving you to be your best self.
Create a new routine inspired by what works for you and makes you feel in control of your intake and health, rather than shaping a diet based on comparisons to what you used to do or what others might be doing.
How can you apply the best part of what you were doing with your diet, or adjust some of the aspects that you think may have let you down?
Use these reflections to help problem solve the challenges you may have now with going back to work and come up with a routine that is perfectly suited to you, your body and lifestyle.
Here are some areas which may create challenges and how applying small changes based on what you learnt in isolation to help create a new routine.
1. Increasing training times and intensity
With gyms reopening it’s a good time to get back to training with more structure, if this has inspired a health kick, ease into it and either focus on increasing activity or manage intake to decrease food.
If you do both at the same time you will end up in a real energy deficit hole.
If returning to more training maintain a regular intake of food to manage that load and build fitness, then you might have a phase where you maintain activity and focus more on diet, or vice versa.
2. Reintroducing structure
Be realistic with your expectations about what life will be like now, not comparing to what it was like at home. Consider the commitments you have each day and over a week and work around that to fit in times to exercise and eat so it’s achievable and realistic.
Don’t feel like you need to include everything in this plan, start with small steps to reintroduce things. It might be you have a week where you just focus on a good breakfast, or make sure you are eating regularly, then go back and refine food choices in the first instance rather than trying to get the whole day perfect.
3. Getting back into shape
If you have found that during the isolation period you have put on some weight from eating more or not being as active that’s understandable as it’s really an example of the energy equation of more energy in than being used.
To avoid unrealistic expectations that you will be back to fitness and weight as soon as you are back at training it’s important to remember it will take time to get your body back to form. Allow yourself that space to work towards it each day as you introduce good habits.
4. Back to increased travel times
You might find you are commuting to work at a time you were eating breakfast. Rather than cut it out completely you might have to change your options to be more transportable, like a smoothie or breakfast muffin, or eat before or after you get to work.
Similarly, if you have a longer commute home you might need to pack an extra snack to tide you over until you get home for dinner or as a pre-gym snack.
You also might need to use your cooking skills to meal prep and prepare food for the week or keep some frozen meals in the freezer.
5. Waking up early again and longer days
If you were sleeping in you may not have needed as many meals and snacks over the day, if you are back up early you might need to include an additional balanced snack to be eating every 3-4 hours over the day to avoid over eating at night.
It’s also important to get to bed earlier to not lose that extra sleep.
6. Going out and socialising again with less control over food and drinks
It’s great to catch up with friends again but this also brings celebratory foods and drinks. If you want to maintain good habits, you can still go and enjoy everyone’s company but you might offer to bring a healthy dish or snacks to contribute. Be mindful of portion sizes of foods you might not normally eat to manage total energy intake.
Have water between drinks or bring low kj beverage options like soda water or kombucha.