This Is Not The Time To Be Panicking About Your ‘Post Lockdown Body’

As the roadmap out of lockdown was announced, searches for 'four month weight loss' spiked. But we're already ready for #HotGirlSummer2021 just as we are, writes Daisy Buchanan.

weight loss lockdown

by Daisy Buchanan |
Updated on

The end of lockdown is in sight and, hopefully, by mid-June we’ll be enjoying unimaginable freedoms. On social media, some diet and fitness influencers are telling us that there is no time to lose to work on our ‘post lockdown body’. Searches for ‘four month weight loss’ spiked immediately after Boris Johnson announced his lockdown roadmap. TikTok weight loss ‘journeys’ are going viral. This morning, Instagram greeted me with the news that a tiny slice of cheesecake has the same calorific value as a beanbag-sized watermelon.

I get it. The last 12 months have been frightening, lonely, overwhelming and boring. Some of us have lost the people we love the most. We’ve also lost jobs, routines, contact, connection and hobbies – every scrap of life-affirming fun, every single activity that gives us a sense of identity. Eating and drinking are some of the only pleasures that we have been able to enjoy safely and at home. Many of us have gained weight during lockdown (48% according to one survey*) and are unhappy about it – it’s another change that makes us feel further removed from the people we used to be. Panicking and planning a weight loss regime gives us a sense of control. It’s a way to turn back time, and to fast forward, too. I empathise with everyone who is feeling sad, scared and trying to make changes to their body. It feels like a way to force June to come faster.

However, any physical changes that our bodies bear are, if nothing else, evidence of our survival. We deserve all of the self-respect and compassion we can muster. As a feminist, I constantly wrestle with my nagging desire to be a little slimmer. I body-shame myself, then I shame myself for that shame. As a human – and someone who lost a significant amount of weight before the pandemic – I know only this: you cannot hate yourself thin.

My relationship with food, and with my body, is a work in progress. When I’m happy, relaxed and well-rested, I can eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. I know the basics of nutrition and I understand how to eat in a way that ensures my body and mind function well, and function together.

However, when I’m stressed, depressed, lonely, anxious and overwhelmed, the simple act of feeding myself can become impossible. Sometimes, I eat until I’m numb and far too full for feelings. Sometimes, I starve myself, either as a way of punishing myself for binges, or because I’m too wired and frightened to listen to my own hunger signals. Sadly, my behaviour is not uncommon. Data shows that there has

been an alarming increase in the number of young people seeking treatment for eating disorders over lockdown. Psychiatrist Dr Lorna Richards told The Guardian, ‘The focus on eating and weight control becomes a way of coping.’

My physical health is much easier to manage when I put my mental health first. We need to allow ourselves that breathing space. After living so differently, it’s to be expected that our bodies will change to reflect our circumstances. As our lives change again, our bodies will probably change again. We need to be reminded to be very gentle with ourselves, instead of punishing ourselves for making instinctive choices.

In her book, The Last Diet, behavioural change expert Shahroo Izadi explains, ‘Your body is worthy of kindness regardless of your weight. Your weight may well fluctuate throughout your life for a range of reasons. It cannot be a criterion for liking yourself or enjoying your life.’

This past year has made me feel deeply grateful for my body. It has protected me and kept me safe, and moving, and that makes me very lucky indeed. I’m so excited about spending the summer with the people I love – and I don’t want to waste a moment of it waiting to feel that my body is good enough.

Daisy’s debut novel, ‘Insatiable’ (Little, Brown), is out now

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