Like most summers, this one reminds many people of how we’d like to look in fewer layers. Unlike most summers, this one comes after more than a year of challenges caused by a pandemic, which may not be resolved as easily as the usual ones.
A recent American Psychological Association study determined that 61% of those polled had undesired weight change during the pandemic due to struggles to cope with the new stress, and the average weight gained by those who gained more than intended was 29 pounds.
Both Brandie Hubbard, a personal trainer in Mapleton and Lori Galvez, a registered dietician in Lindon, said that although there is more incentive than ever to get healthy, the key to losing good weight is the same as it’s always been: establishing good habits.
The Mayo Clinic, attributing weight gain to changes in activity due to isolation and consuming more calories, supports this view.
Hubbard offers a 14-week personal training program to get her clients in good shape quickly and establish healthy eating habits, exercise routines and supplement intake. Her program has drawn primarily from personal training certification focused on group fitness and women’s hormones and weight gain/weight loss. It also incorporates what she learned while certifying to teach piyo (a pilates-yoga hybrid) and participating in a bikini competition prep program.
In addition to personal training, Hubbard owns and runs a gym in Springville called Explosive Fitness that is class instruction only. In response to COVID-19 and client schedules, she has created about 500 online classes that her clients from both venues can enjoy. She said that there is no exercise routine that can make up for bad eating habits, so she creates fitness plans for her personal training clients that include diet recommendations.
“It is possible to lose weight well through diet alone,” Galvez said, “but to have the best health, in general, it’s important to include regular exercise.”
Galvez added, “Summer is a great time to begin or continue an exercise routine. There are so many more options at this time of year because we have warm weather and more daylight. It’s great to get outside, such as in a park, the mountains or in the water. If a person can develop a healthy exercise routine in the summer, it may motivate them to keep it up throughout the winter.”
The highlights from talking to these professionals were the following:
Find exercise you enjoy. Hubbard said basketball and running will burn calories the most efficiently, but the most important thing is to make sure you will keep doing the activity. The CDC has different social distancing and mask-wearing recommendations for those who are vaccinated and those who aren’t. State regulations have eased allowing people to make their own choices about social distancing and masks as long as they comply with private business’ guidelines.
Those who aren’t as concerned about the pandemic can enjoy higher numbers being allowed in gyms. Those still concerned about it can find routines they can do outdoors or at home. If you fell out of the habit of exercising the way you did before the pandemic and don’t feel comfortable going back, try something new until you find something you like.
Exercise often. Hubbard says clients need to commit to a certain number of minutes dedicated to flexibility, strength-training and cardiovascular exercise with one day of rest. Galvez suggests 2.5 hours a week. Hubbard says “the key is to find what you enjoy doing because if you don’t enjoy doing it, you’re not going to continue.”
Watch what you eat. According to Hubbard, more time at home has meant clients have been cooking and baking more, but the main thing is to be mindful of what is made. She recommends avoiding white flour, white sugar, white pasta, white potatoes and white rice along with more obvious food pitfalls.
Galvez advises to “increase whole foods and avoid snacking.” She also said, “We have too much sugar in the modern-day diet.”
According to Galvez, excess sugar can contribute to insulin resistance, or metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance affects 85% of the population, and most people don’t know it. Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t use glucose from your blood for energy, according to WebMD. The symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic are “high blood sugar, high blood pressure, increased fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.” The Mayo Clinic recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day to prevent insulin resistance.
Watch what you drink. According to Galvez, a lot of excess sugar can sneak in through beverages. “Water is always my top option to keep hydrated. We generally don’t need to have any special hydration beverages unless we are out exercising for more than an hour. When we drink sugary beverages it sends extra insulin. When we send insulin too often throughout the day it increases insulin resistance over time.”
The latest diet trends may help, but sustainability is key. “Intermittent fasting and the Keto diet can both help improve insulin resistance. Some people know a little about it but I can guide them in their efforts,” Galvez said. She said she also likes the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to be healthy. “Overall, it’s important to develop a sustainable way of eating,” she said. “It’s not about following a diet for just a few weeks or months. It’s about creating a ‘new normal’ that can be enjoyable and healthy at the same time.”
Consult with your doctor. In addition to consulting experts like the ones above, those who can consult with a primary doctor, should. Although those with fitness training can provide general guidance above, bodies are different, and doctors will often let you know what weight they think would be a good goal, and provide healthy tips and referrals to get you there.