CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) – If you become accustomed to a less active working from home routine, the idea of getting back on track with exercise and eating right might seem like a daunting task.
Specialists at MUSC’s Weight Management program recommend using this time to set new goals.
“As you’re getting back into a new normal, it may actually be kind of a good opportunity to set some new habits, MUSC Weight Management Center Assistant Prof. Sarah Hales says. “So, if in February when at 6 a.m. in the morning it was really dark outside and it was very difficult to get up 30 minutes earlier to get in some exercise, now might be a good time to set a new routine and new habit since we’re all gonna have to get back into this new normal for our lives.”
While some folks have gotten used to eating more while at home or not getting as much exercise, the weight management team at MUSC suggests tracking what you are eating.
“So one of the things that we recommend all of our patients do in all of our programs, is to someway, somehow, track what they are eating,” Hales says. “It can be pen and paper, it can be using the available apps you know on the various app stores, but tracking exactly what they’re eating, when they’re eating, relative to their meal plans, also wearing activity trackers, so tracking their exercise, their steps, and then tracking their weight every single day.”
She says she has seen positive results from people who track exactly what they are eating, and when they are eating.
However, MUSC’s Weight Management team says they realize workouts from home have been different than a gym and say it’s harder to stay on specific diets when you are tempted by the fridge being so close. On top of that, grocery stores have been less stocked with healthier foods because of the pandemic or they are just harder to get to.
As you start to go back to work, health experts say it’s important to understand that because of the pandemic, your routine may not go back to complete normalcy.
“You’re probably not going to resume back to your pre-COVID-19 habits right off the bat,” MUSC Weight Management Center Lead Dietitian Tonya Turner said. “And so, if you’re gonna start going back to the gym, and maybe you’re still doing some stuff from home, or dealing with different things like that, or working from home, take baby steps and making it approachable and doable so that you’re going to be able to achieve what goals you’re setting for yourself and I think having realistic expectations with what you’re going to be able to do and can do.”
Turner and Hales also say research shows chronic stress can influence physical health, especially weight management in the long run.
They recommend finding other things you enjoy doing and incorporating them back into your schedule, especially as more parks and businesses reopen.
“So, everyone has something else that they enjoy to do,” Turner said. “Whether it’s calling a friend, going for a walk, reading a book, taking bath, as long as it’s something that you find enjoyable and pleasurable, youre going to be more apt to do that.”
MUSC is currently accepting enrollees for their weight management program if you think you need some extra support.
One Lowcountry couple started this program about six months ago, and they say it hasn’t been easy staying on their weight loss plans while working from home.
However, Catherine Bridges and Ryan Adams say having each other as accountability partners really helped.
“For us, it’s the fact that we both were doing it helped a lot. You know, one person isn’t dieting while the other person gets to, you know, eat whatever they want,” Adams said. “So, we kind of bounced off each other with how we wanted to plan dinners, plan lunch or something of that nature.”
They also say logging their food and exercise helped them in their journey.
Adams says a big realization for him was that he wasn’t getting as many steps as he did while walking around the office. Bridges often works in a lab and says she realized working from home, she was doing a lot more sitting too.
Bridges says she’s lost about 50 pounds since starting the program in November and Adams says he’s lost 95 pounds.
They’ve been meeting with the weight management team at MUSC virtually throughout the pandemic.
They say it’s been nice to have someone who gives them encouragement and advice in all areas of health and wellness.
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