Your lockdown questions answered!

Here’s some simple advice for staying healthy and happy at home from newbodyplan.co.uk editor Joe Warner

I wanted to write a quick post to answer some of the most frequently-asked questions we’re getting about how to stay fit, healthy and happy at home. So read on to see if I’ve answered your key questions! If not, drop me a line at joe@newbodyplan.co.uk and I’ll get back to you asap!

How fast will I lose my “fitness”?
Good news: you won’t instantly lose all your health and fitness progress just because the gyms are closed or you’re locked-down at home. Research suggests that any negative changes to your cardiovascular fitness are only noticeable after two to three weeks from the cessation of regular training.

However, that doesn’t mean you can put your feet up for the next few weeks (far from it, and keep reading to find out why), and the more you can move every day the better you’ll look and feel, especially if you’re concerned about gaining man boobs, a beer belly or love handles.

If you have gained some weight now’s the perfect time to take back control of your health and fitness, and here’s how fast you can lose body fat.

How fast will I lose my “gains”?
If you’ve been following your own New Body Plan or any other smart and progressive weight-training programme for the last month or two you will have noticed some massive changes to your physique: with decreased body-fat levels and increased lean muscle mass.

As with your cardiovascular fitness, your hard-won “gains” won’t simply disappear overnight. Indeed, you’ll maintain most of your lean muscle mass, so long as you’re eating well and moving your body regularly, such as doing high-intensity cardio or one of our New Body Plan home workout programmes.

Also, you have “muscle memory” on your side. Put simply, regularly lifting weights (or doing any type of physical activity) will build strong communication pathways between your brain and muscles, and over time these neural networks become very efficient at messaging back and forth (it’s what makes you fitter, faster and stronger). So, even if you have an extended lay-off from that activity, once you resume it again that muscle memory will “kick-in”, meaning you can get back to your previous high performance levels far faster than it took you to achieve them in the first place.

However, while maintaining muscle shouldn’t be a big concern for you right now, gaining body fat right now really should be…

Why might I gain weight so quickly?
The simple answer for why many people will gain body fat in the coming weeks is this: suddenly being more sedentary compounded by increased calorie intake. To highlight how big a deal this is, I conducted a little experiment: yesterday I didn’t do any exercise, and only really moved between my “office” on the kitchen table, the kettle and the fridge.

I recorded my step total and calorie expenditure through my smartwatch, and kept a rough count of my calories on a spreadsheet. I then compared these numbers to my last “normal” day commuting to, and working at, New Body Plan HQ in the centre of London. The results astounded me…

Is working from home bad for my waistline?
Very possibly. Here’s why: to continue from the previous answer, on my last “normal” working day I took 18,750 steps, consumed 2,650 calories, and burned 2,850 calories. That’s a good day: plenty of movement and a 200-calorie deficit to help me chip away at my body-fat stores. Perfect!

Yesterday wasn’t so pretty: 1,200 steps – that’s about 500 metres, or less than a third of a mile! – 3,150 calories in, but just 2,050 out. I consumed 900 calories more than I burned – which meant almost a third of the food I ate would’ve been stored as more fat!

A few weeks of doing numbers like that and I’d be twice the man I was when normal life resumes – and in the worst way possible! What’s even more damaging than that huge calorie surplus was the negative mental effects: I felt fed-up, sluggish and tired. That’s because, if you’re anything like me, the less you move, the more tired you are, so the more comfort food you seek out. It’s a vicious cycle, but one you can break easily.

How can I make it simple to stay in shape?
The answer isn’t sexy, but it’s the only strategy that works: you need to maintain a routine. That means trying to stick to your “normal” Monday-to-Friday schedule during the week, and your “normal” weekend schedule on Saturdays and Sundays. What does that mean in reality? This:

Waking up at the same time each morning, and going to bed the same time each night
Eating three proper meals per day, including a protein-rich breakfast, and veg with every meal*
Keeping to your normal working hours, and taking a one-hour screen-free break for lunch
Hiding all sugary and salty snacks out of sight in the back of the cupboards, fridge and freezer
Drinking two litres of water (more if you exercise intensively) and limiting caffeine after lunch
Allocating 30-60mins for some physical activity, whether a home workout, fast walk or run
Allocating time for fun non-exercise activities, such as a hobby or video call with friends or family
Starting a five-minute daily journal to improve your mood, positive and mental health (see next question).

* If you want to know how the best way to eat for a leaner, stronger and healthier body, check out our simple and sustainable nutrition plan. But, now more than ever, it’s important to have a little bit of what you fancy every now and then, because eating your favourite foods with your favourite people is good for the soul!

How can I stay upbeat and positive?
As I just mentioned, keeping a five-minute journal is one of the simplest, easiest and best things you can do right now to feel as positive as possible. With so much fear and confusion around right now, events can feel over-whelming and hard to process, and when you’re very worried or stressed talking care of yourself – both physically and mentally – becomes so much harder.

But research proves keeping a journal can make a world of difference in times like these. And all you need to do is write down any concerns you have, because the simple act of writing them out can instantly “transfer” these worries out your mind and on to the piece of paper for long enough for you to feel positive enough to crack on with your day.

You can also every morning or evening write down one thing for which you’re truly grateful: science suggests doing so floods your brain with feel-good hormones to raise your mood and morale, and helps you focus on all the good things in your life, rather than only thinking about any negatives. Try it – you’ll be amazed by how big a difference it will make!

Say hello!
If you’ve got any questions you’d like me to answer just drop me an email at coach@newbodyplan.co.uk and I’ll get back to you asap. And don’t forget that you can find us on social media: just search @NewBodyPlan on your favourite platform. Take care of yourselves.

Joe

Joe Warner
Editor, newbodyplan.co.uk

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