If you’ve been struggling to lose weight since you’ve been sheltering-in-place, check out how I lost my COVID weight using the 7 simple strategies I share below!
Like many people I know, I put on a few pounds during my COVID shelter in place.
Although the weight gain was minimal, only 7 lbs, it still brought on a whole host of health problems.
First of all, I was tired, cranky, irritable and mildly depressed all the time no matter what I ate, did or tried.
I also had so much brain fog, it became difficult to keep up with the house chores since I kept forgetting what I needed to get done.
Feeling scatter brained like this not only stressed me out, it made me crave all kinds of junk food I hadn’t craved since I eliminated gluten, dairy and sugar from my diet years ago.
Now, I was constantly thinking about cookies, chips and all sorts of junky foods that were off limits during my efforts to lose weight.
But despite my hard core efforts to eat “clean” and exercise more, I wasn’t seeing any improvement in my weight or my health.
This reminded me of the last two times my weight caused issues for me and my health and this made me feel even worse because I did not, for the life of me, want to go back to that dark place ever again…
My Experiences With Weight Gain And Health Loss
After I gained the typical “Freshman 15” in college, for example, I fell into a deep depression which led me to discovering that I was also suffering from an underlying, untreated thyroid issue.
Once I got my thyroid levels back up with medications and after losing some of the weight I’d gained, I felt better but never fully back to health.
It was only in graduate school, after I switched over to eating more like a Korean again, that I lost all the weight I’d gained and felt like myself again.
The Second Time I Gained Weight
Then in my mid 30’s, when I couldn’t shed my final 10 pounds gained during my second pregnancy, I found out that I was suffering from a sleep disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA for short.
This got resolved after I eliminated all the gluten and dairy from my diet and lost the weight that I’d gained.
This is when I learned that these two foods can aggravate nasal congestion and contribute to a leaky gut—both things that can exacerbate my risk for OSA.
What I Gained From Losing Weight
So, given that my weight gain always coincided with an underlying health problem, I suspected that my recent issue with losing weight was a health issue and not a weight problem.
This was why I wasn’t too surprised when my doctor told me that I had SIBO, or small intestine bacterial overgrowth (Yuck@@@!!!) this time around.
How Gut Problems Can Cause Weight Problems
The funny thing is, most people with SIBO lose weight and NOT gain weight, like I did.
But in my case, the weight gain didn’t happen as a result of excess calories, but rather, from eating foods that trigger inflammation.
More specifically, those who suffer from SIBO, suffer from a gut dysbiosis where the bacteria from their large intestine somehow gets in to their small intestine and wreaks havoc-causing bloating, swelling and massive inflammation throughout the body.
So even though I was eating these so called “healthy” foods like kimchee, garlic and onions, these foods were actually making me sick.
Apparently those with SIBO can’t digest these foods well and instead suffer from malabsorption.
This explained why I was craving so much of the quick fix foods that I’d eliminated so long ago; My gut was “starving” for whatever it could find to keep my body from crashing entirely.
Fortunately, once I lowered my stress levels and healed my gut, I lost the weight and the raging cravings that was getting in the way of losing the weight I’d gained.
De-Stress to Lose Weight
Sticking to a SIBO bi-phasic diet wasn’t easy though—even for someone like me who’s had lots of practice with elimination diets.
But by managing my stress with the 7 strategies I’ll share below, I was able to heal my gut and lose the weight but more importantly, to keep it off.
What I learned from my weight loss this time around is that weight loss gets much easier the better you learn to manage your stress. So, that’s exactly what I did. I de-stressed to lose weight.
For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links which means that if you make a purchase through any of my links, I may receive a small commission.
7 Simple Tips for De-stressing and Losing weight
Just a note of caution here. These de-stressing methods are not enough to take care of your health issues-if that’s what is causing your weight gain.
I strongly recommend that you consult your doctor before making any dietary modifications as outlined below.
One of the biggest obstacle in sticking with my SIBO elimination diet, was that I was constantly craving foods that I couldn’t have.
It took tremendous will power not to give in to occasional treats like chocolates, chips and ice cream especially during the holidays.
This craving got worse when I was at the grocery store; All I wanted to eat were the junk foods I couldn’t have and none of the healthy foods I was supposed to have.
Yet, drinking more water every day helped to take the edge off of all these out of control cravings because it made me feel “fuller” and therefore less prone to give in to my snack attacks.
The other reason why I think drinking more water helped, is that I was probably confusing thirst for hunger (This is what happens when you’re struggling with brain fog like I was).
This may be why many diets recommend that we drink water with our meals, since it keeps us hydrated and feel satiated.
As an added bonus, drinking water, instead of sugary drinks, has been shown to reduce cravings for sugar-another saboteur for weight loss.
Tip #2: Eliminate Sugar
Even small amounts of processed sugar, and this includes all sugar substitutes, like Agave, Nutrasweet or even maple syrup, can trigger a cascade of stress responses in the body.
Although I had eliminated all refined sugar from my diet a year ago I was still using healthier alternatives, like coconut sugar. However, on my SIBO diet, when I got rid of even that, I realized how toxic sugar had been.
How A Sugar Fast Can Help You Lose Weight
Soon after going on a sugar fast, my brain fog lifted and the joint pain and swelling that was wreaking havoc on my daily activities finally subsided.
When my waistline eventually went back to its normal size again and even my skinny jeans started to feel loose, I almost felt giddy.
I was so thankful to finally get over all the bloating and inflammation that had been making me feel miserable.
Even my skin started to look less sallow and my overall complexion brightened. As for the dry, crepey skin that I thought was part of aging? That went away, as well!
Overall, I started to feel less stressed and look younger than I had felt in months thanks to losing the sugar, losing the inflammation and losing the weight.
RELATED: 5 Korean Foods To Curb Your Sugar Cravings
Tip #3: Balance Your Mood Using Essential Oils
One thing I added rather than remove from my weight loss regiment, were essential oils; They helped me to stabilize my moods and therefore reduce the stress eating that had been aggravating my weight issues.
Essential Oils Balanced My Mood Swings
Essential oils gave me a healthier way to deal with my stress other than to eat, yell or zone out watching movies all day.
There were many times during this season of COVID where the stress and the anxiety kept me awake at night and only a bath session with some essential oils like Frankincense, Lavender and Peppermint would help to make me fall asleep.
RELATED: DIY Stress Relief Bath Bombs
Essential Oils Can Balance Your Hormones
Although there’s some skepticism out there on whether or not these natural progesterone oils work, I personally found it useful.
Perhaps these benefits were all in my head, but being that I’m really hypersensitive to smells, smelling anything that calms my nerves, and brightens my mood, like essential oils, can help me stay grounded.
Essential Oils Can Help You Stay Focused
Diffusing a combination of peppermint and valor in my office also helped me to stay focused while I was working, and rolling on some Peace and Calming essential oil helped to ease some of the tension it inevitably produced.
Now, my essential oils have become indispensable tools for me in managing my moods and stabilizing my hormones.
Aromatherapy, in turn, also helped me to stress less, and more importantly, to eat less as well, thereby helping me to lose the unwanted weight I’d gained during COVID.
For more information on essential oils and the benefits of aromatherapy I mention, join this private Facebook oils group. There’s enough information there to get you started.
If you’d like to give essential oils a try, be sure to use my Young Living sponsor ID: 20419431 to get discounts of up to 15% or more!
Tip #4: Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting was another strategy that helped me to lose my COVID weight.
All this meant was that I delayed my usual breakfast time from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. so that I could extend the time I ate from the night before, like 6:30 to the time I broke that fast, the morning after, at 10:00 a.m.
This 13-15 hour fast wasn’t the usual 24 hour fasts that most people think of, but even these short rests without eating gave my body enough time to stabilize my blood sugar levels so my cortisol levels wouldn’t spike as much.
Breaking the Obesity Code
According to Dr. Jason Fung, the author of The Obesity Code, having our insulin levels go up and down all day can cause a spikes in our cortisol levels which in turn can keep us in a stress cycle that prevents weight loss.
As he says in his book, weight loss is not a matter of WHAT you eat but WHEN you eat.
Elevated cortisol levels can also keep you in a constant “fight or flight mode” thereby causing you to choose sugary, inflammatory foods over healthy ones.
So even though my SIBO diet forced me to eliminate all the highly inflammatory foods, like sugar, gluten and dairy from my diet to shed the pounds, the intermittent fasting helps me to keep the weight off.
I strongly recommend that you read The Obesity Code to get a fuller understanding of Dr. Fung’s research and learn why most traditional diets fail again and again.
Tip #5: Walk Outside
Daily exercise has always been a strategy I’ve used to relieve tension and stress but adding on 2 short walking breaks outside for 20 minutes a day took this up a notch.
With my usual exercise regiment of 15 minute yoga classes on You Tube two times a week and 30 minute interval training on my treadmill on the other 3 days both inside and outside helped to prevent my stress levels from building up and help to stave off a lot of my unhealthy food cravings.
Related: 15,20,30 Minute Exercises For Moms On The Go
Tip #6: Go On A Media Fast
Like most people during COVID isolation, I started watching the news 24/7 only to find myself feeling worn down and stressed out by the end of the day.
So, during my SIBO diet I decided to also go on a media fast.
By enforcing time limits on how long I took replying to emails and how long I spent on websites doing research also helped.
Even though my media fast made me feel like a hermit, I didn’t envy those who were looking frazzled and stressed by all the bad news.
Most of all, my media fast helped me to stay away from thinking about those things I had no control over and instead focus on only what I could control—which was to eat well, exercise and stay healthy as well as I can.
This was enough in the long run to restore my gut and lose the weight that was making me sick.
Tip #7:Avoid Passive Entertainment
Although my media fast helped me avoid all the bad news, I also found that zoning out watching movie after movie or getting hooked on popular TV shows was NOT a good way to lower my stress levels.
Instead, all this passive entertainment ended up making me even more stressed out because I wasn’t doing what I needed to do to keep the household running efficiently-like meal planning, cleaning, and making sure things stayed organized.
Although I initially enjoyed a week of binge movie watching with my youngest while schools shut down, it didn’t take long for me to become lethargic about what I ate as well as what I cooked.
Since I constantly wanted to zone out instead of figuring out what I was going to cook for dinner, I started to cook less and eat out more.
As my waist size grew and my pantry began filling up with crackers, cookies and chips— it was only a matter of time before my whole family started to get a little chunky.
This is why I’m thankful that SIBO woke me up from my stupor and forced me to eat healthier and set a better example for my kids.
There’s More To Weight Than Meets the Eye
Although many of us think that weight gain or loss is a vanity metric, I’ve always thought of my weight as a way to measure how healthy or unhealthy I am.
In my case, weight gain has always tipped me off to an underlying health problem. From hormone imbalances, sleep breathing issues, and even gut problems, my weight gain helped me figure out and thereby root out the underlying health problem before it got worse.
Even stress, which I feel is THE worst health problem that we often ignore, can be addressed quickly as long as we keep a close eye on our weight.
So, if you’ve gained weight during COVID and diets haven’t helped, consider reducing your stress levels, and having it checked out by a health professional. It may open your eyes to a health problem that would otherwise go unchecked since there’s more to weight gain than meets the eye.