Photo by Linus Nylund on Unsplash

This is about how my client Niss was able to turn the negative COVID restrictions into a learning opportunity and break through her weight loss plateau. And as the weight came down, so did her back pain.

When the shroud of COVID restrictions came down in the late March, they bulldozed Niss’ training routine overnight. Her goals to build strength for running, keep back pain at bay, and drop 10kg got an unwelcome flavor of difficulty. 

Pour in a cup of working from home, a pinch of moving to online training and a few spoonfuls of social distancing. She had all the ingredients for an adventurous few months ahead of her navigating fitness goals in the times of social distancing.

Mo’ sitting mo’ back pain

Pre-COVID, I referred Niss to an osteopath for an assessment and further guidance on how to best manage and reduce her back pain. The three of us worked together and had success in improving her back. 

But this was Pre-COVID. Working from home now meant marathon sits at the computer. Something that most backs, painful or not, are not too fond of.

A few weeks into the restrictions, Niss’ pain started to creep in and increase in intensity. She was forced to pull back with training. Instead, she set a schedule to go for a walk every single morning. 

In the times of challenge you do what you can to keep moving in the direction of your goals.

Mo’ awareness mo’ fat loss

Slow is the name of the game for sustainable weight loss, and Niss made good initial progress. But in the month leading up to the restrictions, her weight wasn’t coming down with consistency we’d both hoped to see. Regardless of all the changes she implemented with eating, and all the hard work she put in the gym, her weight loss plateaued.

On a typical weekend in her pre-COVID life (remember that?) she would have a one long, drawn out lunch or dinner with friends. Then, in March, all the hardcore introverts in Australia rejoiced as their day dreams became a reality. 

Being social was banned by the forces that be. With the restaurants, pubs, cafes, even friends’ front doors slammed and masked shut, Niss’ social meals came to a halt. 

But there was a silver lining. 

This created some room to build awareness about her social eating habits. 

And it helped Niss to find the culprit for her weight loss plateau. She was already cooking most of her own meals. Now she replaced the social gatherings with more of the same. It became easier to keep a track of what and how much she was eating. And the digital needle on the scale started to move down again.

This has made her back feel better too.

With the combination of increased walking, weight coming off, a more ergonomic work space and return to training in the park, her back improved. We got creative with the few pieces of equipment she had (and was willing to haul to her local park) and created a plan for her.

Niss’ weight is down 2.5kg since the start of COVID restrictions.

Yes, the weekly meals with friends will probably come back post-COVID

As they should! Progress is not about forcing an eternal ban of eating out. That’s not where it’s at. Most of us don’t want to march through life eating and behaving like a robot that runs on steamed broccoli. 

Regardless, I am 100% that the awareness and results that Niss has gained from these forced changes will positively carry over into her post-COVID life. 

She was able to make a good out of a negative by using a forced socialess time to increase her awareness on what was holding back her results. She took something that was out of her control and molded it to her benefit. 

And it will help her immensely in the future in maintaining her goal weight.

It’s not sexy, but little changes compound over time

Walk daily. Cook most of your meals at home. Pay close attention to your eating habits when out and about. And if you’re a high roller who hates cooking with the intensity of hundred high-wired lawnmowers, hire someone to do the cooking for you.

Stick with those habits 90% of the time, add in some strength training two to three times a week and that might just cover most of your fat loss needs.

Definitely not the sexiest fat loss advice out there. In fact it’s probably as exciting as watching two turtles compete in a marathon. In the dark.

Small changes require dedication and a certain level of hard headedness as the change won’t happen overnight, or in a month. But just like compounding investing, it’ll add up in the long run. You’re more likely to keep all that you reap.

And since you’ll end up carrying less weight, the back and joints will feel better too.