Here we go, again. A second lockdown has begun 8 months after we were first thrown into unknown territory. But it’s different this time, in so many ways. The change in seasons, the different rules… What’s not different is the resurgence of fitness apps and diet culture’s insistence of changing our bodies. Here’s why you don’t need to lose weight in lockdown 2.0.
Our mental health should be our priority right now
As we begin this second lockdown, we’re all aware of the devastating impact that 2020 is having on our mental health. The last thing that we all need to be thinking about is starting a new diet. Diet culture specifically targets our mental health in order to sell more meal replacements and workout guides. It promises us happiness with our smaller bodies and feeds off of our shame and disappointment when we fail to achieve them.
Back in April, lockdown was different. The days were getting longer and the weather was getting warmer. This time, as we head towards winter, colder temperatures compel us to reach for those cosy blankets. Darker nights are no longer as safe for a 6pm jog. When we should be focusing on doing everything we can to support our headspace, diet culture is filling our minds with negative self-talk.
For most people who struggle with chronic dieting and disordered eating, the lead up to Christmas is already a difficult time of year. In previous years, I have often spent November limiting my calorie intake in preparation for an indulgent December. This November is stressful enough without extra pressures to restrict.
During this month, do what you need to do to get by. Take each day as it comes. Exercise when you want to. Eat when you want to. Release yourself from judgement and put yourself first.
Exercise is best used for well-being
I’m not condemning the use of fitness programs. My issue is with the language used to motivate the users. Exercise is proven to have a positive impact on our mental well-being and it’s important that we seek active movement during this time of increased stress. What is not appropriate, is the suggestion that our value is defined by our ‘killer abs‘ or ‘perfect peaches’.
Spending time doing any kind of exercise that you enjoy is great but it’s also OK to rest and spend a whole day under a blanket. These are incredibly difficult times right now and our minds are still trying to process all of the changes. The most important thing is that you put yourself first. Put your mental well-being first. Say yes to lunchtime walks. Start your day with a workout. Or take some time to relax. Write in your journal. Watch a bit (or a lot) of Netflix. Do what you need to do to get through this month.
If you like this, you’ll love 4 techniques for avoiding a diet culture relapse.
If you use running as a medium for self-care, my lovely friend Sophie has created a group called Run Buddy. Run Buddy is an evening running group to help you feel safe whilst out in the dark. By joining the call, you can submit your route and enjoy your run knowing that someone is there if you need them. There’s no pressure to talk to anyone else in the group if you prefer to run solo but Sophie is there to talk to you if you feel unsafe at all whilst on your route.
Reach out when times feel tough
You don’t have to go through this alone. And just because everyone else is feeling the effects, it doesn’t mean you can’t reach out. Talk to your friends and family. Share how you’re really feeling. They’ll probably feel relieved to know that someone shares their sentiments.
If you don’t want to speak to anyone that you know, you can still talk to someone. SHOUT is a texting service for anyone who needs it. You can confidentially talk to a trained volunteer who will listen by texting 85258. Equally, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123.
*These contacts are UK only
Your mental health matters, your body does not define your worth and you don’t need to lose weight in lockdown.