A yellow post-it memo stuck to my fridge caught my eye and was a reminder that a small food budget is no guarantee of weight control. I’ve officially put on 15lbs since February 2021. Not in 2020 when everyone else was piling on the pounds in lockdown, but AFTER lockdown. In fact, it only really started to become a problem around Christmas 2021.
This is something I have noticed all around me, and I am aware I am probably looking for excuses for why I have let me standards slip. 2020 was tough for many people, but not all. Not for me. 2021 was the slow emergence from that, but full of starts and stops, with many people still on furlough and still struggling as before. It was not a return to the norm.
2022 has been horrible so far, perhaps worse, and shows no sign of relenting. Everyone I know seems down and struggling with motivation. It feels like last year. And of course there are a whole new set of challenges unfolding which will make 2022 worse than 2021 in many ways. We have the cost of living crisis. Energy price rises. Fuel price rises. The price of food is going up. And the Ukraine war is going to have an ongoing knock on effect for many months.
I have to confess that I have stopped meal planning and counting calories. As with many habits I have (both good and bad) I get bored eventually, even if it takes a few years. Instead, I now keep detailed lists of the contents of my freezer on the doors to remind me what needs using first, allowing this and yellow sticker purchases to govern what I eat. I continue to carefully manage my spreadsheets, so I know what I have and what’s left of my food budget each month. But I think this may have led me to over cooking and overeating. Discovering cash back apps means I am buying more unhealthy foods than I used to because you don’t get fruit and veg for free, right? And I have become a bit of a stockpiler as food prices rise, and they tend to be shelf staples and processed snacks I wouldn’t normally buy. Coupled with losing my enthusiasm for exercise over the winter (a habit that’s so hard to get back in to), it’s all kind of spiralled slowly and stealthily when I wasn’t paying attention.
That post-it was the tipping point I needed, and I’m trying to get back on track, trying to get out of my boredom snacking habit (again), trying to get into a proper exercise regime (again), trying to undo the bad habits that kicked in this winter with seemingly more intensity due to extra rationed heating and light (again). I have resolved the light problem which I think will help my general mood this coming winter, and I hope that, like last winter, it won’t get too cold, and the heating can remain off most of the time.
Even with the additional packages of help coming from the Government, I don’t feel any peace of mind. I’m still afraid of the thermostat, and I think that’s here to stay.