Combating COVID/lockdown weight gain

Hi all!

Like many, life has been a bit “different” since March. I’ve lost the incentive of the triathlon season, worked 60h weeks, lost access to the gym, ate poorly (long hours and trying to support our local eateries resulted in an awful lot of take-outs), and gave in to more than the odd glass of wine or two in the evening, All of this, recent knee surgery and the inevitable stress of the situation has resulted in me being considerably more weighty than I ever have been in the past.

Time constraints have meant that my smart trainer has remained a firm friend throughout. I’ve completed the 4wk “all-in” plans twice and just finished the Speed Demon plan (watch this space for test results) but I’m really struggling to get the weight off. The work hours (and stress) aren’t going to change any time soon sadly but I’ve managed to stabilise the diet and cut the booze. So, any recommendations on the most effective plans for weight management on a a very tight time budget? (I’m in my late 40s BTW so need to be cautious about injury from over-exertion… just ask my knee!) I’m very open to any other tips and suggestions. I’d like to get back to competitive triathlon next year without being harpooned the first time I get into the pool! :wink:


I am having success with a 30 min fasted (gentle - Z2) workout first thing in the morning. I have also suggested that SF add a specific training plan for reducing weight.

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I think I need a life coach to keep me straight - I manage two weeks at most of being sensible, then I fold. Self motivation in this space is rubbish - historically when I’ve ben ‘monitored’ as it were, i’e had great success as it’s a ‘target’ then - just the way my mind works. I tried to do that via coaching last year but that didn’t work well, as we don’t pay enough for that constant engagement

I injured myself last summer and had surgery to fix the herniated disc in January. Over the last couple of months of last year I gained about 4kg on an already slightly-too-heavy frame so needed to sort things out.

It took a couple of months to recover enough to train properly, but I used MyFitnessPal to count calories and weight slowly dropped (from a high of 92kg in mid-Feb down to 90 in June), but it wasn’t really enough.

In June I started using an intermittent fasting app. I’ve done IF before with reasonable results but the app just helps track it better, and I use it in conjunction with MFP. I fast almost every day for 16hrs (after evening meal to lunch - skip breakfast), and since 1st June I’ve lost over 5kg.

It’s not a magic bullet - you need to plan it a bit and still need a calorie deficit, but it’s working well. Some weeks I lose over a kilo, others I gain, but the general trend is down, and fairly quickly. I make sure to still eat the same number of calories I would if not fasting, but it’s easier to stick to a target over 2 meals rather than 3.

I also train with weights, which may not be possible if you can only do that in a gym (I have a small gym at home; bench and rack plus barbell is all you really need for squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press and bent over rows). Make sure to get enough protein too - especially important as you get older, plus sleep.

I don’t drink as much as I used to, probably only 1 or 2 beers a week now, and very few takeaways. If I do want one I have one, and accept that I’ll go over my daily target. Don’t worry about that - I aim for the weekly target instead as that was you can have days that aren’t perfect and not be thrown off your stride. A whole bad week is less than ideal, but still not the end of the world - just get back on it the next week :slight_smile:

I’m 50, so pretty much in the same position as you.


In my case, getting information about nutrition has proved most helpful. I’ve found that the most important factor to maintain your objectives is to know and be mindful of what goes in.

With that knowledge, if external situations change you adapt your intake and any damage is avoided. For example, if you can’t train for a few days, or if you have to decrease load, or if, as was my case, had a fall, a broken collarbone and a few weeks pass into couchlandria, I could react immediately and avoid excess weight.

I’m not saying it’s easy. Controlling cravings, stress eating and all that is very very hard. However, I’ve found that if you have more information about the food available, you can make more intelligent choices, and if the binge eating was inevitable, at least control the damage.

One last point: not everything is about weight. There are other variables like sleep quality, digestion, fat percentages, etc, that should be taken into account, and that influence our well-being.

This subject can become quite extensive, but interesting nonetheless. I’d recommend consulting with a dietitian who knows endurance sports. If that’s not possible, maybe doing some research online about healthy eating.


@rustproofFish Have you considered giving the Mental Training Program a go? For me, this really helped a month ago because it asked me to come up with a real goal. That’s really helping me focus on the things I need to do day to day to achieve my goal.

My goal is a long ride that I haven’t done before with a date and a target time. Its big enough to scare me a little and that seems to be enough.

I went into lockdown about 10kg over my ideal weight. I have found that, as I have got older (I am 58), training alone doesn’t really shift weight without changes in nutrition. I used the Jason Vale “Super Blend Me” plan and stuck to it religiously. After the 1st couple of days I found it relatively easy. You can select 7/14/21 day plans. I initially did 21 days and followed that with another 21 days. Being in lockdown really helped as I wasn’t going out to eat. I lost the 10kg and feel a lot better for it. Absolutely blitzing the local climbs. I now have smoothies for at least 2 of my 3 meals a day and am maintaining my weight.

It isn’t exactly related but check out this podcast where Sir Neal talks about how long it will take to get back into race fitness after lockdown. It will take some time but no reason why you can’t :slight_smile:
18:54 but listen all the way through if you can as there is some great stuff on there:


I can empathize. Moved, hip replacement Dec 2019, retired Jan 2020. Joined Local bike club to ride and then COVID, all rides going forward were solo because I know no cyclist in the area. What has helped and I know many will object, but I have been very on a very low carb, healthy fat (quality avocado or oil oils only and grass fed beef or lamb) diet for over 5 years. I have also found some vegetables can be testosterone inhibitors…requires study and trial and error.
My first year into it at 59, my endurance was significantly improved (for the first time I left my younger riding partner in the dust after 50 miles) and have maintained my weight at no more the 12 lbs over that time even during periods of inactivity. Hoping to see that endurance again in the coming months. I have attached a link should you want to begin considering if this is right for you.
At the least I hope you find this informative.