2020 was one hell of a year. We had coronavirus to deal with, the lockdown, curfew, zoom meetings, pandemic weight… Ah yes, pandemic weight, the focus of this article.
I was at my heaviest weight ever, during the lockdown. The last time I checked my weight before we all got locked in, I was somewhere between 80-85kg. I didn’t check again until July 2020, when I joined an accountability group. By that time, I had gotten to 109.3kg. I wasn’t shocked; I knew from the way I was eating that I had added quite a few kgs. Food was everywhere at home, and I was always bored, so I ate and ate. And exercise was definitely not a thing I was interested in. All I did was work, eat, watch TV series and talk to man.
From the pictures and ill-fitting clothes, I could tell that I had gained weight, a lot of it. This is what pushed me to join my friend’s weight loss accountability group. It didn’t last long though; every time she told us to post our food, I’d post the fake small portion and then eat the actual portion, which was much bigger. My weight gain affected me badly, but on the outside, nobody could tell. I’ve been dealing with body image and self-esteem issues for as long as I can remember, and as I said, that was the biggest I’d ever been. I couldn’t take full-body pictures or look in the mirror confidently. I didn’t feel good in any of the outfits I wore, and I hated going out. In December 2020, I decided that enough was enough. I was going to join a gym. January 2021 was the beginning of my transformation. I lost 37kg that year and got to 72kg. Now, I weigh 74kg, I’m in love with exercising, my extra pandemic weight is gone, and I feel great about my body.
I spoke to some other people who experienced pandemic weight gain, and this is what they told me.
“I was a wreck, and I turned to food for comfort.”
— Mariam*, 23
I weighed about 82kg before the pandemic, and I was wearing size 14/16 dresses. It’s been two years since then, and I’m 107 kg. I no longer find clothes in my size. I don’t take pictures, and I avoid hanging out with friends because I fear I may not be as attractive as I was before, and it really weighs down on my self-confidence. I’ve tried to join several weight loss groups, but I just can’t seem to commit to any of them. It’s left me depressed, and I hate it so much.
During the pandemic, I lost my travel agency job in April, and my boyfriend broke up with me in June. I was a wreck. I turned to food for comfort. I noticed I had gained weight when my clothes no longer fit me, towards the end of 2020. When I stepped on the scale and saw 100kg, I wasn’t surprised. By 2021, I didn’t care. I was tired of crying about my weight, so I just stopped trying. I’m in a better place now, and I’m trying again. I’m taking it one day at a time.
“I knew I had added because my food intake increased and my movement reduced.”
— Ada*, 22
I didn’t exactly check the scale, but I knew I had gained weight when my clothes were no longer my size. Also, my food intake increased and my movement reduced, so when I tried to fit into some clothes I used to wear comfortably (especially when I was going back to physical work) and they were tight, I wasn’t surprised. I’ve always had this back and forth journey with weight gain and loss. It’s been like that for the longest time, so I didn’t feel any kind of way when I realised I had added. I just told myself it was one of those things. I started being more intentional about exercising this year. My goal is 60% to get stronger and fitter and 40% to lose weight. It’s been okay so far. I still fall back to my unhealthy eating habits once in a while, but I move on from that with less guilt.
“My daily routine was to wake up, eat, workout, write, and sleep. “
— Miah, 22
I’ve been skinny right from the start, and adding weight was always a struggle. After graduating in 2019, the plan was to work out consistently, gain weight, and bulk up in 2020. After leaving NYSC camp in March, 2020. The lockdown made it impossible to access the gym, so I was doing home workouts. Some people say it’s quite difficult to gain weight using home workouts and diet plans, but it worked for me.
I weighed around 56kg at the beginning of 2020, and when I checked in September, I was 65kg. I increased my calorie intake; I ate at least five times a day. My meals were mostly made up of fibre and protein. The gym re-opened around May, so my daily routine was to wake up, eat, work out, write, and sleep. I definitely think my increased calorie consumption contributed to my weight gain, but I was also doing less cardio and more strength and resistance training. My sleeping habits have also improved (which used to be one of the things that affected my weight gain). The last time I checked, I weighed 72kg. I’m happy with my weight gain and I’m consistently exercising.
“I’m never gaining weight like that again, even if we are locked down for a year!”
— Andrew*, 41
I knew I was in trouble when my favourite designer jeans couldn’t go past my upper thigh! The very next morning, I hit the pavement and cut my feeding to once daily. The changes were drastic and sudden, but they were effective.
I was attending mixed martial arts (MMA) classes in 2020 when the lockdown happened. It was so devastating for me because I was really enjoying the gym and my new friends from MMA class. The initial depression from the lockdown hit me hard; I couldn’t get myself to do much. All I did was eat and read a lot.
After three weeks of running in the mornings and working out in the evenings, plus the mini fasting of one meal a day, my jeans could fit again. I have kept most of the weight off and I can still rock them. And I’m never gaining weight like that again, even if we are locked down for a year!
Zikoko is launching a new series where we explore those friendships, familial and romantic relationships that are no longer sailing.