Q: I have always been an ‘overeater’, but before the lockdown, I’d really begun to get on top of things and was beginning to feel healthier, happier and much more energetic. During lockdown, all my good work fell apart and I went back to my old habits. Now we have more freedom, I just can’t seem to find that motivation to start again. Can you help?

First, let me start by saying that your experiences are by no means uncommon. I’ve lost count of the online sessions I’ve done recently with clients who are facing exactly the same issues. But don’t feel disheartened or discouraged. There is a way to overcome that lockdown induced lethargy that so many of us are currently experiencing.

Let’s examine closely what happened during lockdown, because the more we understand, the more we are in control. There are two potential factors at play here. The first: boredom. All of a sudden, our momentum was halted. We were always at home, time was plentiful and food was one way to break the monotony. The second: comfort. These are anxious times. We’ve been thrust into the midst of a global pandemic, isolated from friends and family, unsure of what the future holds – it’s no wonder that those of us who have eaten for comfort in the past, would find ourselves turning to food as a source of solace.

So, how are you going to get back those pre-lockdown days when you felt you were beginning to achieve that sense of balance in your life? Well, what I would say is you’ve done it before, so you have it in you to do it again. Frustrating though this setback is, you have already proved you have the power for change inside yourself. You just need to tap into it again.

The first thing I would suggest is to revisit those early stages of change. Think for a while and remember what it was that prompted you to take those initial steps. Write down why you did it and what you actually did. Of course, you know all of this information, it’s part of your personal history, but seeing it laid bare in writing will help you to get back in touch with those feelings.

The next thing you can do is to examine your current mind set. When faced with something so overwhelming as a global pandemic, many of us understandably get completely knocked off course. We might ask ourselves questions like ‘What’s the point?’ or write a new narrative that suggests you are merely a passenger in events that you can have no control over. I say rewrite the narrative. The truth is, if we have been lucky enough not to have been personally touched by the virus, we do have control over our own bodies and what we choose to do with them. Write yourself a new story, one in which you see this as a huge opportunity for change. A point when we have been gifted a lot more of a precious resource; time. The time to think and re-assess. Whether that be our health, or careers or our lifestyles – now is a golden moment to take a chance and make that change.

Once you have tapped into what you did before, start by setting yourself some steppingstone goals. By this I mean going from doing absolutely nothing to making one or two small changes and sticking to them. And the menu for change is extensive. You could consider making food swaps, such as water instead of sugary drinks, you could swap larger plates for smaller bowls to cut your portion sizes, you could choose to ‘eat the rainbow’ and up your intake of healthy salad and veg or you could make sure you put some exercise into your schedule at least three times a week. The list goes on…

Start by making the journey to steppingstone one. Then add in one or two more things and build from there. Many small steps will eventually make one giant leap and you’ll look back and be surprised how far you’ve come.

Russell Hemmings is a Dubai-based lifecoach and cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist, and author of The Mind Diet and Active Positive Parenting (russellhemmings.co.uk). Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.

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