Dealing With Body Image During Self-Isolation

Disclaimer: I am not a health or fitness expert and all of these brutally honest opinions are simply my personal thoughts.

About two years ago, I was at the lowest point in my life. I was miserable, sleeping all day and I physically couldn’t bring myself to go to most of my classes. But then I discovered I liked going to the gym and feeling like I accomplished something. And as cliché as it sounds, it ended up saving me. I started feeling confident again and because I was in a better place mentally, I started taking control of my life again.

And then the coronavirus marched in and said, “I’m about to end this girl’s whole career.

Self-isolation is now the not-so-secret weapon to save the world together (as dramatic as that sounds) but that leads to a whole new set of problems. With gyms closing and provincial alerts ordering people to stay at home, it’s harder to stay active and that’s causing a lot of anxiety for a lot of people. Whether it be body image anxiety, memes mocking weight gain or fear of losing the progress you have currently made, it can be hard to stay positive, especially because we don’t know how long this pandemic will last. But trust me when I say that different perspectives and plans of action can help combat any feelings of despair you may have.

1. You can be grateful and are also allowed to be upset

In a perfect world, equality would actually be a thing and problems would resolve on their own. But spoiler alert: that isn’t the case, and not everyone is dealing with the same problems. Some people out there are mourning the opportunities they missed out on or the loss of a graduation ceremony to properly mark the end of a chapter. Some people out there are physically suffering or living in fear of catching the coronavirus.

What pisses me off are the social media posts that criticize that first group of people by guilting them into believing that they don’t have the right to feel upset when other people out there are worse off. Yes, some people have more privilege than others. Yes, some people are going through harder things than others, and yes, everyone should practice gratitude and be grateful for the little things they have right now. But I think that this needs to be highlighted: Being aware of your privilege and allowing yourself to feel what you feel are not two mutually exclusive things. Being grateful for your privilege and the position you are in does not mean you should bottle up your own emotions because of fear of judgement. You are allowed to acknowledge that you’re in an overall decent position and also acknowledge that you are upset over your situation. Everyone has lost something during this period and being able to talk about it can lift a lot of the pressure off – even if it’s something like losing a graduation ceremony or having anxiety over body image issues resulting from all gyms being closed.

2. Think of this as a free trial period

The good thing about this quarantine period is that a lot of gyms and other businesses are coming together to support one another. This means that there are a lot of options for you to try out different types of workouts and exercises to see what you prefer because they’re almost all free right now! Down Dog has made all of their mobile workout apps temporarily free, so if you’ve ever been curious about barre, yoga or wanted more HIIT workouts, now is your chance to try them out at no cost. And a lot of boutique fitness places such as Sweat & Tonic have started offering live workouts through Instagram so that you can sweat it out with their instructors. It’s hard being cooped up inside and feeling like you’re losing out on any progress you’ve made in both your physical and mental health journeys. But know that there are still options available and this doesn’t have to be the end – think of this quarantine as a slight detour that will still get you to that destination you want to reach. You will come back from this period even stronger than before.

3. Try to do more HIIT workouts

For your reference, HIIT stands for “high intensity interval training.” Cardio and HIIT workouts help get your heart racing, and these types of workouts give you those happy endorphins that make you feel like you can conquer the world. The best part about HIIT is that you don’t need to go outside, and you don’t need to pay for overpriced dumbbells on Amazon! Try incorporating some burpees, mountain climbers and jumping jacks into your daily routines. When you get those happy endorphins, you will feel a lot better internally and feel a lot more confident about yourself.

4. Brush your teeth right after dinner

I don’t know about you, but I tend to get especially stressed at night, and that’s when I’m prone to stress-eating. And then somehow, I’ve emptied twenty chocolate chip cookie jars in two minutes. The same applies vice versa: Snacking late at night will cause me to stress out – I think my brain just associates nighttime snacks with stress, which is kind of sad to be honest. To top it all off, I tend to bloat way more when I eat a ton of food late at night. In order to combat this, I try to do my nighttime routine right after dinner so that I can take advantage of my laziness – I don’t have the energy to brush my teeth a second time for a midnight snack. This has helped reduce my binge-eating and stress levels and also regulates my meal and snack times so that it’s not completely random.

5. Drink more water

If you’re feeling especially tired and bloated, there’s a chance you’re not drinking enough water. Your body holds onto a lot of water weight, which may be mistaken as gaining real weight. Chug a couple of glasses, and I swear you will see and feel a huge difference! And don’t tell me you don’t have enough time. If you have time to scroll through TikTok or play Animal Crossing for twenty hours nonstop, then you have time to drink more than two sips of water.

6. Know that you’re never alone – the whole world is with you

Let me stress this: You are never alone, and I don’t want you to ever feel like you have to carry a giant burden all by yourself. Everyone is going through this quarantine right now, so everyone is struggling with their own problems. But I can guarantee that a lot of people, if not all of them, can completely relate to you. Body image anxiety is something a lot of people are dealing with, and in a way, I hope that knowing you’re not going through this alone makes you feel a bit better and less lonely.

It’s hard to be body-positive right now when it seems like the world is falling apart. But know that your workout journey was never going to be a smooth exponential line. There will be obstacles and plateaus along the way, but the important thing is that you hold your head up and keep moving forwards. The gained confidence and reduced anxiety will follow in suit.