In a new survey reported by the BBC, 48% of people have admitted to gaining weight in lockdown. Nearly everyone has experienced huge changes recently – to our daily routine, our job, our diet and our activity levels. Working from home may have seen us wandering into the kitchen more often and the increased stress resulting in an extra glass of wine or two in the evening.

Anything from between 50% and 97% of women report to feeling unhappy with some aspect of their body, depending on which report you read.

However, punishing yourself through strict diets or intense exercise regimes is going to make you feel worse not better. It’s time to love your lockdown body.

As a Body Confidence Coach and Personal Trainer I now help women take back control of their relationship with food and their bodies so they can embrace life fully now and have the confidence to achieve their goals and dreams. After around 15 years as a classic “yo-yo dieter”, with clothes ranging from size 6-16 in my wardrobe I understand too well the pressures on body image we put on ourselves. I now help women to understand their relationship with food and feel body confident so their can do whatever it is they really desire to do.

Here are 5 tips to help you love your lockdown body

1.Appreciate what your body can do

All too often we only see the negatives about our bodies. However, our bodies are fantastic machines that are capable of amazing things. Think of all the things you’re grateful you can do because of your body.

You could create a list to read or say out loud to yourself.

So instead of saying “I hate my legs” say “I am grateful my legs enable me to get from one place to another” or “I’m grateful my legs allow me to dance to my favourite song”.

When you start thinking about anything, your brain releases chemicals called neurotransmitters which are responsible for controlling nearly all your body functions. This includes your mood and how you feel. The more you can appreciate your body and either think or say your gratitude statements, you can actually change your brain function which can lower stress levels, improve self-esteem and increase your overall happiness.

2. Exercise as fun not as a punishment

Exercise is a natural way to increase energy, reduce stress, and keep our bodies healthy. It can and should be fun and is a great way to realise how amazing your body is. However, we often use exercise as a punishment for something we have eaten or something we have done. Some people enjoy thrashing it out for hours in the gym or running a marathon. You don’t need to kill yourself exercising madly though – it’s far more beneficial to do something you enjoy. That way you are more likely to turn it into a habit. If exercise is too much like hard work or feels like a chore you won’t do it. Exercise for fun might be dancing in the kitchen to your favourite tunes, doing workout videos;  bike rides with friends or with the kids, an early morning yoga session or a run/walk in the park.

Movement releases endorphins  – the feel good hormones – which help you feel happier and reduce stress levels. Lower stress levels can help you sleep better and lead to feeling healthier and have more energy. If you don’t feel like exercising or moving one day, that is fine too – just don’t attach any guilt to it or work extra hard the next day to “make up for it”. That takes away from the enjoyment and can lead to more stress, not less.

3. Stop comparing yourself to photos on social media

Spending too much time on social media can waste your time and kill your mood especially if you start comparing your life to the snapshot highlights of someone else’s show reel. The happy smiling face and the posts about the fact that she hasn’t put on any weight, whilst you’ve gained 5 pounds; the healthy and nutritious meal she cooked from scratch whilst you had a chocolate bar. It isn’t true reality, you don’t know what went on beforehand or the state of her house/day/life behind the camera. All this results in is you feeling bad about yourself and how you are managing – you are doing the best job you can and that is fine!

Remove anything from your social media that makes you feel bad about your body and fill up your feed with things that make you feel good instead.

4. Don’t put too much restriction on yourself.

Lockdown has placed enough restrictions on us presently, now is not the time to start restricting your food intake or being hard on yourself about what you have eaten. Over-restriction results on having to rely on motivation and willpower and that will only go so far before the willpower runs out and the motivation is lost. When we over-restrict in an area of our life, common with quick-loss and fad diets, it can result in several issues. Firstly, restricting your intake is a bit like FOMO for your brain, you can’t have cake, all of a suddenly you start thinking about cake, even if usually cake doesn’t both you, then you binge on cake and probably whatever other “bad food” you are currently restricting yourself from too.

Secondly, restriction might cause you to miss out on essential nutrients that are vital for your body, which can cause fatigue, brain fog and trouble concentrating, be at higher risk of illness and infection and further health issues. All in all, not a happy person.

5. Do something daily that makes you feel good

This might be taking a bubble bath, using a lovely body lotion or a face pack. It doesn’t have to cost much or take long, as long as you are doing something for your body. This helps you appreciate your body more which leads to improving your body image, your self esteem and your mental health.

Your body is amazing yet through what we see and hear in our daily lives we have been lead to believe that if we don’t look a certain way we are wrong and unworthy. Stretch marks, scars, lumps and bumps – our bodies tell the stories of our lives. We are all different and all worthy and we all have a story to tell.