'Anyone else finding it hard to fight those lockdown love handles?'

Exhausted sports woman

Now gyms and sports centres are open, are you finding it hard to get back into exercise? - Credit: Getty Images

‘No pain no gain’ 

‘Eat less, move more’ 

Oh January 2020...it was all looking so promising wasn’t it? 

Feeling just a bit pudgy I jumped on the old band waggon pre-Covid New Year's Eve and vowed to become a gym bunny...of some description. 

Weeks in and having discovered a love for weight lifting (well, a child could probably lift what I was meekly attempting) I managed to reveal muscles I’d never seen or heard of before. I even got told I had lovely legs by a shop assistant at Joules while I was trying on a skirt don’t you know! 

Flash forward to last Tuesday when my much fitter friend forced me to reactivate my gym membership and join her for a HIIT class. 

Standing in the cold of the leisure centre car park, squeezed into ill-fitting Lycra, I felt really quite vulnerable, on display and moreover, ashamed....like a naughty puppy that’s jumped up at the table, eaten all the cream cakes...and gotten caught. 

Most Read

I know I’m not alone in having been body ignorant during lockdown. Running, gym, swimming and dance were replaced by wine, bingeing TV and raiding the kids’ snack cupboard. 

That's not to mention the preposterous working from home lunches. 

Cheese and crackers? Don’t mind if I do. A little nibble from that tray bake on the side for elevenses? Ooh thankyou very much. And don’t even get me started on the family bar of Dairy Milk - something I definitely regretted.

The evidence of lockdown lethargy and laziness is wrapped around my middle and heaped upon my hips, with a lurking threat of a muffin top. A real test of how much weight I’ve gained will come when our new bath is fitted. Let's see if my body plonked in the middle creates a 'parting of the seas'. 

'Hell' I thought to myself as I stood in aforementioned car park, 'might as well start somewhere'.

Our instructor was hardcore Hazel who seems to favour any variation on a plank or burpee. I’m sure she caught me flinching as I spotted her warming up on the tarmac, awaiting her ‘victims’.

It was quite a sight for the gym bods watching from the running machines inside the warm cocoon of the leisure centre. A bunch of fitties, and me, red-faced, trying to prevent my belly flopping out as I attempted in an ungainly manner to fling myself up down and across through burpees, high knees, mountain climbers, crabs and inch worms. And yes those are all as agonising as they sound. Halfway through, my much leaner friend declared of our self inflicted torture ‘this is brilliant isn’t it?’ 

At the end I felt the most unfit of my life. But strangely satisfied as that creeping post-exercise euphoria set in. 

Naturally we ended up at the pub after for a pint to, you know, support our local, but I might add while there we potted and booked our next few gym sessions, including my revenge - Clubbercise (basically a sweaty dance to 90s club tunes with glow sticks and much more up my street).

A good diet goes hand-in-hand with exercise. As someone who eats out regularly (in normal times) and has to sample and try foods for work, I find it nigh-on impossible to stick to a diet, but after the embarrassment of gym-gate I this week decided to try the 5:2 method. Essentially eating 500 calories two days a week, and normally for the other five.

Naturally, as soon as I'd set the 'fasting timer' on my phone the hunger pangs kicked in. And as I sat down and stared at my breakfast on day one (six shrivelled dried apricots - just under 80 calories), with a side of lemon water, I regretted my decision. But let's see if I can stick it out. Maybe I'll feel confident enough to get my legs out this summer?

Have you gone back to the swimming pool/gym? How are you feeling? And do you have any 5:2 tips? Email charlotte.smith-jarvis@archant.co.uk