September 8, 2021

Weeks of lockdown may somehow affect our weight and lifestyle. With most of us stuck at home during the pandemic, trips to the fridge have become more frequent than ever before. If your lockdown routine has revolved mainly around sourcing your next snack, you are certainly not alone.

Ang Wei Zhi, a lecturer from INTI International College Penang’s School of Business, is pictured backpacking in China before the pandemic, an activity he really misses.

While many complain about gaining weight during the Movement Control Order (MCO), research has shown that many Malaysians actually became leaner while they were stuck at home. This could be a result of using the pandemic to improve sleep patterns, diet, and exercise regimes.

In this piece, staff and students of INTI International College Penang talk about how their lifestyle has affected their weight during the lockdown.

Pandemic Survival Mode 24/7

For Nazlina Ismail, a staff of the University Placement Office, admitted that being a working mother is challenging, particularly in balancing career, motherhood, and household responsibilities.

“Though working from home came with flexibility I sometimes found myself overwhelmed with housework in addition to my job. This includes overseeing my children’s schoolwork and online learning at home, even at night and on the weekends during the pandemic.

“As a result, I often stay up late. Sometimes this is the only time I have a chance to sit down and make time to read novels and have some me time. On top of that, without common lunch breaks, I sometimes even forget to eat and drink. By the time I realize this it is already 3pm! Thankfully I never skip breakfast and would love to have nasi lemak every day, but I usually have bread and cereal instead. It’s easy and quick,” shared Nazlina.

Despite her busy schedule, Nazlina enjoys being in the kitchen.

“Cooking has always been a pleasure to me, and I will usually plan for a proper meal on the weekends. I usually cook whatever is quick and simple. There are times though when I ordered food delivery for the whole week,” she added.

Nazlina is still trying to find work-life balance while being at home 24/7. She worries about gaining weight, but skipping meals and not having a proper diet can cause metabolism to slow down, which can then cause weight gain as the body goes into survival mode.

If This Pandemic Is a Marathon, How Do I Get to The Finish Line

Ang Wei Zhi, a lecturer from the School of Business, has managed to lose weight during these multiple lockdowns.

When asked how this was possible, he said he was actually not as active as he was before the pandemic. Life, in general, has slowed down a lot right now and is like a rollercoaster ride.

“The quarantine has disrupted many of my regular routines. I miss my active lifestyle and being able to do outdoor activities freely. I was never one to sit still and stay at home.

“Before the coronavirus I actively participated in half marathons. I also occasionally play squash and swim too! I was always doing something. When I spent so much energy doing activities I enjoy, my body needed more food to replace the energy lost. Now that I am stuck at home, even my working hours are thrown off, let alone a workout habit. Squeezing in workouts are near impossible and my minimal movements are limited to going from room to room, leaving my body without the need to consume a lot of food,” he said.

Finding Creative Ways to Stay Active at Home

While others complain about unwanted weight gain or weight loss, Goh Zi Lin, a student from the School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts, maintained her weight. She attributed this to the creative ways she had to stay active indoors.

“My housemate and I will set aside one day a week to plan out meals for the days ahead. This has become our routine, and this is where we get all creative to come out with all sorts of recipes and a list of groceries to buy,” she said.

Zi Lin shared that they would usually cook at home and will only order takeaway food three or four times a week if they were bogged down with assignments. Preparing and eating meals at home, she said, saved them a lot of money.

“Cooking together is a great way to spend time with my housemates and a great stress reliever for myself. At the same time, we often find time to declutter and clean the house. Moving around the house makes me feel rejuvenated, active, and healthy.

“Besides that, I would also find time to exercise at least four times a week. Home workouts are great and any physical activity helps keep my weight in check and brighten my mood,” she added.

Jeong In Joon, a student from INTI International College Penang’s School of Engineering and Technology, is itching to play football again with his friends.

Burning Calories Through Cooking and Cleaning Up After

Jeong In Joon, a South Korean student from the School of Engineering and Technology, also maintained his weight like Zi Lin. He turned to cooking not just for sustenance but also for comfort and entertainment.

“I’m seeing more people cooking during lockdown. My social media has been filled with friends sourcing recipe ideas! I’m not much of a cook, but hey if you can’t beat them, join them! There are plenty of fast and easy meals that can be done in less time than it takes to travel to a restaurant or wait for a delivery,” he said.

According to In Joon, preparing home-cooked meals can seem like a daunting task, but helps pass the hours and makes him feel productive.

“My definition of a healthy lifestyle mostly involves outdoor and physical activities more than diets. I have been missing the outdoor since lockdown started and itching to get back on my exercise routines! I used to play football almost every week with my friends. Football has been a huge part of my life,” he explained.

For now, cooking a meal and having a quick walk in his condominium afterwards can be a calorie-burner for him.

“After I cook, wiping the countertops is still considered as burning calories, because I am moving my arm! Then, I will also go for a walk for at least an hour or two. I am adapting my exercise and diets during lockdowns,” In Joon laughed.

The pandemic and lockdown has made people around the world adapt to adapt to changes that they never thought were possible. From cooking at home to working out at home, many managed to opt for healthier choices

However, if you’re gaining weight, you don’t need to worry about getting your pre-pandemic body back. Just remember to eat smart and maintain a healthy weight!