The Guardian

‘I got a whole new mindset’: the health secrets of people who got much fitter in lockdown

Many of us have struggled to maintain our fitness in 2020 – but not everyone. Here, four people explain how they improved their sleep patterns, diet and exercise regimes
‘I was stuck in a rut and food was an easy way to make myself feel good’ ... Tim Ludford, who lost 34kg in lockdown. Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Before Covid-19, an ordinary evening for Tim Ludford, a charity worker, looked something like this: after-work drinks with colleagues; an Uber home; a takeaway. “Not healthy takeaways, either,” says Ludford, 37, from London. He would polish off a curry for two people before nailing a bag of Maltesers or a packet of biscuits.

Ludford’s relationship with food began to deteriorate after the death from cancer of his father in 2013. “I was unhappy, first of all, and I was bingeing on food and alcohol as a coping mechanism,” he says. “A lot of it was related to my dad, but I was also stuck in a rut and food was an easy way to make myself feel good.” By the time lockdown was introduced, he was severely obese, with a BMI of 40. (A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, according to the NHS.) “Sometimes I’d do crazy things,” he says. “If I was on the way to meet someone for dinner, I’d go to KFC on the way. And then I’d eat dinner as well.”

Then Covid-19 hit. Ludford was too scared of the transmission risk to order a takeaway. The pubs were not open. “I started cooking at home,” he says. “Soups, salads – healthy stuff.” He was furloughed and began to struggle with anxiety, in part related to the pandemic, but also related to

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