We can all agree that this a stressful time. In fact, a recent poll found that 60% of Americans are dealing with daily stress during this COVID-19 pandemic. Stress is a problem for many aspects of health, including our waistlines. Many studies have connected stress, and the “stress hormone”, cortisol, with weight gain. With 2/3 of adults affected by overweight or obesity, weight management has typically been a priority for many people, but how realistic is it during a pandemic?
Recalibrate your expectations for weight. This may not be the time to focus on weight loss. It’s hard enough to lose weight even when everything in your life is going perfectly. Instead, maintaining your current weight or limiting weight gain to a certain number might be a more realistic goal.
Focus on non-scale victories. Weight is just a number that reflects your body’s relationship with gravity. It doesn’t define you! Think about the things that do matter in your life. Are you able to get on the floor to play with your kids or grandkids? Can you complete your daily routine, such as getting dressed, showering or bathing, doing household chores, without being out of breath or feeling pain? Can you enjoy a brisk walk around the neighborhood? These are the quality of life measurements that are more important than the number on the scale.
Keep structure in your life. You might be completely out of your routine by working remotely, not working at all, or working extra hours. You also might have children or grandchildren who are out of their routines. Make a schedule for each day or week to keep structure in your lives. Schedule time for eating, movement, daily duties, etc. And leave a little wiggle-room in the schedule because nothing runs perfectly on time. Having structure might eliminate some opportunities for mindless eating or grazing while passing through the kitchen.
Find ways to keep moving. While moderate levels of exercise are not going to melt the pounds off, exercise is essential for overall health. It can help manage weight-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension, and it improves your mood and sleep which can help you to make healthier food decisions during the day. If you are looking for ways to stay active, you’ll find many blogs on this topic at https://www.ceceliahealth.com/en-us/covid-19
Work comfort foods into your eating plan. During stressful times, many people look to food for comfort. Instead of labeling them as “guilty pleasures” or “indulgences”, make space for these foods in your eating plan. Craving macaroni and cheese? Fill up the rest of your plate with vegetables and a lean protein. Sneaking into your kid’s box of animal cookies? Put them in a bowl and enjoy them as a snack. You can even pair them with a dab of peanut butter or a piece of cheese to keep yourself fuller for longer. When you allow yourself to enjoy these foods occasionally, you might find you can eat them in more reasonable amounts than when you deprive yourself of them.
Show yourself compassion. Recognize that some days will go better than others and give yourself some grace. So you had a day with no physical activity and you’re not proud of your eating choices… Find one thing for which you can be proud. Did you get out of bed and make it through the day? That can be an accomplishment in times like these. Spend some time before you go to bed being grateful for what did go well, especially the little things, and recommit to one thing that you want to improve for tomorrow.