When it’s time to get back to the world
I visualize the end of the coronavirus threat often.
In my mind, I see the world battered but healed up, healthy and united – ready for a rebirth where we appreciate all we took for granted before. I see us all finding ways to help each other get back to a new normal. I imagine myself as I step out of my house for the first time ready to take on the world and reenter civilization. I see myself clearly beaming with happiness and relief but there is one more thing. When I imagine myself a few weeks in the future, something is different. I’m fat!
Perhaps in a time of world suffering, you will find my thoughts vain and insulting. I get that and there were moments when I admonished myself for feeling this way – at first.
After all, people around the world are sick, suffering, losing their livelihood, separated from loved ones, afraid of the future. Some people do not have enough food at home or enough money to obtain the food they need during this period. So, how can I be so heartless to worry about getting fat during this pandemic?
Well, I’ve been fat before. Let me be more clinical. I spent 24 years of my life morbidly obese peaking at 300 pounds and now that I’ve reached my healthiest adult weight around 185 pounds, I’m never going back. Not even when it seems like the world is ending.
A few weeks ago, when the news about the coronavirus began heating up, I speculated on what was coming and I worried. I stocked the house with mostly healthy foods. I also started stepping into old habits eating lots of sugar and snacking often. I gained some weight. I worried and ate more. I felt bloated, worried, stressed, and on a clear path back to my eating issues of the past. I kept expecting the sweets and snacks to help me relax and provide comfort. Instead, I still felt worried and my stomach hurt from eating too much.
Over the last few years, I found my way to better health through eating low carb and intermittent fasting. It changed my life so much that I wrote a book about it with the brilliant Doctor Jason Fung and experienced researcher, Megan Ramos because of their decades of knowledge on fasting for health and weight loss. We simplified the process of fasting so people could be as lazy as possible in pursuing weight loss.
But, sticking to my way of eating and not snacking has proved to be tougher during a pandemic. There is no chapter in my book on How Not to Get Fat While You Are Quarantined which is why I’m adding that chapter here now.
You matter. All of you. Your mind, body, and spirit. During these difficult times, you are going to need to take special care of all the parts of you so you can have the best chance of staying healthy AND so you can help others achieve the same. It is tempting as heck to eat whatever you want when it seems like the world might be ending but the truth is, the world is not ending and you need to imagine life after the current situation.
Now is the time to focus on getting your immune system into the best place possible. Here is my three-step plan for you to take care of you right now:
- Eat food that fuels you in a healthy way
- Eat less often
Eat Food that Fuels You In a Healthy Way
Let’s start with your eating plan.
I’m assuming you are in the fortunate position to have access to enough food. As tempting as it may be to deal with the stress through chocolate and ice cream, I want you to strive against this or at least limit it. Focus on the foods that make you feel good physically. We all have to find our own way of eating that makes us healthy and I respect your choice whatever it may be – vegan, carnivore, Whole30, gluten-free, keto, whatever. Now is the time to make good choices in your food so you can get your immune system in the best position possible.
One thing that almost everyone agrees on is that eliminating or lessening your consumption of sugar can put your body in a healthier position. Will eating good food stop you from getting the contagious coronavirus? No! But having your immune system at optimal levels can help you to recover faster from illness and put you at less risk for all types of health issues. I believe that David Sinclair, a Harvard Professor and Biologist, has some interesting research on higher blood sugar levels and COVID-19.
Eat Less Often
Stress causes an increase in cortisol production. High cortisol production in the body causes weight gain, high blood pressure, and a slew of other health risks.
It isn’t your imagination.
Stress makes people want to eat more. In fact, it makes me want to eat constantly. So I have had to get serious about time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting. Today, not tomorrow, you must decide when and when you will not eat. My eating windows are the same each day. Noon-One, 3-3:30, 6 to 7. If I’m managing my stress well and able to do it, I’ll skip the 3-3:30 eating. I have to do this for my sanity because left without restrictions, I will eat ALL THE TIME. Why? Because I’m stressed, worried about the health of the world, at home with a 13-year-old daughter whose school is closed, working from home with my husband who is also working from home. Am I complaining? No! I’m grateful to be safe and healthy. But my default when stressed and in an unknown situation is to shove food in my mouth to deflect my feelings instead of dealing with them.
Can anyone relate?
Right now, we simply cannot eat from dawn to dusk because it is our responsibility to keep ourselves in the best physical and mental state possible. We need to do this for ourselves, our families, our loved ones, and the world in general. Suddenly, taking care of yourself is perhaps of more importance than it has been before.
I don’t like to exercise. I’ve never been good at it.
But when I skip out on exercise for about two weeks, I notice an acute change in my mood and mental state. I like having a healthy mind and during this time of change and stress, I’m doing things to protect my mental health as a priority. A healthy mental state also helps me to not be a jerk to the people I’m living with during this extended time at home together. Working out makes me feel happier (mostly after it’s over!)
So every day, I’m taking the dog out for a walk or two. I’m lifting weights in the garage with my husband three times a week. Everyone’s abilities and likes differ in this situation especially if self-isolating at home but you can move! Pick something you enjoy. If you can get outside and stay an appropriate distance from others, do it. There are many fitness programs online both paid and free and if all else fails, pull up an old Richard Simmons or Jane Fonda video on Youtube and get to dancing in the living room. Pick something to do at least three times a week, (daily is even better!) that gets your body moving at the level that is healthy for you.
Yes, it will help you move those muscles, but the more immediate gain could possibly be a healthier state of mind to deal with the world at an unsure time.
I know that things are precarious and that not eating sugar and snacking right now seems trivial. I promise that it isn’t. You deserve the very best chance possible to be as healthy and centered as you can even when the world is scarier than usual. And I know you can do it because I’m doing it and I never would have thought I could.
The world needs you at your best right now.
Picture yourself walking out of your home when the time comes. Imagine a healthier, more svelte version of you ready to take on the new world.
I can see you now!
To Your Health and Hotness!