Being Healthy in a Pandemic

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For the record, if the title of this post brought you here to get tips on the aforementioned subject, you might as well leave now.  This post is more like, “How to Fail Miserably at Being Healthy in a Pandemic.”  Ugh. 

I wasn’t doing too bad until the third week, when I stopped tracking my food.  That was Friday before Palm Sunday, and I was just tired and sad and my heart wasn’t in it anymore.  I managed to go 20 days of quarantine before I quit, which has to count for something, right?

Since then, we had Easter.  Normally, Easter is my favorite holiday and that’s because it is always so joyous.  He is Risen—what’s not joyous about saying that to everyone you see on a Sunday morning? But of course, this year was not the same.  We still had church service—JJ even did a reading—but it was all virtual.  And that was sad.   🙁 Don’t get me wrong, our pastor did a fantastic job putting together a YouTube playlist with lots of uplifting songs and messages (and a cute 14-year-old whose mom made him put on a shirt and tie doing the psalm reading, ha ha).

I got to hear and see my favorite trumpeting family doing the entrance song, the pastor gave a great message, and afterward we had a Zoom chat where I got to virtually hang out with many of my fellow church members—for which I even dressed up in my favorite spring-time dress. 

But despite all the positives, the reality is, it really kind of sucked.  I miss church.  I miss my friends.  I miss normalcy.

Something else I missed for Easter was going to brunch.  It’s no secret that I love brunch.  I try to go to Easter brunch every year after church (the pinnacle of my Easter brunch tradition was three years ago when we went to the most amazing—and most expensive—brunch in Hawaii—and saw Dog The Bounty Hunter! 😂 ).  This year, because I’ve been so down and because I lost all will to eat healthy, I decided to make my own brunch.  And I did!

It took me about 4 hours of cooking.  Which is why I always go out for brunch. 😋   When it was done, we had a pretty good spread.

Bacon, sausage, biscuits, French toast with whipped cream, two spinach bacon swiss quiches (one with crust and one without).  It was all really good, if I do so say myself.  So good, in fact, that I ate way too much food.  Even after an afternoon walk of over 3 miles, I still felt so full I didn’t eat dinner.  So, it should be no wonder that I woke up to this on my scale the next morning.

That would be a 4.2 pound gain from the previous week. 🙁   Ouch.  But with all that bad food the day before, it had to be expected, and honestly, I figured it was just a water retention from all the salty food. So last week I got back to tracking. 

I struggled a bit on the weekend, though.  Saturday was especially difficult…I lost a lot of willpower that day.  I didn’t go crazy, but I ate more than I should for sure.  Actually, it wasn’t the amount of food as much as it was the kind of food.  Bread pudding from a local bakery for breakfast, lots of potatoes with our pork dinner, small slice of chocolate cake for dessert. Considering I’d run 6 miles in the morning, that wasn’t totally out of line, but because I’m in the tapering part of my half-marathon training, my calorie burn is a lot less these days and my eating should be a little (lot) more in check. 

The other issue is that I’m not walking nearly as much as I used to pre-quarantine, because of course, I’m just sitting in my back room all day instead of walking from the parking lot to my desk, then from one building to another for multiple meetings.  My phone is quick to criticize me over this fact.

Yes, thank you, Captain Obvious.  Apple Health needs a “pandemic” setting, where instead of offering judgmental comments, it says things like, “Look at that—you took 7000 steps today.  Good job getting off your ass when you have absolutely no reason to!”

Still, I knew that after the 4+ pound “weight gain” last week, my mostly-better eating habits this week should assure me of a loss.  God knows I didn’t really gain 4 pounds in a week, right? 

Wait…what?  Not only did I not lose weight from last week’s salt-infused brunch—but I gained two tenths of a pound?  Fuuuuuuuuuudge. (In my head, that’s a different word.)

So to summarize, I have gained 6.4 pounds since the quarantine “officially” started on March 14.

More alarming than that is the fact that I am at the heaviest I’ve been in over 8 years. 😮 The last time I weighed 138 was January 23, 2012, when I was in the middle of my speed-walking regimen and the weight was literally just sliding off. My current weight is only 12 pounds below the weight I was when I first started my “last” healthy journey, which began in November 2011.  I’m currently 25 pounds above my lowest-ever weight, which admittedly was an unsustainable number achieved when I was training for my very first half-marathon.  My body just didn’t know what to do with all that exercise!

More importantly, I’m 13 pounds above where I would like to be right now, and 13 pounds is a number that I can really feel. I’ve been wearing my jeans (normal work attire) every day while working from home (turns out I don’t own any sweats!), and they are definitely feeling tight these days.  I put on my Easter dress last week, but it was not comfortable.  And my running pace is definitely slower than it has been in a long time.

I think back to that woman I was in 2013, when losing weight seemed so effortless.  That is something they absolutely do not prepare you for in Weight Watchers or any other program I can think of…how much harder it is to maintain a weight loss than to lose it in the first place.  Turns out the “newness” of losing weight—when everyone is noticing how good you look and complimenting you and telling you how great you’re doing, and you’re so excited to be buying new, cute, smaller clothes—that feeling is fleeting. And when it’s gone, you’re left with just hard damn work, and very little support. 

When that happens, you are left to be your own support, and that can be a challenge.  I think that’s where most weight loss programs get it wrong.  If I were to go back and do it all again, I would start with that.  Before you make one change in your eating habits, before you’re given a calorie goal or a list of foods to eat, I’d start by focusing on how you feel, right now.  Like, take a week to really think about it.  And then, only once you understand how you feel about yourself in that moment, you can begin making changes.

And as you go along, and you’re having success, I would try to focus less on the good feelings you get from others and focus more on the good feelings within. I would tell myself to filter out the external compliments (not completely, just to a greater extent) and to really look deep into myself and focus on how I was feeling deep inside.  Being healthy really IS about more than just the number on the scale, the size of your jeans, or the opportunity to look good in pictures for the “digital age.” It’s about feeling comfortable in your clothes, about the feeling of control and power you get when you successfully complete a hard workout, or just the general knowledge that you’re helping to extend your life and its quality because of your good habits.  

Well there’s a little Monday morning therapy, I guess. LOL.  I think I needed to get through that to help me with my goals going forward.  My first goal—run a half-marathon without actually “racing” this weekend. (I’ve chosen to do the Glass City Half virtually. Not excited about it, but I was less excited about the idea of all my weeks of work going for nothing.)  Then, after a day of rest, it’s time to refocus on feeling good about myself again.  My goal is to get back down to 125.  Better eating and continued exercise is the key.  My other goal is to get back to some semblance of normalcy so that I’m not so depressed, but I can’t control the quarantine at this point, so instead, I will control my attitude and my actions. One day at a time.

Thanks for reading! I pray you stay safe and healthy, and that we’re all back “normal” soon!

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