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  • Writer's pictureMonica Joyce

Round 2 of COVID is Here

Ditch the diet mentality and you just might avoid gaining weight during the coming holidays and winter months. Without a doubt, it has been a challenging time for those of us who are trying to maintain our weight or lose weight these past several months. And there seems to be no immediate end in sight. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in weight gain for many. A survey from UT Southwest Medical Center in Dallas found that seven out of ten people with obesity reported their weight loss goals were more difficult to achieve during the lockdown.

Johns Hopkins researches found that there was an increase in time spent watching TV. In other words, more people became couch potatoes during our shelter in place months. And this is despite the fact that we just said good-bye to summer/fall and months of great weather. Now throw into the mix winter months, shorter days, and holidays.

Stress and anxiety levels are on the rise as Round 2 of shelter in place is happening. Now more than ever some of us need some strategies to avoid a repeat performance of the behaviors that may have sabotaged weight the past months.

I decided to conduct my own little survey interviewing individuals who managed to avoid weight gain during the shelter in place orders and found they had several things in common. For one their outlook was positive and they felt that they had control over their weight and health based on the choices they made.

So here’s what many of them said. Let’s start with activity:

1. They NEVER stopped exercising. In fact, to offset the increased time at home they increased their activity.

2. Getting out of the house was a priority so many scheduled several walks into their day.

3. They adopted “some activity is better than none” and ditched the “all or nothing approach.” They grabbed time instead of a snack (as little as 10 minutes) to walk, climb the stairs, dance, or jump on exercise equipment.

4. Some set a timer to get up from their desk every hour and move around.

5. Most tracked steps providing themselves some accountability and set weekly goals.

6. Their level of activity was consistent for the most part day to day. No on again off again.

Healthy Eating: They made it achievable and easier by having a PLAN:

1. They planned meals and shopped regularly limiting last-minute ordering in, thus avoiding high calorie/ large portion meals.

2. They limited the opportunity to snack on high-calorie foods by purchasing fresh unprocessed foods.

3. Ordering in or going out to dinner was a “treat “, not a daily event. It was something to look forward to.

4. They allowed themselves their favorite foods and snacks limiting frequency and quantity. No sitting down with a bag of chips or cookies in front of the television or computer every night. Eating took place where it belongs in the dining area.

5. Some counted calories, so like tracking steps they had accountability and flexibility. Trade a glass of milk for a glass of wine or give yourself permission for the occasional dessert just because you really feel like it.

6. Be kind to yourself! This is a stressful time, and we must take care of ourselves to stay healthy, both physically and mentally.

They practiced mindful and intuitive eating. They ate a variety of foods, treating themselves occasionally. They listened to hunger and fullness signals, eating the right amount at the right time, most of the time. I call it the 80-20 rule.

People who successfully manage weight have a good relationship with food. Food isn’t used as a coping mechanism and there aren’t long lists of “good or bad “ foods. They listen to both hunger and fullness cues which takes practice and time.

Try sitting down to a meal and try the Japanese approach: Hara hachi bie which translates into “eat to 80% full.”

To learn more about intuitive eating check out the book “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN, and Elyse Resch, MS RDN

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