Adventures In Weight Loss, Covid Edition

Adventures In Weight Loss, Covid Edition

Regular readers of the blog will remember a prior post on January 4, 2021 entitled Adventures In Weight Loss. It detailed my many years of weight managment, and was one of the posts that generated the most readers and responses. So today, I am sharing a sequel to that post, Adventures In Weight Loss, Covid Edition.

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As the world is emerging from the pandemic, there are a lot of positive things happening- getting together with family and friends is at the top of the list for most people. And those get togethers are moving from gatherings in the back yard to restaurants and larger events like wedding receptions. In addition to the happiness of reconnecting, most of us are also celebrating with food. One big problem, however, is that many of us never disconnected from food during our days at home. In fact, we took our relationship with it to a whole new level.

Think back to spring 2020 and the beginning of the lock down. Most of us were suddenly at home all the time, and restaurants were closed. What did most of us do? We started cooking and eating at home. For my generation, this wasn’t quite as big of an adjustment as it was for our adult children. We grew up before the era of fast food on every corner, and regularly sat down for evening meals cooked at home. In the Midwest, our agricultural roots also produced some really great comfort food cooks- my grandmothers, mom and aunts fit this description to a “t”. Organized sports were usually connected to neighborhood schools and fields. Moms weren’t driving kids to practices and games every night, and that was a good thing since many families only had one car.

But raising kids in the 80’s and 90’s was very different. Fast food was not only available, it was a huge help as we drove kids to and from activities. The days of sports, dance classes, and other childhood endeavors all being within walking distance were long gone. So our Millennial kids were used to food on the go, and Baby Boomer parents got used to not cooking nearly as much as our parents did. Our kids are now parents too, and busy schedules are still the norm.

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So what did the suddenly home bound people do? Started cooking, and looking for new things to try. This worked pretty well, but it also led to making desserts. Because if you have lots of time, you might as well do dessert too. Some people like savory foods, but for me, sweets have always been my preference. And why stop at dessert? Might as well have some cookies and cinnamon rolls around for snacks. They were delish, and we gobbled them up. Homemade without preservatives- better eat them before they go to waste!

After a few weeks, restaurants started partially reopening and doing creative things to stay in business- carry out orders, and even cocktails to go. We wanted to support our local establishments, and to break up the week, so we ordered carry out from some of our favorite local places. And they had delicious desserts too. Might as well give them as much business as possible!

All of this eating had the normal results- even though we did try to get some exercise, it wasn’t nearly enough to counteract the shut down eat-a-thon. I gained weight, and so did a lot of others. You’ve heard of the “freshman fifteeen”? The typical weight gain of a first year college student? This is kind of like that, except now we’re in our sixties. So let’s just call it the “I Ate Too Much During Covid, And Put On A Few Pounds” weight gain. No need to shame any senior citizens who enjoy a good meal.

The first indication of Covid gain for me was putting on pants that didn’t have an elastic waist when the lock down restrictions were loosened. Quite a wake up. And I have a lot of pants with buttons and zippers. I put all of them in “time out” and went back to my stretchy, elastic waist pants very quickly. Most of them fit into the athletic leisure category that is quite popular now, so at least I was semi-fashionable.

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But the moment of truth was lurking on my calendar. I had my annual physical scheduled with my internal medicine doctor, and I had to keep it because a couple of prescriptions were expiring. No way around it, so I stopped baking, and tried to make healthier choices in my carry out meals. But I knew that the scale wasn’t moving much, and the dreaded day arrived.

It was March, and still cold in Nebraska, but I wore the lightest pieces of my athletic leisure wardrobe I could find. I also made sure not to wear any jewelry or my watch. Those things add up! As I sat in the waiting area, I braced myself for the dreaded weigh in with the nurse. She called my name, and back we went. And much to my delight, it showed the weight in kilograms, not pounds! Not nearly as discouraging. Except that I went into the exam room and quickly looked up the conversion of kgs to pounds on my phone. Back to discouraging. But I plan to request kg weigh ins in the future because I can’t to the conversion in my head, and I can skip looking it up.

My blood pressure was normal, so dodged a bullet there. But the blood work wouldn’t be back for a couple of days. Next came my chat with my very nice internal medicine doc, who now has some grey hair so I no longer call him Doogie Howser. After he said hello, I went on autopilot and started telling him about my long days of lockdown, how I started cooking at home, which lead to making desserts, which lead to baking, and on and on. It felt like going to Confession after a long absence, and I know my doc isn’t Catholic, so this was all probably quite bizarre to him. But he very nicely said he understood, and recommended a low carb diet and more exercise.

So here we are, three months past my eating confession, and the adventure continues. I took my own advice from my first weight loss blog post, and got the sweets and junk food out of the house. Warmer weather has brought back the only forms of exercise I enjoy, playing golf and pickleball ( a racket sport with a weird name played by retirees). I also like to float in swimming pools, and chat with my friends, but even I don’t count that as exercise! My focus on healthier eating is going pretty well, except that a new donut shop called Hurts arrived in town and it is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is only three miles from my house, and my car is magnetically drawn to it on occasion, such as the recent National Donut Day on June 4th.


My Adventures In Weight Loss continue, but I am not discouraged. Every day brings a new chance to eat fewer carbs and get some exercise in. Hope springs eternal! If you are also dealing with eating less and exercising more, I wish you the best. Success may seem elusive at times, but remember, even the blind squirrel occasionally finds the acorn!

Goodbye 2020- Don’t Let The Door Hit Ya!

Goodbye 2020- Don’t Let The Door Hit Ya!

After taking a week off for the Christmas holiday, I had several ideas for this week’s blog post since 2020 has been a most eventful year. All of that changed, however, on December 22nd, when a medical emergency sent me to the ER and a three day hospital stay. More about that later.

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Thinking back to this time a year ago- we were finishing 2019 and looking forward to 2020. I had enjoyed the holidays with family from near and far, and by the time New Year’s Eve rolled around, the beginning of the next year beckoned. I was about to start my last semester of teaching, and had a retirement party scheduled in June. My extended family planned to fly in, and tickets were being purchased. There was a lot to look forward to. The pretty pink photo with gold glitter reflects the usual optimism for a new year.

The first time I heard anything about the Covid pandemic, it seemed far away- in Washington and New York, and not very prevalent in the Midwest. But by March the seriousness became apparent, and we scrambled along with the rest of the country to cope with a lockdown and working from home. At the same time, the divisive election was gearing up, and social and racial justice issues that have been brewing for decades spilled onto the streets. Add in historic wildfires, hurricanes and floods, and it was an overwhelming time for the entire country, and the world. We figured out how to mask, socially distance, and use hand sanitizer regularly. We also found a way to use Zoom for extended family phone calls ( including some participants who had trouble with cameras pointing at the ceiling), and to meet in driveways or outside for brief gatherings. One funny meme I saw on social media was an interstate sign saying “Welcome to Nebraska- Socially distancing since the 1800’s”.

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It was a welcome change when spring and summer brought a reduction in virus cases and some easing of restrictions. I welcomed the chance to play outdoor sports, and occasionally go to a restaurant with patio seating. Being able to go the hair stylist was one of the best things that happened, and I appreciated the precautions the salon took. But by the time fall rolled around, and colder weather set in, the number of Covid cases and deaths hit the Midwest particularly hard, and Nebraska was no exception. The heartbreaking stories of families losing their loved ones were regularly broadcast on the local news, and I started to know people who were losing their lives. There was no pattern to how the disease progressed, or who would live or die.

Which leads me to my own health scare. I was scheduled for a colonoscopy screening on December 22nd. Due to family history, I have been getting these tests for years, so this was my fourth one. The prep is not pleasant, and by the time you get to the facility where it is performed, you are pretty dehydrated and hungry. Luckily I knew the process well- check in, get an iv, have the procedure while sedated, and wake up with no memory of it. Meet with the doc, and head home to rest the remainder of the day. But things didn’t go as planned.

Due to the virus, my husband wasn’t able to wait at the facility and come in when I was in recovery. I knew things were “off” when I woke up with a tremendous cough- like coughing up a lung. The nurse mentioned my pulse oxygen was low, and needed to get to 90% before I could go home. I started looking at that number and it was in the low 80’s. The number remained low for an hour, so they called an ambulance to take me to the ER, six blocks away. I was pretty out of it at this point, but we got in right away. The ER was very busy, however, with Covid and non Covid cases, so they had to wheel me to a corner of the room to wait. It is hard to describe the feeling of being very vulnerable, very alone, and very sick.

When I got to an exam room, and they increased the oxygen, it was a bit better. The rooms are separated by plexiglass and curtains, but I could hear the man in the space next door. He was Covid positive and struggling to breath. It is one thing to see videos or read about this, and quite another to see it in person. Several other Covid patients came in while I was there. I saw health care professionals who looked worn out but were giving their all to each patient. They kept me informed and worked as quickly as they could.

After some tests, I learned I had inhaled something during the procedure and had aspirational pneumonia. This required treatment and a three day hospital stay. My time on the 8th floor was not where I planned to be until Christmas Eve, but the care was excellent. My family rallied to my side, and once per day I could have a visitor. I can’t express how much that meant to me after the utter aloneness of the ER.

I have been home three days as I type this, and while I am very tired and the cough persists, I am happy to be here. I have read a lot about aspirational pneumonia, and understand it is a rare but serious thing that can occur with sedation. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know any of this when I arrived at the hospital. I thought I would get some help and be sent home that evening. 2020 thought otherwise.

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The oft used cliches that life goes by very quickly, and can change on a dime, come to mind. As we look forward to 2021, I hope we can work together to end this pandemic, comfort those who are dealing with its effects, and care as much as possible about the people around us. There are many ways, large and small, to help our neighbors and strangers alike. Let’s do what we can, wherever we are, to make this a better place for everyone. We all need a break and some time to heal from this incredibly difficult twelve months.

So farewell 2020. May we never see another one like you, and as the title to this post says, don’t let the door hit ya on the way out.