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!

Adventures In Weight Loss

Adventures In Weight Loss

Thank goodness 2021 has arrived! As we turn the page on a new year, and new decade, it seems appropriate to reflect on our goals for the coming twelve months. One of the most common aspirations in a new year is to lose weight. If you look at the plethora of ads running on tv and online, you will see that the weight loss industry and is alive and well. I have some experience with these companies and will share some insight gained over the years.

One of the most popular plans is built around group meetings, which includes weighing in and a presentation by a leader that covers a specific topic. There are also products for sale, most of which are food . This program offers an eating plan that encourages gradual weight loss and a balanced approach. I found the information valuable at times ( who knew skim milk has added sugar?) but also repetitive. What’s the downside to this plan? Several things come to mind. But first, some tips and tricks to help you succeed.

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The first week you weigh in you should wear your heaviest and bulkiest clothing. It can be 95 and humid, but you want to wear a sweater, jeans and winter boots. Keep the boots on. Maybe a hat and mittens too. The amount you weigh is your baseline weight going forward. The number may horrify you, but remember it’s temporary. This method ensures that you will lose your first week because in the second week, and every week thereafter, you will wear your Weigh In Outfit- this will be a camisole, silk shorts, and no shoes. Step on the scale, and voila! You have lost at least 2-3 pounds of clothing. Be sure to keep the Weigh In Outfit handy- because you will use it every week, even when it is 20 below and snowing. Just bring some sweat pants and shirt to put on over the summer duds.

Once you get into a groove going to the meetings, some difficulty can arise. The process is you go at a designated time, are weighed by a staff member, listen to the group leader for 30 minutes, and be on your way. What’s not to love about this fairly streamlined process? Let me count the ways. First, weighing in can be demoralizing. You have to stand in line with your fellow members until a staff person is available, and they vary greatly in terms of attitude and helpfulness. There was one person in particular that I avoided because she was so negative. I came to privately call her the Crabby Weigh In Lady. She had worked there for years, and apparently forgot how hard weight loss can be. If you gained weight, even as little as 1/4 pound, she had a steely gaze of disapproval. If you stayed the same for weeks on end, there was the “Why are you wasting my time?” look. If she had any sense, she would welcome these issues. It keeps the business profitable, because most of the members never lose their required weight, and if they do, they rarely keep it off. Sounds like job security to me!

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After the weigh in gauntlet, you take a seat and listen to the group leader. Again, lots of variables in terms of their ability to present the information. The leader that ran all of the meetings that fit into my schedule was less than motivating. She had 30 minutes to instill a message, and usually spent 15 minutes handing out stickers (weird recognition for a group of adults) and another 15 minutes talking about her personal life. If you were lucky, the final 1-2 minutes had some info you could use, i.e. “Don’t eat so much this week!”.

If you go to this program every few years, as I have done, you will begin to notice some patterns. First, the members and staff are almost all women. Most of the members have been there before- we are like repeat offenders in the criminal justice system. All we are missing is the orange jumpsuits. I think of this group as the 400 Pound Club. Not that we have lost that much in one attempt. It means we have lost the same 20 pounds 20 times. The program has added some online features, a smart phone app, and completely online options in recent years. But none of these approaches offer much accountability, so therein lies the challenge. If any male members attend, they usually lose weight quickly and receive rather luke warm applause when the leader gives them their stickers. Think about the weight loss reality shows that used to be on- who usually won them? The male contestants. They were put on very low calorie diets and were required to work out for several hours every day. I read a follow up article about the winners, and very few of them were able to keep the weight off. That lifestyle isn’t sustainable.

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Maybe the key to all of this is to follow some basic advice I remember from a comedy show. I can’t recall exactly which show it was, but a person is looking for a way to lose weight. Two people follow them around with cards, and hold them up every so often-one says Eat Less, and the other one says, Move More. When you think about it, that really sums up any approach to weight loss. Since one size doesn’t fit all, I think this sage advice offers you the ability to find out what works for you, and then try it. Get the tempting food out of the house, plan your meals and snacks, and find a way to track your progress. There are plenty of free and not very expensive options that do this, and they usually come with reminders. When I was recently in the hospital, my fitness tracker kept telling me I hadn’t gotten any steps in for several days. Silly app.

It may be more challenging to do this while staying home and avoiding crowds, but it’s possible even in the age of Covid. A few years ago, I had a metabolic test at the gym I belonged to. The results said my base rate, the number of calories I burned just by existing, was 1500 per day. To lose weight I would have to go down to 1200. That’s not much food in my estimation. But more exercise sounds “doable”, and there are Youtube videos and other apps that I plan to try.

After years of thinking about this, my summary is as follows: it’s easy to gain weight, difficult to lose it, and very hard to keep it off. But I always feel better when I Eat Less, and Move More, so those will be goals for me again this year. If you are on the same journey, I wish you the best. Maybe 2021 is our lucky year!