COVID Weight Gain: Professional Tips to Lose Pandemic Pounds

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About 42% of Americans have reported unwanted weight gain during the coronavirus pandemic, weighing 29 extra pounds on average, according to survey results from the American Psychological Association.

Changes in daily routine, combined with the added stress of navigating a global health emergency, have caused many adults to forgo healthy eating habits and fitness and turn to less desirable comfort foods.

Dr Geri Williams, supervising physician of Ideal You health centers, called it “the perfect storm for weight gain”.

“When we feel stressed we naturally create higher levels of cortisol and when it is high our body is ready to move, our blood sugar rises and if we don’t expel it it stores as fat.” , she said. “So stress alone can make us fat.

“Another thing we do is get rid of stress by eating… so the stress caused by the lifestyle changes and all the unknowables created the perfect storm and we made food choices that weren’t healthy. “

With the help of widely available vaccines, the number of COVID-19 cases is dropping, and the economy – as well as everyday life – is returning to a sense of normalcy. As a result, many begin their efforts to revert to old healthy habits or start new ones.

Williams has noted a handful of strategies that can help you not only achieve your goals, but also maintain lifestyle choices to keep the gains positive. They include:

  • Plan: Write a day-to-day plan, including the meals you are going to eat for the week. Having a written plan helps you stay responsible and allows you to look back and see what worked and what didn’t work the week before.
  • Preparation: Taking the time on Sundays to prepare your meals for the week, especially meals you would typically have at work, will help you avoid eating fast food or stopping at restaurants on your break.
  • Associate: Holding yourself accountable is one thing, but having other people in your life to hold you accountable can be even better. Williams recommends finding one or more people with similar aspirations and sharing your plan and progress with them. It could be a colleague, a friend or a professional trainer.

Another important recommendation is to avoid eating after dark. Williams said the body’s internal clock is generally ruled by daylight, which means that during the day the body is designed to find, eat and digest food, and to move around.

During this time, at night, the body undergoes a hormonal change and prepares for rest and repair.

“We are hungry and we eat at a time when our bodies are not designed to digest,” Williams said. “Foods that are eaten regularly after sunset are usually stored as fat. Just changing this habit could have a huge impact on people, and that includes alcohol as well. “

Adding exercise to your daily routine can be beneficial in several ways, including improving strength and circulation. It’s invaluable for improving your overall health, but Williams noted, “When it comes to weight loss, it doesn’t tend to cause the scale to move as much as the focus on food.”

This notion was echoed by Carrie Holland, a family physician and professor at Michigan State University, who also works as a health and life coach at her company, My Why Fitness.

“Exercise and nutrition are both important, but for totally different reasons,” Holland said. “My philosophy is not to use exercise to lose weight; use it for mental health benefits.

The nutrition part, she said, is the most difficult part to implement. Unhealthy eating and drinking can be a coping mechanism for more difficult issues like anxiety, fear, anger and disappointment that many have felt throughout the pandemic.

“But it will also make the biggest difference,” said Holland. “How to stop overeating? …. These habits that we have developed are now on autopilot and to reverse them you have to wake up this part of your brain and pay attention to what you are doing and why. When looking for a bag of crisps in the pantry, ask yourself “Why am I doing this?” Am I really hungry or is it just out of habit?

Much of Holland’s work with her customers over the past few months has not only involved discussing the best foods to buy at the grocery store, but also discussing the connection between mental and physical health.

“A lot of diets and exercise programs focus on action – do it and you’ll lose weight,” she said. “What I spend time working on are thoughts and feelings. It all starts with our brains and if you don’t think and feel the right way, no matter if you are doing the right things, it’s not going to happen.

Here are some of Holland’s tips for developing healthier habits:

  • Start small: Trying to change too many habits too quickly is a recipe for disaster. Instead, take manageable bites and slowly build better habits, like starting by committing to a 10-minute walk every day.
  • Set realistic expectations: Weight gain during the pandemic likely took a long time to occur, and healthy weight loss won’t happen overnight. Think of the trip as a less linear path than a roller coaster of ups and downs.
  • Choose an activity you like: Running isn’t for everyone, and neither is weight lifting or any other activity. Forcing an activity that you don’t find pleasure in is a “great way to get people to resent exercise,” Holland said. Find a way to move that you can hope for instead of the one you dread.
  • Focus on more than a number: If success relies solely on a number on the scales, you may become discouraged and give up after making good decisions and not seeing the desired outcome. Holland recommends focusing more on building positive habits than on a weight goal.

While conditions during the pandemic created an opportunity for weight gain, obesity is not a new challenge for Michigan. In 2015, about 31% of Michigan adults were obese and 35% were overweight.

The state ranked 32nd in obesity in 2018, with rates slightly above the national average, according to a federal health survey.

Learn more about MLive:

5 things to know about Michigan’s COVID vaccine lottery

Michigan coronavirus data for Friday, July 2: number of cases, positivity rate on the rise

10 Michigan beaches closed, under notice entering holiday weekend

Delta Variant Update: Virus Spread Invites New Mask Warrants, Further Restrictions Around The World


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