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Did you gain the COVID-19...pounds?

I am excited to have co-written this piece with Dr. John Sherrill. Dr. Sherrill is passionate about helping people get to and maintain a healthy weight for their body. He is a huge advocate for a healthy lifestyle. I met John when his wife, Beth, brought him to one of my yoga classes. It has been fun working with him and sharing his thoughts, and mine, on weight and habits.

Managing your weight in the time of COVID-19

There has been a myriad of funny meme’s on social media about weight gain during the time of shelter-in-place. I have laughed along with everyone else, yet I believe this is a great time to start working on creating new healthy lifestyle changes. Creating better habits to keep us from gaining the COVID-19.

According to Dr. John Sherrill, MD., a board-certified internal medicine physician and director of the Diabetes Center for Covenant Medical Centers in Tennessee, “habits can develop quickly. They can also be stopped just as quickly. Not all habits are bad but those that you feel are detrimental and you wish to stop may not be easy to erase. In fact, the longer that you have had a habit and the more it seems to fill a gap for your comfort, the harder it will be to extinguish. If the habit becomes an addiction it may take 3-6 months to resolve the physical desire and a lifetime of vigilance to control the mental tendency to restart the habit. It first takes recognition of the problem, determination to resolve it and then countermeasures to help you be successful where discipline alone will not suffice”.

We do not have the outside influences currently that we often blame for our less than perfect routines. What we have is plenty of stress that plays into our bad eating habits, but now, most of the negative extrinsic factors are gone.

Some of the blame for bad habits I hear often:

· I don’t have time to fix healthy meals.

· I don’t get home in time to work out.

· I don’t cook.

· I need an accountability partner.

· My husband/wife/sister/mom/neighbor/pet insists I eat what they are eating.

· I’ve tried to be healthier before and it hasn’t worked for me.

· Healthy food is too expensive.

There are always reasons for why we cannot do something. I find reasons all the time to support not doing something that I still want to do. Change for me happens when I decide it is a priority. I can help myself form better habits by setting myself up for success.

· I can meal plan and shop for groceries ahead of time. During COVID19, we are strongly encouraged to plan and shop for two weeks at a time to keep from being out in public too often.

· Many of us are now working from home, our workouts can be at home also. Fitness businesses have had to move online to be able to continue. There are more options now than ever online. If you do not want to work out online, you can walk in your neighborhood. Find some exercises online, in a magazine or call a friend that works out for ideas.

· Cooking is happening at home more now than it has in years. People can still order from their favorite restaurants and have food delivered but more people I know are spending time looking for recipes to create. This can help you find healthy meals that you can master in the kitchen. You become the chef.

· It is great to have a support group working on being healthy together. It doesn’t have to be the people that live in your house with you. Find a community of people that are trying to eat healthier. There are online tools like Noom, Weight Watchers, MyFitnessPal app, Fooducate app – just to mention a few. You can connect with a health coach, nutrition coach or a life coach. I worked with Talia Pollock of “Party in my Plants” for a few months and I loved it. Talia helped me find healthy choices that were easy to add to my daily diet.

· Trying to make healthier choices and better habits is easier when you have buy-in from those closest to you. It is not imperative though. You are able to do this on your own and there are many tools to help.

· Healthy food is not that much more expensive than less nutritious. When we look at the price of food, we do not explore the quality of the nutrition, we ponder the volume. If we look at what you get nutritionally, you usually do better with fresh, not packaged foods. So, a fancy nutritional supplement may be pricey but lentils, zucchini and sweet potatoes are cheap.

Dr. Sherrill states, “you must be honest with yourself and open to other’s opinions about habits or addictions that you need to change. Wanting a better outcome for yourself without action is not a success plan. When your strength and resolve are in place, identify where you are and where you want to be, and outline the steps that you must take. Measure your success with a scale and do not compare yourself to others but to who you were yesterday and who you want to be tomorrow. Keep your eye on the prize and set yourself up for success by learning helpful techniques. If you are trying to lose weight and eat healthier, remember that you do not have an eating problem as much as you have a purchasing problem. You do not lack discipline as much as you might need to create the right environment for yourself. And finally, stay strong and do not let the non-thinking part of your brain lead your life and sabotage your efforts”.

You have the power within yourself to make changes when you decide they are important. It is cozy in our comfort zone, but change does not occur there. Change occurs when we venture out on a different path. Take control and work towards positive change now.

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