COVID. Our entire world has been turned upside down. Your profession has been compromised. Relationships that were on shaky ground before the pandemic have now become more difficult than ever.
Any type of problem that you had before COVID has suddenly risen to the surface. Although there have been some silver linings, we've all had to pivot and make changes. But changes are scary and just plain hard.
How do we get through this?
A popular solution is to eat. Until you can't zip up your pants, button your shirt, or run around playing with your children without having to stop and catch your breath.
You gained weight during COVID and you want to lose it. Now.
How to lose the COVID ____? (Place the number you gained here)
I'm not a doctor, registered dietician, or nutritionist. Why should you listen to me?
There could be other reasons why you gained weight and therefore, the only person who should tell you that you need to lose weight is your family doctor, registered dietician, or nutritionist. Not your friend, your spouse, your children, or your barber. Nobody.
However, I feel that I am still able to share suggestions because these are generic, healthy tips that I am certain any professional will agree with. In fact, I have shared my lifestyle with several medical professionals, and have received the ‘thumbs up’. Plus, I am married to a family doctor and he will be reading this before it gets published.
What I am here to tell you right now is that diets don't work. I know, it's so tempting to try that quick fix.
There are too many diets out there that promise that you can lose weight. And diets will work at first.
I'll use the "no carbs" example because everyone these days is avoiding carbs in order to lose weight. So, let's take away the bread, pasta, and crackers. The cake too. And you will lose weight. The weight will fall off of you so fast you will laugh all the way to your favourite store to get that size you have been longing to wear.
Until you go back to your “regular” lifestyle… like having a sandwich for lunch — with bread! Eating a potato next to your protein and vegetable of choice. You know, Canada's Food Guide. The weight will come back on so fast you won't know what hit you. That's where diets don't work. You simply can’t maintain this “diet” for the rest of your life. Besides, why would you want to eat that way anyway?
So. I've got news for you and you're not going to like this.
There's no magic pill.
And no, I was not born slender. I was not one of those lucky ones who can eat whatever they want and not gain weight. My classmates called me Fat Tub of Lard. Nice, eh? The number on my scale concerned my pediatrician.
When I was in my teens, I found a program that helped me lose weight in a healthy way. The name of the program is irrelevant. I know you’ve probably heard this a thousand times before: healthy food that comprises plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and grains. Lots of water. Exercise. And the occasional treat.
It's probably what you were doing before COVID.
But how many treats?
How much should I eat?
How much exercise?
As mentioned earlier, I am no professional, but am able to share healthy generic tips that have worked and still work for me.
I aim for 10 glasses a day. Water keeps you hydrated, energized, and is great for your skin and organs. Did you know that hunger is usually mistaken for thirst? I drink 2 glasses in the morning and two cups of herbal tea after dinner. I carry around a HUGE bottle of water wherever I go, so I am continuously sipping all the time. I jazz up my water with lemons, limes, and sometimes, if I'm feeling fancy, I put in cucumber slices.
Yes, I eat bread. Crackers too. I like eating bread that is high in fiber so that I feel fuller and medically speaking, everything comes out the other end, if you know what I mean.
I'm a pescatarian, so fish is my go-to protein, as well as tofu, cottage cheese, and eggs.
Oh man, do I love almond butter. I can eat almond butter morning, noon, and night. I've recently started to make my own almond butter and it's delicious. Too much of it (and too much of anything really) is not a good idea so I usually eat one to two tablespoons a day. I also love avocados.
Alcohol and treats
I like a good scotch, which I have every Friday at 4:00 PM. It's a ritual that I have been doing for years. I tried to have a scotch on another day of the week and it just didn't taste the same. The best part of my Friday scotch is that I have it in the living room and make a toast to a picture of my grandparents.
You are probably wondering, "Does this girl ever eat anything ‘bad?’" I really don't like to label any food as ‘bad’. There are no bad foods. I like to call them treats. We all need treats every once in a while and if we had them all the time, we wouldn't call them treats.
On Fridays, I celebrate the Sabbath and we have a meal that I take the time to prepare for. That's when I bring out the babka (a sweet, braided bread or cake). I have a nice generous portion and enjoy every bite.
What works for me is one hour a day, five days a week. On one of my rest days, I might just go for a walk. Not too much cardio — 30 minutes tops. What I really focus on is resistance training. Lifting weights helps protect your bones against osteoporosis and the more muscle you have, the leaner you look. These days, going to the gym may not be for everyone, so I like to take classes online and I “see” my personal trainer via Zoom, so she can make sure I am lifting correctly.
Of course, everybody is different. I urge you to have a professional consultation before starting any exercise program.
There seems to be a running theme here. Can you guess what it is?
Anything you want in life, you can get — if you put your mind to it and work at it. I did not get a free pass in the body department. I am far from perfection and I slip up just like everybody else. How I look and most importantly how I feel is healthy and strong. I hope I am able to keep it this way so I can pick up my grandchildren and run around in our back yard, no matter what our world looks like years from now.