COVID WEIGHT GAIN – WHY IS THIS A THING???? WHY MUST WE TALK ABOUT IT SO DAMN MUCH?
This past weekend, one of my girlfriends, whom I haven’t seen since before the pandemic, came over to my house with her husband and kids. When I went to hug her, instead of reaching out to hug me, she pulled up her shirt and grabbed two handfuls of her tattoo clad belly and said, “look at this!”
“It’s beautiful!” I responded, “You’re beautiful and perfect.” But she was not happy and wanted to show me that she had put on weight since the pandemic. (Side note- she’s a nurse. A nurse during the pandemic. A freaking goddamned hero. She had ridiculous amounts of non-stop stress- not to mention she’s a mother of two boys). She, me, and most other people in the United States gained weight during the pandemic. She was upset about it and feeling bad about herself, feeling like she had been bad or done something wrong.
Gaining weight during Covid doesn’t make you a moral failure. Not during the pandemic and not ever. Yet I have so many clients who absolutely hate themselves and are calling themselves failures because they put weight on during lockdown.
Diet culture is foaming at the mouth to jump on the Covid weight gain bandwagon. But diet culture is ALWAYS looking for a way to shame people in order to make money
Come to think of it, capitalism as a whole loves to use shame and fear to profit. So much easier to sell things to people when they are afraid of what happens if they don’t buy it.
Trigger Warning- Fatphobia below:
When I first moved to California, I remember that 24 HOUR FITNESS (a gym chain up here) had a billboard with aliens landing on earth that said, “When they come, they’ll eat the fat ones first….” I remember this because Marilyn Wann, author of FAT!SO? Led protests against the chain. The fact that they implied that being fat would cause you to be abducted and cannibalized by aliens was absurd and cruel.
Marketing is a little more subtle now, but it still relies on eliciting shame and fear to sell products.
Basically all of my clients have gained weight during Covid and I have as well. Many of my clients are really stressed out about going back to the office, about things opening up again, about having to see family and friends because of their weight gain. And the funny thing is that everyone thinks that they are the only one. They believe that everyone else turned their house into a home gym and became bikini models during Covid. Are there people who did that? Sure, a few. But the majority of people put weight on. If you are reading this, YOU SURVIVED A GLOBAL PANDEMIC!!!!!!!!!! Buy yourself a new pair of jeans. You deserve it.
The Covid situation was so scary and also isolating and caused so much fear and depression and anxiety in people. People moved less since they weren’t out and about. They snacked more since they were always home, and they used food for comfort, which is not pathological nor is it an eating disorder, it’s normal. And when your survival is at stake, eating as a result is biology kicking in. It’s a survival mechanism.
So if you gained weight during Covid, you are not alone. I read a statistic recently that said 72% of Americans reported weight gain during Covid. Which means that if you are in a room of 10 people, there are only about 3 who didn’t gain weight during Covid.
So what are you going to do about it? Nothing.
Your health is certainly important. But as always, focusing on weight loss rather than overall health turns into a shame/blame fest. It leads to obsession and disordered thinking and behaviors around food and body image and scales. So rather than focusing on weight loss in this post pandemic world, focus on gentleness. Focus on being kind to yourself. Meet up with friends for walks or swims or bike rides and spend time outdoors moving again. Buy yourself clothes that you feel beautiful in. Move your body in a way that feels joyful. Eat yummy nutritious food. And most of all, thank your body and your self for letting you get through this really insane time in the world.
You are perfect and whole and complete in this very moment!!!
Your value and worth has nothing to do with your body. It’s what’s inside your body that counts. The parts of you that are kind to yourself and others. The parts of you that can hug, that can tell stories, that can play with your kids or your dogs or your cats or water your plants or who can just sit down and cuddle up with a cup of tea and a good book.
As always, nurture yourself with love and kindness. Your weight might have gone up, and it might go back down again. But the main point here is that you survived. You got through. Don’t let anyone tell you that your worthiness is decreased because you gained weight. And most of all, don’t let yourself tell you that you are not good enough because you gained weight.
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