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  • Nancy Boudreau, RYT, CHHC

Put on Some Pandemic Pounds? Me too. Here’s What I’m Doing About It.

I was able to work from home for about 15 months at the beginning of the pandemic. It was a privilege that a lot of people didn’t have, but one that I’m forever grateful for.

I enjoyed working from home. I like spending time alone and actually need it to stay sane. Besides, with all the work Zoom meetings and check-ins with family and friends, it felt like I was talking to more people, albeit virtually, than ever before.

Working from home had a different rhythm from being in the office. Because of my Type A personality, I was constantly checking my email and trying to respond immediately. I wanted to maintain my same level of professionalism and not give anyone reason to think I was home goofing off.

When the workday was over, there was no race to sit in rush hour traffic. Instead, I would shut down my computer, walk to the living room, and enjoy happy hour with my hubby without worrying about a designated driver.

Without the 45 - 60 minute commute each way, I was able to cook more and boy did I. Lots of comfort foods like meatloaf, cheesy casseroles, roasts, soups, and stews. I even started baking bread. The house always smelled amazing!

But what I loved most about working from home was the comfy dress code. Roll out of bed, put on a nice top, pull on some stretchy yoga pants, and slip on my fuzzy slippers. Put on a little tinted moisturizer and I was Zoom ready and able to take on whatever came my way.

So it was a rude awakening when I was called back to the office. Spending all that time in stretchy pants made me blissfully unaware of my weight gain.

When it came time to get dressed for work, I tried pulling on my pants and they felt tight.

I mean, they felt really tight.

And dealing with buttons and zippers? Wearing a bra? I can’t even . . .

Instead of the Freshman 15, I put on the COVID 19. Ok, more like 20.

Not only am I feeling uncomfortable and sluggish, but when my weight goes up, so does my blood pressure and blood sugar – not good.

I want to feel comfortable in my clothes again and get my energy back.

It’s time to do something about it!

But before I tell you what I’m going to do about it, more importantly, let me tell you what I’m not going to do.

What I will not do to manage my weight gain:

  • Beat myself up for using food as comfort and slacking off on exercise. Even though I’m a yoga teacher and health coach, I’m also human. Stress sometimes gets the better of me. These are unprecedented times we’re living in, and I will allow myself the same grace I afford everyone else.

  • Restrict calories, fast, or detox. I will not start restricting what I eat, weighing and measuring food, timing my meals, or cutting out entire food groups. Dieting never works. Period.

  • Start an extreme, unsustainable workout plan. I am not going to exercise until I’m beet-red, gasping for air, and limping my way home. I will focus on the pleasure and fun that yoga and walking give me, and not the number of calories I can burn, the inches I can lose, or muscles I can sculpt.

  • Focus on calories, pounds, and inches: I will focus on how I feel and not the numbers on the scale or measuring tape. Arbitrary numbers will not determine my mood or how I feel about myself.

Okay, so now you’re probably wondering, what IS she going to do about it?

According to Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga which deals with health and lifestyle, having a consistent daily routine is believed to be the basis for balance and good health. So I’m recommitting to my dinacharya, which is a Sanskrit term meaning daily routine.

Now don’t let the thought of a daily routine scare you. I’m talking about practices that are so simple, you can’t fail. Kind of like brushing your teeth. It’s so ingrained in your daily routine that you don’t even have to think about it.

I like to refer to these daily practices as rituals. By looking at these habits as rituals, it turns them into sacred time to take care of myself, not another chore to add to my to-do list. Alrighty then. Here we go!

What I will do to manage my weight and recommit to my daily routine

  • First and foremost, buy bigger pants! I refuse to wear tight, uncomfortable clothes as penance for putting on weight. I can look professional, feel attractive and comfortable right now. There is no need for an entirely new wardrobe, just a few items to rotate during the week.

  • Stay hydrated: Drink more water. How many times have we heard this? It’s so simple and powerful, yet most of us don’t do it. First thing in the morning, before coffee, I will drink a glass of water. I will keep a refillable water bottle or a mug of herbal tea on my desk to sip throughout the day.

  • Mindful eating: During mealtimes, I will focus on eating – not watching TV, reading a book, or scrolling through Instagram. I will eat slowly and chew my food thoroughly instead of shoveling it down without even tasting it. By eating more slowly, I’ll realize when I’ve had enough to eat before I feel uncomfortably full and bloated.

  • Eat more vegetables: We can argue all day long about what is healthier - vegetarian, vegan, keto, low carb/high fat, low fat, - but I think we can all agree that eating more vegetables is a good thing. I will add vegetables to all my meals. It’s easy. Throw some greens in my morning smoothie or scrambled eggs; add lettuce, tomato, red peppers, and sprouts to my lunch-time wrap, and have a salad and some roasted or stir-fried veggies with my dinner.

  • Meditate: Start my day with 5 minutes of focused, intentional breathing. This will help calm and center me which in turn will reduce cortisol, the stress hormone which contributes to weight gain, particularly around the belly. There’s a Zen quote that says “Meditate for 5 minutes a day unless you're too busy. In that case, meditate for two hours.” No matter how busy it gets, I can always take 5 minutes to meditate.

  • Get moving: No need to train for a marathon or go to boot camp. I will get up from my desk at least once every hour. I will do 15 minutes of yoga or take a brisk walk daily. If I can or want to do more, I will, but I commit to at least 15 minutes.

  • Sleep: Make sure I get at least 7 hours of sleep. Sleep is absolutely necessary for the body to restore and repair itself. In order to do this, I’ll have to practice sleep hygiene: Go to bed and get up at about the same time every day. Eat dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime. Dim the lights in the house after dinner. No screen time (TV, computer, or phone) at least 1 hour before bed. Not going to lie. This is a tough one. I’m looking at you Netflix!

So that’s my plan for recommitting to my daily routine. Will I lose some weight? Maybe. Will I hit the mark 100% of the time? Probably not.

What I do know is how much better I’m going to feel once I start practicing my daily rituals more consistently. Remember, it's about progress, not perfection.

When it comes to health and fitness, we tend to overcomplicate things. Let’s not this time. My new mantra is “Let it be easy.”

Quick-fix plans are unsustainable and rarely have lasting results. They also begin an endless cycle of losing and gaining weight, being on and off a diet. Who needs that?

Start by creating simple daily habits that are easy to stick to and help build momentum. It may not be a quick fix, but it will be a lasting one.

Care to join me? Try one or two of these practices for a couple of weeks and let me know how it goes. We got this. Let’s do it!

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