When New York City first shut down, I found myself buying a lot of comfort food to handle the sudden stress and loss caused by the pandemic. If I haven’t shared before, I have a huge sweet tooth and unfortunately (or fortunately) I live by several amazing bakeries. In my quest to support small businesses I frequented as many bakeries as I could that were open. I normally buy my groceries from Trader Joe’s, but they were having crazy lines and cases of COVID so I started shopping at Wegman’s. I discovered that they had these delicious blueberry muffins and I was buying them two packs of 4 at a time. I was working from home, and only wore sweats when I left my apt; I didn’t wear pants with a button and a zipper for 3 months. This means I had no idea what the muffins and comfort sweets were doing to my body. I did do a little online shopping and the clothes weren’t fitting, but they were from the same company so I said ok maybe it’s them, European sizes are different.
But then one night I said let me try on some of last summer’s clothing that should fit, and that’s when I discovered I gained the COVID-19. Still not accepting the truth that was staring back at me I ordered a scale and said let’s see what the scale says. And what I discovered is that the scale is a liar and tells untruths. The number staring back at me was a very high number and according to all my research I am obese. Now I know that the reason I’ve gained weight is because of my diet, but even more importantly because of inactivity. Even though I didn’t exercise as much as I should before the pandemic hit, I still walked a lot and took the train and was always lifting and moving heavy things at work. And while my body might not be what I wanted it to be, it was not looking like how it looks now.
While I didn’t expect this weight gain for 2020, I also didn’t expect the mind games that came with it. I never allowed my weight to determine what I felt comfortable doing, but now I find myself second-guessing what I can wear, and even if I will feel ok doing a certain activity. I have been limiting myself based on the number on the scale. It’s true I have gained weight as I’ve gotten older, as most people do. When I was younger, I always wanted a body that was thick with thighs and hips to match, be careful what you wish for. But I realized that I was looking at my body through the lens of my 18-year-old self. I’m now 31 and my body should look different. Not only that, but we are very harsh on our bodies when we need to give it thanks. As I am typing this, inside my body all types of systems are working in unison so that I can take my next breath. The emotional toll that this pandemic has had on my body has manifested itself in different ways and my body has also suffered from the sudden change. So, I want to pause and say thank you. Thank you for carrying me all these years even when I didn’t treat you with the respect and appreciation that you deserve. I promise that I will do better because you deserve better.
Yesterday I attended an online retreat and during the discussion on what we have gained recently, I wrote down weight. I have gained weight. It was confirmation when another attendee said that she too has gained weight, but that by gaining weight it means that she was never hungry or starving over the past few months. That her needs had been met abundantly. That was the same thought I had. As millions of people have lost jobs and lost their livelihoods, I have been fortunate enough to have food, and have the means to purchase the food that I need and some food that I didn’t. Sometimes all that we need is a change of perspective to see that what we are taking for granted, is a blessing. I hope you remember this as you give your body a hug today. There might be more body to hug than before, but you are alive to give your body a hug. And that is something worth celebrating.