Weight Gain During Quarantine: An Open Letter to Wichita

That glorious smelling bag of McDonald’s that was just delivered to your door step.

Uncertainty and Frustration

Whether you actually felt a change from “having to” quarantine or not (let’s be honest), life definitely changed for everyone in one way or another when everything shut down. Post mass toilet paper freak-out, things arguably got even weirder. Coronavirus and politics aside, life had become very uncertain in the simplest, yet most impactful way: “Well, how do we eat?” Questions began to plague conversation and google searches such as “We can’t eat out, but we can shop at Walmart?” “I have to wear a mask when I walk through the restaurant, but not when we sit down at the table?” “….???” Consequently, we chose to ignore, avoid or just stay home. So, what’d our bodies do? What they do best: react. Weight gain: It happened before you knew it.

Quarantine 15…or 50

It’s a little chilly today so you go rummage through your drawers and various baskets to find some comfy pants. Alas, you pull out your trusty drawstring sweatpants from the bottom of the “pants drawer.” You slip them on, feeling immediate relief one leg at a time until you pull the stretchy waste band up to your hips… “Hm” you think as your chub is a little snug in THESE pants. “How is this possible?” you wonder quietly to yourself. You stick it out – “Maybe I’m bloated” you say as you walk into the kitchen. Upon arrival, your eye catches the glimmer of those golden arches on a giant brown bag in your trash can. *Eyes Squint* …Mickey D’s.

DoorDash. UberEats. Grubhub. Good ole’ “Let’s Order Pizza!” Sound familiar?

The food delivery industry came to Wichita and it’s surrounding areas a few years ago and was slowly gaining popularity until this fateful year. What could be better than delicious food delivered right to your door step from (pretty much) anywhere in the city? AMAZING, we thought as we started to feel the impact of quarantine woes. Those woes, of course, being bars and restaurants closing or closing early; kids being stuck at home and in our hair, constantly; Dillon’s and Amazon being out of clorox wipes…of all things. Nothing was easy anymore. So, why not be a little lazy and order in? “Oooh look, 2-for-1 at Jimmy John’s!!” “Okay just today for lunch and then I’ll go get groceries.” “Shoot…I waited too long to get groceries now it’s 8 o’clock and my slippers are on.” “I forgot my mask.”

It’s All Fun and Games Until it’s in Your Head

“OKAY this is fine, we’re fine,” you think as you try on your favorite shirt that seemingly has become too tight, too short and most importantly, doesn’t make you feel confident anymore. You grab another shirt, baggy, unflattering and immediately ruins your mood as you walk out the door to head to your friend’s place for dinner. As you walk in to your friends place you put on a face as you greet everyone, wondering if anyone’s noticing your weight gain since you saw them last. You listen to your friend talk about work and everything going on as you inadvertently notice that they look the same. Nothing has changed for them!

Brain Noise

“They didn’t gain any weight…they probably did home workouts when the gyms closed…they always eat right…they’re smarter than me…why did I do this to myself? Why am I so disgusting? Is this me now?” Pictures of yourself at your thinnest flash through your mind as you continue to nod and smile.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

We can be so mean to ourselves, when in reality, NO ONE ELSE IS THINKING THESE THINGS ABOUT YOU. When we get down on ourselves, our brains become the meanest kid you’ll ever meet. They say horrible things with little to no basis of reality but still sound so right to us as we look in the bathroom mirror after they said it. So, how do you turn it off? How do you ignore your own brain when you walk past a mirror and try to imagine yourself a few months ago when you were thinner? How to you lose weight when the stress of gaining weight is actively working against you??? Well, to that I unfortunately say, “no idea.” If I knew, I wouldn’t know how you feel, now would I? However, I DO know what you can do to focus on positivity over negativity.

Easier Said Than Done, But It Can Be Done.

“Just workout; eat better; don’t eat gluten; stop eating dairy; stay off of social media; stop comparing yourself.” We’ve heard it all by now, right? Yes, most of these things are fantastic things to try when you feel down or want to lose weight. Well that’s great, but I don’t feel like it sometimes. Ya know?

Back to Square One

You can go a few days eating right; maybe workout a few times; maybe one really good workout; But then, you have a horrible day at work. Oh it was awful: nothing went right, your boss made a passive aggressive comment to you for something stupid; the customer yelled at you for something out of your control. So, what do you do? You go home, order a pizza and plop yourself on the couch. After your binge, you quickly run to the restroom during the 30 second ad on youtube. You look in the mirror, notice your love handles, turn to the side in hopes of making yourself feel better and then see your belly protruding from where it “should be.” BOOM: here we are again, back to square one.

Here’s the Secret:

Though we are in a cultural movement of body positivity, it is still SO HARD to stay positive about your body. Seriously, so difficult. You hear all the right things – “Don’t compare yourself to others; All bodies are swimsuit bodies; Love yourself.” Well, shoot – If it’s that easy for them, why can’t it be for me?? Here’s the secret: it’s not easy. Staying positive through weight gain, job loss, breakups, friends drifting, exciting life events of others, etc. is extremely difficult when we have negative brain noise. So what can you do?

Okay Seriously, Here It Is:

The absolute only thing you can do is think of of how you will want to think of yourself when you look back in the future. Oversimplified? Maybe – but it works. If you sit down and make goals for the future, it may work for a bit, or may work forever if you’re that type of person. Goals are a fantastic thing to have, but can also create another reason to be disappointed with yourself if you don’t follow through. SO, instead of creating a goal, think of what you want to look back on when you are further on in life. Do you want to look back on beating yourself up and missing out on life? To look back on fighting over something insignificant (**projecting insecurities on) your boyfriend did when he was the only one who ever actively made you feel beautiful?

Instead of thinking of goals for the future, think of things that you would be proud of yourself for when you look back in the future.

Think of how you want to treat other people and treat yourself. Similarly, consider how you will describe yourself when your kids ask about you when you were their age. Do you want to tell them that you let weight gain change how you felt about yourself on your wedding day? Or, do you want them to look up to you for finding the love of your life and having the confidence to marry them. If you’re truly self-aware or at least try to be honest with yourself, this may be more of a motivator than you think. Consistently remind yourself of who you want to be, and the rest of it will inevitably follow. It may not happen immediately, or in the way that you think it will, but happiness will come – one way or another.

Your Friend at Soma,

Morgan Musgrave

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/treatment-rehab/soma-therapy-wichita-ks/440207

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