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I’ve been a classic yo-yo dieter for decades. But this time it’s different, because this time I’m scared for my life, and that’s finally given me some weight loss motivation that is going to stick.
Losing the “COVID-19”
Last Monday morning I did what I’ve done every Monday morning for the past three months: I weighed in. And I was 19.2 pounds lighter than when I’d started.
Nineteen pounds is not a milestone that I would normally mark, but there have been so many jokes about people gaining the “COVID-19” that I felt pretty good about losing it instead. Especially since the Coronavirus pandemic played a big part in my motivation to lose weight.
I’m a yo-yo dieter
My weight has been going up and down for decades. For a long time I was gaining and losing the same twenty pounds (in my 20s), then the same thirty (in my thirties), and now the same forty (yes, in my forties). Each time, my weight settles a bit higher than where it started. I am the classic yo-yo dieter.
My problem has always been motivation: I don’t hate myself when I’m fat. And while mentally that’s probably a pretty healthy way to be, it does make it harder to keep weight off.
Sure, I like the way I look more when I’m thinner (and it’s way easier to buy clothes), but it’s just a matter of degrees that all fall within liking myself. It’s not enough of a difference to keep me interested in eating well, so I go back to eating whatever I want, in obscene quantities.
I get a lot of joy from food. I love to bake and cook, I love to feed other people, and I wake up in the morning looking forward to what I get to eat that day. And anyone who follows me on any social media knows that during the past three months as I’ve lost this weight, I haven’t stopped eating what I love. I haven’t been suffering or depriving myself.
But this isn’t a post about how I lost the weight, it’s a post about why. (There will be future posts about the how, but you can start here.)
I lose weight in February
I don’t think I’ve ever tried to lose weight in January. It just seems so…cliché. Plus, I’m busy in January. I go to the Consumer Electronics Show, and there’s no way I’m skipping all of the awesome eating I do in Vegas.
But I do often start some kind of weight-loss or exercise plan in February. This is definitely a pattern with me. I think there are several factors:
- I indulge in every food want I have from Halloween through New Year’s Eve
- I go to CES in January and see myself in a lot of pictures and videos afterwards and see how big I’ve gotten
- I start to realize that spring is around the corner and I won’t be able to hide in big comfy sweaters for much longer
I definitely didn’t start losing weight because of the Coronavirus. In fact, when we made the decision to go into full lockdown on March 15th, four weeks into my weight loss, I really wanted to just say screw it and start eating everything. That was my gut reaction. If I was going to be stuck inside with my family indefinitely, I was going to be happy, dammit! I envisioned weeks of baking and baking and eating and more baking and more eating.
Too fat to survive Coronavirus?
But then I started thinking about the stories coming out of Italy, where things were very, very bad. I was reading about doctors who were having to choose who would get a ventilator based on who had the best chance of survival. Would a doctor look at me, at over 200 pounds, and decide that someone thinner would have a better chance? Is obesity a comorbidity factor in Coronavirus deaths? (The CDC says that severe obesity, defined as a BMI over 40, is a factor; I was close to that number in February.)
Fair or not, being thinner is associated with being healthier. It doesn’t matter that my cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and resting heart rate are all great (not just good, but great), that I don’t smoke or drink or do drugs, that I’m a vegetarian, or that I walk a lot (at least I used to; the week before lockdown started, I walked 55k steps, while during lockdown I’ve been averaging less than half that).
A doctor making a triage decision probably wouldn’t know any of that. If all the doctor knew was that I was a middle-aged obese mom, and he had to choose between me and a middle-aged thin mom, I think I know who would get the ventilator and who would be left to die.
And I didn’t want that to happen to me.
Luckily, I haven’t gotten the Coronavirus. (For all I know I had it back in January, but that’s another story.) I’m doing everything I reasonably can to ensure that I don’t get sick. And thankfully, at this point it looks like New York City has done enough to flatten the curve that a doctor would not be put in that horrible position.
But I feel better taking control of the situation. And tomorrow morning, I hope to see more progress towards my goal of not looking like someone who isn’t healthy and has no self-control. Besides, there are definite health advantages to losing some weight. (My knees were really hurting, and now they feel fine!)
So, is it fair that I could be judged on looks instead of my health? No. But the situations I’ve been reading about are scary, and I don’t ever want to be in that position.
So, I wasn’t wrong…
Since posting this a couple of weeks ago, I’ve since read a lot about the additional risks for obese people when it comes to COVID-19. When I was making my decision at the beginning of lockdown to lose weight, it really was just based on what some doctor might think of me if I did get sick. But it turns out that larger people are getting sick with COVID-19 more often, and when that happens, they’re more likely to die.
If you’d like to do some reading about it, there’s this article about what was observed in a NYC hospital (where I live), and this article about why obese and morbidly obese people may be having a harder time. Plus this article with numbers from England.
I’m still about 24 pounds away from being “merely” overweight instead of obese, but articles like those are making me feel even better about my decision to finally lose this weight for good.