As we all continue to self-isolate and keep up our social distancing measures, it is only expected that many of our anxieties will make an appearance and resurface. We worry about our healths and that of our loved ones young and especially old, we worry about loss of jobs or changes in income, we worry about home-schooling and the mental health of our children … the list is long. But there is one particular fear that we all feel, and perhaps joke immensely about, and worry if we’re judged for it! It is the fear of our changing bodies, of gaining weight, or of losing our much-worked-for muscles! How can we come to terms with this very credible fear?
As we all try to adapt to this new sedentary life-style, our routines have all changed drastically including our dietary rituals. Some try to make do with whatever food is available to them right now, while others have taken the opportunity to show off their kitchen prowess and again no judgement there. This is a new territory and people are dealing differently. Those who would always look forward to a quiet night in are perhaps longing for a time when there was an abundance of activities to choose from and they would willingly decline. While those with serious FOMO are perhaps relieved at the fact that there’s nothing to miss out on. In all cases, our routines have been decimated, our movement levels have fallen down to nill and our appetites seem to be soaring.
Relying on food for comfort is a gruelling problem for a lot of people during their normal everyday lives, and it becomes more so when everything becomes uncertain, we’re bottled up home all day, and we have too many feelings to sort through. When we have no control over our lives anymore, we gain a fraction of that control by focusing on our food and weight. So it’s perfectly okay to voice and validate those fears if this is our way of dealing with the uncertainty.
We have learnt to ‘police’ our bodies ever since we were kids as we learnt proper ways to care for our bodies be it by practicing good hygiene or caring for our hair for example. And in those rituals we felt safety and ‘certainty’, so it’s no wonder that during such times we would resort to one of our most basic needs, which is controlling our food and weight. BUT, for those who have the tendency to rely on food for comfort, this can become a doubly trying time as they fight for an inkling of control when it comes to their food and weight, yet are powerless and tend to lose all control every now and then especially since their ‘comfort zones’ have been taken away from them.
For those of us who already struggle with food and weight issues, we are prone to becoming easily triggered and pushed past our tolerance points. We need to search for and develop new coping mechanisms because our trigger points have become much lower which can easily push us towards the edge. But keep in mind that our minds and bodies are doing the best they can to adapt to this new norm and we have to bring in a lot of compassion to the formula. Body-shaming at this point in our lives should rank low on the list of things to worry about.
In our efforts to come to terms with all this, we have hopped on the bandwagon of streaming exercise videos, Yoga classes on Zoom, fitness challenges, even cycling or walking if that’s possible. Some have taken an obsessive approach by exercising for hours a day, and that’s okay if this is how they choose to cope. It’s also okay to wake up on a certain day wanting nothing more than to lounge in your PJs all day. Listen to your body and let it guide you, if you want to slow down do it, and if you have excess energy find ways to let it out. The most important thing to do now is to lay off the judgement, and be kind to yourself. I, for one, am grappling with the fact that I gorged on cookies and potato chips the night before. Thankfully, today my body is asking for healthier options instead.
I wish I can give you some tried and true solutions, but this situation has never been tried before. Finding a comfortable routine amidst the chaos is challenging but doable. Listening to our bodies is more important now than ever. So what if you’ve gained a kilo or two, you can always lose them and get back your natural rhythm. It’s okay to want to be productive and it’s also very okay to want to do the bare minimum. There is no right or wrong here, just aim to connect with your bodies in ways that you were mostly too busy for, have compassion and be kind to yourselves.