I Got Fat During Lockdown and I Don’t Care
Obligatory Preface: I am not a healthcare professional and this article should not be taken as medical advice. For accurate information on nutrition, fitness, and Covid-19, visit the CDC website.
[Edit 21 March 2021] This piece is getting some traction, which is awesome, but I want to clarify that a) this piece is not meant to be advice; and b) I have not gained weight to the extent that it would have a negative impact on my health. I do not meet the criteria for obesity or overweight. For an alternative viewpoint on this issue, check out Eva Grape’s piece.
I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten fatter over lockdown. Not by a lot, but it’s noticeable. I haven’t weighed myself (partly because I’m terrified of what the number will be), but I don’t need to. My pants feel tighter, I’m eating more, I’m moving less, and I feel more sluggish. That’s enough information to tell me I’m not as fit as I used to be.
But frankly, I don’t care.
I’m aware that gaining weight isn’t super healthy, but thankfully, I haven’t gained so much weight that someone last year wouldn’t recognize me this year. I’d be more worried if I suddenly shot up twenty pounds (which for me being 4’11” is like +20% of body weight), but a year’s worth of exercising less and stress-eating more isn’t an emergency.
And that’s the point — gaining weight isn’t optimal, but it isn’t an emergency.
Worst things can happen. I could get a bad case of Covid-19, or someone close to me could get a bad case of Covid-19. With how little we know about the virus, I’d rather get a little fat than get Covid-19, honestly.
I’m also practising self-compassion. As much of a broken record this must sound like by now, I will say it again: we are not living in normal times. Therefore, why should we hold ourselves up to normal standards?
Stressing about gaining a little weight only makes it harder for me care for myself. I’m already worried about the pandemic, I already have OCD, I’m already not sleeping that well. I don’t need to add another ingredient to an anxiety-cauldron in danger of boiling over.
Besides, stress is bad for your immune system. For once, we shouldn’t feel guilty about relaxing, even if the relaxing comes with a side of gelato. If it’s done in moderation and helps lower our stress, I say go for it.
Last February, I went off my antidepressants. Then the pandemic hit, my anxiety skyrocketed, and now I’m back on my antidepressants. I’m not proud of it, and I do hope to wean myself off antidepressants at some point, but I’m forgiving myself for relying on them now because these are not normal times.
Sometimes I fear that I’m treating the pandemic too much like a holiday. I have the privilege of working from home, so I spend most days in pyjamas hunched over a computer in a climate-controlled cave. Sometimes, I do fear that I’ll get lazy and unmotivated from a year of doing, well, not doing much.
And I won’t know how true my fear is until I get vaccinated and live normally again. Yet I’m also optimistic. I find myself dreaming about the overdue vacations I’ll take, the hikes I’ll go on, the camping trips, snowboarding again… Or just walking around the mall. We miss out on so much exercise because we can’t freely walk malls right now.
I’m fatter now because I’m stressed, I sit at home all day, and I’ve also sort-of moved back in with my parents because we’re bubbled. My dad, bless him, is overjoyed at being able to cook for his kid again. He gets to eat a bigger variety of food because there are more people to cook for. So, hey, if my getting a little fat makes him happy, why not?
Gaining weight can be worrying, but if you packed on a few pounds over the pandemic, I say don’t stress. You can always lose it later, when you’ll have more freedom, energy, and means to do so. For now, just focus on being grateful for the simple things in life. Relax, it’s good for you.
Li Charmaine Anne (she/they) is a Canadian author and freelance writer on unceded Coast Salish territories (aka Vancouver, Canada). Her work has appeared in literary journals and magazines and she is at work on her first novel, a contemporary YA about queer Asian skater girls. To read Charmaine’s articles for free (no subscription required), sign up for her newsletter.