COVID-19: Overeating, Overdrinking, Overthinking
By Dianne Anderson
Some people are complaining they’ve gained 19 pounds since COVID-19, and extra round is the new normal.
Admittedly, Edwin Johnson says he has gained a few of the 110 pounds he lost back in 2016, but he is keeping it under control with walking, exercise, and sticking to his routine healthy diet.
“For me, I walk every day, I wouldn’t say I put on a lot of weight during COVID-19 because I made sure that I walk five miles at least three times a week, minimum,” he said.
He gets some motivation by competing with others through social mobile apps that put him in competition swarms of socially distanced walkers in real-time.
It helps him feel less isolated. He keeps up with friends, and they can watch each other’s progress. As for diet, Johnson lost his weight through Keto, a low simple carbohydrate plan that includes a lot of veggies and some meat.
“I do a green smoothie in the morning, a chicken salad for lunch and I eat what I want for dinner, but not too many carbs,” he said. “On weekends, I do eat Mexican food. If I do a taco, it’s more turkey lettuce wrap and ground cheese.”
For spaghetti, he substitutes spaghetti squash. It’s mostly about going low carb.
“I try to stay away from breads,” he said. “If I do have a sandwich when I eat out, it’s a lettuce wrap.”
But lately, the other layer of stress is how parents are now taking on the role of teachers. He’s also been homeschooling his three pre-teen kids, and like many other parents, he’s trying to figure out what fall semester is going to look like.
“Especially now that we’re continuing to go back on lockdown, parents are going to have to home-school. That’s pretty messed up,” he said.
His nonprofit works with about 100 students at local high schools and he sees some social media revealing disturbing trends. Teens are out of school, and they’re partying. They don’t have jobs, but are posting images with expensive cognac.
Johnson said he’s not trying to police them, but he is constantly reminding kids that they have to make the right choices.
“These are teenagers, how are they drinking Hennessy” he said. “Who’s buying it for them?”
In the past months, the long-running Diva and Fabulous mentoring program for middle and high school girls is also on hold until things get back to normal.
Program founder, Kimberly Woods, said that their positive bling-related activities include fashion pageantry and face makeup fun, something that’s hard to do through a mask.
Woods also lost 30 pounds since last year, but recently is feeling the pinch of tighter jeans. She’s back on her diet again.
“I gained it back because we were in the house. What do you do when you’re in the house? You eat,” she said. “I’m on my tea, not eating as much, my food is proportioned. I drink a lot of water.”
Knowing that the lockdown is probably not going to be over for a while, she tries to stick to her old pre-pandemic routine. Outdoor places like Lake Havasu provides some relaxation for her small family bubble, and she masks up everywhere.
That’s the hard part. She is a social butterfly by nature.
“I love to be social, but this COVID has gotten me like no, uh-uh. I have asthma,” she said.
To work off the negative energy, she focuses on creativity. She has upped her production for her side business, which has back-orders.
Creative flair provides both the emotional and artistic outlet, but also pays the bills. She believes this difficult season is all about working around life’s challenges, turning stressful situations into positive outcomes.
“Now that we can’t do vending affairs anymore, this is the time right now to use that creative part of you,” she said. “If you’re not creative, go on the internet and try new things. You never know what you have inside you. Just try something.”
Lois Carson, who turned 89 last week, also maintains a tight regiment. Because of her age, she said her doctor put her on quarantine since the end of March, and she has been socially isolating since then.
A long-time community activist, Carson served 30 years as executive director of the Community Action Partnership (CAP) of Riverside County, and retired after serving on the San Bernardino Community College District Board of Trustees from 1973 to 1997.
She firmly believes in life balance, she said, which includes keeping an active mind and keeping busy, but knowing when to relax. She also describes herself as a lifetime learner.
Each morning and again in the evening, she faithfully does her leg exercises, then hooks her walker onto her bed to get cardio.
“I lock my walker next to the bed and I run in place every morning and every night,” she said. “I’m doing fine. I’m relearning liturgical Latin so I can sing with masses.”