By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, am I getting fat?”
Mirror replies, “Yes, dear. The pandemic is making you fat!”
If you have gained 15 to 30 pounds, you are not the only one. If you want to lose it quickly, that’s the wrong approach because you are going to gain them back fast. Losing weight shouldn’t be a quick fix.
During the coronavirus lockdown, many people complained that they have gained weight, not just a few pounds, but as much as 50 pounds. According to NBC News, pandemic stress has induced binge eating and laying in bed. The average weight gain is 29 pounds. American Psychological Association’s latest “Stress in America” report found more than two in five of surveyed adults (42%) gained more weight than they intended over the past 12 months. And one in 10 gained 50 pounds.
You can blame it on the gyms and fitness centers being closed, and public places like museums and malls where we can normally walk for exercise being unavailable. Being isolated has affected your mental health, you need some way to let off stream, and your fridge is too readily available. Or you can attribute it to your small home and no room to place any workout equipment, limiting your exercise options.
On the contrary, there are people who have lost weight successfully during the pandemic. The “losers” don’t just lose a few pounds. Some have lost big. These persons’ methods to lose from 6 to 30 pounds.
Losing 21 pounds by walking
Deborah Uno lost 21 pounds after walking for one and a half hours every morning since Jan. 1, 2020. That’s over 11,000 steps (about 4 miles) just in the morning in the Chinatown-International District, while some people are still in bed. By the end of the day, she has accumulated roughly 5.5 miles.
Uno said people stopped thinking that she was pregnant due to a “beer belly,” though she never drank beer.
“My belly was gone. I was very happy.” She was thrilled with her new look in recent photos. Uno now has to use a belt for her pants.
Unfortunately, she has gained back a few pounds this year. However, she has still lost 9 pounds overall. That still calls for celebration. In this pandemic filled with disasters, anything you can do for self-care and helping others is positive.
The lesson is, you lose several pounds in a short while, and you can gain them back fast. What has she done this year to ensure that it won’t happen again? Her awareness and her action.
Uno is committed to her walking exercise in 2021, since it was so effective last year. She attributed her weight gain to alcoholic drinks three times a week, and more buffets in the past.
She sets the right goal. “I try not to let what’s going on change my life,” she said. She will stick to her daily walking routine, and would even walk extra if her friends want to walk with her in the afternoon.
What motivates Uno to keep her regiment?
“I am happy most of the time. And I feel relatively healthy. I haven’t been ill for 18 years. I want to keep up my health, live healthy until I go.”
Your goal should be a lifelong commitment of maintaining health. If you understand the long-term goal, you not only win the war, losing weight will follow naturally.
Dancing melts your fat away
Every week, Cari Murotani enjoys line-dancing at Bellevue’s Tillicum Middle School’s covered playground. Besides losing weight, Murotani said dancing is “one of the best activities for low impact aerobic exercise.” It improves your cardiovascular system, balance and memory, and reduces joint stiffness and muscle pain. It makes people happy, which reduces stress and depression. It’s a needed recipe during this pandemic.
The dance instructor is Kip Brandon. When Covid-19 forced dance studios to close their doors, dancers were left high and dry. Partner-dancing was no longer an option, so Brandon decided to line dance by himself. When members of the dance community found out, they joined him.
Brandon has shed 30 pounds by line dancing for an hour and a half, six days a week. His formula for weight loss is to reduce caloric intake and increase activity.
The class is free. It meets every Saturday, 12–1:30 p.m.
Losing 20 pounds by eating right
Losing weight does not mean you should stop eating or have to starve, said my Chinese Post editor Rebecca Ip. She lost 20 pounds by cooking her “own quality meals” in the past year. “I never set a goal or any timeline, but keep watching the process,” said Ip. “Bear in mind to lose weight is to keep a healthy body, and shedding a few pounds is the side benefit.”
Her advice is to “avoid consuming more than one staple/starchy food per one meal (or per day), including rice, noodles, bread, potatoes, or dumpling.
To balance her diet, she said “less meat, more veggies, and more variety of food” is the best.
You can please your “palate by exploring different cultural healthy cuisines such as Greek, Japanese, and Korean recipes, and the use of Indian spices.”
I enjoy every meal happily but healthily.
Losing 6 pounds in 30 days
Cindy Kang reached her goal of losing weight by eating more vegetables and fruit.
“The key is to eat small amounts every two to three hours,” she said. “I set my calendar with a schedule and my phone notifies me when I need to eat. It does take some discipline to stick with the schedule. You need to eat even if you are not hungry.”
Kang said, “Reduced carbs is another difficult part as I love noodles. I will need to substitute it with zucchini noodles and can only eat a small amount of brown rice. Lean and green is the theme. I will need to stick with it so I can maintain the weight.”
Aside from having the right attitude for health, eating right, and exercising to lose weight, here are more pointers.
Sitting is your enemy
A few months ago, I wrote about a neurologist’s advice about sitting. He said sitting for four hours in the afternoon would wipe out all the gains you received from your morning workout.
Uno said sitting for too long is like smoking a pack of cigarettes. Wow! So being a couch potato might lead to serious illness such as cancer.
If you work on a computer for too long, it is harmful to your vision, spine, neck, posture, and overall health.
What’s the solution? I type on my computer for hours. My method is to break up the sitting. I get up every half hour to do several chores, such as laundry, making my bed, calling a friend, walking around my home, folding clothes, cleaning up, snacking, stretching, kicking, and even combing my hair.
Design your workout plan
Make a daily workout plan. Just exercising in the morning is insufficient. You should move all day. Ip practices tai chi and meditation. Those exercises play a vital part in our physical and mental well-being.
For the past 25 years, I have never experienced a weight issue because of my fitness routine. In the morning, I dance for about 22 minutes to five different types of music or songs, followed by a five-minute jog from the front to the back of my home. I end with 10 minutes of yoga and meditation from YouTube.
In the afternoon, I walk to shop for my groceries. Shopping online is not my style, as it eliminates my chances of exercise.
Encountering familiar faces on the street brightens my day. Getting seasonal fresh produce and meat every day are a bonus.
The benefits of exercise
Exercising doesn’t just help you lose weight. There is a correlation between exercising and being happy. Endorphins, “feel-good” chemicals, are released during exercising, according to health journals. Serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine are hormones that enhance your mood. That’s why when I skip exercising, my body feels stress and my mind is not as sharp. Exercise releases stress and improves memory, according to studies.
Uno said another major change after her daily walking last year is that she now sleeps a lot more. For the past 36 years, she slept an average of five hours a day and thought that’s all she needed. According to research, sleeping less than six hours a day harms our brain, resulting in aging and memory loss, and lowers immunity.
Since she retired and began walking, Uno sleeps eight hours a day and her friends couldn’t believe it. Frequent exercise has probably reengineered her body back to health, and sleep replenishes her body with vitality.
Better sleep and exercise also reduce pain. People in their old age often suffer all kinds of pain. I am fortunate that my workout routine has eliminated my leg pain.
When we get old, we are bombarded with all kinds of medicine for heart, cholesterol, or blood pressure. I take my bone medicine for osteoporosis. However, two years ago, a miracle happened. The technician for my bone density exam was shocked.
“Have you been doing a lot of exercise?”
“Some,” I replied. The truth is I workout all day long. Hopefully, I don’t even need my bone medicine by the end of this year.
For people who never walk, Uno suggested that even walking around your block is a good start. “You just have to start, baby steps.”
Don’t just look at the number of pounds you lose. Shoot for your overall health improvement for your fitness goal, such as sleeping better, feeling more joyful, and feeling calm. So keep walking. Keep eating veggies and less meat. In six months, you will see your real gain and not just the number on the scale.
Assunta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.