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OPINION: How to regain your restraint – the covidbod

We’re all a bit messed up from COVID, maybe drinking more and exercising less. Rob Wynen offers some tips for getting back into shape
Person holding a glass of wine

We all have our weaknesses, things we need to keep an eye on before they get out of control. Often when stress goes up the weaknesses start to show, become more prevalent. These times, to say the least, have increased stress levels for the vast majority of us. 

This is no time to feel “normal,” these are anything but normal times: feeling anxious, afraid, depressed and worried are very “normal” responses to our “new normal.” 

Changes in stress often lead to changes in our behaviours, our routines and strategies to combat the trials and tribulations of life. Some of the strategies can be positive: exercising more, relaxation techniques and therapy are just some examples. Unfortunately, some of the strategies are not positive, often they are masking stress, not dealing with the root problem. They focus on making the uncomfortableness of stress go away, even if for just a brief moment in time. When the stress returns, we can find ourselves in a spiral that can become addictive and we become dependent on the stress relief to deal with the uncomfortableness.

The negative stress relievers, those that don’t deal with the underlying stressor, can take many forms. I have spoken with a number of retailers on island who are just blown away by the huge increase in alcohol sales and jumps in junk food sales. In the fitness centre I operate, our numbers are significantly down. Many of my clients report resorting to dealing with their stress in less than ideal ways, many report overeating and not exercising. We know it is not good but it is tough to help ourselves, to deal with stress in a positive manner. This has led to a new phrase out there, the covidbod. 

A cake box with a note reading 'Rob stop don't eat cake!'
Rob’s note stopped him from indulging in a second slice of cake. - Rob Wynen

The covidbod, unlike the dadbod I wrote about last year, does not target a gender. It can affect us all. It probably started in early April with jiggly muscles, unkempt hair and a general feeling of lethargy combined with the thought, what the heck is going on? Skip ahead six months and you are now dealing with a waistline that has turned your loose-cut jeans into skin-tight fitting jeans and still that thought, What the heck is going on?

The dadbod and covidbod have much to do with a change in hormones, routines and lack of sleep. With the covidbod you can add in depression, angst, changes in social interactions and an all round feeling of, what the heck is going on? It is a tough time and not at all surprising to see the uptake in alcohol, junk food and the drop in physical activity. Combating the Covidbod is not complicated but oh so difficult. Here are some tidbits of advice I give to my clients, while not earth-shattering, they hopefully will get you on a track veering away from the Covidbod.

  • Don’t beat yourself up, this is one sh**t show we are living through with an uncertain end point, assuming there is one. Feeling depressed, anxious and out of yourself is a normal healthy response to the current situation.
  • What is often stopping us is getting started. Pick a date to begin a new habit, activity or routine. Set up a bit of a plan and stick to it like glue. Ensure your action is manageable, start off slow and build on that success. Do not go full-on at the start, try to cut out the three glasses of wine a night to two, increase the walk around Killarney Lake from once to twice a week. Habits and routines take time to establish. Take your time and start with one activity at a time, adding only more once that activity has become a routine.
  • Solicit the help from your partner, friends and family. Let them know the change you are trying to make and ask them to support you in that change. (See photo, it did stop me from eating the second slice.)
  • Record your progress. I have a calendar at work that I use to record my daily weight and blood pressure. It will give you some positive feedback when you succeed and will give you a heads-up when you are veering off your path.

While these suggestions seem pretty basic, they do take some diligence and patience. Like the virus, this is a bit of a marathon, but just getting started can give you immediate gratification, the end is not the goal, the journey is and what a journey we are all going through.