Ship in fog symbolizing COVID health decline

Covid-19 has left its ugly mark on us as a whole. In addition to the loved ones lost and the economy that kept us afloat financially taking a downturn, COVID-19 has left other memorable scars—including a large health decline for most of us. Americans are overeating, overdrinking, and over-watching, according to the Epoch Times.

Our overeating has led to 76% of Americans gaining weight. The average weight gain is 16 lb–so far. Sixteen pounds might not sound like that much–but remember that we’re talking about gaining that amount in about 6 months. That basically means the average American has gained a pound of body fat every week. If you have ever tried to lose weight, you know it isn’t easy to consistently LOSE a pound a week, so let’s find ways to at least stop the weight gain.

How much are we overeating to gain 16 pounds?

overeating and junk food leads to COVID related weight gain

Well, at 3,500 calories in a pound of body fat, that’s 56,000 additional calories we’ve consumed during that time. That breaks down to a whopping 300 – 500 calories a day.

Of course, if we were exercising more our COVID health decline might not be as severe. Exercise could at least help compensate for the extra snacks, desserts and increased portion sizes in terms of calories. But most of us aren’t exercising more as gyms were closed and many of our go-to fitness classes were canceled.

We’re exercising less and vegging in front of the television more

COVID health decline watching tv

The COVID health decline gets worse because instead of increasing our exercising, it appears we are spending more time in front of the television, or “boob tube” as my mother used to call it. Television watching has increased by 30% up to 41 hours/week.

That’s like having an extra full-time job. Just imagine what you could do with an extra 41 hours per week. I’d like just an extra 10 hours, please. And of course, what do we do while watching television—a lot of us eat!

Other signs of our health decline include drinking and smoking

It is well known that under stress people often drink more. And boy are we drinking more. Beer sales have topped $1 billion for 8 weeks straight–a record high. Not the kind of record this nutritionist is aiming for!

Another shocking corona virus era health decline trend is smoking has increased for the first time in years. This is in spite of the millions spent on educating the public on the dangers of this habit. smoking increase during COVID pandemic

I doubt there is a person on the planet, or at least in this country, who doesn’t know that smoking is bad for them. But “knowing” something doesn’t mean we follow through and avoid unhealthy behaviors.

This has been our collective response to the “new normal.”

Sadly, while these activities may feel good temporarily, the effect is more than on our waistline. Gaining weight, not exercising, excess drinking, and smoking increases our chances of getting COVID-19 or the numerous chronic diseases that plague Americans. We don’t seem to be very good at taking care of ourselves, do we?

Taking care of ourselves is paramount to prevention of diseases in general.

Let’s Turn the SS COVID Health Decline Around!

ships wheel: symboizing turning ship around

When are you going to turn your personal health ship around?

Today is a great day to start on the right course—the course towards health rather than towards disease.

How do you start? The first step is to honestly evaluate how you’re doing on the journey to good health. Are you sabotaging your health by snacking on cookies or chips between meals?  Are you spending too much time stressing over what is happening?  Are you drinking instead of discussing problems? Are you moving your body or are you morphing into a full-blown couch potato?

You might want to create a journal for the next few days or even week. Sometimes we can fool ourselves into thinking we are doing better than we are. Writing down everything you eat and drink can be a real eye opener. You might believe you are eating pretty healthy, but if you look back and see you ate a lot more chips and treats then veggies you will see the unvarnished truth.

BTW, adding your feelings to the journal is a great idea, too! It might help you to see what is triggering the eating—whether it is boredom, stress, or mindless eating while watching television, for example.

Once you are aware of what unhealthy choices you have been making you can choose instead to switch course and veer back toward the healthy habits that will lead to a vibrant life.

Don’t think you have to be perfect and make all the healthy changes at once—that is too overwhelming for most of us. It sounds great, but we typically will let things that seems like a huge task list stop us dead in our tracks—and yes, that pun was intentional!

Instead, pick one healthy habit to start with. I think the easiest one is the daily walk. No special equipment is needed, and you can listen to great music or an intriguing Podcast to keep you entertained. Some folks like to use the time to connect with friends and family over the phone. Heck, if you must, you can even make work calls.

Another tip to help yourself be successful with your health goals is clean out the junk food from the pantry. I won’t go all militant on you and tell you that you have to throw it all away. I know that is too hard for many people. So, don’t throw it away if you don’t want to. Instead, grab it up and store it (depending on what your junk food items are) in the freezer or in a box or suitcase even.

The empty calories will be out of sight and out of mind. That is enough to keep most of us from mindlessly eating. But it also gives you the security blanket of knowing it is there if you really, really, really want it.

Next, be sure to keep healthy snacks in sight and readily available.

You might have fresh fruit in a pretty container on the kitchen table. But you can go beyond that by washing and preparing other fruits and veggies ahead of time and having them front and center in the fridge. Think sugar snap peas, carrot sticks, cucumber chunks, grape tomatoes, watermelon and fresh berries. You are much more likely to increase your daily intake of whole foods this way.

Finally, put a limit on the screen time. Too much screen time can negatively impact our sleep—another health decline trend we can thank COVID and technology for.

For some of us the screens have replaced conversation and together time—and frankly let us become a bit lazy in our relationships! Consider having a reading hour—with real books! Or try playing cards or a board game with your loved ones. Play a game of tag, badminton, or beanbag toss in the backyard. Enjoy a conversation on the porch watching the sun go down. Get the binoculars or telescope out and check out the local wildlife—in your yard, a local park, or on a nearby trail.

Let your time together usher a little peace into your life. In addition to being healthier overall, you’ll probably sleep better, for it too.

If you need help turning your personal SS COVID Health Decline around and getting back on course, give us a call at the office. We’re here to help. SOS to 970-685-8531