Ever since this crisis began, we’ve been bombarded by a lot of messages. The one I’ve seen circulating the most has been: Once you get out of this pandemic, you’ll be fat, so you better work out as much as possible.
So many memes and posts talk about the #COVID15 or #quarantine15, referring to the supposed weight gain from being isolated. These messages are very harmful to our psyches right now, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, our routines have not just changed, they’ve been flipped upside down. So yes, some people might be less active than they were before, and some people might gain weight during this period. But why is that treated like a negative? Why is gaining weight the worst thing that could happen right now?
It says something pretty damning about diet culture that, during a pandemic that is causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, we’re being encouraged to work out and watch what we eat so we don’t gain weight. It also speaks a lot to fatphobia that people believe gaining 15 pounds would somehow be worse than getting a life-threatening virus.
It’s great that so many gyms and studios have begun offering virtual classes. Movement, if engaged in from a healthy place, is so healing for the mind and body. But you might not have the energy to take that at home kickboxing class, and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means you’re living during an extreme crisis that is taking a toll on our mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.
If you cope with the uncertainty of the unknown by baking, go for it. No one should be shamed for doing what they need to do to survive a time of unprecedented hardship.
At the end of the day, here’s the gist: Bodies change, pandemic or no. They are not meant to stay the same every minute of every day of every year of our lives. Change is something that, especially right now, we are all too familiar with. So instead of fighting your body and doing everything you can to stave off the “Quarantine 15,” why not invest your energy in staying as mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy as you can? If you can, do something to help others, and do something to help yourself. We all need self-care more than ever right now, and shaming yourself for the way your body is coping with a global pandemic isn’t helpful to you or anyone else. Your life is worth more than a number. And gaining weight is not the worst thing that can happen during this crisis.
Elaina Lyons is the owner of Lyons Share Marketing, LLC, a small business based in Frederick, MD.