My Weight Gain Journey

At first it was funny to me, the extra curricular snacking I took up when the pandemic picked up in our area. I would buy a bag of organic, non-GMO tortilla chips and make fresh pico de gallo using the tomatoes growing in our garden. I posted pictures on Instagram, joking around about healthy snacking. Then that two-week quarantine turned into four, then six, then eight… The uncertainty grew and as lock-down continued, so did the snacking and for many, alcohol consumption increased as well.

I unintentionally turned that occasional bag of chips with homemade pico into a daily practice. I consumed an 11 ounce bag of chips with a large bowl of pico every day. I also started drinking a glass of wine with my snack, then that glass turned into two. I read in multiple chat groups other people’s jokes about increased snacking and alcohol use. I personally had an eerie feeling about my behavior, so I cut out the chips around Christmas time at the end of 2020.

© 2020 Tara Christina

I did not notice the weight gain. How could I when I attended zoom meetings in a blouse and pajama pants. My son and I would walk to the grocery store, quickly shop and walk back home. This totaled 1.8 miles and was good twice-a-week exercise. Of course I wore sweats, why dress nice for grocery shopping in the middle of a pandemic. I didn’t see the weight gain.

On Christmas day, my son took a picture of me opening the gift he ordered for me online. I was excited to get the beautiful Tiger’s Eye necklace and the mortar & pestle I wanted. When I looked over the pictures I was horrified at the person I saw in the picture. I loudly exclaimed, “Why didn’t you tell me I got so fat!”

I heard my son say, “What do you mean, you’re not fat.”

I said, “Yes I am, I’m overweight.”

I then realized this was probably not the best conversation to have with my son so I cleaned it up a bit.

I talked to my son about what’s healthy and what’s not. I told him that some people can be big and still healthy, we are all our own individual sizes and shapes. I also informed him that I could tell by my size, that this weight was unhealthy for me. I also realized that I had been having breathing problems since having Covid in March of 2020. I figured it was a byproduct of the illness and was “managing” it. I wondered if the breathing issues could’ve been from the weight gain and lack of activity.

I decided to take action. I took my measurements and started posting more in a chat group to which I belong. I started cooking more healthy, well-balanced meals, cut down on snacking and wine intake. But, no matter how healthy I ate, I did not feel the motivation to exercise. I also began to watch more television.

I grew tired of all the Zoom meetings. I could not take another day of meetings and being self-employed, I had more discretion over what I did or did not attend. I did not feel the motivation to read, so I turned on the TV and began to watch the different shows I heard of but never tuned into.

First I watched “A Different World” with my son. I loved the show when it first came out and wanted him to see a show about life at a Black college, fictional or not. Then I moved on to “How to Get Away with Murder.” That’s not my typical kinda show, but it was so good I binge watched it in two weeks. I actually did! When I couldn’t find anything else to watch, I watched it all over again. I LOVE Viola Davis and was completely captivated by her character so it was easy. Then I moved onto Greenleaf, loved it. It reminded me of what it was like to grow up in a Black church.

Throughout all this I would also watch a variety of different movies on my own and with my son. I didn’t think about how much time I was spending on the couch. I wasn’t snacking as much, mostly raw veggies and sometimes homemade popcorn. But the lack of activity took it’s toll.

The final shift occurred for me when I was helping my Grandmother. My Grandparents both had been vaccinated and I would go with my mask on to support my Grandparents with what they needed. My Grandfather went from being sick, to hospice at home, to dying at 91 years of age. My visits to my Grandmother increased so that I could support her in grieving the loss of her partner of 76 years, plus help organize the house and cook.

This last April I was organizing her living room when I saw a scale. I don’t typically weigh myself, I mostly measure my body with a tape measure or according to how my clothes fit. Out of “fun” I decided to step on the scale and was literally aghast over the number that popped up. I got off the scale, then got right back on and looked more closely. I stepped off the scale again, looked up and realized that in that moment I reached the same weight as I was when nine months pregnant. Since the Covid lock-down began, I gained 30 pounds and was weighing at 181 pounds.

I shouted to my Grandmother, “Grandma, can you believe it, I’m 181 lbs.”

She loudly replied, “Well, you don’t look 181 lbs, the scale is wrong.”

Unfortunately, the scale was not wrong. The fact is, I started wearing jeans again and had to struggle to button them. Fortunately the were “low-rise” so my belly bulged out over to top of the jeans. My tops were too tight and I did not want to buy bigger clothes. The worst was when I did begin increasing my walking/running to and from a local park, a woman asked me “How many months are you?” I did look pregnant, but was not.

I’ve read many posts and seen several pictures of people joking about their Covid weight gain, therefore I didn’t feel alone. What has been the most embarrassing for me however, I am a Nutrition Educator. Though I have not been in an active practice for about five years, I literally felt because of my training the weight gain would not reach me. I have the discipline, but this lock-down got to me.

Though I am a Fall and Winter homebody, I like to be active. I took this quarantine very seriously and stayed away from everyone but my son and eventually my Grandparents. Between staying at home attending multiple Zoom meetings, having my son in distance learning, not being as active and watching more television, I packed on the pounds. I felt the shame of being a Nutrition Educator and gaining the weight. I also felt grateful that I was not advising people on their own health. I took comfort in not being a hypocrite. But, I had to take massive action to get myself together.

This pandemic has had detrimental physical and mental repercussions for our entire world. Being a Nutrition Educator did not make me immune from the impact. Others in the Nutrition industry may have a different experience, but we are all individuals who manage stress differently. I have the tools, some of which I have used during this time, others I have not. I am now okay with the choices I’ve made, I’ve forgiven myself and am now making different choices. This is the grace I offered myself as I began the weight loss journey.

Stay tuned for how I started to finally lose the weight. The story continues…

Biracial Black Woman and Proud Cape Verdean. I love good food, great wine, tea and being a Mom. You can read more at 1TaraChristina.com.