Am I allowed to blame Covid-19 for the unfortunate change to my body mass index over the past year? I think it’s warranted!
Yes, I know I’ve been responsible for putting food into my own mouth regularly. And I realize I could possibly have pushed a little harder to get more exercise. But wait! Hear me out.
Making My Case
Just before the pandemic hit and our lives nearly came to a full stop, I was finishing up a treatment regimen that left me struggling to walk. When I say struggling, I mean stRUggling! And when I say finishing, I mean tossing that stuff because of the severe peripheral neuropathy it was causing as a side effect. Oh, it was time to be done with that medication, effective though it was.
Then we got the stay-at-home orders, and my work came to a crashing halt. The calendar went from busy to empty in a millisecond. A definite brick in building toward a more sedentary lifestyle.
Up till then, I had been making it to the gym several days a week. Not as often or as rigorous a workout as I would’ve liked, but a few days of some resistance work, anyway. Then we heard gyms were a major vector for Covid infection. And shortly thereafter, the gyms closed. Yet another brick in my stuck-at-home existence.
While I was game for trying some in-home, body weight exercises, I was still suffering significant neuropathy. The nerve damage made balance a real problem. Not good for most free-range exercises.
I did go out for walks, but due to the selfsame nerve damage, the outings were slow and short. It was basically rehab without any aerobic benefits. I did end up sweating heavily due to the weakness in my legs. Not what I would call pleasant strolls.
In addition, I was concerned about all the folks in my neighborhood who didn’t want to wear a mask when they were walking outside. Our sidewalks don’t allow for the requisite social distance of six feet that was recommended between passing pedestrians.
Now, I’m sure some would say I was just being a wuss. We all have immune systems, and many people have such a mild experience with Covid-19, they don’t even know they have it. Geez, guy!
Compromised Immune Systems
Uh, actually, not everyone does have an immune system – or an equally effective one. Many of us have had our immune system compromised by a) cancer; b) the disease itself; c) treatments.
Look, I have cancer which is a drag on the immune system because it’s busy trying to fight the big C and has limited availability to tackle other invaders. My cancer, however, is a disease OF the immune system. In other words, the cancer itself makes some of the immune cells ineffective. Finally, the medications I receive reduce white cell counts (the first responders to infection in the body).
As a cancer patient with a three-fold compromised immune system, I was at serious risk for developing a bad infection if I were to contract the Covid-19 virus. I seriously did not want to catch Covid. Look! I’m fighting cancer and going through hell to battle that crap. I have no intention of recklessly putting my life in danger because some darned bug is making it’s way through the global population. No, thank you!
So, while I was getting out some, my life became much less mobile over the past year. That lack of mobility – whether due to medication side effects or protective self-quarantining – had a decidedly negative effect on my general mood and outlook. Feeling low, I found myself looking for something to give me a lift. A little pick-me-up. What I turned to as a mood elevator was sugar – often fig newtons that were childhood favorites of mine. Yes, I went through a period of allowing myself after-dinner treats. You see where this is going. I eventually stopped indulging my sweet tooth, but not before those goodies did their worst to my waistline.
One More Brick
Oh, but I’m not finished! No, no!
In the middle of all this pandemic excitement, I started a new medication. The new medicine doesn’t have any damaging effects on the nervous system, but it does have a very significant effect on the body’s metabolism. Yup! This new medication slows the metabolic rate to a snail’s pace by chemically suppressing the thyroid. What? I was already not moving much, but now my body isn’t even burning calories normally.
The end result? Heck, people, I’m fat! I can just barely fit into my loose jeans these days – the ones I used to have to wear a belt with or they’d slip down to my knees.
So you see? My degenerating BMI is the pandemic’s fault … mostly. I have a right – at least a good excuse – to be hopping mad about it all.
Focusing My Frustration
So, I’ve decided to channel that anger into the impetus for pushing my bloated body into activity and exercise.
I can’t do anything about my new medication’s side effects, but I can sure as heck kick my behind back to the gym and out for long, brisk walks. I’m fully vaccinated, the neuropathy has improved a lot, and businesses are opening back up. I have no excuse.
How about you? Did you gain some Covid weight, too?