COVID-19 and Obesity
As the statistics keep rolling in, we are getting some grim data about obesity and/or chronic medical conditions and COVID-19. Having these medical problems doesn’t put you at risk of contracting the virus (but being around other people that are symptomatic certainly does – so please keep up the social distancing!). However, if you do contract the virus, having obesity and/or chronic disease does dramatically increase your odds of having a severe infection. An infection severe enough to require a ventilator. An infection severe enough to potentially end your life. We have to take this seriously!!!
This is not the time to let your eating habits jump the rails. This is the time to dig your heels in deep and do everything in your power to improve your health. Seriously. Most of us are going to survive this thing and go on to recover and thrive – hopefully with a new perspective on life and living. Don’t you want to be among the living that rebuilds our community after this is over? I certainly do! I can’t wait to hug my mom again. I can’t wait to hang out with my girlfriends and laugh like maniacs. I can’t wait to watch my boys play hockey again. I can’t wait to travel again. I want to make it through this pandemic and not only stay alive but thrive! Although the (completely irrational) recovering emotional-eater inside of me keeps screaming out that she wants to eat cookies in case the world ends soon, the logical part of my brain keeps reminding myself that if I stop being a healthy person, that my odds of survival are going to decrease. If I allow my body to fall back into disarray, my inflammation is going to skyrocket up, which will put me at a higher risk of getting put on a ventilator if/when I get this stupid coronavirus.
So even though our amazing community members are flooding the hospital with sugary treats and fast-food joints are offering discounted meals to healthcare workers, I am ignoring these things. I’m practicing one of the things that I talk about all the time with my patients. I’m not telling myself that “I can’t have them” – I’m framing it differently. I’m telling myself that these things don’t serve the end result that I am trying to attain – the goal of staying healthy and surviving this thing. I’m “choosing not to indulge in them” – which is a radically different statement from “I can’t”. One is empowering – it’s a choice. The other is punishment. I don’t consider taking care of my body a punishment. I consider it a blessing – that I live in a time and place where I have loads of options for healthy foods and advice about how to cook that food right on my phone – instantaneously!
Many of you are struggling. I am honored to receive your honesty and transparency and vulnerability. Those of you that are meeting with me over telemedicine know that I am constantly asking about your well-being and trying to help you regroup and re-frame this time into something less anxiety-provoking. We are typically talking less about medical issues right now and more about psychological issues – which is what most of us need more than anything. If you aren’t talking to me, I hope you are talking to other health professionals with advanced training in managing stress and emotions. I think the mental health professionals in our community are some of our biggest heroes right now. If you don’t have one of those people in your corner and you can’t find one – make sure you are talking with a loved one that you trust.
Stay positive – stay healthy – stay grounded
Courtney Younglove, M.D.