TACKLING PANDEMIC POUNDS
(AND OTHER LURKING
The pandemic has been rough on all of us – those who had to show up in their workplaces (thank you!) and those who had to stay home, isolated from friends, family, school life and activities. We’ve all turned to coping mechanisms to make it through the day, but let's be honest, some of them have become really unhealthy habits.
Not long after COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, many people reported undesired changes in their weight (roughly 61% of adults polled), increased drinking, and other negative stress-related behaviors. No wonder a lot of us are carrying around an unwelcome pandemic souvenir - extra pounds.
What does drinking or drug use have to do with weight gain?
Don’t underestimate the calorie impact from the extra alcohol that many people have been consuming. (Of course, not *YOU*, if you’re not yet 21...)
A "Regular" Drinker
consumes an average of 2 drinks or less per day (for men) and 1 drink or less per day (for women)
A "Binge" Drinker
consumes 5 or more drinks per day (for men), 4 or more drinks per day (for women)
A "Heavy" Drinker
consumes 15 or more drinks per week (for men), 8 or more drinks per week (for women)
Depending on the type of drink, someone could be consuming anywhere from 100 to 600+ calories per alcoholic beverage. It’s easy to see why cutting out alcohol can be a major factor in maintaining a healthy weight – all on its own.
And then there’s the snacking that has accompanied those hours of Netflix binging. Cannabis is famous for bringing on the munchies, but that’s not the only challenge – other types of drug use can have a negative effect on your nutrition. For example:
Cocaine users have irregular eating patterns, often eating one meal late at night.
People addicted to opiates replace balanced meals with sugar and alcohol.
On the other extreme, opiates have been known to decrease food consumption and even lead to anorexia, stressing body functions and causing malnutrition and increased risk of infections in the long term.
Choosing healthier habits
So how can you shed those pandemic pounds and take back control of those less-than-healthy habits?
1. Choose physical and mental wellness over alcohol and drugs. Start by setting a realistic goal to help you cut back your consumption.
Everyone can benefit from practices like meditation, yoga, exercise and just getting outside that create a sense of well-being and help us relax, destress and handle anxiety.
What’s your exercise of choice? What day and time works for you? Do you prefer to work out at home, or are you comfortable getting back to the gym or yoga studio? Just starting or resuming physical exercise is the hardest part, and sustaining it is the second hardest. Remember to start slow, take it easy at first, and choose a mix of aerobic and muscle-building exercises. FYI, for teens, your goal should be an hour a day of exercise, or more. You’ll get there!
2. Keep going. You’re establishing new habits and it takes time to lock them in (most doctors agree that it takes 66 days to form a habit) but if you stick with it, you’ll feel great, and you won’t miss those extra pounds.
3. Think about learning a new skill or volunteering in the community. If you’re looking for a sense of wellbeing, helping someone else is the best high of all.
It’s all about taking back control of your body and your choices. Where substances are concerned, you’re better without it. Stigma-free and judgment-free help is out there if you aren’t sure you can do it on your own. Reach out. You’re worth it!
Do you have a story to share about how alcohol or other substances have affected your life or the life of someone you care about? Share your story with us here. Don’t worry, all stories are anonymous unless you’d like to share your name.
SHARE YOUR OPINION
Would you stop hanging out with a friend if they smoked weed? Do you know what certain substances can do to your body and your life? We want to hear from you.