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Bjarne’s tips on obesity and COVID-19 lockdown: routines, virtual hugs and cake surprises at friends’doorsteps

Living with obesity is always a struggle but during a lockdown, – where you have to stay at home – it can be more struggling than ever. Turning my daily routines around is never a good thing for me because I am then in a ‘riskier mode’ regarding snacking. Therefore I try to keep my daily routines look as normal as possible.

Pretend you are going to work

For me that means that when I wake up in the morning, I don’t just jump into comforting, relaxing clothes. No, I take a bath, dress up and have a healthy breakfast, as if I were going to work. And then, instead of leaving my house, I go to my home office and work. Even though there is not as busy as usual, I still try to work for a full workday, but perhaps my coffee break and lunch are a couple of minutes longer than normally and perhaps I surf the internet a little more than usual. For me it is important to keep my work routines, because keeping my work routines for me also makes my other routines easier to keep on track.

But working from home also means easier access to the refrigerator and the cabinets with foods. And living with obesity, that is a trap that I must keep my foot out of. Therefore, I try to have fruits and nuts available, so I don’t do ‘stupid’ things and I try to eat at the same time each day to avoid unnecessary snacking. But I must admit that this is a challenge for me, and I do tend to snack a little more than normal. Although this is a problem, it is not the worst thing for me during this lockdown.

The most difficult part

For me one of the most difficult things is not being able to go to the local fitness center and going for powerwalks. Right now, I can’t go to the gym and that’s bad for my health because I am losing strength and it also affects my mood. I was in a good period of regular workouts at the gym and I know it will be a challenge to get back to that when I am allowed go to the local gym again. I can do some exercises at home, but I love being at my local fitness center together with other people, so I am looking forward to getting back.

Connect online – and surprise your friends

Another thing I miss is visiting friends and family. I haven’t seen my ten-year-old son for some time, and it seems like it will last longer before I can see him again. That’s tough, very tough. But we get by, by talking on the phone, skyping and texting. I haven’t seen any other family and friends since the lockdown began, but we stay in touch over the phone. To help dealing with that deprivation, I have been baking for some friends, and then just left the cakes on the doorstep for them. For me that has been a way to deal with the fact that I miss being around them. So, one of the first things I will do after the lockdown is to visit friends and family.

Stay emotionally stable

Having lived with obesity for more than three decades, I know that I have to be careful to stay emotionally stable because I have a tendency to eat on my emotions and therefore it is a problem that I experience more swinging emotions than I normally do. To cope with that I try to find new routines that make me happy and make me focus on other things than those I can’t do anything about. An example is that I, through this lockdown, try to focus on my sleeping habits, which, due to sleep apnea, weren’t that good before. Therefore, I have made some new routines that seem to help me. Every morning my alarm clock rings at 7am – later than normal but still at the same time every day. I open the windows in my bedroom for a couple of hours to vent the room efficiently. In the evening I eat just enough to not being hungry and then I go to bed when I am tired and not at any specific time. Now I sleep almost one hour more every night and that’s perfect. Yes, I know, I should have done that a long time ago, but the lockdown made me do it now.

The new normal – and virtual hugs

It’s a little interesting that a lockdown like this seems to easily be a kind of new normal. The first week I was finding my way through it, not quite finding my way of doing things, but now I act in new ways and it comes easily. Out shopping during the first week, customers seemed stressful and some even mildly panicking. Today it is naturally for me to wash my hands at the supermarket, not standing close to others when standing in line, taking precautions not to cough or to sneeze close to other people. That somehow was easier to adapt than I thought it would be. And it’s one of those things we need to keep in mind after the lockdown.

In general, I think we need to help one another, especially if we know someone who is struggling with social engagements. But during the lockdown, it’s even more important to think of those who could need a virtual hug and some encouragement. Living with obesity can – without the lockdown – be socially challenging and now there is a risk, that it will be even more socially challenging. Therefore, I think it’s important that we stay in touch with each other, helping each other coming through this crisis.

Together we are stronger

Social media is in that way kind of inspiring for me and one of the ideas I saw just last night, was some friends of mine doing a home workout together on Skype. I think it was a brilliant idea and absolutely possible to copy for anyone. Why not arrange Skype-get-togethers where you can talk, laugh and have fun. Or perhaps have a cup of coffee, watch a movie or read a book together. Taking care of each other also during the lockdown is an important thing.

Looking into everything happening right now with the coronavirus it seems like we are appreciating being together much more than we have done for a long time. From balcony sing-together, to applauding health care personnel, to Skype-exercises and much more we now a treasuring being together and that’s brilliant. I surely hope we can continue that, and I hope that it also will include being together with people living with obesity or any other disease that is normally stigmatised, letting us be a part of those we take care of.

My hope for all out there and especially for you living with obesity like me is that you do whatever you can to eat healthy, do some workouts at home and socialise with friends and family on social media. Then we will get by until everything is back to normal conditions after the coronavirus.

Together we are stronger.

Preparation date: May 2022

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