These last several months have been really hard. Collectively, our lives have been turned upside down. Most of the changes we’ve undergone are outside of our control, which can feel overwhelming.
Today I’d like to share a secret to help you manage your stress, maintain your weight loss and boost your health during these difficult times. Focus on what you can control.
I have been inspired by my patients who have continued their weight-loss journeys and have had amazing success recently. These patients share a common perspective that sets them up to reach their goals: They have made a conscious decision to focus on what they can control.
With all the things happening around us and to us, it’s easy to get sidetracked and surrender. Our work lives are different. Our social lives are different. Our routines are different. Change is inherently unsettling. Creating healthy routines can help you improve both your physical and mental health.
Here are five simple tips to help you gain control of your health and avoid weight gain.
- Prioritize your health.
We have heard that we must take care of ourselves to take care of others. This is especially true now. Choosing to improve your health in meaningful, concrete ways can help your gain some control. Start small. If you are terrible about eating vegetables, plan to eat one serving of veggies every day. If you’ve fallen into the habit of staying up late and binge-watching Netflix, plan to go to bed at a specific time and stick to it.
- Create a routine.
Working from home with a full house can leave some of us feeling like we are barely surviving. Creating a routine and sticking to it can change “barely surviving” into thriving. Plan when and what you will eat. Plan when you will exercise, what type of exercise you want to do, and how long you plan to do it. Write it all down! Put these things on the calendar and work to stick to them. Writing down your goals makes you much more likely to achieve them.
- Get adequate sleep.
The pandemic has shifted work-life balance for many. We’re working later and watching our screens later. It’s no wonder why research shows most U.S. adults have slept less in recent months! Creating your own structured schedule, starting with a set bedtime, can help you get on a healthier track. Adequate sleep provides many benefits, including better stress management, decreased mood swings, fewer food cravings and increased energy.
- Understand your hunger.
Lack of routine has led to increased snacking for many. Food is fuel, but it also fills many other needs. We eat when we are bored, stressed, and sad. The next time you reach for snack, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?”. If the answer is yes, take a short break away from your screens and sit down to enjoy your food. If you are bored or stressed, look for other ways to fill that void. Be honest with yourself and do your best. If you establish a routine of set meal and snack times, you are less likely to feel hungry throughout the day.
- Manage alcohol consumption.
You don’t have to spend much time on social media to find memes about changing from daytime jammies into nighttime jammies or switching over from coffee to wine. They’re fun. But they’re also cause for concern. Never manage stress with alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption can create negative health outcomes, including weight gain, increased anxiety and depression. Drink only in moderation. If you need help creating a plan, talk with your doctor.
Choosing to focus on two things you can control—weight loss and overall health—can create positive results. If you need help finding your focus, schedule an appointment.
About the author: Megan Zakarewicz, DO, is a family medicine physician with certification in obesity medicine. She leads the Grand View Health Medical Weight Loss program. She is accepting new patients for in-person or telemedicine appointments. For more information, call the Grand View Health hotline at 215-453-4100 to schedule an appointment.