How To Avoid The Covid 19 (Pounds)

During a recent “virtual meeting,” a colleague suggested we all share our favorite COVID-19 jokes. Another participant replied that this would be inappropriate because COVID-19 is a “very serious matter” and “nothing to joke about.” 

“Tell that to the internet,” I thought. This is exactly why we have humor – to help us deal with the tragedies of Life. Have you ever laughed so hard you started to cry? Or cried so hard you started laughing? Laughter and tears are two sides of the same sword.

When COVID-19 was first breaking, the internet was a twitter with memes that played on “Corona” – the name of the virus. Some of the more memorable ones are, “Man with Corona virus seeks Woman with Lyme disease” and “I didn’t survive drinking Everclear as a teenager only to be taken out by a virus named after a beer.”

But as this has become a pandemic and many of us have been ordered to stay home in self-quarantine, the tone of the jokes has turned. There are photos of very chubby squirrels with captions reading, “Me after two weeks of quarantine.” Or “I need help social-distancing from my refrigerator.” And, “Remember that Freshman Fifteen?? Nothing compared to the COVID-19!”

To me, all of these jokes about food and weight simply illustrate how much pain we have about the subject. I haven’t seen any humorous memes about vacuuming or doing dishes, spending time with loved ones, or checking things off our to-do lists. And I suspect that is because, in general, these topics don’t evoke a common cultural pain.

If you’re familiar with my work, you already know that I attribute our societal pain and shame around our bodies and our weight to the cultural “diet and exercise” model. This transaction-based model sets up calories as a “currency of exchange” and suggests that we must “pay a price” to eat. The price? Exercise – or weight gain.

But worse than the dysfunctional relationships with food and exercise this model creates is the pain and shame it creates deep within our psyches. For this model suggests that if we are unhappy with our weight, we are “unmotivated” or “undisciplined” at best – or “lazy” or “stupid” at worst – because we all “know” how to change that – diet and exercise.

But the truth is that while yes, we are indeed responsible for what we choose to eat and choose to do for exercise (or not), we cannot control our bodies or our weight through diet and exercise. That is a fallacy. That is the fallacy upon which the entire diet, fitness and weight loss industries are built. That is the fallacy that keeps us stuck in our pain, shame and dysfunction around our bodies and our weight. And that is the fallacy upon which all of the humorous COVID-19 (pounds) memes are created.

So if you really want to avoid the COVID-19 (pounds), take some time during your quarantine  to do the work of personal transformation. Notice all of the thoughts and feelings and judgments you have about food, exercise and your body – and then let the negative ones go. Recognize that your body has no idea what a calorie is. 

If you feel cooped up and restless, move your body. Go for a walk outside (assuming your local government allows this, and stay “socially-distant”). Lie down on the floor and stretch. Put on some music and dance around the house. It doesn’t matter what you do. Exercise is not about “burning calories” or “losing weight.” That idea is part of the dysfunction of the diet and exercise model. If you want to move – move in whatever way best helps your body express that energy.

Take this time to connect with your body and to really develop an honest to goodness relationship with your body. The diet and exercise model suggests that the relationship is between diet and exercise. But the relationship is not between diet and exercise – there really isn’t any relationship between diet and exercise. Food is food and exercise is exercise. The relationship is between you and your body.

Take this time to heal your relationship with your body and you will not only avoid the COVID-19 (pounds), but your body and your life will transform in ways you never thought possible.

P.S. If you need help or support, I’ve created a very special Online Quarantine Program you can check out here