What a year…
The forced changes to so many aspects of everyday life have resulted in an apparent weight change for everyone.
Seemingly, no one has maintained weight or fitness. Everyone seems to have either gotten more fit and healthy, or less so.
During the pandemic, 40.52% of US adults gained weight. But in the UK, 40.54% of people lost weight.
After UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Covid-19 infection, he realized from both personal experience and the mounting data that the severity of covid-19 infections are worsened by co-morbidities like obesity. (88% of the deaths from covid-19 occurred in countries where more than half of the population is overweight.)
He publicly encouraged citizens of the UK to lose weight and amid strict lockdowns, allowed citizens an hour a day outside IF they were exercising. And that’s just what a lot of people did.
In the UK, the way to stay safe during the Covid-19 pandemic was wear masks, maintain social distance, and, to fill in the #3 item in the graphic if my overly sensitive US readers can handle it…
Lose Weight. (Gasp! Clutch Pearls!)
And it worked. A top ranking official publicly acknowledged and plainly stated that obesity makes covid-19 infections worse and the citizens listened. (Even allowing for the fact that “lose weight” is a terrible way to state a goal, it still had an impact.)
Similar pronouncements from US leaders were absent, no doubt for fear of “fat shaming” claims. It is a real thing and I witnessed it countless times growing up. Fat shaming actually occurred more often in the days when no one had yet used the term. Now, for every real instance of it, there is another instance where it is used to deflect and avoid uncomfortable truths. For some people, any comment relating to the objectively unhealthy physical state known as obesity is labeled as fat shaming.
Covid-19 does not care about our feelings so it freely attacks with more severity those who have bodies less well-equipped to fight off any infection.
Instead In the US, we get “Wear a mask, maintain social distance, and…get a vaccine and get a free daily doughnut for the rest of 2021. Because we clearly know what really motivates many people in the US.
What’s my point here?
If Covid-19 has shown us anything, it is that we can no longer pretend that living with obesity is “fine,” and we can no longer present the idea of “fitness” to the world in the old gym-focused “just do it” model. Viruses (and our own biology) do not care about the fat acceptance movement. And fitness should be more appealing by focusing on the subjective experience rather than the outcome – our brains are wired to prioritize short-term rewards, after all.
Reality is reality, even if it offends someone, they don’t want to hear it, or it hurts their feelings.
Further, now more than ever, we need to make physical activity a fun, socially interactive, enjoyable experience that just happens to be challenging enough to create physical change.