I Gained 20 Pounds During the Pandemic, but I’m Still Going to Have the Best Summer of My Life

Advice

Photo taken in Taormina, Italy

Like many people during the pandemic, I spent the last year mostly inside with no gym access, my everyday routine turned upside down, and relying on emotional eating and drinking to get me through what was the most anxiety-inducing time of my life. So it was no surprise that I put on nearly 20 pounds over the last 14+ months.

As shocked as I was when I stepped on the scale a few months ago and saw the highest number I’ve ever weighed staring back at me, I vowed to be kind to myself. I have spent most of my life obsessing over my body and weight (going on your first formal diet at age 10 will do that to you). My weight fluctuates often — I currently weigh about 40 pounds more than I did at my lowest weight in college — and I have talked negatively to myself and beaten myself up at every size.

I have come to learn that the problem is with me and how I view myself, and not with my body. That being said, I tried to transform my mindset to be grateful for this strong and healthy body. I caught COVID in March 2020 (testing wasn’t available at that time, but losing taste and smell was a clear sign, and it was confirmed with a positive antibodies test a couple months later). I only had mild symptoms for a few days and was fortunate to make a full recovery.

So yes, most of my clothes no longer fit — going from wearing stretchy leggings to trying on dresses and pants with actual zippers was a real shift. I had to go up a dress size and donate some clothes to Goodwill. And I won’t lie and say it’s been easy: I still struggle with negative self-talk and periods of hating my body, and I am actively trying to lose my COVID weight gain with a PCOS meal plan and regular exercise.

I’m starting to realize that what your body looks like is the least interesting thing about you.

But in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy what I am manifesting as the best summer of my life. I’m fully vaxxed, waxed, and ready to have a hot girl summer two years after Megan Thee Stallion coined the phrase. I’m going to put on my favorite bathing suit and hit up the pool and beach. I am moving into a new building with a nice roof deck and fully plan to take advantage of the lounge chairs in minimal clothing (and high SPF, of course). I am going to wear shorts and short skirts and sleeveless dresses and tank tops. I’m going to have group hangouts with my friends again and won’t spend my time comparing my body to theirs. I’m going to take tons of photos and not obsess over every angle, or even worse, put them through a round of Facetune.

I’m starting to realize that what your body looks like is the least interesting thing about you. I’m sick of diet and weight-gain talk, and I would rather channel that energy into working through my summer reading list and seeking out outdoor restaurants in my new neighborhood and finding the best rooftop to watch the sunset over the Hudson.

If your body has changed at all over the last year, I hope you give yourself grace and don’t beat yourself up about it. As we emerge from a global pandemic, be thankful for all that your body has done for you. You don’t need to necessarily love what your body looks like if that’s too hard of a transition, but you shouldn’t let it stress you out. I hope you will enjoy your summer and sunshine: there’s plenty of fun to be had.

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