Panicked about Pandemic Regain? (Here’s What to Do)


Like many of you, COVID 19 has kept my family apart for almost a year. Being immune-compromised, I knew I couldn’t have my son Barrett come home for Christmas. He is stuck in a friend’s parent’s basement in another state.

Despite my lack of baking skills, I made cookies to send to him. A special treat for him in difficult times, I told myself.

The cookies turned out so well I decided to mail some to my father, who is isolated in a care facility that has a COVID outbreak.

I divided the cookies into two Christmas tins, one for my son and one for my father.

I got Barrett’s into the mail that day and planned to send dad’s package the following day.

But that evening, I binge-watched This Is Us episodes on Hulu. Between episodes I paused and glanced at my Christmas tree, attempting to feel the warm happiness Christmas has always represented for me.

I teared up, as I thought about how much I missed my son. Naturally, those feelings led to thoughts about the cookies I sent him.

Those thoughts led to the cookies I was planning to mail to my dad the next day. Before I knew what hit me I opened dad’s package, ate his cookies, and cried.

I’m embarrassed to admit it.

As you may guess, I have regained a few pounds since the pandemic took hold. But recently, my eating feels out of control.

My regain panic began to overtake me a couple months ago. I started to obsess like crazy about my weight. I began to worry I would gain even more. I wondered if I would be able to reverse my pandemic regain, a.k.a. my COVID 20.

Thankfully, the morning after my cookie binge, I made the choice to do a self-awareness practice that has been a morning ritual for me for quite some time.

By pausing for self-reflection, I was able to regain some perspective.

I remembered:

YES, of course I will reverse my regain. That’s what I do. In fact, I’m really good at it.

I gently reminded myself this is part of the bariatric experience, not a reflection of bariatric failure.

For me, reversing regain is like climbing a mountain. It can feel insurmountable. But, just like mountain climbing, overcoming regain is a deliberate process.

Climbers who get to a summit get there because they are prepared, they practice, and they look up.

If you’re like me – feeling disappointed, disillusioned, despondent, or disgusted by your regain – maybe these tips will help you climb the mountain with me.

1. Prepare. When I am faced with regain I sit down and write an inventory. I think about what I’ve been doing lately that isn’t working and how that compares to what I have done in the past that worked. I review the tools I have used, foods I’ve eaten, and self-care practices I’ve come to enjoy. I make sure to have handy everything I need to live that empowered version of myself.

2. Practice. I’m a big believer in making experiments to sort out what will work for me. I try something, notice what happens from the viewpoint of a scientist – not a judge – and tweak what I’m doing until I find what will work for me now. This is a process, but the time it takes is an essential part of that process.

3. Look up. When you’re climbing up a mountain you need to stay aware of the terrain under your feet. It’s also important to pause and look up as often as possible. You can check to make sure you’re still heading up the right path, get a realistic view of your progress, and see who’s a little ahead of you on the trail in case you need some help.

We are not alone on our journey. We are living a very common bariatric experience. We are moving forward and up whenever possible and developing realistic expectations. There will be times when we backslide or stumble, or we get lost on a rocky path for a time, but that’s not failure. We can find a new path. We can fall and get up again. And again. And again.

That’s what we do.