Is your new reality in this coronavirus filled world driving you to emotional eating and other coping mechanisms? If so, stay tuned to discover 5 tactics to stay on track. A couple of days ago, I caught myself stuffing down my emotions with cashews. You see, I had had lunch at my desk that day, which had included a pre-measured portion of cashews. The problem was I left the bag near my desk. Not more than an hour later I all the sudden realize, I’m sitting there with the bag of cashews shoving them in my mouth! Oh my gosh, that totally freaked me out because you see I’m almost 18 years post-op … gastric bypass surgery. I spent over a decade struggling with regain. It wasn’t until a few years back I figured out what I was doing wrong, got back in control and have been enjoying the rightsize lifestyle ever since. But, I realized I was reverting to my old, pre-surgery habit loop The Trigger: Fear and uncertainty in a world with coronavirus. The Behavior: Mindlessly eating cashews The Reward: Feel good chemicals released in my body as a result of eating my comfort food. That was the moment I knew it was time to engage my trusty tactics to stay vigilant and healthy during this new reality. But, I started thinking … you know, I bet I’ve got some bariatric buddies out there that are struggling with the same thing as we embark on this new reality. So, I’m gonna share with you today five tactics to help you stay on track. Number one: Put yourself first. Hey, I get that in times like these you’re probably feeling pressure to ease the burden of other people you care about. Maybe it’s your kids, your spouse, your parents, friends, community. Hey, maybe it’s even colleagues and clients. That’s a noble thing to have compassion for others. In fact, one of the things I love is our resiliency as a people to come together in times like these to support each other. But, you’ve got to put yourself first. Now, hear me out. I know that might sound selfish. But, if you don’t put your mental and emotional health above the needs of others even little ones that you might be responsible for then you won’t be able to show up your best self. When you do put your emotional and physical health first then you have the strength and sanity to not only take care of yourself, but to better take care of the people counting on you. Number two: Stay Connected. Our ability to interact with others … to live, to laugh, to love … is vital to our health. And in this time of social distancing and sheltering in place, it’s hard to get that connection we need. Thank goodness we live in a time where we have technology at our fingertips. It doesn’t take much to pick up the phone to call or text someone you care about to see how they’re doing. It’s even a great time to maybe catch up with an old friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Here’s something you might not have thought of: We’ve got these technology services like zoom or go-to-meeting where you can video conference with more than one person at a time. Think about maybe having a virtual party via your zoom room. Maybe you invite a bunch of girlfriends for a tea party where you’ve all got your mug of tea and you all reminisce and share stories about long ago. Here’s another one: Maybe you have a Friday night chillax party on zoom. Have all your friends show up with a glass of wine and play virtual bingo or charades. As part of human connection, it’s important to keep your bariatric buddies and support groups close, too. I know my support group was cancelled this month … and it will probably be cancelled next month too. If you’re in the same boat look for other options; they are out there. One … call your doctor and see if they know of any virtual support groups that are happening during these times. If not, there’s always facebook. There are a ton of bariatric support groups on facebook. You can always check out my website too … and see if the Bitesize Changes Community Forum is a place where you find a good fit. No matter what you do, stay connected. It’s vital to your health. Number three: Be Creatively Active My fitness routine was turned upside down when the gyms closed in response to coronavirus. I would imagine that you’re probably going through something similar. That means we have to find creative ways to move our bodies. One option is outdoor activities like walking, or hiking or biking. And this is especially great because when we’re all feeling so cooped up it’s wonderful to just get outside. From what I understand it’s safe to do so because we can keep our social distancing. It’s crazy … I’ve been so caught up into going to the gym that I forgot what was in my own back yard. There’s a trailhead in my neighborhood and if you hike up far enough you’re enjoying ocean views and it’s absolutely stunning. Now I’m enjoying it again. It’s been a silver lining. Another silver lining to being outside is the great vitamin d you’re gonna get which is especially important now because vitamin d helps boost your immune system. Not to mention … it helps boost your serotonin level or your happy hormones, too, which we all need more than ever. Better yet, go for a walk in the woods. There’s actually something called forest bathing. Studies show that going for a walk in the woods is actually so beneficial to your health. It reduces stress, and it’s supposed to help your brain function better. Who can beat that? You can also exercise from home. How easy is it to go to YouTube and search for the type of activity you’re interested in? You’ll have a ton of options show up. Just hit play and start following along with the instructor. How cool is that? You can also just search on Google. There’s a ton of sites. Some of them are free, some are paid, but there’s all kinds of workouts. I even found one for belly dancing! How cool is that? A lot of companies are stepping up in this time of need. The company where I get my leggings, Carbon38, I saw an email from them the other day that they’re offering live streaming workouts on their instagram channel. How cool is that? If you’re not into that type of thing, never fear because there is also the “at home self prescribed” workout as well. Throughout our lives, with physical fitness when we were kids, we all know how to do push-ups, crunches, planks, lunges, squats … that kind of stuff. You can do that on your own at home. And you can start small and work your way up. Just do it. Just make sure you’re doing something to be creatively active. Number four: Engage in a mental fitness routine. Let’s talk mental fitness. We haven’t faced anything quite like this before so it’s natural for feelings of fear and uncertainty to crop up. We feel stressed out. What do we do? We turn to food to comfort ourselves. Because of that it’s really important that we find other ways to calm our mind. Here are some suggestions: Meditate. If you don’t know how or you’re not into meditating … just breathe, focus on your breathing. If you’re religious, you can pray. Here’s one that I love! I like to practice gratitude. In the morning and the evening think through all the things you are grateful for. I guarantee you … time may seem a little bleak, but you can still come up with lots of things to be grateful for and it will shift your mindset into a happier place. Another one I love is journaling. It’s amazing what the process of writing your feelings down on paper can do for you. It helps you come into touch with what you’re experiencing and to deal with your emotions head on. Interestingly enough, when you write things down a lot of times you can find solutions or ways to sooth yourself and get through these times. Also, you can engage in plenty of safe, at-home activities to help calm your stress like maybe paint your nails, take a bubble bath, play a game of cards with a roommate your kids or spouse. I bet you can find a lot of projects you’ve been putting off. Maybe it’s cleaning out a closet! Whatever it is, make sure that you’re engaging in steps to gain peace of mind and focus on staying mentally healthy. Number five: Stock Smart Foods. Tel the truth … have you been buying things you normally wouldn’t because you’re walking through? the grocery store and you see all the empty shelves and you panic? Don’t feel bad. I’m guilty, too! In fact the big joke among my friends is, “What’s the deal with all the bread being sold out? I thought everyone was on keto or gluten intolerant?” Nope! In times like these we turn to our comfort carbs, don’t we? You know, it’s crazy. Just yesterday I was at the grocery store … and mind you … I had to stand in line for an hour to even get into the store because they were only letting 50 people into the store at a time. I was walking down the frozen food aisle and almost all of the frozen pizzas were gone but as you get further down the aisle it’s like overflowing with frozen vegetables. It’s crazy what the panic is causing us to buy. The point is, don’t let the panic drive you to buy foods that aren’t on your meal plan. The truth is, we’ll probably have access to produce and fresh meats, but if you feel more comfortable having some stuff stored that has shelf life there are still a ton of healthy options. Some of the things that come to mind are canned fish, hummus, healthy nut butters, not the ones with added sugar, I’m talking the ones that are low sugar, low sodium. There’s frozen berries, frozen veggies, frozen bone broth. Black beans are a great source of protein. What I really like is there are are pastas where the only ingredient is black beans. It’s awesome and those will keep on the shelf for quite some time and you can some low sugar pasta sauce to go with them. The point it, there are a lot of options. If you don’t mind processed foods, there are a lot of great sites that specialize in bariatric foods that tend to have a longer shelf life. Some of the sites that come to mind are BariatricEating, BariatricPal or Barilife. I’ll mention them in the description below in case you want to check them out. Now, I do have to disclaim I haven’t personally ever ordered from those sites or tried their foods, but they do get great reviews from other people I’ve seen order them. Now, one I have and do love is delicousproteins (dpro). I don’t think their shelf life is quite as long as the other sites I mentioned and they have to stay refrigerated, but they have these protein bars that are “to die for!” They taste like little cakes, or brownies or like zucchini breads and they’re so yummy! The point is, you can get these foods that do have longer shelf lives so that in a pinch you won’t be in a situation where you’re only option is something that will throw you off plan. Listen, we will get through these crazy times. I happen to believe we’re gonna come out on the other side even stronger, better versions of our current selves. This is a great time to just slow down and smell the roses. And now you’ve got five great tactics that can help you out including putting yourself first, staying connected, being creatively active, getting a mental fitness routine and stocking up on smart foods. If you need other tools and resources you can always visit my website WLSdelight.com In the meantime, live with purpose, live with courage and live with delight!