This post appears as part of our Healthier 2021 series, in which we follow three WebMD team members as they strive to improve their health this year. You can follow their journeys here.
By Bill Kimm
It’s been 2 weeks since I tested positive for COVID-19, and I am happy to report I’m almost feeling 100% again. I still have a lingering cough that will not stop, but my taste and smell are back, fatigue is all but gone, and I’m feeling, dare I say, normal. So much so, I actually went for a walk Monday for my first exercise in more than 2 weeks (more on that later)!
I am so incredibly grateful for the outpouring of well wishes I received from you on social media. Our WebMD audience is so thoughtful and caring. Your supportive comments definitely helped on the days I was struggling. With all of my heart, thank you!
I had thought being down with COVID wouldn’t derail my weight loss efforts. Since I had no sense of taste or smell and didn’t have much appetite, I figured I’d at least stay steady (and maybe even lose a pound or two). Turns out, I gained. Not much, but I gained. I think it was because once I had my taste buds again, serving size went out the window! My daughter made a delicious strawberry cake this past weekend, and -- I can’t lie -- my pieces were bigger than they should’ve been. But that’s OK. A weekend of splurging after a rough couple of weeks is absolutely fine. In fact, it was probably good for me to spoil myself a little. But now that I’m feeling almost normal, it’s time to get focused again.
I have a plan for the food, and I feel comfortable executing it, but the exercise continues to be a huge hurdle. I didn’t appreciate how hard it was going to be to start over, not only physically but mentally. As someone who shares everything online, especially workouts, it’s been incredibly difficult to get over the fact I’m not running 3, 4, or 5 miles anymore. It’s embarrassing, and it keeps me from wanting to exercise. Knowing friends can see via my exercise tracker that I’m walking, not running, is hard for me to accept. Knowing that I used to take pride in my distance, and now that distance is non-existent, is a tough pill to swallow. So much so it keeps me inside the house. The embarrassment of not being able to do what I once could is stronger than my desire to get moving again. I see how well my fellow Healthier 2021 bloggers Mark and Laura are doing with their fitness, and I’m jealous. My pride and COVID have me back at square one, and knowing where I was a short time ago, makes that incredibly difficult to accept.
On a recent WebMD Now podcast, my good friend Dr. Michael Smith said something that I really needed to hear. He said, “Just move more today than you did yesterday. Don’t be too ambitious or you will set yourself up for failure. Consistency will get you there.”
He’s right. I realize that I’m trying to exercise where I was, not where I am today. I’m not the half-marathon runner I used to be a couple of years ago. It’s a heartbreaking truth I have to accept. Before COVID, I was forcing myself to run 3 miles, no matter how difficult, because I had been able to run that far in the past. But after that run I would need to take off multiple days because I was incredibly sore. I was overdoing it because I was basing my workout on who I used to be.
Now that I am recovering from COVID, I really need to base my workouts on where I am TODAY. I need to focus on what my body is telling me and most importantly: Take. It. Slow. As Dr. Michael said, “Just move more today than you did yesterday.” That is my new mantra. I’m going to walk, and I’m going to be OK with walking. (I may need you to remind me of that!) And when the time comes, and my lungs and legs can handle it, I’ll run again. I love running, and I’m mad at myself for letting it fall from my priorities. Maybe I’ll get back to where I was, maybe I won’t. But the important thing is to “just move more today than yesterday.”
Here’s to hitting the pavement again!
Bill is the Senior Manager of Funded Content Strategy for WebMD. He’s been trying to find balance with his weight, exercise, and overall wellness for 15-plus years. As Bill approaches 50, he understands how important it is to keep good healthy habits and take better care of himself. He has the support of his wife and two children (ages 22 and 15) and hopes this blog humanizes the difficulties of weight loss in middle age and offers hope to others who are experiencing the same. For more on his journey, follow him on Instagram @billkimm and on TikTok @billkimm3.