Quarantine, Obesity, and the Voices in Your Head

I’m excited to once again work with Med-IQ to help raise awareness about obesity and the misconceptions surrounding it. After reading my post, please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked at the end. I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk to write about the realities of obesity as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own. 

quarantine, obesity and the voices in your head

When it comes to managing weight, the most difficult obstacles can be internal. Self-conversations. Inner dialogue. The voices in your head. Whatever you call them, if you’ve spent years (or a lifetime) dealing with overweight or obesity, you’re familiar with how powerful the messages we tell ourselves — both positive and negative — can be.

Now add to this a months-long quarantine due to a worldwide pandemic. Between an increase in stress and anxiety, separation from friends and other support, and limited access to fitness and nutrition routines, it’s a recipe for a misstep on your weight loss journey.

I’ll admit it’s all been overwhelming at times. Yet similar to the last time I blogged about obesity, writing this post has given me the chance to reflect: on how far I’ve come, where I’m at now, and what things I can do to ensure I stay on a healthy path.

A lot of my success comes from the things I tell myself and the external input I subject myself to. I got some excellent input recently when I participated in a conversation with a couple of experts on obesity and weight management. Between their insight and the things I’ve learned on my own, I’ve come up with a few conversation starters to interject some truth into those internal chats about weight.

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This is a great mantra that Dr. Donna Ryan discussed on our call. Keeping my weight steady is a realistic and worthy goal. I weigh myself every morning, but I know some aren’t motivated that way. Dr. Ryan suggested that if you don’t use a scale, consider using a tape measure or a pair of pants to establish and maintain awareness. She compared not being aware of your weight to driving without a speedometer. It’s doable, but ultimately risky.

If I do gain (and I have, believe me), I move on to some of these other tidbits of truth to put me back on track.


Mixing things up is essential in this time of seemingly unending monotony and isolation. That’s especially true when it comes to exercise.

Walking is my default movement. It helps clear my head, blow off some steam, and allows me to see nature… as well as the occasional human being that isn’t my husband or son. I sometimes take different routes or incorporate errands to keep things interesting. And of course a great playlist is essential!

Before quarantine, I worked out twice a week with a trainer at my local gym. We now do our workouts online, and I’ve found them to be even more intense than the ones we had in person. Less time is spent chatting, gathering equipment, getting a drink, etc. While a great tool, Zoom isn’t as conducive to conversation, so we just get down to business quicker and with more focus!

And while I’m no Internet fitness superstar, it is fun to occasionally post a video or celebrate a good workout on social media. It serves as a bit of accountability, and I always benefit from the praise and encouragement it enlists from my followers.

Check out this article from the World Health Organization about staying physically active. It includes some basics, as well as creative (and easy!) ways to keep active.


I’m a big fan of the trend to encourage and celebrate self-care. Both mentally and physically, tending to my wellbeing is more important then ever. Yet I’m guilty of allowing a little pampering to morph into old habits. This only serves to derail the progress I’ve made and the health I’m trying to maintain.

Whether it’s sleeping, eating, drinking or shopping, it’s so easy for me to go from enriching to excessive. For example, a nap can be refreshing. However, sleeping in to avoid my son’s day of distance learning will only make me less prepared and more frustrated. And a cocktail to celebrate the end of another week in lockdown is fun and healthy. Having a second one to numb the emotional strain is not.

Keep in mind these are things I’m constantly working on — not things I’ve mastered.


Almost on a daily basis, I hear or see jokes about people putting on weight during quarantine. While I’m sure the joking is largely based in fact, I have to remind myself that I am not like everyone else.

I’m different from the healthy weighted person who gains five or ten pounds. Five or ten quickly turns into 15 or 20 for me. I am biologically susceptible to obesity, and I need to keep my guard up. I’ve worked too hard losing weight and getting healthier to allow myself to slip very far in my progress.

A couple of recent studies emphasize that people with obesity need to take greater caution because they are at greater risk for complications from COVID-19. In one study, researchers found that 57% of coronavirus patients had high blood pressure, 41% had obesity, and just over a third had diabetes.

Another study of thousands of hospitalized patients in New York City discovered that 94% of all patients had at least one major chronic health condition — hypertension, obesity, and diabetes being the most common.


Remember that survey I mentioned? Here it is, and why you should take it:
  It will help you examine your own experiences and thoughts about obesity.
  Links to several helpful resources are provided within the survey.
  Your input will provide important feedback to Med-IQ, who will use it to better educate healthcare professionals on what patients struggle with, what their needs are, and what approaches to weight-related health are most effective.
  BONUS: you could win one of ten $100 VISA gift cards! How’s that for self-care?

quarantine obesity survey

Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey, which includes additional education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with obesity and your care team, which will help us develop future educational initiatives.


Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win one of ten $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will be used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize and to send a follow-up survey as part of this same initiative.

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I’d love to hear from you!
Are there things you tell yourself that you’ve found encouraging in your weight loss journey? What creative ways have you found to exercise during quarantine? Do you have a favorite form of self-care? Please share in the comments — I’m always looking for new ideas, and we all have a lot to learn from each other!

Med-IQ is an accredited medical education company that provides top-notch educational experiences for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals.

Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) is a great place to learn more about weight management and treatments for obesity. They’re also an excellent resource for finding communities of support both online and in person.

Learn more by watching a Facebook Live conversation between Dr. Ryan and blogger Summer Len Davis.

Donna Ryan, MD: President, World Obesity Federation

Christopher D. Still, Professor of Medicine, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, Medicine Director, Center for Nutrition and Weight Management and Director, Geisinger Obesity Institute

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