Weight: Freshman 15 to the Covid 19

Today I’m talking about weight. At some point in our lives, most of us deal with weight gain. Back in college, the freshman 15 found me and during Covid weight gain snuck up on me again. Eating is one of those pleasures of life.

Unfortunately when dealing with SMA there are some of us who end up on a feeding tube. This doesn’t happen to everyone, and for those of us who still eat by mouth, we can fall into the weight gain trap.

Couldn't gain weight, then

Growing up, I was someone who had a lot of difficulty gaining weight. There are days I wish that was still my problem.

The freshmen 15

When I headed off to college that all changed. Thinking back now, the biggest reason was probably my electric scooter. Before college I always walked. Unfortunately, walking around a college campus would have been too difficult. Using a scooter to get around really cut into my walking. Since I wasn’t burning the same amount of calories, the weight gain started to creep up.

The 2nd part of my problem was all the extra calories that I consumed. College life made it easier to order pizza, wings, hoagies and cheesesteaks. That diet, coupled with beer, didn’t help my waistline.

The burden of additional weight

The extra weight made it more difficult to walk. Obviously SMA weakens our muscles and adding the extra weight becomes more burdensome.

This whole scenario seemed to repeat itself during Covid. Due to the pandemic, the YMCA I went to was closed. Aqua therapy has been my exercise routine for the last 30 years.

Stuck in the house with food for comfort

With no real way to exercise and burn calories, coupled with being stuck in the house for months on end, food became a comfort. When we think of comfort food, it usually doesn’t evoke images of salad. My sweet tooth took over and brownies, cookies, and pie were added to my daily menu.

Weight can really sneak up on you. I was oblivious of how much weight I gained until the following summer. When I went to put on my shorts and shirts from the previous summer, nothing fit! I went up a whole size in both my pants and shirts. 

Trying to maintain my weight

I have not gained since, however, I am also not losing. Maintaining a healthy weight when you have SMA is no easy task. I find myself hungry a lot. The trick is to turn to healthier choices.

Twice in the last 7 months I have tried Weight Watchers. The first time I started, I did really well for the first 3 weeks. Having an app on my phone to track my food intake and count my points made it easier.

Feeling better as I lose the weight

I was starting to feel better. My clothes became a little looser and I didn’t feel swollen. The biggest plus was it made standing easier.

Obviously maintaining a healthy weight is paramount to anyone’s overall health. When it comes to those of us who can still stand with spinal muscular atrophy, it can mean the difference of being able to keep that up or not. 

For the younger readers, listen to my advice as a middle aged man. It gets harder and harder to lose weight the older you get. Be mindful of what you eat.

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