COVID is Not a Weight Loss Plan. Let’s Stop Talking About it That Way

Here’s what we can talk about instead.

By Founder Nadia Boujarwah

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Every scroll of social media and glance at headlines throughout the COVID-19 crisis has revealed something alarming: There has been so much commentary around weight and fitness. 

Living a life that is healthy has many ends. Living a life for weight loss is different. And as a community, we must separate those two things. 

At Dia & Co, we believe the most important perspective to have in this conversation is that health and weight are not the same. As soon as we decouple those two things, we can have conversations that are for everybody, because how we fuel and nurture our bodies is not size-dependent.

It’s OK for us to talk about health. But it’s not OK for us to put more pressure on women to reach antiquated, harmful beauty ideals. Particularly in this moment, where our world has been overturned, and our lives have been completely reset, those topics have never felt less important. 

So let’s stop talking about them and start talking about what really matters. Let’s give ourselves credit for how we’ve made our lives fuller in quarantine — and let’s step out into the world ready to inspire. 

Here are the things that I think actually matter:

Let’s give ourselves credit for how we’ve made our lives fuller in quarantine.

Our health. Health is one of the most important things in our lives, and it has never felt as precious to me as it does right now. My mom was only 25 years older than I am today when I lost her to cancer in February. Watching the devastating impact of chronic illness has impacted my behavior and attitude around health in a way that has no bearing on weight. 

My mom did her best to get through chemotherapy with a renewed focus on good nutrition — eating whole, nutrient-dense and antioxidant-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and green tea (I still drink a cup a day). 

In the pandemic, focusing on my health has meant social distancing and consistent mask-wearing, hand hygiene, drinking plenty of water, enjoying home-cooked meals that provide a variety of nutrients and actually getting close to eight hours of sleep a night. 

Our connections. I’ve had a lot of work Zoom meetings, for sure, but I’ve also connected with family in other parts of the country and world in ways that would have never happened before this. I’ve taken socially distant walks with dear friends and had the pleasure of daily dance, theatre and musical performances from my nieces in Kuwait on FaceTime. 

There’s no “silver lining” in a pandemic that has devastated so many, but out of crisis comes learning, and we’ve been given an important lesson about the healing power of deepening relationships. Community matters more than ever right now. How have you connected with yours? 

Our wellness. In a time when our health is in peril, wellness is an imperative. For me this has meant finally taking up meditation. Because I’m not commuting, I have an extra 30 minutes every morning and that time has never been better spent. Meditation has always seemed intimidating to me for some reason, but the Headspace app totally changed that. 

Meditation is an exercise in focusing on the present. Can you imagine anything you’d want to do less right now? And yet it helps put everything — past regret, future anxiety — into perspective.

I’m hoping we can finally shed the superficial concerns that have been a part of our societal fabric for so long.

Our schedules. What can we streamline and shed? With no travel time between meetings and no work travel at all, suddenly there are  blank spaces on my calendar.

Turns out, not all those meetings were necessary and video conferencing works very well. A mom I know recently posted on Instagram about her family’s weekends — they used to be over-scheduled, hectic and stressful, but now the only thing they have to do is hang in the backyard. For her, it’s a relief. This prolonged pause has been painful in a lot of ways, but it’s also helped us hone in on the essentials. 

Our priorities. Ask yourself: What’s really important right now? How many of the things that have fallen away actually mattered? How many new perspectives can we carry forward in the world post-COVID?

After not seeing friends and family for months, there’ll be that high school reunion reveal at some point for all of us: Sure my hair is 4 inches longer and in dire need of a haircut, but how have we really changed? What have we done with our time away?

As a society, we still think about improving ourselves as physically improving. It’s time that we change that. I’m hoping we can finally shed the superficial concerns that have been a part of our societal fabric for so long. 

What if we came out of the pandemic not different, but able to see ourselves in a different light? The Dia community has so much to offer the world. Post-COVID, when we emerge from isolation, let’s reveal that