Pandemic Gains and Losses: One Woman’s Journey from Zoom to Noom

As I emerge from the fog of a ninety-day isolation, I realize that my pandemic life has lulled me into a comfortable numbness, a state of being where stretch clothes are the norm and taking my shower at at my leisure instead of six-thirty a.m. is a glorious luxury. I revel in a sense of tremendous accomplishment, having viewed entire series of numerous Hulu and Netflix originals. As we deplete the supply of food in the refrigerator and cabinets, I strategize my weekly deliveries from Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh. With plenty of food at hand, a newly-formed habit of enjoying three well-planned and nutritionally balanced meals provides structure to my otherwise free-flowing day. The joys of my new normal far exceed the grind of the old one, but I fear that there are changes afoot that may require my active participation once again in society-at-large. And taking stock of things, I notice that there may be a little bit more of me there was on the day that I locked down my tiny world. Action is required, and fast.

A few weeks ago, in a monumental gaffe, the president’s top aide questioned why COVID-19 posed such an issue for scientists and the medical community. Heck, it’s not like it’s COVID-1, she said. Once I recovered from the ridiculousness of her mistake, I thought seriously about one number in particular, the one I saw when I stepped on the scale. In line with the recovery of the stock market, the trajectory clearly pointed one way, and that was up! One, five, ten, nineteen-whatever! My focus now was to avoid not only COVID-19 but also the Corona-20. It’s no minor coincidence that a steady diet of beer, not confined to the Corona variety, was consumed, contributing to my dilemma. That, and Fritos, and Fudge Stripes, and well, I could go on. But you see my point. Short of amputation, off-loading the surplus is Job One.

Over the past thirteen weeks, I’ve spent my fair share of time fumbling through meetings resembling the intro of The Brady Bunch. While not a perfect system, with some people talking over each other and others cowering behind anti-social black screens, it was something. I was no stranger to Zoom, having purchased a few shares last year based on a Motley Fool stock tip and, after a short stint becoming a small time investor in the company, gave up the ghost in late 2019, never expecting a pandemic to change how we interact and how we meet. Seeing what was coming, I dove back in. Zoom has not only been my social lifeline in these difficult times, but it has also proven to be quite a cash cow. I only wish I could speak positively of my other gains that, while unquestionably an area of major growth, work against me rather than in my favor.

As for my less desirable gains, by early April, the upward trajectory worried me, but not enough to curtail my consumption. Watching the number on my scale increase in tandem with the balance of my Schwab account, I was reminded of the words of a very thin former colleague whose motto was always “calories in, calories out!” Actually, he usually invoked this mantra to coincide with our daily lunches, and in response to the eating habits of me and a few officemates who mowed down with reckless abandon on frequent take-out while bemoaning our weight gain. Now years later, I certainly wasn’t ready to give up my comfort food, especially in a pandemic, but I would entertain a little exercise to jump start the ‘calories out’ part. To that end, I descended into the basement and unearthed the elliptical, freeing it from its current vocation as a clothes hanger, and hopped on.

In order to make the whole heinous experience more palatable, I chose the entire series of Sex and the City, one episode a day, Monday to Friday, as a diversion from the anguish of physical movement. Every weekday since April 1, I have mounted the horrid contraption and focused on SATC from opening credits to end. The whole ordeal is more bearable when accompanied by Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha, and Miranda. Now deep into Season 4, I have clocked over thirty hours, and five additional pounds. Something is definitely awry. 

As I reach for the white flag of surrender, I realize my ability to gain weight is only matched by my lack of willpower. I like to eat, I admit it. But now, with my appetite running rampant to unnatural levels, I know that I need a keeper. As a housebound terminal over-eater, I turn to Noom, the app that not only monitors your intake and your weight but also attempts to modify behavior through educating the errant eater about triggers, good carbs and bad, and all manner of impulsivity. Having tried the app in the past, I know that it is effective-you just have to use it. Since I am halfway through an unused one year membership, I might as well give it a try, again.  

Tapping the Noom icon on my iPhone, I am hypnotized by the hopeful looking sunburst that explodes that on the screen. As I gaze at the orangy-yellow icon, I wish I was more hopeful about the answers that allegedly are found within. Whenever I turn to assistance in the cause of weight loss, I feel like I am effectively giving up on myself and any possibility of self-determination. I guess I could flip that thinking. Instead, I am acknowledging that I need help to keep myself honest when it comes to what I put between my lips. In essence, I am betting on myself to be able to overcome the rising tide of the Corona-20. And just like my Zoom stock, I hope for the best, in an opposite trajectory. 

As in any gamble, you need to know when to hold ‘em, and know when to fold ‘em. I pledge vigilance as I monitor my Zoom stock and my Noom weight. I hope to sell when the time is right and promise to put the fork down when necessary. When the time comes to rejoin society, I hope to be a little richer and a lot lighter. That’s a gamble I’m willing to take.

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