LAKE PLACID DIET: Gaining weight, perspective during a pandemic

Lake Placid News Editor Andy Flynn’s desk is at the dining room table of his home during the coronavirus pandemic. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

Start (Dec. 31): 447 lbs.

Last week: 456 lbs.

This week: 454 lbs.

Total gained (2020): 7 lbs.

Lake Placid News Editor Andy Flynn wears a face mask made from a USA Luge T-shirt that didn’t fit while shopping at Price Chopper in Lake Placid. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

It’s 5 a.m. on Wednesday, May 6. I’m working on this week’s newspaper at my home office during the coronavirus pandemic — my dining room table. I’m dressed in my sleep clothes (shorts and a T-shirt), eating a small bowl of oatmeal sweetened with an overripe banana and a tablespoon of local maple syrup. It’s the start of today’s Lake Placid Diet.

If you are sharp — and I know you are — you’ve noticed above that I marked the amount of weight gained since Dec. 31, not the amount lost. That’s because, as of this week, I’ve gained 17 pounds since the last time I checked in with the Lake Placid Diet on Feb. 21. Just before the pandemic hit. And I went as high as 19 pounds gained last week.

Embarrassing? Sure. What else is new? Thing is, I’m less alone these days than before COVID-19 hit. Most people are struggling with their weight as many are at home on lockdown. If they have to work outside their homes, they still have lots of stress, along with everyone else. These are the days of stress eating — and drinking, as alcohol sales have skyrocketed. It’s hard to avoid.

Health is always on my mind, but I’ve been more consumed with worry over my health these past few weeks; I’ve noticed it’s been harder to get in the car than it was 11 weeks ago. With my belly rubbing against the steering wheel, I tell myself, “This has to stop.”

When I awake in the middle of the night — I’ve had a hard time sleeping, as many people have these days — thinking about my weight issues, overeating, lack of exercise, etc.

A couple of nights ago, I created a middle-of-the-night mantra. It’s helped me get back to sleep when my mind begins racing — usually after a trip to the bathroom around 1 a.m. — and it’s helped me focus on my health.

“Health. I choose health. I choose to live. Get some rest; you’ll need it.”

Then, as I begin to over think — worrying about personal or work-related problems — I say something like, “This doesn’t matter. It can wait.” Then I say, “Health. I choose health. I choose to live. Get some rest; you’ll need it.”

And that’s been working. It’s also helped with my anxiety issues. A couple of weeks ago, I had four anxiety attacks in one week, and I had to treat myself with a dose of Lorazepam three of those days. Just over a year ago, my doctor gave me a prescription of 15 Lorazepam pills to help with my anxiety. Overall, I’ve been successful calming myself without the pills when I have an attack. I’ve only used 12 of those pills since April 2019, but that includes three in one week during the pandemic. Clearly, this madness is getting to me.

Another thing that helped lift my spirits and clear my anxiety was getting out of the house. Oh no! Aren’t we all supposed to stay at home? Not if you need groceries or need to take the trash to the North Elba transfer station, which I did over this past weekend. The sun was shining, and it was good for the soul to get out — even for chores. Needless to say, I didn’t have any anxiety problems this past weekend.

On April 16, I took a webinar from Kevin Benz over the Zoom video conferencing platform sponsored by the New York Press Association. It was for newsroom staff, and it was titled, “Beating Burnout.” He had some helpful tips.

He said these are the pathways to happiness:

1. Manage your workload.

2. Take control.

3. Make a difference.

4. Create a sense of community. (“We’re all in this together.”)

5. Have some respect.

6. Take pride in your journalism.

In order to beat burnout, he said:

1. Take responsibility.

2. Take control.

3. Get help.

4. Be honest with yourself.

5. Manage your balance.

6. Have fun.

Then ask yourself the following questions:

1. What am I grateful for?

2. What can I do?

And when you get a chance, reach out to others — friends, family, coworkers — and give some virtual hugs.

I wish you the best of health during this worldwide health crisis. I’ll keep plugging away with my own health — mind, body and spirit. It’s a daily battle, one that’s certainly been harder over the past two months. But, yes, we will get through this together.

Even though I’m still working full time, this prolonged lockdown has given me some time to reflect on my weight problem in a more profound way. It’s really about life, isn’t it? You get to a point, when you’re climbing past 450 pounds, that it truly is about life or death. And you have to choose. Are these the end of my days? Or is this a new beginning?

I choose health. I choose to live.