PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — According to a recent survey, a majority of U.S. adults polled experienced “undesired weight changes” since the pandemic started, with 42% reporting they gained more weight than intended.
Of that 42%, individuals gained an average of 29 pounds, with 10% reporting they gained more than 50 pounds, according to the American Psychological Association’s latest Stress in AmericaTM poll.
Gary Neirinckx was among those who put on weight after the pandemic began. The 63-year-old says he feared bringing the virus back into his home, since his wife has lung problems and was more at-risk for COVID-19.
Neirinckx said he stopped going to his gym, which resulted in him also becoming a lot less active while at home.
“I was getting to a weight where I didn’t feel healthy,” Neirinckx said. “So I wanted to invest some time in myself just to get myself back to where I needed to be.”
Neirinckx got involved with the Lifespan Center for Weight and Wellness, which currently offers a 10-week program called “Your Choice, Your Weigh,” specifically for those looking to lose about 10 to 20 pounds.
The program addresses the importance of healthy eating habits, explores eating behaviors, helps patients develop an active lifestyle, and offers behavioral therapy to help with managing stress.
Dr. Vincent Pera is the center’s Medical and Program Director, who says maintaining weight or losing weight is all about finding balance.
“COVID-19 has pulled the rug right out from under that balance that many people had had in their life,” Pera said.
“Being home, not being able to exercise, not getting out of the house just to go to work or do the routine things has all created an environment that was just perfect for gaining weight and having difficulty trying to maintain that balance,” he added.
Due to the pandemic, the center’s programs were recreated to work for telemedicine, which Pera says most patients have adapted to.
“Not only did they stop gaining, but in most of the cases of our patients, they were able to lose weight very nicely, just about as well, or as well as they would have, coming into the clinic on a weekly basis,” Pera said.
Pera noted that patients are slowly starting to come to the clinic again, but are still being held accountable by reporting their weight from home.
Neirinckx says with a combination of exercise and changing his diet, he lost 32 pounds in five weeks.
Now, the 63-year-old is working on keeping his healthy habits, including hitting his goal of 20,000 steps a day with his dog, Casey.
“So, now it’s just a matter of maintaining,” Neirinckx said. “But the program works because you have all the resources you need. And the people, if you’re motivated to talk, are more than helpful in keeping you on track.”