As you can see, I haven’t done a lot of blogging during the pandemic. I really didn’t have much to share or talk about. It’s easier using Instagram, posting up a quick pic, some language and pressing send. Blogging (or just simply spending the time to write) takes a little longer. Frankly, I was just not in the state of mind to write until now. I want to talk about making small changes. It’s what we need right now as we move out of the pandemic.

I wanted to share what I’m doing in hopes that it will inspire others who are in the same boat as me.

Over the last few months, I’ve been making small changes to my life. I started off by upgrading my life, by giving myself permission to stop living like a peasant and upgrade to a life that’s more my caliber. It is so wonderful having an actual dishwasher, garbage disposal, washer/dryer, gym, and a place for Matthew to run around in. I guess staying cooped up in your apartment for over a year can help you re-evaluate your priorities. We now live in a Maine Coon sized home and frankly, Matthew never wants to leave to go running around outside. He’s perfectly fine running around inside the apartment. There’s more than enough space and high places for him to jump around on.

But if you are like me, the pandemic may have added a few pounds to your physique. Not like we needed any more weight on our bodies, right? For me, I gained 20 pounds. Now, before anyone gets on the whole body positivity bit, I did not need an extra 5, 10 or 20 pounds on my body. Gaining weight gave me health issues. Plus, I am in peri-menopause, so with my body changing, compounded by weight related health issues, AND the fact that over 70% of people that die from Covid-19 are obese, you can’t tell me to be positive about my weight gain. This isn’t about how I look. This is about how I feel living in this body. And I feel like crap.

Ok. Maybe it is a bit about how I look, but my health concerns outweigh my shallowness.

Throughout most of the pandemic, especially after putting on the 20 pounds in the first 6 months, I’ve suffered from really bad acid reflux. My hair was thinning and falling out. A wisdom tooth actually broke off. My body got weak from lack of exercise. I was getting UTIs more and more frequently (which ended up being hormonal issues). My anxiety was at an all time high (thanks to the anti-Asian sentiment in my neighborhood). I wasn’t doing so well.

In April, my landlord decided to evict everyone living in the building. This wasn’t a surprise. The building was slated to be demolished to make way for the new gentrified neighborhood. But contracts were held up and he decided to move to phase 2, renovating the building since he could no longer demolish it. I was given a year and a half notice, so it wasn’t any surprise. My landlord did ask me to return or move into the new luxury property when it opens. But after I heard what the town said about keeping the neighborhood white, I’m going to not move back there, since a lot of my anxiety stemmed from the anti-Asian sentiment I received after the lockdown happened in March 2020.

Since moving overseas was still not an option due to the pandemic, I decided to sign a lease for an apartment in a luxury building that caters to celebrities and athletes. I don’t regret this decision at all, because the whole premise behind upgrading my life was about changing my life one small step at a time…to give myself permission to live the life I’ve been wanting for such a long time, but was unwilling to give that life to myself.

The first change in this journey to upgrade my life was to move out of the place I lived in for 15 years and upgrade to something better. Upending my entire life helped to kick me out of that miserable pandemic funk and think about starting a whole new and better life. Next, I started decluttering my life and getting rid of the things that I no longer wanted to carry with me in life. I upgraded my wardrobe and my things. But still, I wasn’t completely happy.

So I targeted those unhappy parts of my life: 1. I wasn’t happy because I wasn’t writing. 2. This extra weight on my body doesn’t make me feel like I am me. I don’t recognize this person anymore.

So I decided to change that.

I am a big believer in taking a problem and putting it in a box. In one corner, you put the problem. At the opposite corner, you put the end result that you want. You throw the tools into the box and tell yourself, “Fix it.” So that’s what I started doing. I started fixing myself, one small step at a time.

On Writing

Rebecca Roanhorse, author of “Black Sun,” shared her writing method on how she outlines using Scrivener. I’m not a fan of the Scrivener program, but I liked her concept. So I took how she outlines her books before writing the entire book out, and decided to do something similar, but on paper.

I love paper, so the idea of prettying up my work and using paper to outline my story helped me tremendously. Binders and note cards were ordered so I could start writing out scenes, because I think in scenes. I focus on one character and write out all of their scenes, put the note cards in a plastic sleeve, and organize the scenes in the binder that way. It’s been a tremendous help, especially since I feel like the beginning is going on forever in the book. Readers don’t like beginnings that go on forever. They want to get to the juicy bits quickly.

I will say that the strange thing about my universe is that I tend to call things into my life that I totally did not expect, but it’s really magical. When I write, I cast the character. In this case, I casted an actor that I believed embodied what I was looking for in this character, based on the roles I’ve seen him portray. So while my head is stuck in my book, writing out the scenes, what I wasn’t prepared to find was said actor sitting in our courtyard when I took Matthew outside to eat grass. I honestly do not know what to do with that knowledge. I’m just going to keep on writing, because that’s like the universe saying, “You’re doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing in your life. Keep going.”

I can honestly say that I have ideas and hopes of what my future will look like with these changes, but I’m always up for things going better than I planned, because in dreams, we cannot dictate what will happen in them. Crazy things happen all of the time within our dreams. So when you start living your dreams, crazy things will happen…like finding out the actor you’re currently writing scenes for lives in your building! Did not see that coming at all.

Mission Attainable: One Pound a Week

So now we are on to part two of my unhappiness and how I am changing that. I gained 20 pounds this pandemic and I honestly hate how I look. But what I hate more is how I feel. The crazy thing though is that I was vaccinated with Moderna. A side effect of Moderna is that it cures a lot of your health issues. I’ve experienced it and I’ve heard a number of people tell me the same thing. I haven’t had acid reflux since I received both doses of the vaccine.

I saw my doctor a month after my second dose. She performed every test there was, because we are looking for the second tumor in my parathyroid (we did find it, but it isn’t doing anything that requires removal). The blood tests came back saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. I just needed to lose the weight I gained during the pandemic and that was it. So Moderna fixed all of my ailments I was experiencing throughout the pandemic. It’s crazy. It even kind of offset the peri-menopause a little bit, which is really weird.

So now that I am vaccinated and have the all clear from the doctor, I can focus on weight loss. I will admit that I didn’t start right away. At first, we were going to go the medicinal route with weight loss. That ended up being a no go from the insurance company. So my doctor sent me a diet plan outlining my new way of life.

This diet is the same boring old diet that doctors have been recommending for decades. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish 2x a week, etc. Most people would just roll their eyes and then do whatever the latest fad diet is out there. BUT over the last 4-5 years, people who believe in science say to trust science. Trust doctors. Trust scientists. So this is where I say, it’s time to trust the doctors on this one. They’ve been using this same food model for decades. It must work, right?

I’ve been slowly changing my way of life, because my main concern now that my body is changing, is what exactly am I supposed to be doing? What am I supposed to be feeding myself? As my brother says, we can no longer procrastinate with our health. We have to do it now.

Where does one start in this battle to lose weight? Start small.

I believe that when it comes to losing weight, so many of us sabotage our own efforts right from the beginning. We think of the end game, the magic size or number and work like crazy to get to that number, but when it doesn’t happen fast enough, we lose hope and give up. Anyone can lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks. I’ve done it many times. But it doesn’t last.

So I decided to set a realistic goal for myself. Over the next 52 weeks (i.e. one year), I am setting a goal to lose one pound every single week. Not two pounds. ONE POUND.

You’re probably thinking that anyone can do that. That’s the point. It’s a realistic goal. It’s very different than saying, “I’m going to lose 50 pounds this year.” One pound a week is a more realistic goal, because it appears simple and easy. Fifty pounds is a lot of work. It’s a huge number. But one pound is attainable. The 50 pounds mentality is where we sabotage ourselves into thinking of how much work we have to do over the course of one year just to get to that goal. It sets us up for failure.

But one pound in one week? Sure. Anyone can do that. It’s easy to put in the work to do what it takes to reach that goal every single week. After a year, guess what? If you accomplish that weekly goal every single week, that’s over 50 pounds in one year. It’s the same goal, but realistically attainable. And you put in the work to get there without even realizing it.

Do you see how you can trick your brain?

Small Changes

So that’s my goal and plan over the next year. My aim is to lose one pound every week by doing whatever it takes to reach that goal. That means changing my health for the better by making small changes every week. So far, this plan is working.

Changes I’ve made to help me lose one pound every week:

  1. Started going into the office 2x a week. After being sedentary for the last year an a half, all of the walking and the countless stairs are helping me to get some exercise 2x a week. Next month, it becomes 3x a week.
  2. I started taking Matthew on walks in his stroller 1-2x a week. Thanks to the pandemic, people have been more accepting of animals coming into their businesses. Matthew loves when we go shopping, especially the Hallmark store that has his itty bittys.
  3. Eat fish 2x a week.
  4. Switch to whole grains.
  5. Eat more fruits/vegetables.
  6. Drink 8-9 glasses of water.
  7. Vitamins.
  8. Stop ordering takeout.

Each week, I plan on making one positive change for my health that will not only contribute to helping me lose one pound a week, but will also help with my overall well-being.

A friend mentioned that eating out and delivery helped contribute to her pandemic weight gain and breaking from the eating out cycle is really hard, because it’s become the norm. I used to allow myself takeout on Fridays, but I always ordered a bunch of food and it ended up lasting until the next takeout Friday. Since I always keep a stocked fridge, all of the groceries were going to waste.

So I decided to make a change. I started budgeting my groceries to $100 every two weeks. Whatever I order, I have to use up during those two weeks. This is my way of consciously focusing on ending food waste in my own home. Since I’m focusing on choosing organic and pasture raised food, that means the food I have to consume is healthy and will help me towards my goal of losing one pound a week. I’m also saving money. I never budgeted before. A trip to the grocery store usually ended up being $300-$600, and then $50-$125 every Friday for takeout. Forcing myself to budget will save money in the long run…money that can go towards our new future.

This is where I go back and mention that problem box. In one corner is LOSE WEIGHT. In the opposite corner is WEIGHT LOST. What I’m showing you are all of the tools in that box being used to reach the end result. It’s not just about diet and exercise. There’s more to this than just that. There are a lot of facets involved in our unhealthy to healthy habits. This is about changing our lives for the better so that we can reach the end result.

The next small change I am going to make is to continue to declutter my new apartment and finish organizing everything. There’s so much stuff. I honestly do not know where to put everything. I also don’t like how this clutter is taking away from the luxury part of living. It’s time to let go of the old, so I can embrace the new. This falls under the mental health aspect of weight loss. I find that the way we live and what we surround ourselves in is indicative of the state of our mental health. To me, having a bunch of ‘stuff’ around us, not knowing what to do with it, is just like having a bunch of extra weight surrounding us and we don’t know what to do with it, yet all we keep thinking is…I WANT TO GET RID OF THIS!

So that’s what I plan on doing next. Decluttering and organizing. Getting rid of the things I no longer wish to carry with me in life, because I’ve changed my life for the better.

Stay tuned over the next year. I’ll be sharing my small steps and progress towards accomplishing my weekly goals. If you want more up to date information, follow me on Instagram: @michellekennethpw. You can find inspiration and ideas there, as well as a lot of books.