Shelter in place has been challenging for many, including us. But it’s also an inflection point. A time of reckoning, at least for me, as my pandemic timeline –or really, a pandemic diary–shows.

Month 1

A perfect chance to watch Great British Baking Company. And bake. And bake. Cakes. Bread. Cookies. So yummy.

End of Month 1

Did I really watch all 80 episodes of a baking show this month? Did I really bake and eat all that delicious stuff?  Is that a third chin forming? Are those my leg muscles I feel atrophying?

There’s a pandemic afoot and some victims can’t oxygenate. My aerobic fitness is not very good and I’m well. What if I get the virus? How would I fare?  Hmm. Maybe I need to get a grip.

pandemic-timelineMonth 2

Getting a grip. My BMI needs to come down and my aerobic fitness needs to go up– so if I get Covid, I have a fighting chance. This is not about vanity. It’s about survival. That’s big motivation. Covid is a scary disease. I don’t want it. I think through a plan.

No more baking. Walking every morning and night does wonders for my mood and my muscles are coming back. Re-ordered a weekly box of organic produce. I do love fruits and veggies. Cooking delicious and healthy meals. I love carbs, too, but I’m sensitive to them. So watching my carb intake. Usually I watch them go into my mouth but this is different. My life could be in the balance.

End of Month 2

My body is definitely more flexible. Walking longer and longer each day. Breath is better every day. I might be losing some inches. Maybe it’s time to engage my longtime friend, Trainer Tom, for online training.

Month 3

Trainer Tom reviews my meals and adjusts my nutrition. I get 1200 calories a day with certain percentages of protein, carbs, etc. Suggests a free app to track food and exercise. Recommended I get resistance bands and sent me a video workout. I embrace it all in the interests of survival.

pandemic-timelineEnd of Month 3

The fitness / meal tracker is an eye opener. 1200 calories goes fast! Does walking briskly all that time really only burn 115 calories? That’s not even a slice of sourdough –or a bite of chocolate cake. But weight is coming off and my muscles are more limber, breath is much easier.

The open floor plan of my home makes finding enough room in a doorway to use the bands impossible. Plus, I hate them. Hate. Ordered dumbbells. Immediately, I’m notified they are on backorder. Not an original idea.

Month 4: The 8 lb dumbbells are here but fives haven’t arrived. My idea is to work up so I need those 5s. I tell Trainer Tom I am going to take a break from resistance bands but what I really mean is that I will never take them out again. I will use dumbbells and cardio, plus planks. Or at least that’s my plan.

End of Month 4

I forgot to weigh myself before I started this fitness kick but I estimate that I’ve already lost 25-30 lbs. Which is why I am now able to actually run. Or rather, run-walk. Very carefully. Don’t want to fall and have to go to a hospital. When I run, I do not lose breath. My legs are good. My body moves easily.My hips are holding up. I feel better all around. I love the fact that my 69th birthday is this month and I am once again RUNNING. Who’d have thunk?

My father ran before it was popular. 10 miles a day. He was obsessive. I am not. I am running from Covid.


Not me, don’t I wish. But I want those boots. In black.

Since i have the family scourge of high blood pressure I’ve been on meds for 20+ years. A year ago April at my pre-surgical cardio appointment, my Stanford cardiologist added another med two weeks before so I’d be ready. No one took me off it after surgery, but I suspected it over-corrected my BP now, as I had a few episodes of feeling faint.

So I start taking my pressure. Way low. As in 103/60. I text my doctor. “Too low!” she says and halves the dosage of the new med for the time being. . Doctor says that we do not want a sudden spike so we will taper off and monitor. I take it daily and it’s back up to normal.

Beginning of Month 5

Given my healthy diet I’m certain my blood test numbers are amazing, so I call to book my six-months-overdue physical. Ok, let’s face it. I didn’t want to get weighed. So shoot me. But now, I weigh daily. Not a big deal. I look and feel great.

My doctor has told me all along how good the Covid rate is on the San Francisco peninsula near Stanford, where she is. I ask the assistant how many Covid patients have been in the office. “None,” she tells me. I feel comfortable booking my physical.

pandemic-timelineA few days later, doctor texts. “Do not come in,” she says. As things opened up and folks started booking colonoscopies and elective surgeries, pre-procedure Covid tests showed a large number of positives — totally asymptomatic. People who tested positive have been in her office and she does not want us in there. Because Covid hangs in the air.  Yikes.

This reinforces the value of wearing a mask in case you are totally stupid about this. Which I know you are not, right? Oh I know plenty of people I thought were smart and it turns out they are not. They believe in conspiracies and that medicine is lying. Umm. No. Not this time.

We decide to do the first half of our physical, the talking part, by telemedicine and wait to see if and when the second half is safe. We do that and I visit my doctor’s parking lot, where the tech draws blood. Yes, while I am in the car.  I get email and a text from my ecstatic doctor:

“Your labs are fabulous – cholesterol is nothing short of fabulous as is sugar, liver, kidneys, thyroid (metabolism) and blood count. Way to go!”

This was my objective and I’ve met it so far. Since last year my heart and lungs were thoroughly scanned before my hysterectomy, and my parts biopsied, I feel pretty darn healthy. Now I just need to keep it up and also keep from getting Covid.

There are side benefits, too. I fit into clothes I haven’t worn in years–it’s like shopping for new clothes without spending a dime. Thank God I didn’t donate most of that stuff.

We know we are privileged to be able to afford excellent medical care and we do not take it for granted. We would scrimp and save for medical care if we needed to. Thankfully, we don’t and we hate that many can not afford good care. That’s why we want affordable health care available to all. No exceptions. Everyone. Yes, even undocumented workers. Sorry. NOT.

And so….

If you want to start your own pandemic fitness program it’s important to find your own motivation, whatever it is. For me it was fear of dying from Covid. For you, it might be something else.

I am not fat-phobic. I love me a curvy woman. I love being one. I do not look good thin. I know many healthy fat people but I was never one of them. For me, too much fat is not healthy. I inch toward diabetes and fatty liver. But I will always be a more curvaceous woman and I embrace it.

As you just read, I threw caution to the winds for the first month of shelter in place and enjoyed so many scrumptious things. But once I determined my priority was my health, it was easy enough to change my habits. I do recommend a free tracker to help structure your meals and exercise.

Starting slowly is key to exercise because if you don’t, it’s easy to injure yourself and be unable to do anything. Injury is always top of mind for us. For example, our sidewalks are uneven from tree roots or earthquakes so we walk or run in the street, where it’s smoother. And i know my hips aren’t young. I definitely worked up to my run-walks and i can’t deny how good it feels to not be out of breath.

As far as meal habits go, if you decide to change your diet you just have to bite the bullet and do it. There are no shortcuts and I have had to deny myself many things I love. Most, but not all of the time.

On the other hand, I do enjoy produce and I am a pretty good cook, so it’s not like I’m really suffering. My guiding star is my health and that is always top of mind. Again, the tracker helps me not kid myself about what I’m eating.

Let me also make this perfectly clear: I know fat people who are fit. Who do not have high blood pressure, diabetes or any of the scourges. Fat does not always mean unhealthy.

Would love your thoughts and comments and I am always happy to answer questions. Stay safe and healthy!



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