How to prepare for getting the vaccine

A year ago, I didn’t have a clue who Alina Alonso was. Now, I’m counting on her to save my life.

Alonso is the director of my local health department, and all eyes are on her to get the vaccine into our arms. As Jane Musgrove reported in The Palm Beach Post, Alonso is the focus of the 4 million seniors vying for a spot in the ethersphere, where some kind of virtual line is beginning to form. We got a confirmation that we’re in line, and now we wait.

While we’re all waiting, there is something that every American can do in order to be best prepared for the vaccine. Lose weight.

obesIty Decreases Vaccine EFFECTIVENESS

A shocking 42 percent of us have a Body Mass Index of 30 or higher, defined by public health officials as obese. This isn’t news. But being Acording to an article by Sarah Varney in the Kaiser Health News, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are finding that coronavirus patients who are obese are three times more likely to become severely ill and hospitalized.

As [body mass] increases, the risk of death from COVID-19 increases.”

Centers for Disease Control

Obesity hampers the body’s immune response. And it’s this same dynamic that makes the coronavirus vaccine less effective for heavy people.

So, what to do?

Eat less

Processed food, energy drinks, fast food, and alcohol are loaded with unhealthy calories. Sugary drinks are one of the the biggest culprits of obesity.

The optimal intake of these drinks is zero. They have no health benefits.

Vasanti S. Malik, Harvard TH Chan School of Public health, speaking to The New York Times.

I’ve used various tools to educate myself on what I put in my mouth. Weight Watchers uses a point system to guide its members to make better choices, along with suggestions like shopping the perimeters of the grocery store instead of lingering in the aisles. MyFitnessPal is a more traditional tool that lays out food’s nutritional content. I’ve had success with both systems, but only when I track.

Move more

Moving is good for us, whether it’s a ten minute walk or an hour on the elliptical. My daily exercise has been essential to my recovery from my near-fatal illness in 2019 that left me unable to move my body. A year ago, I had regained my ability to walk. Yesterday, I jogged for two miles. I do something every day, my head down and my gratitude abounding. Our rescue Lab Kumba is my loyal companion.

But moving alone isn’t enough to lose weight, no matter how many calories you think you’ve just earned. A half hour brisk walk burns the equivalent of a banana, not the Snicker’s bar of my dreams. Oh, well.

Repeat

We know what to do. Sometimes, we even do it. The challenge is to repeat of behavior until it’s a habit. Here are a few tips to help hold yourself accountable.

Find a walking buddy. If your housemate isn’t interested —or if more time together feels like a chore — put on a mask and call on a neighbor. You’ll both appreciate getting out of the house! And when exercise is fun, it isn’t work.

Track your activity but make it interesting. Set achievable goals and celebrate when you nail them. Challenger friend in another part of the country to walk more steps than you. You will both appreciate each other‘s successes. And you will feel great about being in touch.

Track your food — before you eat it. I use my tracker to lay out the days menu. When lunch and dinner roll around, I’ve got a plan to follow.

Good luck to us all!

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