I like carrots. Cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce are good, too. But when the chips were down and the stress was up during recent virus shutdowns, I wanted comfort food in the form of a cookie or a sandwich. Wait. Cookie? Ha! Have you ever had just one Thin Mint?

All that sitting – even though mine was in front of a computer screen – and those Thin Mints – even though I'd convinced myself that I was apportioning them correctly – made me notice that sweatpants felt tighter. C'mon, sweatpants? Aren't they the last place on Earth where we can hide a few extra pounds?

It wasn't just me. My neighbor proudly pointed to his round belly and declared he'd already hit his “Quarantine 15.” Yee gads. I will never buy a pant size bigger, so I finished off the Thin Mints and ignored all the posts I kept seeing about my last opportunity to purchase Girl Scout cookies.

I saw a story that snack companies were making big bucks as millions of us plopped down on the couch with chips on one side and a Pepsi on the other – go ahead and substitute your favorite snack and beverage. Betcha it wasn't carrots and water. Show me the study that says carrots and water reduce stress. I know. It will be just as hard to find a similar study about cookies.

However, I read multiple stories about weight gain and I'm pretty sure every single one said it was understandable under the circumstances. Good. At least I'm in good company and don't have to flog myself. But we were moving into spring and it was getting too warm for sweatpants. Most of my spring pants have set-in waists and buttons. I can't remember why I would have asked anyone to take them in at the waist, but I must have. What other logical explanation could there be?

Reality check.

It was time to quit daydreaming about Oreos and cheese doodles and concentrate on salads and water.

My sweet neighbor does the weekly grocery run so I don't have to stand in the cookie aisle weeping or the ice cream aisle pouting.

Seriously, salads are versatile. They never get boring. If you find yourself making the same thing over and over, look online for some ideas, or dust off one of the cookbooks you bought over the years. Some of those “old favorites” are pretty tasty, look pretty and fill you up. Hate salad? Try making soups loaded with vegetables. Plus, local farms will have fresh vegetables soon. Now you are supporting local business and knockin' off the weight. Bravo!

Elsewhere in the paper today is a more serious take on weight and cardiovascular health. During an interview with Erin Murphy (no relation) from Lorain County Public Health, I was saddened to learn that death rates from heart disease for Lorain County women ages 55-64 are increasing.

There's no doubt in my mind part is attributable to weight and stress. In an article I read on Web MD, its chief medical director, Dr. Michael Smith, said losing a few pounds can make a difference. Even a modest decrease can lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels and improve the negative consequences associated with diabetes and heart disease, he said.

A few pounds may take longer to knock off than it did to put on, but it is doable. My advice is do not punish yourself. Don't let negative self talk sabotage your efforts. Eat food you enjoy, but in smaller portions. Drink water. Walk a little farther or walk with a buddy, which will make time fly by. Put snacks in portioned containers rather than eating out of the bag. Switch the fatty stuff out for unbuttered popcorn. If you fall off the horse, get right back on it. C'mon. We can do this.

Contact freelance writer Michele Murphy at avonlakemurphy@gmail.com.

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