Caregiving Weight Gain

Is Caregiving Making You Fat?
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If you're battling extra pounds and caring for a loved one, the association probably seems like a no-brainer: Yes, caregiving can make you fat.

The reasons hardly need reciting: lack of time or opportunity for exercise, inability to shop for and prepare nutritious meals, stress eating ("emotional eating"), worry and stress, and a general lack of self-care. It's little wonder that so many caregivers face weight problems and often get sick while they're actively caregiving.

Unfortunately, that doesn't do your loved one any good -- or you.

Some refresher ingredients for better self-care to remember:

  • Engage in mindful love of yourself. The first, best way to avoid unwanted caregiver weight gain is to make a vow to pay attention to yourself, just as much as you pay attention to the person in your care.

  • Pace yourself and plan ahead. You can't possibly get everything done today. Do what you can and put off the rest. But include yourself in the day's priority list.

  • Don't skimp on sleep. Take off your superhero cape at a reasonable hour and call it a day. Your loved one will be OK without your hypervigilance for seven or eight hours.

  • Let good enough be good enough. Enough said!

  • Thank your body for all it does for you. Rub your feet. Stretch. Take a nap and eat some nourishing food.

  • Take time off. The best way to recharge and reset your commitment to your own self-care is to get off the treadmill of life. Spend time in the outdoors. Appreciate yourself.


7 months ago, said...

I moved in w elderly parents seven yrs ago i myself am Terminal w lupus had it 17 yrs...lost Dad in june,,,Mom is 85 w SEVERE CONJESTIVE HEART FAILURE.....im here 24/7 havent been to a movie, a friends house nothing for seven yrs....and just would love to talk to others w same situations, caring giving is very emotionally stressful job espically 24/7....but am Blessed for every day w her......thank u for listening and God Bless


12 months ago, said...

Two years ago I posted that I was up 40 pounds. The next year it was 50 pounds. People really started to notice and that was the catalyst for me to change. I lost a pound a week and am now down 50. I still don't have time to exercise but I really watch what I eat and no longer join my 90 year old father in dessert every night. That's what really made the difference. He needs the calories but I don't.


almost 2 years ago, said...

Youngest of eight children and everything is put on me. All have an excuse. Kids (I have them too) Full time job (I have that too) Work far from home (Mine is hour drive) No money (I make the least of all) Mom feels most comfortable with you (Really? going to go there? Really?) There is not enough me and not enough money. I am just happy to wake up each morning and glad to have Mom one more day. How can they sleep at night?


over 3 years ago, said...

Annromick, I'm not sure how to reply directly to your question, so I'll simply post a new comment. P90X is an exercise program. Shakeology is a nutrient-dense health shake that I also give to my wife, Debbie, the person for whom I provide care. http://www.teambeachbody.com/DavidGinn


over 3 years ago, said...

I was beginning to think maybe everyone I'd talked to about this could be right and I was the one "reaching" for excuses. I usually weigh 95# but, with caring for Mom (recently passed at 90 yrs. old), my husband of 46 years and a couple of sick cats, I've slowly crept up to 113 which is outrageous for my 5'1" petite frame! Thanks for saving my sanity; now I just have to DO something about this before I have to wear a tent! ;-)


over 3 years ago, said...

I'm in the dark here. What is P90X and Shakeology?


over 3 years ago, said...

The reminder to take time off, and to engage in mindful love is so important! I have, of course, read these things before, but the same information, placed in a different context, feels new. Especially, taking time for sleep. I find that even if that is all I can manage, restful sleep at a reasonable hour is vital. Without it, all the rest of the things I do tend to fall apart.


over 3 years ago, said...

You can only do so much in one day and leave the rest or what you can for another day. Also, "Let Good Enough be Good Enough" is helpful so need to stop trying to be an over achiever as it seems to cause burnout. Thank you.


over 3 years ago, said...

When I turned 50, I had been caring for my wife 24/7 for 5 years (early onset Alzheimer's), and knew something had to change. For me, it was P90X and Shakeology. Now, at 52 and 60 lbs lighter from my highest weight of 242, I'm in the best shape of my life. And, along the way I discovered that, taking better care of myself makes me a better caregiver for Debbie!


over 3 years ago, said...

Four years, ten pounds per year. I hate myself. I used to run 3.5 miles per day and watched what I ate. Sometimes I'd skip a meal. Now I don't have time to run and meals always must be prepared. I have to make a change.


over 3 years ago, said...

Anonymous..... Well you are deffinatelly right when you say it is easy enough to grab an apple instead of cake!! The point I was trying to make with my comment was ... If I had a daycare for my loved one, in home help ,financial resources or if my loved one was able to help herself independently for even a short period of time. I don't think caregivers as a whole need to be reminded that taking care of themselves is a good thing. Extra weight can be blamed on many things. After almost 7 years of caring, I am luck that I have the energy and strength to go to bed....and the the strength to get up however many times in the night to continue caregiving duties. My job is a continuous 24 hours a day job... As are so many others out there. It is hard to decide the priority in life when you have the challenge of possibly one or two hours of freedom but have the need of so many things that need to be done.


over 3 years ago, said...

Uuuhhhh not so much. Doesn't take anymore time to eat an apple as a piece of cake. Sounds simple I know. I weighed 105 until I was 40 and then slowly began discovering that my weight was creeping up and since I'd never had to battle weight found it difficult to take it off. Taking care of mom is more exercise than I ever do in a gym, diet has not changed and I am 30lbs overweight. I'm not laying that on caregiving. That job has enough issues of its own. Nope, this one is totally mine. I own it.


over 3 years ago, said...

short, clever and to the point.. Not only for caregivers.


over 3 years ago, said...

I guess if I had a way to do all of the specifics above... I wouldn't be getting fat... If I am taking time off, thanking my body for all it does, not skimping on sleep, paying as much attnetion to myself as I do to my loved one.... who is going to be taking my place to care for my loved one??? Thats the problem!!


over 3 years ago, said...

I can only say that you said it all. And it's good to be reminded (how do I remember it later, it's a different story, but I will try). Thank you!!


over 3 years ago, said...

In more ways than you can guess. Yes, the battle with fat continues and I really never thought about caregiving as a contributing factor. Thanks for the great article and helpful hints.


over 3 years ago, said...

Stress, menopause and a slower metabolism are the culprits. When I started gaining weight I went to the doctor who ordered a full test panel & metabolic screening - in addition to a slow thyroid, my body only needs 1200 calories a day. Conventional wisdom is usually wrong. Everyone is different - see your doctor. If you are gaining weight and doing everything right, it is not your fault.