Topic Tuesday: Change

“Time For Another Learning Experience” (By: Jessie Walters)

In San Francisco, we got the shelter-in-place mandate on Tuesday, March 17. Most people were concerned about stocking up on groceries and keeping themselves safe from a deadly virus. Me? My first thought was, “What am I going to do without my gym?!” (Sorry, Beth! She’s my therapist. Hi, Beth!)

But let me back up. Back in January, I’d set two goals for 2020:

(1) Be more flexible about my workout routine.

(2) Introduce more variety to my meals.

I’d planned to sprinkle in an occasional “challenge day,” where I’d try a new cuisine, take an extra rest day, or just branch out from my usual routine. Oh sweet, baby angel Jessie Walters of January! (That is a My Favorite Murder podcast reference, which some of you already knew. Hi, true crime fans recovering from disordered eating!)

Little did I know that 2020 would continually turn my food and exercise routine on its head, like mob justice against someone buying toilet paper in bulk.

In February, my husband and I froze my eggs. This process required significant physical limitations for three weeks: I had to reduce my workouts and limit my consumption of caffeine and alcohol (rude, right?). Once those eggs were happily stored away, we went to Japan for nine days, where the hotel gyms were closed, due to the blooming issue of COVID-19. The food I ate in Japan was adventurous, to say the least: each day, I ordered at least one thing I couldn’t pronounce. Once we got home, COVID-19 ballooned into a global pandemic, causing the shelter-in-place mandate. The aisles at the grocery store were emptied in a panic, and all non-essential businesses were closed…most importantly my waxer – but also my gym!

As my mom used to say,  “Great! Time for another learning experience.”

Would I prefer to slowly dip my toe into a less rigid food and exercise routine? Of course! Instead, my routine is completely at the whim of external factors: I jog outside when it’s sunny, and I jump around in my garage to early-2000s rap when it’s rainy; I buy my favorite foods when they’re in-stock, and I take a gamble on my second- or third-choice when they’re not.

As horrific as this pandemic has been, all of this variety has led me to be more flexible and strengthen my Intuitive Eating skills. Thankfully, my body has its own brilliant, reliable gauges for hunger, fullness, and cravings — even during a pandemic…and even when social media is full of people doing weird things with food and exercise. (PSA: I didn’t care about your diet before, but I extra don’t care about your quarantine diet!)

That being said, maybe you’re shouting at me from the other side of your phone/laptop screen because you’re not experiencing any silver lining from this pandemic, and you’re going through hell right now. In that case, please allow me to point you to some advice from actual experts re: getting through COVID when you have a history of disordered eating.

San Francisco’s lockdown has been extended through the end of May. In the meantime, I will listen to Fiona Apple’s new album on repeat, send Marco Polo videos to the people I love, and shamelessly escape reality by watching a ton of reality TV. This isn’t how I (or anyone) wanted to spend Spring 2020, but thanks to a medical procedure, a trip abroad, and a pandemic, it has been one huge learning experience that I won’t forget.

About the Author

Jessie Walters is a native Nashvillian living in San Francisco. She aims to help reduce the stigma around eating disorders by sharing her story of illness and recovery. Contact her at