There have been rather significant changes in eating habits since the start of COVID. (Eight in ten consumers have changed their eating and/or food prep habits since March.) Many of these changes have been unhealthy – like shifting to more pre-packaged foods.Feeling like you’ve put on some weight since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown in March? Well, you might be right. And you certainly aren’t alone. The question is, what will you do about it?
The Quarantine 15
For decades, we’ve joked about the “Freshman 15,” referring to the weight young people often gain when they head to college with unlimited meal plans, booze, and less healthy eating options. But in 2020, we’re talking about the “Quarantine 15,” which is the term used to describe the weight gain millions have experienced during the COVID-crisis.
While nobody has actually performed a credible report on how bad the Quarantine 15 truly is, many doctors have seen enough anecdotal evidence to suggest there’s a problem. Here are some reasons why:
While putting on 15 pounds might not seem like the end of the world, it’s easy for things to balloon. And when 15 pounds turns to 30 pounds (and so on) otherwise healthy people can fall down a slippery path. The sooner it’s dealt with, the better.High stress. It’s common knowledge that stress and weight gain are often intricately connected. (Obesity can cause stress and stress can cause obesity.) We turn to food as a way to cope with stress and the results can be disastrous. Furthermore, when your body senses stress, it becomes reluctant to give up calories. (It wants to save them in case it needs energy for fight or flight.) This leads to weight gain.
Changes in eating habits. There have been rather significant changes in eating habits since the start of COVID. (Eight in ten consumers have changed their eating and/or food prep habits since March.) Many of these changes have been unhealthy – like shifting to more pre-packaged foods. Weight gain is a natural byproduct of this change in habits.
Gym closures. While some have since reopened, almost all of the 40,000 gyms in the United States were required to shut down for a few months. This left many people without a structured environment for exercise. And even though working out from home and/or jogging outside are options, the change in routine has thrown many people for a loop.
Anxiety and depression. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an influx of anxiety and depression in America. And when people feel anxious, they’re far less likely to eat healthy or workout. This further exacerbates the weight gain issue.
Lack of accountability. Finally, there’s a lack of accountability. When you’re quarantined at home, you don’t have to worry about what other people think about your appearance. You aren’t going into work or visiting the gym every day. So it becomes easier to add on pounds without feeling judgment.
While putting on 15 pounds might not seem like the end of the world, it’s easy for things to balloon. And when 15 pounds turns to 30 pounds (and so on) otherwise healthy people can fall down a slippery path. The sooner it’s dealt with, the better.
5 Ways to Lose the Weight You’ve Gained
1. Establish a Daily Routine
If you ask the healthiest people in the world for their secrets, you’ll find that much of their success is directly tied to routine. When you have a routine, you don’t have to make thousands of tiny decisions every day – you just follow the plan. And assuming the plan is a healthy one, the results will do the talking.
2. Purge Your Pantry
Willpower and healthy eating are in direct relationship with one another. We all want to eat healthy, yet most of us have trouble succumbing to the appeal of sugary treats and easy food options. (Looking at you, frozen pizza!) The best way to avoid unhealthy eating is to remove the temptation. This means purging your pantry and raiding your refrigerator so there are no more unhealthy foods hiding inside. Then you restock with healthy and fresh options. Next time you’re hungry, you won’t have any choice but to eat healthy.
3. Stop the Takeout Addiction
You may not be able to go to the gym like you once did, but there are plenty of other options.Takeout and delivery have become such a staple part of our lives over the past six months that many have developed a low-grade addiction. In households all across America, there’s a nightly debate about where to order food. And in some cases, the food can be healthy. But for the most part, the menu options we go with aren’t very good for us.
Want to lose the Quarantine 15? Stop relying on takeout and start cooking. (If you’re truly worried about going out in public, have your groceries delivered. Better yet, try one of those meal delivery plans where they send you the ingredients and you do the prep work.)
4. Rethink Your Fitness Routine
Exercise needs to be part of your daily routine. You might not be able to go into the gym like you once did, but there are plenty of other options.
For best results, you need at least 30 minutes of cardio per day. Preferably, you should get 45 minutes to an hour. And if you have the flexibility to do a workout in the morning and late afternoon, that’s even better. Good options include bodyweight exercises, jogging, walking, or playing soccer/basketball with your kids.
5. Find Some Accountability
As previously mentioned, one of the dangers of this COVID-19 crisis has been the lack of accountability. When you don’t have to see anybody, you’re less likely to take care of your personal health.
How do you flip this mentality? By finding some accountability.
Whether virtually or in person (socially distanced, obviously), it’s useful to have someone to meet with and discuss your health goals. A weekly meeting may suffice, but try daily at first. A five-minute check-in is all you need.
Make Healthy Living a Priority Again
There’s no need to feel guilt or shame over packing on a few extra pounds this year. The circumstances surrounding the COVID crisis have put us all in precarious situations. But it is important that you stop the slide and return to the healthy lifestyle habits that you maintained prior to March. Hopefully his article has provided some hope and encouragement. Work through each of these suggestions at your own pace and you’ll eventually find yourself in a healthy place again.