By Ana Snyder, M.S., Exercise Physiology; CPT, FNS
Lockdown has taken its toll on the world. We’ve social distanced from friends and family. Most people are still working from home. Many have also found that they’re putting on some unwanted weight. Dubbed the “Quarantine 15,” this weight is the result of lockdown inactivity, the junk food we’ve been consuming, increased cortisol levels from stress, anxiety-related eating patterns, and more.
The good news is that you don’t have to let those additional pounds affect your health. It’s time to take control and cut out that quarantine weight gain.
First, remember that now is the time to focus on your goals. Take care of yourself. In some cases, that might mean not stressing about your weight gain—it will come off eventually. And there are some good reasons that you might want to avoid crash diets.
For instance, weight cycling can be worse for your health than carrying a few extra pounds. Another reason is that if you’re working out and eating right just so you can lose weight, there’s a good chance that you’ll encounter difficulties. Without the right motivation, it is easy to backslide into old bad habits once the weight comes off, leading to it coming right back. You’ll have to start the process over again.
Make sure you’re setting healthy weight-related targets, too. Are you trying to lose a few pounds so that you can fit in with society’s idealized body type? If so, you may find that your body has other ideas—even those models aren’t naturally that slim and toned. Trying to lose too much weight too fast can also be a serious problem that leads to health issues. These could come in the form of blood sugar crashes, additional stress and anxiety, or a rebound that packs on more pounds than you lost in the first place.
Set smart goals based on reality, not the fantasy that fashion magazines and flashy ads want to sell you. Wage your battle one meal at a time if you’re struggling to stay on target, and take your weight loss journey day by day. Losing the Quarantine 15 is a marathon, not a sprint. Slow, healthy progress is always preferable to rapid weight loss that doesn’t last.
One simple way to help reduce weight is to shop smarter when it comes to the foods that you keep in the house. All those chips, cookies, and ultra-processed foods? Yeah, skip those.
Instead, stock up on healthy foods, with your primary focus being fresh fruits and veg. Of course, that can be pretty tough to do, particularly in a time that’s so filled with stress and anxiety. Fat-laden, sugar-laced foods almost physically call out to you.
Mindful grocery shopping can help. Make a list and stick to it. Avoid shopping when you’re hungry, and practice mindful breathing when you feel the call of junk food.
You knew this one was coming! Nothing helps you lose the Quarantine 15 quite like refocusing on your daily workout routine. How do you do that, though?
It might be as simple as going for a walk every day. A short daily run can also help burn a lot of calories, as can simple weight training, such as with resistance bands. On the other hand, you might live in a state that’s already lifted the lockdown on gyms and yoga studios, so it might be time to get back at it.
If you’re stuck in a rut with your eating, the Trifecta meal plan might be the right option for you. It combines keto-themed meals that offer tons of flavor and fewer calories. Of course, keto might not be right for you. In that case, consider Splendid Spoon and the company’s plant-based meal options that deliver amazing taste without any animal products or byproducts (completely vegan).
With that being said, outsourcing your meal planning might not be ideal for you personally. In that case, explore a few other ideas that can help if you have plateaued in weight loss. For example, make sure you’re getting enough fiber, that you’re supplementing with the right protein options, and that you’re consuming healthy fats.
Most people don’t think about sleep in relation to weight loss, but there’s a direct connection. Sleep is when your body heals. If you’re not getting enough, or not getting quality sleep, the results can include trouble losing weight, or even accelerated weight gain (hello Quarantine 15!). Some of the other concerning sleep deprivation effects that you should be concerned about include:
So, how do you kick up your sleep habit? You could try a supplement like Evlution Nutrition Z Matrix. You should also avoid caffeine as much as possible (it can hang around in the body for 12 hours or more), avoid taking naps, and work out regularly.
Finally, working with a registered dietitian might be necessary if you’re not able to reach your weight loss goals on your own. There’s no shame in needing guidance from a medical expert. A dietitian can help you chart a course for success without all the pitfalls that so often derail weight loss efforts and lead to plateaus and backsliding.
While most people have gained weight thanks to lockdown, you can lose your Quarantine 15. The key is to take conscious, intentional actions designed to achieve healthy weight loss, rather than to jump headlong into a fad diet that leaves your body lacking vital nutrients. That way lies yo-yo weight gain/loss and serious health problems. Instead, take it slow and steady.