Move over, Freshman 15, there’s a new girl in town, and she’s called the Quarantine 19. Since the pandemic hit in 2020 and various forms of lockdown started taking place, weight gain has been a hot topic. And it’s honestly not difficult to see why. When you’re stressed, it’s easy to fall back into old, comforting habits. Plus, when gyms are closed and social events are few and far between, it’s even easier to get sucked into a movie marathon with your favorite snacks as your new go-to in place of your favorite boot camp class with friends.
Physicians are even stating they’re seeing a spike in weight gain since early 2020. More and more people are finding these behaviors and issues all too common:
- Stress eating
- Snacking because of boredom
- Difficulty finding healthy food options due to decreased availability or a change in financial status
- Decreased overall physical activity
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Speaking of stress, let’s talk about internal inflammation. It’s is also a key factor that gets overlooked. When we’re stressed, our cortisol levels increase. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for elevating our blood sugar levels, reducing inflammation, and suppressing our immune system. When our levels are too high, it can cause weight gain, high blood pressure, irritability, decreased focus or ability to concentrate, insulin resistance, and fatigue.
While I definitely don’t think putting a bunch of pressure on yourself to “lose weight” is key, I do think it’s important, especially now, to take care of yourself and make your health a priority. So, whether you are looking to drop a few pounds or find ways to jump back into a healthier routine, here are my best tips for avoiding weight gain during a pandemic.
Adopt a Routine
Routine is just as important for our mental health as it can be for our physical health. When we have a routine, it gives us a sense of familiarity and purpose. My morning routine rarely changes: I get up, I make my bed, I get the kids ready, I grab my go-to coffee, I work out, then it’s meetings, meetings, meetings until the kids get out of school.? Find a routine that’s simple enough to stick to, and do it without fail every single day. Practicing mindfulness and being aware of your actions throughout your routine is key to sticking to what you’re doing.
As part of adopting a routine, it may be worth looking at your habits to figure out what you like, what you don’t like, what you’re doing right, and where you can do better. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you taking one too many trips through the drive-thru instead of meal prepping each week?
- Have you started grabbing soda instead of water?
- Are you being choosey with your snacks (think chips vs. an apple)?
We’re all guilty of it, and I’m not saying you still can’t enjoy those things you love. But it’s all about balance. I challenge you to make a list of the habits you’re finding yourself doing and pick one to focus on this week. What’s one thing you can do that will make you healthier today than you were yesterday?
Get Up + Move
Even if your gym is closed, you can still move. Get outside with the family and go for a walk or a run, play games in the backyard, or try some at-home body weight routines to get your blood flowing and heart pumping. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which make you feel happy. When you’re feeling happy about what you’re doing, you’ll be much more likely to make movement part of your daily routine. Shoot for 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, which is about 21 minutes a day!
Fill Your Plate with Veggies
Eat the colors of the rainbow! Add a veggie to every meal when you can. This is one simple habit you can implement that will be SO beneficial. Not only are veggies full of vitamins and nutrients, but they’re also full of fiber, which means you’re going to aide your digestive system and keep yourself feeling fuller, longer.
While you’re at it, try experimenting with healthy recipes. It can renew your love of cooking. It’s easy to feel unmotivated in the kitchen when you get bored eating the same things. Make it a goal to try at least one new recipe per week. You can even make it a family event and have everyone take turns picking out something to try.
If you have gained a few pounds during quarantine, give yourself a little grace. It’s been a rough year. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do need to make your health and your mental health a priority. Move in a way that will nourish your soul and feed your body in a way that will achieve that same goal. What are some ways you’ve been staying healthy and active during the pandemic? I’d love to know what you’ve been brainstorming to stay happy and healthy!
Here are some of my favorite at-home workouts!: