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The “Quarantine 15” or the “Covid 15” can be a tongue-in-cheek reference to concerns about gaining weight while in quarantine, but it’s a serious concern for a lot of people in terms of sports and nutrition. With gyms shuttered all over the country and most of us spending considerably more time inside than normal, packing on some extra pounds seems almost like a foregone conclusion. And you had just reached your perfect swimsuit weight.
It doesn’t have to happen, though. There are a number of things you can do to stay active and eat well while in quarantine or otherwise subject to lockdown orders so that you’re in as great shape after the lockdown measures have been lifted as you were before they began. Here are some of the top tips to keep that Quarantine 15 at bay.
It might be a lot easier to sleep in late, lounge around in pajamas and binge watch Netflix while you’re stuck at home, but maintaining a routine similar to the one you had before the coronavirus came along is important. Having some structure in your daily life, even if it’s much looser than it was before, can help considerably in keeping unwanted pounds off, especially if you maintain structure around what you eat.
If you’ve suddenly become a day-long snacker, you’re probably consuming a lot more calories than you need, and that can translate to pretty immediate weight gain. If previously you ate breakfast between 6:00 and 7:15, then didn’t eat anything again until lunch, it’s important to try to stick to those habits to keep caloric consumption down, and manage sports and nutrition effectively.
It makes sense to stock up on nonperishable foods, because then you can avoid additional, potentially harmful, trips to the grocery store. Make sure that this serves your interests in terms of sports and nutrition, however. Try to make sure you’re stocking up on healthy nonperishables, though. If possible, buy frozen meats and vegetables to cut down on sodium. Canned products often have much more sodium in them, so read labels carefully. Purchasing dried beans instead of canned gives you the control over how much sodium goes into them — and we all have plenty of time to soak beans these days.
It can be tempting to stock up on comfort foods, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks. Don’t fall into this trap. Most of the time if we’re given the choice between cooking a meal and opening a bag of chips, we’re going to go for the chips. You can find healthy swaps for comfort food all over the place, so invest some time and energy into those instead. You might find that you enjoy the healthier stuff even more.
A word on alcohol: this is a dangerous road to go down because it’s not only high-calorie, but it’s a depressant and can be addictive. Calories from alcohol are completely empty. Consuming a depressant can be a very poor choice indeed when you are already stressed out and more prone to experiencing symptoms of depression than usual, and that applies to many of us right now. Additionally, alcohol can very easily become a crutch that you have a hard time letting go of, and alcohol use disorder (formerly known as alcoholism) is a terrifying and insidious disease. If you do choose to drink, keep your drinking on the same schedule that it was before, and follow the guidelines for healthy alcohol consumption (1 drink for women per day, 2 for men, no more than 4-5 days per week) to ensure you don’t overdo it.
Remember all of those at-home exercise videos, routines and pro tips you pinned and bookmarked over the years? Now is the time to try them out! Working out at home can be as fun and invigorating as working out at the gym or participating in your favorite outside activities, and just as good for your sports and nutrition. Make sure that you set aside some time in your day, every day, for exercise. This can be a great time to try out some new routines and workouts, or you can stick to what you know you love and enjoy doing it in the comfort of your own home.
Some are choosing to continue to exercise outside, and so far, this seems to be okay in most places, as long as it is treated with an abundance of caution. Maintain social distancing at all times, give anyone who is exhibiting symptoms of being sick a very wide berth, and if you start to get concerned about people around you or feel that the area is getting too crowded, for goodness’ sake, head home. Take care of yourself, and that includes your mental health. If being outside is stressing you out, time to try another one of those workouts you’ve been wanting to try, in the comfort of your own home.
It can be easy to become stressed out, anxious, nervous, depressed and weary during this time. This is absolutely not abnormal in any way, but reframing can help you see things in a different light. If you’re worried about family members that you can’t go and see, consider that you are grateful that both you and they are safe and you will all see each other again soon.
If you are down about losing your job or being furloughed, remember that this wasn’t your fault, and consider the prospect of searching for a new job or what you’re going to do first when you get to return to your old one. This can be as much of an adventure as you want to make it, and maybe it’s time to try something entirely new. And please remember it isn’t your fault. This isn’t personal.
If you’re having a hard time working at home with your kids also homeschooling and needing a lot more of your attention than usual, try to work out a system with them so that they can function as independently as possible. And give a little thanks for being too busy. You probably prefer it to the alternative.
This doesn’t mean that you need to diminish your stresses or sorrows, but letting them overtake you isn’t healthy either. Reframing can help you see the bright side, even if only temporarily.
What are you doing to help keep the Quarantine 15 at bay? What kind of strategies have you found that work for you in terms of keeping up with your sports and nutrition?