7 Ways to Avoid the “Quarantine 15”

With the stay-in-home order still in effect, many of us struggle to find ways to incorporate physical activity into our daily lives. We’ve all heard of the Freshman 15, and now we have the Quarantine 15 lurking on the horizon. I’ve come up with several practices to keep those “Quarantine 15” pounds at bay, which I’ll tell you in a minute.

The proof of such a struggle can easily be found on social media. Jokes and memes dot our social media news feeds. They highlight the necessity of putting locks on kitchen cabinets or wearing a mask at home to avoid eating. Even though the jokes about how eating is a part-time job are entertaining, such tendencies need to be handled sooner rather than later. Because, the fact of the matter is, the weight gain that follows is no laughing matter.

When it comes to managing your weight, remember to meet yourself with compassion and grace. Also, remember that the conditions we’re living under right now are temporary.

#1 Go Back to the Basics

When it comes to managing your weight, the biggest piece of the pie (indulgent food reference intended!) is food…80% is diet, and 20% is food. I’ll share with you my coveted, secret recipe for a simple weight maintenance plan.

First, here is a quote from my book SOAR that talks about simplifying our approach to health:

“Like anything else in life worth having, maintaining your physical health takes commitment and consistency and a ton of hard work. The issue is that we have created a society that over-complicates this health stuff. We overthink it, and we want results fast. We jump from one diet trend to the next, picking up this exercise gadget or that weight-loss gizmo along the way. We have become inundated with options for weight loss programs and we barely even know where to start. People really just need to step away and go “back to the basics.” The awareness and application of just a few fundamentals is all that’s really necessary.”

This week’s blog is based on an article I wrote for Thrive Global. Here is an excerpt from it:

“We live in a society where instant gratification is the expectation. Every direction we turn, we are faced with things that fuel this mentality. It permeates every area of our lives, including communication, technology, food and service to name a few. Weight loss programs guarantee you’ll lose “x” pounds in “y” weeks or your money back.”

Alright, here’s my coveted, secret recipe that has worked quite well for me:

Go to the grocery store and hang out in the produce section. Toss in some proteins and healthy grains and good fats.

Full-body strength training and cardio a few times per week.

Note that this description is an extremely simplified explanation of the approach. Each area can and should be colored in with more detail and tailored to your specific needs, goals, and desires. In some cases, the guidance of a professional is warranted.

#2 Eat Mindfully

This technique to maintain your weight and help you avoid the quarantine 15, is vital to your success. It goes deeper than food portions and only eating when you’re truly hungry instead of when you’re ‘habit hungry.’

Eating mindfully requires you to make conscious choices. Plan your meals in advance. Grocery shop with intensionality. Focus on nutrition, not just satisfying your cravings. Eat at regular times during the day. Eat a well-balanced diet filled with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and other healthy sources of fats and proteins.

Here are some great questions to ask yourself to ensure you’re mindfully eating:

  • Am I really hungry?
  • Am I eating in response to my emotions?
  • Does this nourish my body?
  • Am I eating because of stress or depression?
  • Am I eating out of boredom?

It is in those moments when you ask yourself these questions, that your relationship with food begins to shift.

It’s not an easy process, so be kind and patient with yourself. If you’d like more information about how food affects your overall well-being, read my previous blog post called Did You Know That Food Affects Your Vibration? 

#3 Indulge Mindfully

When it comes to mindfully eating, it does not mean that you can’t indulge every once in a while. Food can bring us joy as well as nourish our bodies. Remember, that it’s okay to indulge in a snickers or cake and ice cream on someone’s birthday. That is, if you indulge mindfully.

In my book SOAR, I talk about how to incorporate “mindful indulgences” in your daily food regimen:

“The key is to keep a positive narrative around these indulgences. Life is meant to be enjoyed. We aren’t supposed to walk around with limitations 100 percent of the time and with a cloud of guilt hovering over us any time we have the slightest deviation from a healthy diet. I don’t like calling them “cheat” meals because that creates a negative association in my mind and suggests that I am doing something I am not supposed to be doing.”

“Instead, I reframe it by creating a positive narrative and call them “mindful indulgences.” I consciously choose what I will enjoy in advance within my 5-10 percent and find the best food that I can. For example, if I’m going to eat chocolate, I don’t pick it from the Halloween candy bowl. I seek out and find the best chocolate I can. I don’t feel guilty about it because I know that I have allotted some of my calories for this purpose.”

Ditch the black and white thinking, as the beauty of life is often found in the grey.

Enjoy indulging from time to time.

#4 Track Your Calories

It is times like these when we are home all day that we fall victim to “calorie creep.” Being close to your kitchen or pantry all day for weeks and then months, can quickly lead to weight gain even if we never meant for it to happen.

While I usually recommend “intuitive eating,” which is an approach to eating that relies on your inner wisdom to nourish your body and is a great long-term approach, consider tracking your calories during this quarantine period.

Here is another excerpt from my Thrive Global article:

“It’s easy to eat out of boredom, or as an emotional response to stress. A handful of this, and a handful of that, throughout the day, can stack up the calories pretty fast without us even realizing it…Counting your calories during the day will heighten your awareness of the quantities and types of food you eat, which will pave the way for intuitive eating after the quarantine has ended. There are several online calorie tracking tools and apps, so find one that feels right for you and give it a try.”

For more information about intuitive eating, reach out.

If you don’t want to use pen and paper to track your calories, then there are several apps you can try for free or pay for.

Find an app or tool that feels right for you and give it a try.

#5 Wear Your Street Clothes

Now that many of us work from home or have no need to go out in public, avoid lounging around in sweatpants, leggings, and baggy t-shirts. Don’t let them become your best friend during the quarantine.

Instead, wear your favorite pair of jeans or your regular, less-forgiving work clothes. Doing so will give you earlier feedback on any weight changes than those sweatpants or baggy t-shirts.

#6 Focus on Movement

Taking time out of your week for physical activity has always been important to your overall health, however, it’s more important than ever during this quarantine. In a period of time when your lifestyle is more sedentary than usual, you should make a conscious choice to get moving.

You can do anything you’d like…walking, running, biking, yoga, tennis, weightlifting…pick your favorite!. There are so many options available to you. If you’re looking for more ideas, do a search on YouTube. I’m sure you’ll find something you like.

Pick your favorite work out and have fun!

#7 Increase Lean Mass

Lean mass is so important when it comes to managing your weight. Why? It’s simple. The more lean mass you have, the more calories you burn. With gyms closed, making it so you don’t have access to their professional-grade equipment or trainers, it’s easy to fall out of the habit of increasing or maintaining your lean mass.

However, you can stay in the groove because there are other ways to accomplish strength training, such as body weight exercises, resistance bands, and even some household items can double as weights if used carefully.

Choose and start a workout that you enjoy.

It’s also important to maintain a holistic lifestyle through adequate hydration, sleep and stress management.

If you’d like more information about having a well-balanced life and managing your holistic practices, then check out my blog post 6 Ways to Nourish Your Mind, Body, and Spirit.

Focus on how you feel each day, not just your looks.

Remember, take the long-view. This too shall pass. Before you know it, there will be sunnier skies ahead and we can resume life as we knew it before this quarantine.