How to Lose the “Quarantine 15”

The world is a topsy-turvy place right now. COVID-19 has changed a lot about the way we live our lives. Many of those changes have led to something known as the “Quarantine 15.”

Like the Freshman 15, the Quarantine 15 is weight gain brought on by a sudden life change. In this case, it’s the way we’re all sheltering safely at home.

And while it’s good to follow the stay-at-home orders and social distancing recommendations—they can even be life-saving—it’s leading to weight gain for many people. Luckily, there are several simple ways that we can all adjust our habits and lose the Quarantine 15.

Focus on Water

Sheltering at home—or staying in quarantine—is far from a party. But that doesn’t mean some people aren’t trying to stay festive. Small at-home parties among family members were common in the early days of the virus, and in some places, they continue to be the norm.

There’s nothing wrong with lifting the spirits of the people you’re sheltering with, but it might contribute to your Quarantine 15 weight gain.

Sugary drinks—whether they’re fruit juice, soda, or cocktails—all add calories to your daily menu. When you drink them on a regular basis, you end up taking in more calories than you can burn.

Even straight alcoholic drinks contain sugar. Everything from whiskey to beer to vodka has its own sugar content. So, be sure you know what you’re drinking before you open the bottle.

If you’re looking to lose weight, then you’re better off with water. Proper hydration also helps reduce stress, which is something we could all use right now. So the next time you’re thirsty, consider a glass of water before anything else. 

Check Your Menu

Sugary drinks aren’t the only comfort food people are reaching for right now. It’s impossible to go online right now without running into a joke about unhealthy snacking habits while we’re in quarantine.

And while those jokes are relatable—and often funny—there’s a little too much truth to them. So much so that outlets like Forbes and MSN are running stories about unhealthy quarantine habits.

Snacking itself isn’t always a bad thing. It’s what you snack on that might be the problem.

You might have heard the phrase ‘not all calories are created equal.’ This means that the calories you get from a cup of potato chips won’t do the same thing to your body that the calories from a cup of mixed vegetables will.

Sticking with the chips versus vegetables example, a cup of potato chips has no nutritional value. It is also high in starchy carbs and unhealthy fats. Mixed vegetables, on the other hand—even those with butter and spices—are packed with fiber and nutrients that your body needs.

This is an important difference to keep in mind when you’re battling the Quarantine 15. There’s a good chance you can stop (and even reverse) some of your weight gain simply by changing some of what you eat

Ease Into Workouts

Few people like to exercise. Many of us still managed to work it into our schedules though. Some went running with friends, some took dance classes, and some went to the gym. However, none of these are really possible at the moment.

There are, thankfully, ways that you can exercise during quarantine. In some places, it is safe to go outside if you maintain a six-foot distance from other people and wear a face mask to reduce your risk of possibly spreading the virus.

If you’re not in a position to go for a nature walk or run, you might have better luck with at-home workouts. YouTube is a great source if you want to find new exercises. Everything from ballet lessons to yoga to boxing drills can be found on the site.

Right now is a great time to try something new. You’re at home where nobody can see you, so you don’t have to worry about being embarrassed. And as long as you take it easy until you have the techniques right, you’re going to get a decent workout with little risk.

Get Your Rest

An important thing to remember right now is that the world is not on vacation. Although this pandemic has most of us staying at home, it also has us all under a high level of stress.

Stress causes your cortisol levels to rise. This, in turn, makes it easier to gain weight and harder to lose it. So if you want to beat the Quarantine 15, you need to reduce your stress level.

There are a lot of ways you can try to reduce your cortisol level. One of the easiest is to get enough sleep.

And it’s important to note that right now, you might need more sleep than usual. High levels of stress sap your body of its energy. This means that you might need to sleep more often, especially if the quarantine has caused additional strain on your finances or living situation.

The Takeaway

A lot of us have heard the phrase “no pain, no gain.” It meant that the only way to our goals was to suffer. But that isn’t the truth when it comes to losing the Quarantine 15!

Will you need to make some changes to your lifestyle? Yes. But it shouldn’t be painful. And it’s probably one of the most helpful things you can do for yourself.

At its core, all of the advice to combat the Quarantine 15 is about being kind to yourself. Make sure you get enough water and enough rest. Take the time to plan healthy meals and healthy snacks so you avoid the junk food temptations. And, yes, get in some exercise.


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