The Quarantine 19
Spring has sprung, and while some of us are shedding layers of bulky winterwear, others of us may be looking to shed “The Quarantine 19.” Remember the freshman 15 -- those unaware, but who cares, extra pounds we were awarded after settling into our first semester of college and discovering 25-cent draft night? The expression, quarantine 19, has gained popularity to refer to weight gain during the covid-19 pandemic. One year later, even with restrictions gradually being lifted, the struggle continues to be real. The weight of it all…
Quarantines, closures, lockdowns, remote learning, and remote working obligated us to the confines of our homes; our daily routines interrupted or dismantled. Stress, related to the pandemic, showed up in our behaviors. Being confined to home, we were cooking more, exercising less, and snacking more. According to the American Psychological Association, 61% of adults reported undesirable weight changes during the COVID-19 pandemic; the average overall weight gain among adults was a whopping 29 pounds, and the average weight gain specifically for men was 37 pounds. Even if you were not a gym-junkie or exercise fanatic prior to COVID-19, unconsciously and unintentionally, you could, at the very least, count on burning calories merely from routine activities, at the workplace or outside the home. You know, the kind of exercise that is not considered traditional exercise. Low hanging fruit. What a bummer. Those were freebies.
So here we are and, well… baby got back! But don’t be too critical or hard on yourself. The shift to a more sedentary lifestyle, compounded with stress of an unprecedented and puzzling pandemic, it is understandable that we indulged in food for comfort; after all, we couldn’t get a hug from a friend, right? Take heart; you are not alone, and there is absolutely no value in feeling ashamed. The good news is there is common sense, basic strategies to get baby back on track.
Jeffrey Case, former Insanity Coach, former Beachbody Coach, and current mega coach at Journey Fitness in Horseheads says that of all the efforts to bounce back from COVID-19, it is the small victories that have the most impact to towards your goal. (For some reason, my mind takes me to the animated movie, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, and Kris Kringle is singing, “Put One Foot in Front of the Other.” But I digress. Kinda.) According to Coach Case, (re)-establishing routines is key; routines are something that an individual has control of. “Getting up at a specific time, making your bed, getting dressed and having breakfast seem like such small things, but it is something you can control, and establish as a routine,” Case explains. He continued, “Every day, we wake up, we have the opportunity to take care of ourselves.” Coach Case is firm in his belief that we set ourselves up for success when we establish routines, especially when we are looking to make healthy lifestyle changes. “If you want something different, you have to do something different,” he says. This might mean leaving our comfort and safe zones that were created during the pandemic. There is research that connects weight loss to behavioral patterns and personal discipline. Challenge yourself to start (yes, create a new one!) or re-start routines, be it a morning routine, evening and/or sleep routine, eating routine, exercise routine, or a relax and chill routine (is that chillaxing?).
Are you ready to move? Move your body, that is? Coach Case encourages us to “find something that gets you moving, even if it’s going up and down the stairs; just move!” Exercise is always in the equation for weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. As Case puts it, “Movement is medicine.” Any physical activity that you can fit into your day will be helpful in keeping your weight in check and boost your mood. So maybe you’re not a gym rat or an avid runner, put on some uplifting or funky music in the comfort of your home and dance like no one is watching (Elaine from Seinfeld just popped in my head; again, I digress), or commit to an hour a week with the grands and take them to the park, or volunteer/join a community clean-up group; just move! So maybe you are a gym rat or former gym rat, but you are not ready to return. An option for you may be virtual coaches and streaming exercise platforms like Peloton and Mirror, that offer gym workouts and classes at home, and are more popular than ever. YouTube also provides a variety of exercise options depending on your level of fitness. Probably the simplest and easiest form of exercise is walking. Walking is free and a great way to get moving and gradually increase your physical activity. A thirty-minute walk will kick-start your metabolism and help burn calories. You must start somewhere, and wherever you start, that is a great place because you simply started.
The most effective method to lose weight is a healthy diet and adequate exercise so let’s examine some healthy eating strategies. First, consider food journaling or logging. You’ll get a better picture of what you’re eating, how much you’re eating, and your caloric intake, among other things. You might be surprised with what you discover and be motivated to make some adjustments. It’s your accountability tool and it can be effective with proper use. Second, eat smaller meals and consume them frequently; include 3 healthy snacks per day as well. Coach Case advises eating more energy foods, especially protein, to provide needed fuel and avoid sluggishness at any given point of the day. Third, do more home cooking; you get to control preparation, portion, and price. Also, cooking involves movement! We love movement! Lastly, authorities always recommend cutting back on sugar and processed foods, increasing your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, and don’t forget your water! Consuming half your body weight of water in ounces is the goal each day.
It is clearly not the beginning of a new year, a time when goals and resolutions regarding health and weight loss are declared with temporary conviction, but it is Spring, the season of new beginnings, and the perfect time to reset with new-found purpose, drive, and initiative. Baby, bounce back!