It’s very easy to see how you might gain some extra pounds during the pandemic, especially if you are spending most of your time at home. Depending on the type of job you have, you may have started working from home. Even if you didn’t, due to social distancing, and everything being shut down, or operating within limited work hours, there is little to do away from home anyway.
So, what are people doing at home during these stressful times? Well, comfort food recipes have been trending on Google, so a lot of people are cooking, and particularly baking. Actually, there is so much baking going on, that many supermarkets keep running out of flour. Among other things, many people started drinking alcohol more than they usually do, too.
As days go by, you find yourself thinking that a chocolate-chip cookie sounds good, or a beer and pretzels. Then the same thing happens over and over again. You are content. Life is as good as it can be during a pandemic.
But, as sheltering-at-home restrictions ease up, you suddenly become concerned about your COVID curves and the Quarantine 15!
Although COVID-19 has created a perfect storm for people who struggle with weight gain, it’s still possible to fight and even win this battle!
How Has the COVID19 Pandemic Caused Weight Gain?
There still isn’t research that shows how the coronavirus has impacted our weight. But, we can see from various reports (such as WebMD) and social media (#quarantine15 hashtag trending) that a lot of people gained weight – often 10, 15, or even 30 pounds.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a surprise, and most researchers and doctors believe this sudden weight gain is due to stress-eating. Life, as we know it, has been severely disrupted. The entire world has been affected.
The Stress-Eating Cycle
Gym and parks are closed, forcing us to start exercising at home where many of us don’t have the proper exercising equipment, knowledge, and will to follow a regular training routine. Parents suddenly have to work at home while also teaching their children. A lot of people have had to postpone medical checkups and “elective” procedures.
All these factors severely increase our stress levels, and when we are worried or frightened, we’re more likely to crave foods that give us a quick energy boost (sugars, fats, and carbs). These comfort foods work as natural tranquilizers that calm us down and make us feel better.
When we are stressed, our bodies are also in the fight-or-flight mode, meaning it won’t give up any calories when it thinks it needs energy for running away or fighting. Simply put, stress slows down your metabolism and makes it difficult to lose weight. Couple that with comfort eating, and you are quickly trapped in a hard-to-break eating cycle that further adds to your stress levels. Quickly, it becomes a chicken-and-egg situation.
But it’s possible to break the cycle!
Breaking the Cycle
To break the stress-eating cycle, you need to focus on decreasing your stress in another way rather than reaching out for your favorite snacks and drinks. We recommend trying out light exercising, yoga, and meditation. Coupling a healthy activity with healthier, nutritional eating and a good night’s rest will give you proper energy to manage stressful and unpredictable times, such as the COVID19 pandemic.
Strategies for Shedding Pounds Your COVID Curves
Weight loss during the pandemic can be hard and challenging, but it’s definitely possible! The best way to start is to weigh yourself and set a small goal, such as losing 5 pounds at a rate of one or two pounds a week.
It’s recommended to weigh yourself once a week to track your progress. Calculating your body mass index (BMI) can also be helpful, and a motivation to adjust your diet and become more physically active.
Here are some practical tips to shed those COVID curves even with the changes and restrictions of the pandemic in mind.
Make a Weight Loss Plan
The first step toward healthy weight loss is always to come up with a plan. To lose weight successfully, you need to focus on all four pillars of health – diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management.
It’s vital to build routines around these four pillars of health. Unfortunately, the “sailing along and hoping for the best” approach won’t give you the desired results.
Create a Daily Routine
Building a routine doesn’t have to be hard. Start with the fundamentals, such as getting up in the morning, taking a shower, having a healthy breakfast, and having a plan for the rest of the day.
With everyone staying at home, many people lost their sense of time and started eating and sleeping irregularly. Building a routine will help you solve this issue, and having a purpose also gives direction, which is extremely helpful when it comes to weight loss.
Set a Daily Wake-Up Time and Bed Time
When you don’t get enough sleep, it’s easy to lean on a large latte to get moving. You might be tempted to skip exercise, order food online for dinner, and then go to bed late because you feel uncomfortably full.
Plus, when you are overtired, the reward centers in your brain are more active, looking for something that feels good – such as comfort foods. So, while you might be able to resist comfort food cravings when you are well-rested, that second slice of cake will seem like a great idea to your sleep-deprived brain.
Plan Your Meals Ahead
If you are working from home or staying at home more than usual, you should try planning your meals ahead. It’s also a good idea to renew your interest in cooking and learning more about preparing healthier food.
It’s essential to eat foods that you like. That way, you will enjoy the fullness from a taste, as opposed to only the quantity of food. If you are very busy during the week, it might help cooking a week’s worth of meals, or at least some parts of those meals, on the weekend.
If you want to lose weight, it’s crucial to think about how you are eating. Instead of eating less, eat smarter, and opt for healthier ingredients. Eating proteins first will make you feel fuller, while carbohydrates can lead to swings in your blood sugar and leave you feeling unsatisfied and out of control over your hunger.
Forget about eating while standing, driving, or watching TV. Mealtime must become a singular activity that allows you to engage in it fully. When eating, sit down, and don’t rush. Chew the food properly and appreciate every bite. This helps your mind relax while also aids digestion and gives your stomach enough time to send a signal to your brain when it’s full.
Also, control your portions by using a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. Always drink a glass of water before you eat, and eat slowly. When you are at home, it’s super easy to drink right from the bottle, eat from take out containers, and snack from bags. But, if you are not careful, and don’t measure food, you will automatically eat more, which will lead to unwanted weight gain, sooner or later.
Shop carefully, and always with a full stomach. When you are hungry or stressed, everything seems tasty and like a good idea. If you are prone to snacking or drinking soft drinks, don’t buy them! Purge your fridge of unhealthy foods that tempt you, and surround yourself with healthy and nutritional foods, so you literally don’t have another choice!
Schedule Regular Exercise
It’s imperative to find a form of physical activity that makes you feel good. You don’t have to go to the gym or group exercise classes if that’s not your thing. Try other forms of activity such as walking, hiking, biking, light jogging, lifting weights, or an online workout class.
It’s a good idea to set a goal, like exercising one hour 3 times a week, but if you don’t follow up with your plan immediately, don’t feel down! Working out 30 minutes a day or even just going outside for 10 minutes on your deck or front yard is better than nothing, and gives you a diversion from food.
Exercise is important not only for weight loss but also for your mood, stimulating your metabolism, stretching your muscles, and alleviating joint pain.
Adjust Your Workspace
If you are working from home, you may be tempted to snack more than usual. Make sure you get food out of your home office and set a simple schedule for yourself like you can’t open the fridge before 9 am. Try to give yourself structure as you would have in a typical workday.
Decide How to Manage Stress
To manage stress effectively, do something that makes you feel good, while it is also healthy for your body and mind. If you are a man or a woman of faith, setting a regular prayer time at home can help decrease stress. Meditation, yoga, and mindfulness practices can also be helpful.
Simple things, such as taking a bath or reading a book, can also significantly reduce stress and make you feel better.
Change the Narrative
Instead of overthinking the Quarantine 15, change your mindset! Look at this as an opportunity to regain control over your eating habits and losing weight. How you treat yourself and talk to yourself inside matters!
In these uncertain times, blaming or criticizing yourself when you are already feeling bad won’t bring you any good. Instead, give yourself pep talks, show self-compassion, and confidence. Love yourself!
A positive attitude will motivate you and make the entire weight gain struggle much easier.