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Did You Gain the Quarantine 15? Here’s How to Tackle Pandemic Weight Loss

written by Skye Sherman - Jun 1, 2020
medically reviewed by Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Apr 10, 2022

Photo Credit: Quarantine 15 exercise, by Skye Sherman
Photo Credit: Quarantine 15 exercise, by Skye Sherman

By now it’s clear that we’re living in a whole new world. But have you found yourself living in a whole new body, too? One that isn’t quite as fit, toned, and slim as you’d prefer? If so, you’re not alone. People around the world have noticed some significant weight gain during the pandemic and the resulting lockdown, stay-home orders, and quarantine lifestyle. They’ve made this phenomenon famous with the nickname “Quarantine 15.”

If you’ve gained the Quarantine 15, you’re in good company, but that doesn’t mean you should remain stagnant. Carrying around excess weight is linked to fatigue, stress, depression, anxiety, and a whole host of health risks and complications. In short: clocking in over your healthy body weight range isn’t going to make you feel very good, and may even be dangerous to your health.

After the Quarantine 15 trend, the next fad is sure to be pandemic weight loss. As people realize that this “new normal” may not be going away anytime soon, they’ll need to find new ways to stay fit, eat right, and maintain a healthy body weight.

Wondering how to tackle pandemic weight loss now that you’ve gained the Quarantine 15? Read on as we discuss how to work out without going to the gym, healthy recipes you can make at home, and finding your new normal.

About the Quarantine 15

Wondering why the Quarantine 15 is happening, not only to you but to people around the world?

According to Psychology Today, the explanation is pretty simple. “When we’re worried or frightened, we’re more likely to seek out sugars, fats, and carbs for a quick energy boost. These comfort foods act like a natural tranquilizer that calms us down in times of peril.”

However, eating these foods isn’t a viable long-term solution, the article continues. “What feels like a satisfying solution in the short term grows into a bigger problem in the long run. Comfort eating traps us in a hard-to-break eating cycle that adds to stress levels, resulting in serious health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, as well as emotional problems, such as depression and anxiety.”

That’s why even though you may have gained the Quarantine 15, it shouldn’t be here to stay.

How to work out without going to the gym

Right now, one of the biggest obstacles to remaining at a healthy weight or even beginning a weight loss journey seems to be the fact that people were shaken out of their routines. Many people love going to the gym; it’s an important part of their fitness regimen. When gyms closed and citizens were encouraged to remain at home, many people weren’t sure how to approach or begin a new fitness routine.

Luckily, the fitness world was forced to respond, too. Nowadays, there are a lot of home workout options. Your local gym may even be offering live classes online. If not, there are a lot of YouTube workouts and trainers offering tips on Instagram Live. If you really want to invest in home workouts for the long run, consider equipment like a Peloton bike, Mirror home gym, Tonal set, or just simple gear like a set of weights, bands, a mat, and a fitness ball.

Of course, there’s also a lot of fun exercise you can do outside. Bike, run, swim, play tennis, roller blade, shoot hoops, or just invite a friend for a long walk around your neighborhood. All you really need to get a good workout in is a comfortable, supportive pair of sneakers. Head outside and see what inspires you.

Still, there are some people who may need to look into weight loss medications to achieve their desired weight. If you think you are a candidate for a prescription weight loss drug, talk to your doctor about your questions and concerns. Keep in mind that a prescription is required for drugs like Contrave and Xenical.

Healthy make-at-home recipes to stay fit

Some people, including celebrities like Adele, are emerging from the pandemic more fit than ever. How are they doing it?

Adele is rumored to have benefited from the “sirtfood diet,” which involves eating inflammation-reducing foods that boost a protein called sirtuin. The sirtfood diet emphasizes foods like blueberries, strawberries, green tea, onions, celery, parsley, arugula, kale, walnuts, buckwheat, and citrus fruits.

“There’s some research that sirtuin-boosting foods can help mediate the metabolism and could have benefits for extending your life, though there’s not yet enough data to fully understand how that might work,” states an article in Insider. “Proponents of sirtfoods have also cited the fact that many of them (such as wine and leafy greens) are common in so-called Blue Zones, areas of the world where people tend to live the longest.”

At the end of the day, weight loss relies on two major factors: diet and exercise. Whether you opt to try the sirtfood diet or just cut down on sweets, there’s never been a better time to try something new, like a paleo diet or even keto. After all, there’s much less of a temptation to break your stride by eating out! With many working from home and restaurants operating at a much lower capacity, you have a lot more control than usual over what you eat and when you eat it. Opt for healthy food choices and keep your portion sizes reasonable, sticking to a healthy calorie count range for your body type.

If you want something more sustainable for your life than a temporary diet, a good rule of thumb is to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your daily diet. Cut back on starchy foods and anything that is fried, smothered, or heavily breaded. Load half your plate with leafy greens and vegetables, and then the other half can be lean protein, fruits, whole grains, or healthy fats, like an avocado.

Photo Credit: Quarantine 15 diet, by Skye Sherman
Photo Credit: Quarantine 15 diet, by Skye Sherman

Here are some simple recipes you can make at home for breakfast, snack, lunch, or dinner:

● Plain oatmeal with berries and a drizzle of honey

● Chicken caprese with tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinegar, and a slice of mozzarella cheese

● Broccoli seasoned with salt and pepper

● Apple slices with a tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter

● Plain yogurt with berries and a drizzle of honey

● Brussels sprouts roasted with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic

● Shrimp sauteed with garlic, lemon juice, onion, and tomatoes

● Salad loaded with your favorite toppings--eggs, berries, nuts--served as a meal or a side

● Roasted, chopped sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of cinnamon

● Bento box lunch with a colorful assortment of your favorite healthy foods

● Filet of fresh fish, seasoned and baked with lemon and an array of veggies

Quarantined or not, finding a permanent “diet” consisting of healthy, nutritious foods that bring you joy and nourishment, plus a routine that keeps you physically active, is vital to maintaining a long and healthy life. You should also eat mindfully and minimize your alcohol intake.

Find your new normal

It can be hard to find a “new normal” when it comes to your health and fitness routine. Gaining some weight, feeling sluggish, and struggling to get motivated to exercise while the world experiences an unprecedented crisis is totally understandable.

However, at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that your physical health plays a major role in how you feel generally -- not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, too. What you eat really does affect your mental well being, especially since many of your feel good neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine are made from healthy fruits and vegetables that contain the amino acid building blocks that help make these substances.

With gyms, parks, outdoor recreation, and grocery stores under new and different protocols, finding new ways to stay fit might be a struggle. However, it’s essential that you find ways to fall in love with eating right and staying active, even if they’re different from your typical methods.



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