May 13, 2020

We’ve all heard of the “Freshman 15” college freshman gain by eating more junk food, not exercising, and eating late at night. But the Quarantine 15? Yes, it’s a thing! And it only takes a few months, not an entire school year!

Face it, most of us are home more. If your business has transitioned to home, you may be on more online meetings which means more sitting. No walking to other floors in your building or down long hallways. No walking to a local cafe for lunch. No packing that salad and yogurt to quickly eat when you can squeeze it in during the busy day. You’re home, the kids are asking for pancakes for the 4th time this week, and you’re living in sweatpants, because why not? You’re also having Netflix binges, likely eating later than normal, and your sleep schedule is … what schedule? This is not a good combo, we know this.

So what can we do to avoid weight gain during these times? These 14 ideas may help.

1. Use a timer. Set your phone to ring hourly, to remind yourself to get up and walk, climb the stairs, do jumping jacks, or quickly run in place. This is particularly relevant to anyone who’s working on their computer all day.

2. Plan a daily walk. Whether you are alone, walking the dog, or hiking with the family, getting fresh air and exercise is not just good for your physical health, but your mental health as well. Even if just around your neighborhood, while distancing, try to take two 20 minute walks a day or one longer walk.

3. Hop on YouTube daily. There are thousands of exercise videos, all FREE! You can try a new instructor daily. Shake it up between cardio, pilates, yoga, and weight-bearing exercises. The key is to do it at least 4 days a week. When the kids are home, it can be hard to sneak it in but doing so is so important. Wake up a little earlier, or ask your spouse for more help if you can, so you can get in a 20-30 minute work out.

4. Change your clothes. We all love our sweatpants and yoga pants, don’t we? Big sweatpants make us feel thinner. Don’t fall into the daily sweatpants routine if you have any intent to ever get back in office clothes or your skinny jeans. I’ve been putting on my jeans 3 days a week to make sure they fit. If you are running to the store, that’s a good time to get dressed and make sure you still can button those buttons.

5. Don’t snack mindlessly. This is so easy to do when we’re home all day. A handful here, a bite there, split a bag of chips, another handful of something later, and we can be at an extra 200-400 calories a day! Also set a cut-off time for food, so you’re not eating too late at night or too close to bedtime.

6. Bake together. It’s easy to shop for more junk with the kids home. Chips, ice cream and more chips. Then we end up eating it along with them. Instead, buy ingredients and bake together. When you bake, you can choose healthier ingredients (think banana bread, homemade oatmeal cookies, or apple crisp where you control the amount of sugar in the recipes and they have better ingredients). Then enjoy baked treats together a few days a week, not every day.

7. Get gardening. For most of us, spring gardening time is in full swing. A day in the garden, digging, weeding, raking, etc is a great way to get active. Activity can’t be underestimated. It may not be called “exercise” but it is a form of exercise and staying active can keep the pounds off and your muscles in shape!

8. Count calories. Use an app that counts calories so you can make sure you are staying in the desired range, where you know you don’t gain weight. As you plug in foods, it tallies and you’ll see how much you are truly eating.

9. Stop getting deliveries or take-out. Eat more homemade meals than take out food. We all know restaurant meals are calorie heavy. Limiting take out or delivery to once or twice a week can help lower that intake.

10. Get dancing. Have kids that love to dance? Have those great family dance-alongs! It not only keeps you all moving, but it also creates some very fun memories during these stressful times.

11. Stay busy. Often we eat when we are bored. So having a full jam-packed day—whether it’s cleaning the garage, doing puzzles, work, or playing with the kids—keeps your mind off food.

12. Drink water! All day. Research shows when we are thirsty we often think we are hungry and reach for food. Keep the water bottle filled, sip on tea or fruit-flavored water, and you’ll satisfy your craving for eating a little bit.

13. Brush your teeth! When you find yourself wanting to snack, try brushing your teeth with strong mint toothpaste. You can also chew mint gum or suck on mint candies. Once that taste is in your mouth, you most likely don’t want another snack because it will taste off.

14. Invest in gym equipment. Get online and shop. Buy the treadmill, some weights, or the popular Peloton! Create a home gym that will make you want to go to and exercise.

Stay well, stay active, and stay healthy. What other things are you doing to combat gaining the Quarantine 15?