How to Kickstart Healthy Habits and Combat Quarantine 15 Along the Way

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, your favorite weekend hotspot is closed until further notice, your travel plans are canceled, and the only thing you have to look forward to is going to the grocery store. But as places begin to slowly reopen, so do your opportunities to throw on some real clothes. Except when you put on your favorite jeans for the first time in months, you notice it’s a struggle to even get them on. Welcome to “Quarantine 15,” a common result of our extended time at home.

Pandemic-related factors, like stress and anxiety, change in routine, and lack of physical activity and structure, can all contribute to this increase in weight gain. Not to mention our close proximity to food and snacks, and double-booked happy hours over Zoom. While some places have begun to reopen, it’s become more apparent that returning to our normal lives is further away than what we once thought. But the good news? There’s never been a more perfect time to kick start healthier habits than now. Read on to find out how you can take advantage of the new normal to combat Quarantine 15 and stay healthy.

Nurture Your Nutrition

A huge perk to staying at home has been the short walk to the kitchen. However, there comes a point where unlimited snacks need to be limited. Whether you’ve been looking to comfort food or using the spare time to prepare for your Master Chef audition, nurturing your nutrition can make a big difference — and there are two simple ways to do this.

Practice Mindful Eating

If you’re entirely new to giving care to your diet then try mindful eating, a practice of eating more slowly, stopping when full, or eating at designated times to regulate your hunger cues.

Track Your Macros

If you already hold some knowledge when it comes to nutrition, perhaps purchasing a food scale and tracking your macros (protein, carbs, and fat) with apps like MyFitnessPal or Lifesum can be beneficial. By tracking your macros, you can monitor the nutrients going into your body and tweak your food intake to achieve your weight-loss goals.

Though fitness is an important factor, it’s really all about what you put into your body. If you’re wondering why you’re not seeing results with a great fitness regimen but a poor diet, understand that 80 percent of your calories need to be cut by diet while 20 percent should be burned through exercise. Once you begin to support your healthy diet with regular exercise, you’ll start seeing a difference.

Acknowledge Your Activity

The big secret to weight loss is simple. It all comes down to a calorie deficit, meaning that your output should be more than your caloric input.

  • Less activity + more consumption = weight gain
  • Same activity + same consumption = maintenance
  • More activity + less consumption = weight loss

More factors go into the equation, such as your resting metabolic rate, consistency, and type of exercise, but to you’ll first need to acknowledge your activity level to know what to do more or less of. 

Manage Your Stress

Stress is unavoidable, especially during these unprecedented times. On top of dealing with the current state of the world, many are finding themselves working even longer hours, as it’s been difficult to establish boundaries while working from home. Stress can have negative consequences on both your physical and mental health, and is known to contribute to weight gain. Activities such as meditation and exercise, and creating structure can help you from feeling overwhelmed and effectively manage your stress.

  • Meditation is an accessible practice that can yield many emotional benefits. You may gain a new perspective, which in turn, can help you navigate your stress in a productive way. Meditating before bed is a great way to quiet your thoughts and wind down.
  • Working out reduces cortisol (stress hormones) levels and stimulates endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Being able to feel good and look good is a total win-win. 
  • Creating structure can provide a feeling of safety during these uncertain times. Even without a work schedule to dictate how your day is spent, establishing a routine for yourself (and sticking with it) can help you feel in control. Plus, following a schedule now will allow for an easier transition back to real life later.

Prioritizing your physical, mental, and emotional health has never been more important, so take this opportunity to set yourself up for long-term success. Now that we have more time on our hands, there really are no more excuses.

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