Anecdotally, we are definitely seeing weight gain. You can put on 30 pounds really quickly—you can do it in three months. ~ Dr. John Morton, Yale New Haven Health System (1)
For many, the Quarantine 15 is very real. COVID-19 has created the perfect storm for weight gain. Staying home, most people are sitting more/moving less, eating comfort foods and feeling anxious over the deadly pandemic. According to a recent Web MD poll, 47% of women and 22% of men have reported weight gain since March. (2)
The Quarantine Diet: More Sugar, Carbs, Alcohol
Among the WebMD readers, 70% cited “stress eating” as a main cause of their weight gain. (2) Why do we crave pizza, chocolate and wine during the quarantine? Dr. Bryan Robinson of The Right Mindset explains, “Our comfort foods can act like a “natural tranquilizer” that calms us down in times of peril. But what feels like a satisfying solution on the immediate grows into a bigger metabolic problem in the long run. Comfort eating traps us in a stress-eating cycle that actually adds to our stress level.” (3)
When our nutrition is in the gutter, chronically elevated levels of cortisol keep our internal alarm systems on around the clock. Our bodies were not designed for chronic stress nor to use food for comfort.
The Quarantine Workout: Clicking a Keyboard, Teaching Kids, Feeding the Family
Under the best of circumstances, Americans don’t get enough movement. Only about 25% of Americans get the recommended amount of weekly exercise (150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of cardio plus two sessions of strength training). A recent study found that Americans are exercising less than usual during the pandemic and sitting and looking at screens more. (4) Compounding that, the study found that those who scaled back on exercise during the pandemic have also reported poorer mental health than those who maintained regular exercise.
Change the narrative: From Weight Gain to Getting Healthy
Instead of ruminating over the Quarantine 15, look at this time as an opportunity to get healthy and lose weight. This is a huge opportunity for change. Rise to the occasion so you can live a long and healthy life.
Organize your Days: Plan your Food and Schedule your Workout
Schedule in your exercise, including work breaks
Take Care of your Mind: Make Stress Reduction a Priority
Calming our thinking mind—the part that perseverates on past and future thoughts that we cannot control—is key to reducing stress. Consider some form of meditation.
Get some help. These are trying times. Check your health insurance and EAPs—many are offering free online therapy sessions.