How to avoid the “Quarantine 15”
The costs of the COVID-19 pandemic can be measured in death, misery, and economic havoc. Even the fortunate individuals who can work from home risk a serious detriment to their wellness: the “Quarantine 15”. For the more than 70% of Americans who already are overweight or obese, fifteen added pounds would further boost their Body Mass Index (BMI) concerns.
Where extra pounds come from
Adding one medium banana, or 4 ounces of wine, or 9 potato chips to daily caloric intake adds almost a pound per month. So does fifteen fewer minutes of casual walking, indoors or outdoors. There’s no more rushing across the parking lot or to the next meeting. Other contributing factors happen before and after work. Gyms and recreational facilities have closed. Exercise is no longer a daily routine and now seems less convenient.
As the new normal leads us away from wellness best practices, stress propels us toward comfort food. As our mind replays recent headlines, we experience higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. That leads to food cravings, then to slowly accumulating weight gain.
How they can be avoided
While the work-at-home lifestyle brings concerns, it also allows behaviors to not only avoid the 15 extra pounds but also create better long-term wellness habits.
Get creative with your routine
What if you no longer had to get up at Dark:30, rush to the gym, merge into commuter traffic, power lunch, happy hour? What would you want to do with that time?
Find fitness in ways that are not routine
Maybe you never took a pushup break while at work — that’s understandable! Maybe a cleaning crew took care of the vacuuming and wiping down breakroom counters. Now, at your new workplace, those can be your wellness activities.
Refuel to suit your taste
As you plan lunch or dinner, your pantry is like a restaurant menu: what it has is what’s available to eat. As the executive chef of this restaurant, you choose the menu every time you grocery shop. Give yourself healthier menu selections by avoiding last-minute decisions. Your strategic choices can fill a pantry with tasty foods that also meet nutritional needs.
Bring home the best
People who eat at least 5 home-cooked meals per week are 28% less likely to have excess weight than those who dine at home fewer than 3 times per week. Dining at home, you can avoid the preservatives, emulsifiers, and creative chemistry that restaurants may serve up to you.
Your strategic shopping choices can benefit the millions of microbes that house 70% of your immune system. With the perhaps-unfortunate exclusion of brewed and distilled beverages, most fermented foods are probiotic. Enjoy some yogurt, but watch out for the sugar! Chill down a bottle of kefir or kombucha. Pile on the sauerkraut or pickles.