by Zoey Angelucci
Life has been absolutely turned upside down for almost a year now because of the coronavirus quarantine. Masks are mandatory; social distancing is a staple. No one imagined we would ever have to live like this. Every aspect of life has been largely affected, including exercise and healthy living.
In the past almost year, gyms have been closed, reopened with stipulations, reclosed and then reopened yet again. The burning question has been “Are you safe in a gym?” To combat that people have done their best to exercise at home and eat as cleanly as they can. However, the “Quarantine 15” is still a prevalent inevitable in today’s changing world. Here are a few ways to try to avoid the unnecessary extra 15 pounds:
- Eat well-balanced, filling meals
When you’re stuck at home, unhealthy foods and snacks are constantly at arm’s reach. Couch potatoes have become a new reality for even more of the population than before the pandemic. To avoid this, filling your body with well-balanced meals makes unnecessary snacking a thing of the past.
Verywellfit.com, a health and fitness site based on nutrition and fitness, suggests developing a meal plan for the week. The parent site, with a handful of affiliate sites, explains how easy and stress-free meal planning can be for a person. “Planning a daily menu isn’t difficult as long as each meal and snack has some protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and a little bit of fat,” said Shereen Lehman, M.S., an expert nutritionist and healthcare journalist for Verywellfit.com, affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic.
Lehman lays out a week’s worth of ideas for meal prepping and planning. Each meal is well-balanced and easy to make. One day for lunch she suggests a cup of low sodium chicken noodle soup and an apple. A meal like this is easy to prep and eat with limited time, while also incorporating balanced food groups. This makes an easy diet attainable for anyone in the middle of the pandemic. And it allows you to feel some type of control during the current while also becoming healthy.
- Be as active as possible
With the inconsistency and constant concern of attending gyms, being active can be hard for most, especially those who don’t have access to gyms or workout rooms at home. This has been an issue for many in quarantine. How can you be active, for instance, when trapped in a two-bedroom apartment?
Nonetheless, being active helps keep off extra weight. Small, at-home workouts have become a norm, and Healthline.com, a health and wellness site, provides ideas for short at-home workouts. Not only will this help you stay healthy but also being active can help your mental health immensely. Sitting on your couch, staring at screens all day will quickly shatter anyone’s psyche.
“A simple 20-minute workout a day can make a world of difference,” said Madi Shick, a registered yoga instructor at the downtown Pittsburgh gym, Altus. “At-home workouts are good for the mind, body and soul. This is my very top suggestion for anyone during this pandemic.”
Shick suggests carving out at least 20 minutes a day to do some type of workout. Workouts should include four five-minute intervals. The first should deal with abs. The second and third should involve arms and legs with exercises like glute bridges, squats and pushups. The final interval should focus on stretching.
- Stay hydrated!
Drink water! Water is your friend. Drinking water is directly related to gaining or losing weight, and it ultimately helps your body run. Water may not help you lose weight, but it helps in a plethora of other ways. Medical News Today, a healthcare information section of Healthline Media UK, lists 15 beneficial reasons for drinking water. Water, for one, is a great substitute for drinking other sugar-filled drinks.
“Some evidence suggests that increasing water intake can promote weight loss by slightly increasing your metabolism, which can increase the number of calories you burn on a daily basis,” writes Joe Leech, M.S., of Healthline.com’s nutritional team. Leech suggests a person should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
Drinking water also helps with mental health and stabilizing moods. It is no secret that mental health is detrimentally affected by this pandemic.
In terms of being in the pandemic, anyone can drink water at home. By upping water intake and exchanging sugary drinks for water, individuals can reap more benefits in terms of health and wellness.
- Find a friend
Working out and being healthy is a lot easier when you have a friend by your side. This way someone can hold you accountable for all you do. You can also lean on one another when focusing on being healthy becomes tricky or difficult. Making meal plans together or doing the same workout can be super beneficial in times like this.
Keeping the pandemic in mind, make sure you are following social distancing and masking guidelines when doing things together. It’s not hard to share recipes virtually or do remote workouts in the comfort of your own individual homes.
Brianna Steinhilber of NBC News Diet and Fitness, wrote, “research shows that the healthy actions of others rub off on us.” By sticking with a partner working toward a healthy goal becomes easier.
Another article from the CDC gives different reasons as to why working out with a friend help people’s health. While this was written a year before the pandemic began, these same benefits can still be reaped as long as proper precautions are taken.
Plus, in today’s pandemic, it is always nice to have a friend to help you along.
- The importance of moderation
In terms of watching your weight, moderation is your best friend. Everything is OK in moderation. It is nearly impossible to completely cut out sweets or junk food or any specific food group from your diet, especially when stuck at-home with a pantry readily available. Balancing intake allows you to enjoy the not-so-healthy foods you like without as much guilt.
Planet Fitness, a national gym, explains the purpose of eating in moderation on its website. Moderation is unique to each person, allowing you to enjoy the foods you love with balance. The most important thing to remember in terms of dieting in moderation is that portions vary from person to person.
“Eating in moderation can include anything from scaling back portion size, pushing away your plate when feeling full, limiting sweets, adding more nutritional variety to your meals, calculating caloric intake, or any combination of these options,” writes Autumn Jones, writing for Planet Fitness.
Now considering the pandemic and the abundance of free time most people are currently facing, moderation may not be the easiest thing. The key is to stick with it and be kind to your body as much as possible.