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Published on July 21, 2020

woman deciding between apple and donut

Quarantine Weight Gain: Tips to Lose Those Lockdown Pounds

If you’re like me, COVID-19 threw a wrench into my healthy lifestyle. My workspace was just a roll-out-of-bed away, my daily hour at the gym was quickly eliminated, and if the refrigerator and I weren’t buddies before, we were now intimate.

The whirlwind of change flared emotions and “what if” worries. I fell flat on my face; the scale went up and I found myself with quarantine weight gain.

According to Morgan Douthit, LiveNOW Well-Being Specialist, I wasn’t alone; others also added pounds during the COVID-19 quarantine, although most people maintained their weight and a few actually lost weight.

“People want to take control, particularly of things they cannot control,” said Douthit. “Some eat out of stress about losing control over a lot of things. Others, out of boredom and more ready access to food.”

But it doesn’t have to stay that way! Change begins when we acknowledge and focus on the things we can control: diet, exercise and mindset. Douthit offers the following tips:

  • Don’t give up. You CAN lose the weight!
  • Set small goals. The small wins add up to big results.
  • Mindset is key. A negative mindset will work against you. Stay positive.
  • Food matters…A LOT. Fruits and veggies are high in fiber to keep you feeling full.
  • You need to exercise. The hardest part about exercise is just getting up to do it!
  • Sustainability wins. To keep weight off long term, your lifestyle must be sustainable.

Your Mind Can Make You or Break You

“I can’t believe you gained weight!” you chastised the mirror. Understandably, you’re mad at yourself for “giving in” or “undoing your hard work” or “losing control.”

“Turn that negative energy and frustration into action and invest in the future,” said Douthit. “Ask yourself, ‘What is the next step in my health journey?’”

To get your mindset ready for change, observe which habits are detrimental to your waistline. Then, brainstorm a list of successful behaviors, including what to do when you’re tempted to backslide as well as when you do. Listen to success stories from a friend or find motivation on YouTube.

Enlist an accountability partner for exercise or when temptations strike. However, avoid comparing each other; this is about encouragement, not competition.

Your Weight-Loss Diet Plan

“Do NOT approach food with an all-or-nothing mindset,” said Douthit. “Long-term success means you can enjoy all foods, but mindfully.”

Remember, you WILL eat something you didn’t mean to — a third slice of pizza or a second donut. What you do next makes a difference: get back on your plan immediately.

Also, avoid eliminating whole food groups from your diet, unless directed by your primary care provider for a health condition.

Move, and Move Some More

Exercise is important for all people as it contributes to muscle tone, calorie burn and self-respect. Find exercise you enjoy and plan it into your day. Treat this part of the day like a meeting or an appointment; it’s non-negotiable to skip.

The hardest part about exercise is the three seconds it takes to decide to just do it and get up from your seat. Get creative with these home workouts with your family.

Sustainable Lifestyle

“Weight maintenance is not a destination, but a journey,” said Douthit. “You don’t want to lose weight, go back to old habits, and then gradually gain it all back.”

Your ideal life should include exercise you look forward to, and plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. The ideal life also includes rest days and indulgent meals or desserts.

Going forward, always make — and stick to — a plan. A little planning goes a long way, whether it’s packing your workout clothes for vacation, prepping healthy meals before the work week begins, or simply making a grocery list.

“Acknowledge where you are on this journey and accept yourself right there,” said Douthit. “Do not ruminate over the past, but learn from it. Draw a line and take the first step toward the future.”

Alyssa Waltman is a writer/editor with Avera Health

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