It might make for a quirky hashtag, but the #Quarantine15 itself might not be that fun.
The Quarantine 15 — similar to the Freshman 15 — is what people are calling the 15 or so pounds they’ve gained during the coronavirus quarantine. For some people, gaining 10 or 15 pounds isn’t that huge of a deal, or that difficult to shed, but we need to address the reason for gaining weight, what it could mean for your current state of health, and how to get back on track.
1. Stress Eating Didn’t Reduce Your Stress.
…at least, not for long.
People tend to stress eat because they’re stressed (shocker) and people get stressed because they’re dealing with situations that cause them anxiety and depression.
So, the simple way to look at it is: You can stop stress eating by actually dealing with what’s causing you stress, anxiety, and depression. This can mean different things for different people. Maybe you’ll benefit from simple stress-reducing activities like exercise, meditation, or self-care moments like a hot bubble bath or giving yourself a mani/pedi. Or, maybe it’s time to take advantage of your doctor’s telehealth services — or, if you don’t have a doctor and aren’t comfortable getting out in public just yet, maybe it’s time to look into the many online counseling services available today. Psych Central’s John M. Grohol, Psy.D. provides a review of several online therapy services.
2. Extra Food Probably Wasn’t the Only Culprit.
For many, stress eating wasn’t the only thing that contributed to quarantine-related weight gain.
First, quarantining led a lot of us down the path of least resistance when it came to exercising. I know, I know — there seemed to be a major boom in working out at home. Personally, I couldn’t get on Instagram without seeing at least five stories about someone’s at-home workout that day. Yet, people do lose motivation, or can’t workout at home while also working at home and taking care of kids at home, or…well, you get the idea.
Second, the extra calories weren’t just from extra food — for some people, they were from extra alcohol. I mean, I’d be willing to bet that during the first half of quarantine, getting drunk and making TikTok videos was just as popular as bingeing Tiger King. People found it an entertaining way to pass the time, but really all that drinking was a means of coping with stress, confusion, fear, and plain ol’ boredom. Just as people stress eat, they stress drink, and then you’ve got all those extra and empty calories.
Tack on the fact that drinking can seriously mess with your sleep — making you too tired to exercise or care about eating healthy foods the next day — and just blah.
3. The Extra Weight Could Be Dangerous.
Healthy weight ranges vary based on all sorts of things (think height to weight ratio, activity levels and muscle mass, age, etc.) and often they offer some wiggle room.
For example, I’m five feet, seven inches tall and according to the CDC my healthy weight range is from 118 to 159 pounds. Granted, that doesn’t take into consideration anything but my height, but that’s a pretty wide range. Let’s say I weigh 118 pounds; then probably I could afford to gain an extra 10 or 15 and still be healthy. However, if I weigh 159 pounds, adding an extra 10 or 15 pounds might not be that cool — especially if I wasn’t an active person — and it definitely wouldn’t be that cool if I also had other health issues such as heart disease or diabetes or high blood pressure.
Some people can afford to pack on an extra 10 or 15 pounds; others can’t.
Additionally, the extra weight can cause problems specific to the whole reason we’re quarantining: COVID 19. According to Dr. John Morton, medical director of bariatric surgery at Yale New Haven Health System, not only is obesity a risk factor for contracting the coronavirus but also it could impact the severity of the symptoms and even the effectiveness of a vaccine:
We’ve learned over the years that traditional flu vaccines do not work as well in people with obesity. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that the immune response is altered because of the weight and the inflammatory changes that occur. I think as we develop a vaccine, we need to make sure that patients with obesity are over-represented in the trial, because they are at high risk, and we need to have a vaccine that is going to work for them.
So, while the whole #Quarantine15 and #CovidCurves hashtags might get some likes, for some people there’s really not much to like about it.
Quick Tips for Getting Back On Track
Now, the good news: all is not lost! You can get back on track, and fairly quickly if you set your mind to it:
- Daily Routines: Set a daily routine that includes everything from simply waking up and going to bed to work and exercise.
- Self-Care: Take time to take care of yourself. Have you ever tried a meditation walk?
- Hobbies: Diving into a hobby can distract you from the stress and boredom that drives you to binge eat or drink. Here are some quick tips on getting a hobby as an adult.
- Exercise: Get your body moving! Even if it’s tough finding a set time to workout (and it is), there are ways to get in exercise throughout the day — and it adds up!
- Better Rest: Set up a bedtime routine to help you get the most of your shuteye. For example, research shows there’s an ideal time and temperature for your shower!
Have you fallen victim to the Quarantine 15? Or, better put, all the things that lead to the Quarantine 15? Share some tips on how you got back on track!