The COVID-19 Quarantine Weight Loss Guide
Tips that will help you to stay fit during the COVID-19 crisis
The current COVID-19 pandemic can make it challenging to stick to your weight loss or fitness goals: gyms and studios are closed, staying inside limits our activity levels, being stuck at home can lead to mindless snacking, and increased anxiety levels might result in emotional eating.
What can you do to combat inactivity and to avoid weight can during this COVID-19 crisis?
Humans are made to move. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, being physically active for more than 150 minutes a week is associated with a variety of health benefits, including:
- Lower risk of all-cause mortality
- Lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke
- Lower risk of hypertension
- Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
- Lower risk of certain cancers, including bladder, breast and colon cancer
- Reduced risk of dementia
- Improved quality of life
- Reduced anxiety and risk of depression
- Improved sleep
The United States Department of Health and Human Services also estimates that about $117 billion in annual health care costs and 10% of premature deaths (!) can be associated with the lack of physical activity.
Being stuck at home limits our chances to move and makes it harder to stay active. However this doesn’t have to be a reason to abandon your fitness goals.
How to increase your activity levels during the COVID-19 quarantine:
#1 Plan exercise breaks
Often, we just forget to get up and moving. Scheduling short exercise breaks during your workday can help to prevent that. I use the 55-5 rule: I work for 55 minutes and move for 5.
#2 Wear an activity tracker
According to my experience, many people overestimate how much they move (and underestimate how much they eat). A fitness tracker can not only understand your activity but also increase your motivation to stick to your step goals (or movement breaks).
#3 Go outside
If you can go outside for walks, you can enjoy the following health benefits:
- Outdoor activities are a proven way to reduce stress.
- Sunlight can help your body to produce vitamin D, which can help to boost your immune system.
Movement is essential to stay healthy, but targeted exercise programs provide you with more specific health benefits such as preserving muscle mass or preventing back pain.
However, please be careful with random workouts that you can find on YouTube or Instagram. While they’re an option for experienced fitness enthusiasts, it can be risky if you’re new to working out or suffer from any type of injury or chronic condition.
3 ideas on how to stick to your fitness routine at home:
#1 Online classes
If you have no underlying health concerns, online fitness classes can be an excellent way to stay fit.
When you select a class make sure that;
- The instructors are certified fitness professionals
- The class includes a warm-up and a recovery phase
- The class includes instructions on proper form
#2 Exercise apps
Exercise apps often have built-in progress tracking, which can help you to stay motivated and document your progress.
According to research conducted by Athletic Health System, tracking fitness data is most impactful when the tracked data are easily accessible. Participants that tracked their exercise progress using a fitness tracker and accessed their data through an app were more active than participants that used a fitness tracker without access to their data.
#3 Skype workouts with a personal trainer
If you’re new to working out, suffer from a chronic health condition, or are recovering from a sports injury, video-conferencing with a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) might be your best option to get or stay fit. The trainer can create an exercise program that’s based on your individual needs and your health history.
Strategies to avoid weight gain during the COVID-19 quarantine
Uncertainties about our job, future, or health increase anxiety and stress levels, which can lead to emotional eating, poor nutritional choices, and weight gain.
Here’re 6 tips that decrease your chances of weight gain during the COVID-19 quarantine
If you’re dehydrated, your body sometimes misinterprets that for hunger. The best way to avoid that is to drink plenty of water, which also helps to suppress hunger. Apart from that, the consumption of water can help you to boost your metabolism.
#2 Use a food journal
You might eat to suppress feelings or to procrastinate tasks. A good way to avoid this is to look for the reasons behind your snacking habits and to try to replace them with healthy habits instead. For example, if you use food to calm down, find another healthy activity you can do instead (a stretch, a short walk, etc.).
To increase your awareness about which foods trigger over-eating, it can help to use a food journal for a week: write down when and what you eat and also record the feelings before AND after you’re finished your meal.
#3 Focus on REAL food
It’s harder to overeat when you’re already had filling food such as fruits vegetables. So, if you feel the urge to eat, have vegetable sticks, or fruit slices before indulging in ice cream or cookies.
Apart from that, many cravings are triggered by nutritional deficiencies: when we lack certain nutrients, your body will crave foods that contain them.
For example, if you lack iron, you might have cravings for meat. Or if you lack magnesium, you might crave chocolate.
A balanced diet that is composed of real food ensures a sufficient supply of vitamins and minerals can help you to avoid those cravings.
#4 Be aware of conditioned (over) eating
If you’re used to eating in specific situations such as after arriving at home or while watching TV, you might eat even if you’re not hungry.
The best way to avoid this is by being more mindful of your behaviors and trying to detach food and behavior consciously. For example, stop eating while doing other activities, sitting down at a table for every meal, drinking a glass of water whenever you’re used to eating instead.
#5 Avoid sugar cravings
Whenever your blood sugar gets below a certain level, your body wants to bring them back to the normal level, which makes you crave foods high in carbohydrates. Some foods can help to stabilize your blood sugar, while others cause your blood sugar to drop too quickly and thus makes you hungry.
Foods that stabilize blood sugar are foods high in fiber, which is mostly found in vegetables, fruits, or whole grain. Apart from that, research has shown that protein-rich food can help to suppress hunger.
Foods that can cause a blood sugar rollercoaster, on the other hand, are foods high in simple carbs such as candy or white bread.
If you want to avoid overeating, try to increase fiber-rich and protein-rich foods while decreasing your intake of simple carbohydrates. Here the link to a post with more information about the benefits of fiber and how to increase your daily intake.
#6 Understand that hunger doesn’t hurt you
Hunger will not kill you with — at least not in the first 48 hours. However, we are so used to eat and snack without breaks, that most of us don’t know how it feels to be hungry anymore. Hunger isn’t always bad. It’s your body telling you that you need to eat.
Short fasts in between meals can help you to understand that hunger is something you can deal with. Try to stop eating for 4, 6, or 8 hours and see how you feel. If you want to take it to the next level, you can also experiment with so-called intermittent fasting.
Don’t let COVID-19 make you gain weight or become inactive! This will only lead to serious health issues after the corona pandemic.
In good health,
Download my handout with more nutritional weight loss strategies.
Ready to take your fitness or weight loss journey to the next level? Contact me regarding my in-house or Zoom personal training sessions at [email protected]gmail.com or 4153604664.
Find more ideas for improved health and happiness on my Medium publication Wellness Decoded.