Quarantine Weight Gain?
You Are Not Alone.
Quarantine, lock downs and social distancing are effective measures in preventing the spread of Covid-19. As important as these measures are for the health of everyone, we know that these measures have had a significant effect on us both physically and mentally.
Socializing and spending quality time with friends and family has a positive effect on mood and overall wellness, and with those opportunities reduced (or eliminated) over the last year, many people are feeling the impact physically and mentally. Numerous studies have shown that as a result of lockdowns, public health precautions, and a shift to work from home, communities have been less active, having less regular or balanced eating patterns, experiencing poor sleep quality and increased stress. We’ve really seen that our health is the combination of many factors, including a sense of wellbeing and enjoyment in the life we live.
As a result, many people have noticed changes in weight through this time … the so-called “COVID-15″ (pounds). You aren’t alone if this is your experience. Physical changes are understandable, but for some they are frustrating, and for others they can be upsetting or concerning. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s okay to not be okay with the changes you’ve noticed.
A year into this pandemic, you may be anxious to return to “regular” life, feeling tired of the habits you built through the last few months, but also unsure of how to get back to your routine. This frustration or “itch” to change is a helpful sign that you’re ready to take on new challenges. As the world is still far from “normal”, rethinking our expectations of ourselves and how healthy living fits into our lives can help us feel less pressure and much more confident and successful.
It helps to name your motivators for change, or what benefits you’re hoping to see from the change. Starting with a mindset of “ I can do this” and knowing your “whys” is shown to help people create significantly more sustainable healthy living patterns, and sustainability is one of the most important factors in chronic disease prevention and living well through life.
If you are ready to make changes for health, energy and vitality, a great place to start is with the healthy living fundamentals. Here are some strategies to start with:
Take stock of your eating patterns. Eating regular and structured meals through the day helps get the body systems in rhythm and lead to better energy levels. Most people tend to feel their best eating somewhere between 3-6 times a day; setting alarms or reminders to take the time to eat can be a really helpful habit. Take a look at what you’re eating: do you see a lot of the same foods, are food groups or colours missing, what types of foods would you like to be eating? Adding more variety, planning to try a new recipe, or simply putting a focus on getting a variety of food groups each day can help you feel more balanced, energetic, and nourished.
Aim for 150 minutes per week (or more) of moderate intensity physical activity such as walking, biking, or a fitness class. Work your way up slowly and choose activities you enjoy. Consider walking with a friend or participating in a group fitness activity. Be sure to observe physical distancing and other public health precautions.
Stress is inevitable. Tough times can be made easier by building stress-management skills. Some healthy coping skills include learning to take breaks, practicing deep breathing or meditation and being mindful of your self-talk.
Aim for an average of 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. If you struggle to get enough sleep, try these sleep health strategies. Avoid caffeine 6 hours before sleep and alcohol and nicotine within 3 hours before sleep. Be physically active but avoid vigorous activity 4 hours before sleep. Create a dark, quiet, screen-free sleeping space. Keep a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends.