It’s a common coping mechanism to load up on comfort food and queue the Netflix when life is stressful, and hey, there’s nothing wrong with that from time to time! In fact, I often enjoy the routine a couple of times a week. With that said, it’s easy to overdo it and before we know it, we’re feeling sluggish, our clothes are tighter, and we’re looking up juice cleanses to un-do it all.
The cycle of overindulging and then trying to compensate with fad diet after fad diet, however, is unsustainable. You already know the outcome. Sure, you might have felt great for eight weeks that one time on that one diet, but it’s worth looking at why you couldn’t sustain that diet in the first place, and looking for alternatives that you can actually stick with instead.
Diets don’t work. In fact, 95% of people who lose weight by dieting gain the weight back in one to five years. The solution is to throw away the “I’ll start Monday” mentality and find a way you can eat forever.
So, how might you avoid or combat the “quaranfifteen,” with all this time staying at home in your comfiest sweatpants?
Here are Eleven Tips to Help You Stay Fit and Healthy During the Pandemic
- Commit to exercise 5 days a week– This doesn’t have to be extreme. I’ve always been a fan of at-home workouts, but have become especially fond of MadFit for quick, effective strength workouts, and Cat Meffan for all kinds of yoga- from beginner friendly flows to feel-the-burn Power Yoga, you’ll be able to find something you’re in the mood for. You only need fifteen minutes to benefit from exercise, although more is even better.
- Limit the “Fun Food” you buy– If it’s there, that means that in a weak moment, you might eat it. So if you have “trigger foods” that you can’t seem to stop eating when they’re around, consider just not having them around. Keep a few treats on hand, however, so you’re not deprived, and leave the rest for special occasions
- Find a way to eat that you LOVE– Forget perfection. No one subsists on lemon juice salads for eternity without eventually going off the deep end and into an ice cream coma. Things like cooking with butter, adding cheese, avocado, or a piece of bread, are going to keep you satisfied. If you feel sad and like you’re missing something after every meal, you’re going to run out of willpower. Use seasoning! Use salt! Make your food satisfying in the first place.
- Base your meals around whole foods. This doesn’t have to be expensive. Brown rice, quinoa, and beans are super cheap. If you look for on sale, in season produce, it can also be affordable. Plus, spending a little extra on fresh, healthy groceries and saving on medical bills and prescriptions long term is priceless. It’s worth it to invest in your health. Your health is one of your most valuable gifts. Maintain it by eating well. Enjoy the occasional processed, “fun” foods, but base the majority of your food around whole, nutrient-dense, food.
- Make it easy on yourself- Make small changes instead of expecting to overhaul your life and habits overnight. Start by adding extra veggies with your dinner, and eating them first, or doing 15 minutes of exercise three times a week instead of five. Buy premade salad kits, or Amy’s frozen dinners. Make things easy.
- Get some hobbies— I know food is often the thing we reach for when we are stressed or even bored, but we can go for a walk, do some writing, create something, take a bath, watch a show, paint our nails, or make a comforting cup of tea instead. If snacking has been your favorite hobby this year, consider what else you’re into that could use your attention.
- Be gentle with yourself– If you’re not in the best shape of your life, or are a little softer than you’ve been in the past, go easy on yourself. There’s a lot going on right now, and for many of us, survival mode is kicking in. Keep working towards your health goals, even if you keep back sliding. If you keep trying, one day they will just become habits you don’t even have to think about. You can’t hate yourself into health. Keep taking steps in the direction of better health.
- Forget perfection and focus on forever— I know it’s way more exciting if I titled this “How to Lose 15lbs in 5 days!” but I’m not about that life. I tried that life for many years, and it wrecked havoc on my body and mind. Forget the fad diets, forget eating perfectly clean and working out super hardcore every single day. Doing SOMETHING is always going to get you further than doing nothing, and if you set your expectations too high, you’re more likely to burn out and give up. Consistency wins in the long run. You never have to be perfect, you just have to be consistent.
- Find motivation to be healthy other than weight loss– You’ll have increased immune system, better skin, better sex drive, and you’ll fight off disease and illness. You’ll be giving yourself doses of feel-good hormones on the daily. You’ll even keep your brain sharper as you age. There are tons of non-appearance related reasons to exercise, so start appreciating them!
- Manage Stress– Meditate, spend time in nature, and prioritize good sleep hygiene. Put away your devices two hours before bed time, and consider keeping a book by your bed instead. If you need reading recommendations, take a peak at my “Best Books of the Decade” post, and stay tuned for the “Best Books I’ve Read this Year.”
- Keep it moving– Walk to the store when you can, take stretch breaks throughout the day, take the stairs instead of the elevator, etc. Small movement adds up over the long run.
Our health is more important than ever, and it’s something we need to take care of in order to keep it. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do need to put in some effort. Start small, keep trying, and show up for yourself. You’ve got this.