Do you know the term Freshman–15, an affectionate label for first-year college students’ weight gain? Enter the year 2020. We now adopt that terminology for the hefty hordes of homebound Americans. Introducing … The Quarantine–19, named for both the year COVID started and the extra pounds our scales report each morning. (Who, me? Just sayin’ …)
A little extra cushion is nothing compared to COVID-19’s far-reaching damage to an individual’s health. We are not minimizing that. With full respect, we’re addressing the healthy among us about one of the most egregious side effects from sheltering at home: bigger bellies. As gyms closed, many of us lost our outlets for strength training, indoor cycling, Zumba dancing, and more. Some fitness centers have reopened yet many of us avoid them still. Scientists have found that COVID is spread mostly via airborne pathogens. That means we’re simply safer social distancing than sweating near strangers.
The result? We’re more sedentary than we were. Plus, we’re dealing with the mental anguish of fearing the disease and making less income. Sales of snack foods are way up nationwide as a result of our moving less and worrying more. In fact, cookie and cracker sales surged 30 percent in June 2020, according to the New York Times, and the numbers aren’t waning.
Join us in trying to battle that bulge. Here are tips to help you maintain a healthy weight and good nutrition while we ride out this prolonged crisis.
1. Skip the processed snacks
Kick the chips, cookies, ice cream, soda pop, and fried foods to the curb. They all add empty calories, which we sure don’t need as we spend all those extra hours on the sofa watching Saturday Night Live reruns.
2. Buy more whole foods
Nature provides a mighty tasty array. You might feel deprived at first, yet over time you’ll come to enjoy a steady diet of carrots, raisins, celery, salads, tomatoes, apples, pears, plums, grapes, poultry and leans meats. Include high-fiber items like whole-grain bread; those will keep you full longer than versions made with white bread or rice, and they’ll help with regularity when it’s potty time. Write out a shopping list of at least seven items before ordering groceries or stepping into a store. Then shop after eating a full meal, as hunger begets naughty impulse purchases.
3. Change the channel
Traditional TV networks run commercials, and loads of those are for fast food chains and sweet drinks. Those ads are designed to marinate in your psyche and ultimately lead you to buy and consume fat- salt- and/or sugar-filled foods. The truth is, you really don’t need to ingest any of that. If you have the budget, watch ad-free programming on Prime, Netflix, Hulu, Acorn, and the like instead. Hey, Disney+ has the original Broadway production of Hamilton right now ….
4. Make exercise a priority
Cement it into your daily schedule. Walk 15-minutes away from your home, then walk 15-minutes back every single day. Your heart will pump and your calorie-burning mechanisms will kick in and thank you. A stroll, brisk or leisurely, is even good for mood control, and who among us doesn’t need a sanity boost?
5. Lift weights
If you don’t have dumbbells at home, improvise. Grab a couple of cans of green beans or cling peaches and do your reps with them. Practice curls and perform chest presses as you watch Ozark or Jane the Virgin. Consider investing in resistance bands for enhanced muscle stretching and training. They’re inexpensive and effective. You’ll find plenty of free classes on YouTube.
Try these five ways steps to eating a balanced diet, strengthening your body, and flattening that 2020 tummy. Here are even more tips for exercising during COVID-19. Then your body will be in tip-top shape to travel when we’re cleared to head back into the world.
I can’t wait to see you on the road. I wish we could all head out for our next adventures today.