Have you gained weight while under stay at home orders due to shelter at home orders? Now is the time to stop quarantine weight gain and get back to your health living goals. Follow these 7 simple, do-able steps and you’ll be back on track before you know it.
As I’m writing this post, we are a couple months into the orders to stay at home due to the coronavirus. Now, things are starting to open up again but with limitations. Most people are still staying home the majority of the time, and when we go out things look different.
Why Do People Gain Weight During Quarantine?
When we first started quarantine, there were a lot of jokes flying around like how everyone is “gaining the covid 19” or the “quarantine 15”.
Why are people gaining weight during quarantine?
You may be stuck at home and anxious. You weren’t going out so you are working in your yoga pants which makes it easy to pretend the weight isn’t creeping up.
You may be drinking more alcohol as a way to calm down and ease stress.
In some places in the world, healthy produce wasn’t available and the strange feeling of seeing empty shelves may have led you to pounce on buying chips and cookies before they were all gone.
Gyms and other fitness locations were closed. Maybe you were getting less exercise and even more so, less daily life activity since you weren’t walking into the office, around shopping, or to the local coffee shop.
All of these can lead to overeating and gaining weight.
Weight Gained During Quarantine is No Laughing Matter
For many of us, weight gain is no laughing matter. Sure the jokes are funny and it helps to share and know we aren’t alone.
A few extra pounds might not seem like a big deal to most people. They figure they’ll lose the weight once life returns to come kind of normal.
But if you struggle with unwanted pounds, you know that this is no joking matter.
As someone who is maintaining a 100 pound weight loss, maintenance is a big deal to me. I am committed to maintain my weight and I have to actively work at it.
This isn’t a vanity issue, although I’ll be the first to say I enjoy how I look much more at 140 pounds than I did at 250 pounds. Instead for me, my weight loss journey is a spiritual journey. It’s a heart issue.
My mental health is reflected in how I’m doing with my food choices and my weight, so when I see the scale creeping up, I know there’s more going on below the surface.
How I Stopped the Quarantine Weight Gain
When the quarantine first hit, I’ll be the first to say I struggled with food. Added to the coronavirus stress, my mom died just a few days before the shelter at home orders were given, so I was on a real emotional roller coaster.
While I didn’t do it perfectly and my weight did go up by a few pounds, I never stopped paying attention and actively working on managing my food choices.
I’m happy to say my weight is back down again and I’m at my maintenance weight range.
Below are the steps I took during this time and I think you’ll find them extremely helpful, too.
While these strategies do require intentional effort, they are realistic. You can do this! Don’t expect yourself to do them perfect, but do be mindful of how each small choice adds up to a bigger long-term result.
Crisis-Proof Your Weight Loss
Because we believe so much in the importance of this, my business partner, Becky (who has also lost 100 pounds) and I put together several resources to help you stop gaining weight during crisis situations. This could be the current situation with covid or other life crisis that happen.
Crisis-Proof Your Weight Loss is a course that guides you through making realistic changes during a time of crisis so that you don’t derail your healthy goals.
7 Realistic Strategies to Stop Quarantine Weight Gain
Have you gained weight since being sheltered at home? Are current events in the world or your personal life causing you to stress eat and gain weight?
Don’t panic! Here is the help you need to get back on track.
1.Develop a Daily Routine
When you are in crisis mode, it becomes incredibly easy to let one thing slide into the next which often means snacking mindlessly, skipping meals and then overeating later, and increased stress eating.
When the coronavirus hit, schools closed, and we were all told to stay home, one of the first things I did was develop a structure and schedule for myself and my family. We have children with special needs and I’ve learned from years of parenting them that they need firm structure and routine.
Guess what? So do you.
Few of us do well without some type of structure in place.
Use this free daily action plan printable if you need a way to organize your days.
2. Plan Meals.
While you are organizing, take a few minutes to plan your meals for the next few days, or even better the next week. Use The Holy Mess meal plan and grocery planner to guide you.
Yes, it’s harder to shop for groceries. True, some items might not be available. But you can still do your best to plan ahead. Don’t allow the current situation to be an excuse not to plan meals.
3. Track Your Food
I’m a firm believer that keeping a food log is one of the best ways to lose weight. This can be tracking calories, such as with My Fitness Pal and similar apps or counting points with Weight Watchers.
Becky and I run a program called Faithful Finish Lines for Christian weight loss and we teach women to track as part of the program. We even encourage our members to pre-track which means planning what they will eat the next day.
Even writing what you eat into a journal for a few days has been proven to help with weight loss because tracking bring awareness.
If you are currently working from home or home all day, consider having eating windows during your day when you allow yourself to eat, or “kitchen open/kitchen closed” times. This creates more structure and helps you not graze on snacks all day.
4. Maintain Your Current Weight
Okay, this one might surprise you. Are you ready?
During a crisis, STOP trying to lose weight. Instead, work to maintain your current weight.
I can already hear the arguments. “But Sara, I’m so overweight it’s unhealthy!” or “But I just gained 15 pounds. I have to get these off, stat!”
Here’s the pattern I see again and again.
Women go into a panic mode when they gain a few pounds. Scared, they do whatever they think is necessary to get it off quickly. They become irrational. They cut their calories so drastically (such as to 1,200 per day) that it’s not something they can sustain.
After a few days, they become overly hungry, feel deprived and binge.
A month or two later, they come to our Facebook group or email me lamenting that they’ve “done everything and keep gaining weight”. But the truth is that they are overeating sometimes and that’s why they are gaining weight.
Here’s a better approach. Whatever your weight is today, decide you’ll stay there for the next month. Your job is to stay as close as you can to your current weight. Don’t lose, but don’t gain.
Do this by figuring out your calories to maintain. (You can use this calorie calculator to guide you.) Then, once you have a month of maintaining under your belt, you can make a realistic plan that involves cutting your calories in a small way that is sustainable.
5. Eat Healthy Food & Some Treats
Focus on eating mostly healthy foods but allow yourself some treats, too. Again, the temptation during crisis is to either eat all the junk food everywhere or to cut calories so drastically that no treats are ever allowed.
Neither of these is realistic or able to be maintained long term.
A treat is any food you are eating for pleasure instead of nutritional value. It’s okay to include these in your weight loss plan. Both Becky and I are maintaining a 100 pound weight loss and we eat treat foods every week and often every day.
We encourage women to eat treats at least 3 times a week in our program and we work on how to do that in ways that do not lead to binging on them. If there are foods you know are too dangerous to keep in the house because you’ll eat the whole box or bag, don’t buy those foods right now.
Instead, find foods you enjoy that won’t trigger you to binge on them. You might not always need to cut out these foods but for now, it’s a safer strategy. If you do want to eat these foods (like ice cream or chips), plan that you will eat them away from home or only purchase 1 portion size.
6. Move Every Day
One of the big things I’ve learned since getting to my goal weight is that exercise is not the end-all-be-all to weight loss. In fact, it really doesn’t help all that much at all. Yes, it burns calories but it also increases hunger so most people eat back anything they burn from physical activity.
During a crisis, I encourage you to make it a goal to move your body every day in some way and if at all possible, do it outside.
When the coronoaviris hit, I made a goal that I would get outside every single day. Living in Western New York where we had snow into mid-May this wasn’t always easy, but I’ve kept to my commitment. Sometimes it was just a 5 minute walk up and down the block, but in some way each day I’ve left the house to move my body and enjoy nature and it’s amazing how much it’s improved my mood.
I know that not everyone who reads our website is Christian (and all are welcome here!), but for me faith is an integral part of my weight loss journey. This is a spiritual process and I’ve quickly learned that I must rely on God for strength. I can’t do it on my own.
I also encourage you to join our free 7 days of weight loss prayers challenge.
Make God the center of your weight loss and you’ll be amazed at your transformation.
Stop Quarantine Weight Gain Checklist Printable
Download this free checklist to get back on track with your healthy living goals during quarantine or any type of life crisis.
Now that you have a plan in place, weight gain doesn’t have to be part of your quarantine experience. In fact, you can come out of this stronger (and lighter) than ever before.
How will you stop gaining weight during stay at home orders? Share about it in the comments below.
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