Photo courtesy Baylor College of Medicine
From gyms closing to ordering more takeout, COVID-19 has disrupted the health and fitness routines of many people.
According to a weight loss expert at the Baylor College of Medicine, stress and spending more time at home can lead to emotional eating and snacking all day from boredom. This may contribute to weight gain over the past few months – a phenomenon many are referring to as the ‘Quarantine 15.’
“COVID-19 changed how we eat, what we eat and how we spend our day,” said Dr. Peter Jian, weight management specialist and an assistant professor of family and community medicine at Baylor. “Unfortunately, for some of us that meant less healthy choices.”
If you have gained excess weight or feel out of shape due to quarantine and stay-at-home orders, Jian offers tips on how to successfully work it off and return to a healthy lifestyle.
Utilize free time at home
Although this is a challenging time, Jian advises trying to view it as a chance to form healthier habits. Spending more time at home offers an opportunity to learn how to cook healthy recipes and get involved in new hobbies that keep you active, he said.
“Use this time as an opportunity to focus on the things that we can do in order to improve our health,” Jian said.
Get involved in a physical activity
If you are not comfortable with attending the gym yet, there are other exercises to pursue that are in less crowded areas, such as biking, hiking and walking outside.
Jian also recommends joining online fitness programs so that you can exercise without having to leave your house.
“We know that COVID-19 disrupted our physical activities quite a bit, but it’s still not too difficult to have a fair amount of activity each day,” he said.
Grocery shop in a safe way that leads to weight loss
Since it is still essential to prioritize social distancing, Jian recommends taking advantage of purchasing nutritious foods through curbside pickup and delivery options from grocery stores.
If you decide to shop in person at the grocery store, he advises choosing foods that are placed at the front and peripheral aisles of the store where the fresh and organic produce is located. He adds that it is best to avoid the inner aisles that tend to house more pre-packaged and processed foods.
“For some of us who might be at higher risk of COVID-19 infections, you don’t have to expose yourself to a potential risk to still be able to get fresh and nutritious produce,” Jian said.
Make small, gradual changes
When it comes to losing weight, Jian advises to start out small by gradually introducing new eating and exercise habits. He adds that this will make the changes easier to adjust to and provide a more positive outcome.
Be cautious of fad diets or programs
While there are multiple diet programs to choose from today, Jian warns that many of them are not backed by science and could be harmful to your health. If there are any difficulties or challenges with losing weight, Jian advises to seek help with a medical health professional.
“It’s a very challenging time but I think the best we can do is focus on the positives and focus on the things that we can control and the things that we can do positively influence our own health,” Jian said.