Avoiding the “Quarantine 15” Weight Gain and the Social Distancing Blues

Photo by Dana Lane Photography> and Hair and Makeup by Janeen Jones

The Covid-19 stay at home orders have impacted almost every aspect of our daily lives. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of it all. As an extrovert, I get my energy from other people and all this social distancing has depleted my energy levels and it has been far more tempting to give in to some extra indulgences. I received a few questions pertaining to how to avoid the “quarantine 15” weight gain and so I wanted to share some thoughts to navigate these rough, unchartered waters:

Q. Social media appears to be influencing us that we are expected to be gorging ourselves and it is a big joke to come out of this unhealthy. Why can’t this be a time to get in shape?

A. I am not a fan of all the memes and jokes I have seen also making light of how heavy we are going to be when the stay at home orders are eventually, and God willingly, lifted. The time is going to pass and how we choose to use it is up to us. I’ve tried to stay in a routine for my workouts and have added some extra mid-afternoon activity like a short walk or some time on my exercise bike, as with so much indoor time, I am aware of how much less I’m moving throughout the rest of my day.  The food part is trickier (isn’t it always?!)  It seems like one giant blizzard and it would certainly be easy to make brownies and drink wine (both of which I have done). I think the dangerous part of all this comfort food (and drink) is unlike a snowstorm, this has been going on for many weeks with no clear end in sight. Realize it is okay to choose some treats, but plan for them and try to have an alternative you can have without breaking the calorie bank. Like I always say, “It’s not about never having a cupcake, it’s about not always having a cupcake!”  With the added indoor time, I try to take advantage of cooking some new clean eating recipes which have also helped to balance out the extra calories from any stress induced alcohol and snack choices.

Q. What are your favorite foods/dishes for meal planning, something you can make in the beginning of the week and eat all week?

A. Some of my favorite meal prep dishes are things that I can make a large batch of and then have them ready to go. One of my favorites is Fat Flush Soup which is easy to make, freezes well and is loaded with fresh veggies and ground turkey. I also love making Savory Mexican Oats in the crockpot and then just heating some up for lunch or as a side dish. Throughout this outbreak, I have been preparing a lot with oatmeal:  Sheree’s Protein Muffins, Instant Pot Pumpkin Oatmeal, Banana Bread Overnight Oats, and healthy oatmeal cookies and energy bites. Eggs are also a great choice and the whole family has enjoyed the delicious Easy Vegetarian Breakfast Casserole recipe I tried. I also love making a big salad to keep in the fridge to have ready for meals. One of my favorites is the Easy Broccoli Cauliflower Crunch Salad.

Vegetarian Breakfast Casserole

Broccoli Cauliflower Crunch Salad

Banana Bread Overnight Oats

Q. How have you had to adjust your routine during quarantine…shopping lists, meal plans, workouts, etc.?

A. The days have seemed to blur together. I found it necessary to maintain a semblance of my normal routine for my own well-being. While I am sleeping a little bit later in the morning since I do not have to rush to get the boys out the door to school, I am still doing a morning workout to start my day. I have been trying some new workouts online by some of my favorite trainers since the gym is closed for the time being. There are so many great options online to try and many are free, so there is really no excuse.  I also have a great library of home workout DVDs, so I have been putting those to good use! I have found in some respects that meal planning is a bit easier as I have more time to cook. I have had the time to try some new recipes and finally broke out the Instant Pot we got for Christmas to experiment with. As far as shopping lists, I have been trying to stock my freezer, but have been sticking to lean proteins, lots of veggies, complex carbs and healthy fats.  Find foods you absolutely love that are not junky! I try to choose healthier options that still feel like a treat!  Fastachi gourmet mixed nuts are one of my favorite choices.

Fastachi Fiesta Nut Mix

Fastachi Cranberry Nut Mix

They are truly in a league of their own, unrivaled in quality and taste and prevent me from eyeing some of the snacks my sons may be having. Two of my particular favorites are the Fastachi Cranberry Nut and Fiesta Nut Mixes. I also almost always opt for Fitvine Wine when I do decide to have alcohol, as it has less calories, carbs, sugar, and sulfites than a standard wine choice.

FitVine Wine

Q. How do you drink enough water, especially with all the mask wearing?

A. Getting in enough water is a constant challenge pretty much anytime! I have a Greens Steel Insulated Tumbler that I fill first thing in the morning that I refill and sip throughout the day. The reusable straw makes it easier to slip under a mask also!

Greens Steel Tumbler


I rinse and freeze fresh strawberries or cubed watermelon that I toss in with the water to infuse it and I find that helps me to drink more. I also start my day with a cran-water mixture that is a blend of one cup 100% pure unsweetened cranberry juice, lime juice and water. For variety, I enjoy drinking some sparkling water with a splash of POM Wonderful juice or 100% Blueberry Juice from Trader Joe’s with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Q. How do you involve your family in your fitness journey?

A. I have tried to be sure the entire family is getting some activity in during this COVID-19 quarantine. I have an exercise bike and nudge everyone to get in at least a half hour. My 86-year-old mother lives with us and is now up to an hour on the bike while she watches her favorite game shows! I also take an afternoon walk with my youngest son and we play a game that if we see anyone else while out on our walk, we pretend that they are really a zombie and want to eat our brains! He laughs every time when I start repeating, “brains” in my zombie voice. Weather permitting, we go out to the backyard and toss a football, kick a soccer ball around, or enjoy some yard games (e.g. cornhole, ladder ball and KanJam.)

Q. How do you keep motivated?

A. It is, of course, more difficult to stay motivated when you are facing hard times. The COVID-19 outbreak has been of such a scope and magnitude that it truly borders on traumatizing. I try to focus on just the one day ahead of me, as dwelling on the effects of this virus for the long term, is just too discouraging. What I have always found helpful to stay motivated with my workouts is to tell myself that I am literally giving myself the strength to handle what life is throwing at me. I have worked out through tears, but I always feel better when I finish, and I try to remind myself of that. When it comes to eating healthier, I try to be mindful of how temporary comfort food’s comfort really is. Often, I feel extremely uncomfortable AFTER I eat less healthier options. I think focusing on how what you do and what you eat makes you feel, makes it easier to stay on track.  Working out regularly releases endorphins and really does help boost my mood, and with all the social distancing recommendations, this has never been more necessary!

I think my best advice, however, is to be kind to yourself. While this may not be a time you want to think and obsess about “dieting,” it is certainly appropriate to take the time to focus on your health and well-being. So take this time to truly take care!

Photo by Dana Lane Photography>
and Hair and Makeup by Janeen Jones