Carrie Yamato

At this time of the year, I’m usually scaling back on the sugars and carbs and adding in a little more gym time to rebalance the overindulgence from the holidays.

But this is 2021, the year that’s continuing with lockdowns, stay-at-home orders and the phenomena of “Quarantine 15.” So, let’s just say a little more than scaling back might be the better call. 

For you health and fitness enthusiasts who haven’t deviated from your diet and workout routines, and may not know what I’m talking about, Quarantine 15 has become the catchphrase for the accepted weight gain during the pandemic. Like the “Freshman 15” it’s just kind of what happens when your lifestyle and routines have been altered, and the pantry and refrigerator are always just a few steps away.

But let’s not be too hard on ourselves for our lack of discipline.

According to Artur Viana, MD, clinical director of the Yale Metabolic Health & Weight Loss Program, COVID-19 has created a perfect storm for weight gain.

First of all, there’s the need for comfort food. Let’s face it. Most of us turn to food as way to deal with stress and boredom. And it’s not just any food that will do the job. It’s those highly palatable foods high in sugar and fat like pizza, cookies and chips. 

recent study showed that since March, there have been increased purchases of processed shelf-stable foods, calorie-dense comfort foods, alcohol and takeout orders. To which I can only reply as I ordered takeout not just from Chipotle, but BurgerIM last week, “I’m just trying to help the restaurants.” 

Then there are the gym restrictions.

As much as gyms have tried to remedy the situation with outdoor classes and moving some of their equipment outdoors, working out under a tent just isn’t exercise friendly. I tried it once and unfortunately haven’t gone back.

But, besides the need for comfort food and the closure of my gym, it’s the fact that there isn’t anything motivating me to lose my crept on six pounds. The long bodycon dress I bought for a summer wedding is still hanging in my closet with an unknown wear date. The outfits I intended on wearing in Hawaii this past summer has been replaced with comfy sweats. Even my favorite yoga pants have been replaced with you guessed it — comfy sweats. 

Where my husband uses his doctor appointments to keep his weight in check, I tend to use my outfits and outings to keep me on track.

So, with cautious optimism that we can safely travel this summer, I rebooked our Hawaii vacation for August, planned a dressed-up birthday lunch with my cousins when our favorite restaurant reopens and bought an outfit that will require a little less snacking and a lot more movement before I can imagine myself comfortably wearing it.

I’ve never done anything like this before. But these are ridiculous pandemic times where not much makes sense. Sure, I’ll incorporate nutritionists’ recommendations of diet, exercise, sleep and stress management to combat the Quarantine 15, but what will get me back on track is the hope of something to look forward to — and maybe a jean reality check every now and then.

Happy New Year! May you find your hope to create great beginnings in 2021.

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