COVID-19 has upended routines, here's some ideas to get back on track

What would you give up to lose 10 pounds?

I recently came across the results of a survey that found 22% of Americans would give up intimate relations with their partner for several months just to lose 10 pounds.

A smaller group would give up social media.

Look, I get it. 

The combination of gaining during the holidays and the pandemic has many Americans wanting to shed some of those unwanted pounds. 

In fact, this survey found that 51% of their respondents were looking to get in shape in 2021.

But you don’t have to take drastic measures and give up things that you love, just to slim down.

If your diet has gone off the rails over the last several months, there’s no need to beat yourself up over it.

Tomorrow is a new day and you can get back on track.

To start shedding the “quarantine 15” and those holiday pounds, the recipe is pretty simple: eat more healthful, nutritious foods, move your body more, increase your water intake, and sleep. 

What do I mean by eating more healthful foods?

Well, let’s take a look at breakfast.

A cup of coffee is not breakfast. While there are certain health benefits to drinking it, a cup of Joe is not enough to keep you sustained until lunch.

Start your day off with a healthy and nutritious meal, and you’re more likely to continue to make healthy food choices throughout the day.

Your breakfast should include some protein that will keep you satisfied until lunch... so you’re not digging into the snack food stashed in your pantry. 

A morning meal of eggs, lean meat, and fruit is a great option. Or, a protein-packed smoothie.

Food cravings are common, particularly if you’re just getting back on the healthy eating wagon.

To combat cravings, consider swapping out higher-calorie foods with healthy alternatives.

If you’re making pizza, switch out regular dough for a cauliflower crust.

In place of cream-based soups, opt for a broth base and throw in lots of veggies to create a hearty, healthy soup.

And for a healthy alternative to pasta, try spaghetti squash or pasta made from chickpeas instead of white flour.

Now, when you sit down to eat, avoid eating in front of the television, or watching something on your personal devices.

Because we tend to “zone out” when we’re watching, not being as mindful of the food we’re putting in our mouths… or listening to our bodies when we’re full.

During the pandemic, many of our regular exercise routines have gone by the wayside.

Some gyms are closed. And parts of the country are too cold to exercise outside.

But just because we’re stuck inside waiting for the virus (and winter) to pass on by, doesn’t mean we can’t get our bodies moving.

There are ways to stay healthy and active indoors… even during a pandemic in the winter.

And the best way to stick with it is to create a daily schedule.

If you’re working from home, this schedule should include blocks of time for you to get work done, along with set times for you to get your body moving.

Try to carve out at least three 30-minute sessions on your schedule for activity each day.

It could be a walk around the block, bike ride, or at-home workout.

Just something to get you away from your desk or off the sofa.

And as you increase your activity, be sure to increase your water intake, too.

Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, so making sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help squash those feelings.

Also, water helps you feel fuller, so you’re less likely to overeat. 

And finally, be sure you’re getting plenty of sleep each night.

Lack of sleep has been linked to extra pounds.

Because when you’re tired, you tend to overeat. 

And not just on any food… junk food.

But when you’re well-rested and getting quality sleep each night, you tend to have better self-control to stick to your plan of eating healthier and exercising more.

If you ate less healthful foods during the holidays and you haven’t been as active as before the pandemic, don’t beat yourself up about it.

This is a stressful, anxiety-ridden time.

Forgive yourself.

There’s no time for guilt after eating an extra slice of pie when you’re under quarantine. Just don’t compound the problem by sitting around all day too. 

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