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Tips for a more fit, healthier life and how to avoid weight gain during a pandemic

Tips for avoiding ‘quarantine 15’ include starting daily exercise routine, new hobby

Red apple.
Red apple. (Pixabay via Pexels)

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When 2020 began, we all vowed to live healthier and shed a few pesky pounds. Then March hit, and all bets were off. COVID-19 put a major crimp in the equation.

“In today’s pandemic environment, about half of my clients are gaining weight and getting less fit, while the other half is stepping it up, getting healthier and stronger,” said Michael Mayotte, a wellness coach at the Baptist Y Healthy Living Center in Mandarin.

“The stress of dealing with the unknown, and being at home more, makes it very easy to overindulge. We all want to feel safe, and for many of us, food seems to ease anxiety,” said Mayotte.

Keeping things on an even keel may be all you can do. “Maintaining is an admirable goal,” Mayotte said. “Don’t worry about making big changes if you don’t feel like it’s the right time. If you’re at a healthy weight, just try to keep things on track.”

For some, this may be a great time to move the needle toward a more fit and healthy life. “This might be the right time to do something good for yourself, and help you feel more in control when our world seems so out of control,” Mayotte said.

Tips to avoid quarantine 15:

  1. Avoid calorie culprits – Offender #1: that tasty alcoholic beverage. An average drink has 150 calories. Moderation is key.
  2. Wear real pants! Loose, stretchy pants never get tight, so you don’t realize when you are putting on the pounds.
  3. Weigh yourself once a week. (See #2!)
  4. Start a daily exercise routine and commit to doing it at the same time every day. Having a predictable schedule helps when creating new habits.
  5. When ordering take out, look for restaurants that have a “healthy” section on the menu. Many restaurants also provide calorie counts.
  6. Look for alternative ways to exercise. If you don’t feel comfortable going to the gym, there are tons of good workouts online. Many fitness centers, including all First Coast YMCAs, offer virtual classes.
  7. Get outside. There are some beautiful hiking and biking trails in Jacksonville where you can take in nature and burn calories at the same time.
  8. Play with your kids. Introduce your kids to the “oldies.” Remember Red Rover, Kick the Can or Red Light, Green Light? Tag! You’re it.
  9. Move more. Everything counts – from gardening or taking the stairs to starting a new walking program. Find something you like to do and do it.
  10. Start a new hobby. Even if it isn’t a new fitness routine, a new activity can be a healthy way to reduce stress and redirect your focus away from overindulging.

Baptist has five Y Healthy Living Centers, located at the YMCAs in Mandarin, Ponte Vedra, Riverside, Northside and Dunn Avenue. Health coaching is provided at no cost to the community, and a YMCA membership is not required to participate. You can make an appointment with a wellness coach by calling 904.202.4500. Or, request a free health screening at a Baptist Health Y Healthy Living Center.