It’s been over two weeks since Governor Wolf issued his stay-at-home order for Pennsylvania. However, many of us had already been sheltering in place or under quarantine orders before his official order was issued. Gyms and many parks in the area are closed, which means a fair number of Pittsburghers aren’t able to get out and exercise like we used to. What does that mean? That means the Quarantine 15 is probably hiding just around the corner waiting to attack your waistband and make your clothes smaller. What is the Quarantine 15, you may ask? The Quarantine 15 is what the internet has dubbed the weight gained under lockdown, after overeating ice cream, cookies, burgers, or whatever is in the pantry while not being able to move about as we used to.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably enjoyed eating some delicious ice cream while binging Netflix or Disney+ after the kids have gone to bed. Unfortunately, for me at least, that ice cream has come at a cost. And that’s why I’m here to tell you how NOT to be like me and avoid the Quarantine 15, 10, or even 5.

The first step to avoiding the Quarantine 15 may seem simple, but it can be tough: Moderation. It’s okay to eat ice cream or whatever your guilty pleasure is, just do it in moderation. Stick to the suggested serving size. Fun fact: did you know that Ben and Jerry’s pints aren’t one serving? They actually expect us to eat them in multiple sittings. I was shocked when I learned this. One tip that I’ve learned for snacks that aren’t ice cream is to divide them into serving sizes as soon as I get them. For example, if you get a big bag of pretzels, read the nutrition label to learn what the serving size is, and put that many pretzels into baggies. Then you can grab a bag when you want a snack, and you don’t have to worry about eating too many.

The second step is to swap a snack for a healthy treat. This may not sound fun, but it is! There are plenty of healthy and delicious snack options. Remember ants on a log? It turns out they’re not just a treat for kids, and it’s actually really tasty. Take that celery you’ve been avoiding in the crisper, slap on some peanut butter, and a few raisins. Badabing, you’ve got a tasty and healthy snack. If that’s not your cup of tea, you can always find new snack options online. We’re currently under lockdown, which means it’s the perfect time to go out and search for recipes for new treats. There’s bound to be a new snack that you’ll enjoy.

After you’ve enjoyed a new healthy snack in moderation, the next step to avoiding the dreaded 15 is to get up and move! There are so many options for how you can do this. You can look up workout videos on YouTube, download a workout app to your phone, or get in your yard and do some weeding or mowing. No matter what you choose, movement is key. It’s recommended by the American Heart Association for adults to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. You can do a quick high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout twice a day throughout the week, walk in place while watching your favorite show, do jumping jacks and other movements during commercial breaks. It’s your choice, just be sure to move. And don’t forget: at this point we are allowed to leave our homes to exercise; we just need to make sure we honor social distancing and say at least six feet away from other people. It’s also not a bad idea to wear a mask when you go out.

Of course, as with all health recommendations from non-doctors, you should ALWAYS check with your doctor before taking on a new workout routine or diet.
We look forward to seeing all of you on the other side of this when we can visit our beautiful parks and recommend fun events to attend throughout the city. Until then, stay safe and stay healthy, Pittsburgh!

By Bianca Labrador