Everyone knows about the Freshman 15 – the extra weight college students take on as they adapt to their new, independent lives, to dining hall cuisine and late-night study sessions. Well, thanks to COVID-19, many people are experiencing a similar phenomenon, this time caused by the stress and isolation of living through a pandemic. Dubbed the Quarantine 15, this weight gain is the natural result of a lack of exercise, stress eating, and hormonal shifts caused by fear and anxiety. Still, the fact that the Quarantine 15 is a common problem doesn’t mean that you should simply tolerate it.

Carrying around an extra 15 pounds isn’t good for your health, so take advantage of the extra downtime you have in quarantine to shed that extra weight. These 3 simple fitness practices and tools can help you understand the behaviors that are causing you to gain weight and transform them into healthier habits.

Keep A Calorie Count

Most people are bad at estimating the calories in the foods that they eat. That’s in large part because we overestimate how much food is in a serving, meaning we eat more than we’re supposed to. Meanwhile, when it comes to determining the calories burned through exercise, we have a tendency to assume we’ve worked off more calories than we really have. Calories in and calories out – they’re two sides of the same coin, and we’re bad at estimating both of them.

If you want to get a better handle of how many calories you’re taking in, one of the best ways to do that is by using an app to keep a food diary. Some aps, like Smart Chef, even sync up with a kitchen scale, allowing you to get the most precise calorie measures. And never forget to keep track of your water intake.

Plan A Workout

One of the major challenges people have faced during the pandemic is lack of access to fitness facilities like gyms and community centers, and even parks and beaches. Largely confined to the home, we’ve taken to our couches where we stream endless hours of television and play video games. No wonder we’re gaining weight.

Instead of spending all day on the couch, build opportunities for activity into your day. If you’re not sure where to start, try reading a fitness blog to see what activities appeal to you. Maybe you just want to take a daily walk around the neighborhood or ride bikes with your family. Or, you might enjoy taking an aerobics class with an instructor online, or doing yoga. You can even assign a different activity to each day of the week to add a little variety to the monotony of lockdown.

Experiment In The Kitchen

A lot of people are cooking more while in lockdown, to save money and because they can’t dine out, but cooking at home isn’t always healthy. It’s easy to pile on the calories by preparing processed, frozen foods, packaged sides that are full of sodium, and other unhealthy items off the grocery store shelves.

No, if you’re going to cook at home, you need to get back to basics – and one way to do that is by working on your culinary skills, whether by taking a cooking class online, perusing some new cookbooks, or video chatting with family members who can teach you recipes. And, in addition to helping you lose weight, improving your culinary skills will allow you to enjoy tastier food with less stress and much more enjoyment.

Pandemic weight gain isn’t great for your body, and it won’t do your mind any favors either, leaving many people feeling down on themselves and amplifying existing self-esteem problems, but you can take back control. By using this time to build healthier habits, rather than collapsing into anxiety-driven malaise, you can get back to a stable body weight and take control of your health – it’s never been more important.