Battling the “Covid-15”

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Battling the "Covid-15”

The telltale symptoms of “Covid-15,” aka the “Quarantine-15,” are weight gain and tight jeans.  According to a new survey by Weight Watchers, 36 % of Americans have gained an average of 12.5 pounds during the pandemic (10.7 for women and 15.1 for men). If you are one of them, commit to making a plan to reverse it.

Make a plan. The game plan includes your goals and schedule for achieving them. Think short, intermediate, and long-term targets. Say your goal is to lose the average 10 pounds that women gain, and we know that successful weight loss based on behavior modification is 1.5-2 pounds/week.  At that rate, it will take approximately 5-6 weeks to lose the weight.  Your short-term goal is 1.5-2 pounds every week; intermediate goal, to lose 5 pounds in three weeks; long term, the entire 10 pounds in 6 weeks.  Create realistic goals plotted over time.

Get a baseline and decide how to measure your progress. Using scale weight as in the above example is a guaranteed measure of your success.  Personally, I rely on the scale to track my weight and keep it in a close range, but some women steadfastly avoid weighing themselves. If you prefer not to, then use a favorite piece of clothing – jeans or pants/skirt with a waistline. This is a slightly less reliable way to chart your progress, but you will know if the fit is getting looser.

It is a numbers game. To lose 1 pound per week, you need to account for a deficit of 500 calories every day for a weekly total of 3500 deficit calories. This means creating daily objectives to reduce caloric intake by 250 calories and increase caloric expenditure by 250 calories.  What extra snacks, food types or portions can you cut out to reduce your calories?  How can you increase your activity level to burn more calories every day? Remember that your long-term success is based in your day-to-day activities – every day you should eat and exercise in such a way that you develop habits that will serve you for life.

Start with cardio exercise. Weight loss from cardio exercise is primarily fat loss.  As you exercise regularly, you will reduce fat stores from the whole body and develop leaner, toned muscles instead. The gain in lean muscle tissue and loss of excess fat will result in trimmer contours and smaller circumferences regardless of the number of pounds lost. Research shows that exercise prevents fat from being stored in the organs and muscles. It also reduces the size of fat cells in the belly more effectively than dieting alone. 

Add strength training. While it is true that aerobic exercise burns calories, it is only one part of the equation. Weight training develops your muscles and increases your lean body mass (muscle, bone, organs, and fluids) which is metabolically more active than fat. As you develop more lean body mass, you raise your resting metabolic rate, the number of calories you burn at rest.  A lean body is more power-hungry, burning more calories just to breathe, circulate blood, digest food, even as you sleep!

Practice resilience. Coping with roadblocks and finding ways to move forward involve a resilient spirit. A clear purpose and effective coping mechanism will allow you to stay on course. Keep your eye on your goal and be flexible to modify your plan when life intervenes. A combination of discipline, flexibility, and perseverance works every time, for every goal.

For expert guidance on strength training techniques, step by step photos depicting how to perform the exercises and a selection of well-rounded workouts please check out the book Strength Training Exercises for Women by Joan Pagano at

Joan also offers an online fitness and nutrition course, “Beat Belly Fat, Bloating, Bone Loss and the Blues” available on her website here   

(c) Copyright – Joan L. Pagano. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.


  • Joan Pagano has specialized in strength training for women since 1988 – training, teaching, and writing books on the subject, including Strength Training Exercises for Women (DK, 2014). When the health benefits of strength training started making headlines in the 1990s, and in particular how weight training could protect the bones and prevent osteoporosis, it was a natural segue for her. At that time, Joan was developing and delivering fitness training guidelines for osteoporosis to national audiences of exercise professionals. Currently Joan is recognized by the industry as a leading authority on exercise program design for osteoporosis. She is certified as an Exercise Physiologist by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and is on the Ambassadors Leadership Council for the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Visit Joan at:

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