The “Quarantine-15?”

-On porking out while staying in

Oh, my. I weighed myself this morning, as I do every other day, and it looks like I packed on five pounds. Dubious, as my eating habits really haven’t changed, I picked up the scale and shook it. I was certain that there was a “glitch,” somewhere. These digital scales mess up all the time, don’t you know.

Maybe it’s the battery. That little round silver thing.

Or, maybe. I actually packed on five pounds.

Much like the “Freshman-15,” now, getting fat during a pandemic has its own moniker: The “Quarantine-15.”

Oh, boy. Like we need this, too.

As I wracked my brain in an attempt to find out where I was going wrong, I realized that perhaps my diet had changed, just a smidge.

When I was employed, I followed a strict routine of drinking tons of green tea and eating two apples a day with peanut butter. Apples are delicious and filling, with tons of fiber and antioxidants, and peanut butter—well, who doesn’t love that? Plus, the protein content is satiating.

After working out at a gym during lunch, I’d return to my cube and eat hard-boiled eggs or a salad. Snacks were pistachios and that was it. No crackers, chips, or anything of that nature. During the past two years, after being laid-off, that routine has been systematically flushed down the toilet.

I have a new routine for this “new normal.” (Geez, I’m starting to hate that phrase.) And, if I am, to be honest with myself, and you, I have to say that it’s not nearly as healthy. Workouts are still a daily commitment, at home, but my diet has definitely altered. Gone are the daily apples with crunchy peanut butter. In its place: Junk.

In the morning, I start out fairly well. I load up my coffee with collagen and/or protein powder, almond milk creamer, a dash of cinnamon and cayenne pepper (yes!), a teaspoon of MCT Oil Powder, and froth it all up.

This crazy brew keeps me full and energized until the early afternoon. I’m always writing then, so I don’t stop to eat.

Around 3 pm, when my brain starts to shut down, it’s TV time. I either binge-watch “Killing Eve,” or anything with Chef Gordan Ramsay, my not-so-secret crush. Hey, my hubby loves him, too. While I watch, I snack on “authentic wonton strips,” which are fried, tortilla strips, also fried and fried jalapeno peppers! I mix all of these up in a jar and go to town.

One more thing: The “bar” opens earlier every day. I don’t need to be told that this in and of itself, is concerning.

I know: What the hell is wrong with me?

I wish I could tell you. A hodgepodge of things, I suppose. The virus, our being quarantined, the constant sanitizing of everything, and the pervasive feeling of “Why get up today?” Also, the weather in Chicagoland has been dismal as hell. Wet and cold, with barely a semblance of spring.

Because I worked too hard to get into decent shape, I’m on a mission to turn things around. I’m writing this in the hope that my friends here will keep me accountable.

Today, the weather is crappy as always but I’m going to force myself out for a walk, with my headphones on and my music at the ready. And when it’s TV time, I’m going to return to my beloved apples and peanut butter because I don’t need one more stressor like the number going up on a scale that, no matter how hard I shake it or move it, or how frequently I change the battery–isn’t broken.

Stay well, everybody, and thanks for reading.


Sherry McGuinn
Sherry McGuinn
Sherry McGuinn is a long-time, Chicago area, advertising/marketing writer, blogger and, for the last fifteen years, screenwriter. A big-time dreamer and proud of it, Sherry has had two short films produced, one in L.A., the other in New York. Both won several awards and screened at festivals but she is still "fighting the good fight," in order to become a full-time, working screenwriter. A passionate straight-shooter who never rests on her laurels, Sherry writes about damn near everything because how do you encapsulate…life? Unflinching in her determination to “just tell the truth,” Sherry strives to educate, engage and inspire others to follow their dreams. A lifelong animal lover and advocate, Sherry resides in a Chicago suburb with her husband and their three fabulous felines.

DO YOU HAVE THE "WRITE" STUFF? If you’re ready to share your wisdom of experience, we’re ready to share it with our massive global audience – by giving you the opportunity to become a published Contributor on our award-winning Site with (your own byline). And who knows? – it may be your first step in discovering your “hidden Hemmingway”. LEARN MORE HERE


  1. I hear you in that thrown off routine, Sherry. I’m here cheering for you in going on that walk and switching back to your apples with crunchy peanut butter. We’re having the torrential rains now in the mountains and I grabbed my umbrella and walked the mountain road by the house. Your essay reminds me of a yoga teacher who taught us a chant about returning a thousand times a thousand -hearing her voice always felt like much compassion. Like I could forgive myself for all the times I stopped doing yoga even though I always felt better afterwards. I notice that most everything that’s good for us is a practice. Yoga is a practice. Eating healthy -a practice. Getting enough sleep-a practice. Meditation-a practice. Telling people we love “I love you.” hopefully that one is a JOY! I think life happens in the nuanced moments, in our humanity, and our willingness to notice what we’re doing that feels aligned and what might not and then choose something else or not. And none of us have ever lived through a pandemic before so lots of grace to ourselves. I appreciate your honesty very much!! Thank you for being you.

  2. Sherry, that was inspired. I see you have gathered quite a tribe who feel what you experience. It would be the rare person who doesn’t identify with at least (or most) of what you have revealed. Finding someone to keep you accountable is tough. In fact, although I have searched, it hasn’t happened for me. I talked to someone who pays for their accountability partner to keep him accountable. I don’t know many people who could afford that option. It shows how important accountability is though.

    How do you want us to hold you accountable? Is there a mechanism for holding each other accountable?

    • Thanks so much, Jane. Yes, this is an outstanding community!

      I would be happy to help anyone here who needs an “accountability” partner to help with a push or a shoulder when things get tough. And I wouldn’t charge for it! 🙂

      This is unprecedented so I’m guessing we’d just have to figure it out as we go along. We could check-in with one another a couple of times a week just to see how we’re progressing. In fact, I invite you to email me at anytime at: [email protected].

      I’m certain I’ll fall of the junk wagon from time to time, so I’ll definitely need that extra boost. I appreciate your reading and commenting.

  3. Thanks, Sherry.
    A friend of mine called this a ‘break.’ Now that can generate lots of meaning, and I’m framing this like moving into a new neighborhood – an adventure. Really. I’m not trying to minimize the crap that has arrived with this, yet my legacy to myself can go along with “there’s a crack in everything; that’s how the light get in.” I married a spectacular woman in October, and we’ve decided this is an extended honeymoon. We’re spending it in a place with different rules, like masks and social distancing, but those are merely first-world problems, right?
    Be good. And well.

  4. I love apples and peanut butter but never put them together. Sounds great.
    I’m fasting everyday this past month and we are bad at night eating chocolate mousse cake! It was a gift for my daughter’s graduation… so, when Ramadan is finished, we will start working out more.
    So, I’m with you Sherry. Totally.

    • Try them. together, Laurie. You’ll love it! I like the extra-crunch peanut butter, but smooth is good, too. 😉
      Maybe we could help one another?

      Congrats on your daughter’s graduation! And enjoy the cake. You deserve it!

  5. Sherry — I’m standing right next to you in the “Now, when did THAT happen?” line.

    But hey, it could be that the battery really is faulty. Or maybe the scale’s internal circuitry picked up some of that fine Chicago spring moisture. Just sayin’. Ya never know.

    • Jeff, sadly, I changed the battery this morning and I’m still up the fiver! I must have moved the scale fifteen times and no cigar.

      I’m going to have to be more vigilant, I guess. But I’m definitely with you on the “Now, when did that happen?”

      “Mystery pounds,” right? 😉

  6. You are not alone, Sherry! I think many of us are feeling some kind of physical collateral damage from the pandemic. We threw our scale away because it was legitimately not working, and I’m not replacing it. I walk or run at least five days a week, and I try to be conscious – even now – of what I am eating. But it isn’t easy because I am laid off and trying to adjust to a new schedule. I know I am eating slightly differently, but with the nicer weather, I’m hoping to get back in my groove.

    As for weight gain, I’m not sure. I put button pants on every day as my gauge. So far, so good. Or maybe I’m kidding myself. But as long as we try to be diligent, that counts. You’ve got this, Sherry. The weather will turn soon, and hopefully, so will this pandemic.

    Inwis you well, and here’s to better days ahead.

    • Oh, thank you, Laura! It sounds like you got it under control and I salute you for that. It isn’t easy. It takes a very strong mindset to keep the pace, especially now.

      Thank you for reading and for the support! I do so appreciate it!