So, for those of us in England, here we go again, day two of lockdown 2, and that familiar feeling of dread that all the strength and fitness that we have just regained will once again desert us as the gyms close and the cold weather conspires against our fitness goals. However, we survived it before and we sure as hell ain’t gonna let it beat us again this time around!
Whilst not everybody is off work (thanks go out to the essential keyworkers keeping the country ‘running’), a large proportion of the working public will now find themselves at home, either working or with little to do. Even those still at work will find their evenings devoid of activity with all but essential businesses now closed meaning no pubs, gym or eating out and little to keep us occupied other than the tv and raids on the kitchen; but it doesn’t have to be so.
Regardless of our thoughts on this latest lockdown, the fact remains that it is now in place and there is nothing we can do except deal with it for the coming 4 weeks or until the restrictions are relaxed. That situation is out of our control, but there is so much that we can still control and it is that on which we should focus. If nothing else, this current situation has given us more of that precious commodity that is time, and by using it wisely we might even come out of it all healthier and maybe a little better off.
The temptation is to spend the next 4 weeks doing little more than Netflix and chill, but it is important to try and keep active and a little self motivation can go a long way to make us more productive and get things done that perhaps we were putting off citing lack of time as an excuse. Make a list of tasks that you have been meaning to do, or goals to achieve and write them down, leaving them in a prominent place to keep them in your mind daily. Remember the importance of NEAT for calorie and weight control (see my previous blog on the topic) and strive to achieve a given number of steps each day. Get outside when possible, even if it means wrapping up against the weather as fresh air is both important and invigorating and it’s also great to just get out of the house. Walking is a great form of exercise or you might even make it a goal to increase the pace a little and begin jogging, adding distance each time to work both the muscles and the cardiovascular system. Home workouts are of course popular and easily accessible with hundreds of p/ts now offering classes and exercise drills online using little or no equipment, so fitness levels can be easily maintained; just don’t expect to break any personal lifting records or massively bulk up!
When not exercising, use your time wisely. Is there something that you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time? Learn a language, complete that jigsaw you’ve had in the cupboard for years, educate yourself or try cooking a new dish. With the kids still at school (for the time being) this forced break could in fact prove to be the perfect time to spend on you and do something that you’ve been wanting to do but forever putting off.
This is of course also a very stressful time for many of us, and by keeping busy we will not have time to dwell on any issues or turn to the obvious comforts of food and/or alcohol. Many people find mediation or yoga a good hobby to indulge in during times of stress or practising gratitude and writing down the good things our lives have to offer can also be a worthwhile venture. In addition, we should always try to get 6-8 hours of sleep a night, so try and resist the late night movie sessions and resultant lie in; try to keep to your normal sleep pattern and waking time as that will make things easier when we get back to normal.
Perhaps the hardest thing to keep on track during this time is your diet, with those at home surrounded by tempting foods just a few steps away in the kitchen and we all know how boredom can stimulate an appetite! Bear this in mind when you shop and avoid the temptation to buy hyper palatable foods that you know will be hard to resist later, but instead stock up on fruits and the like that you can grab without adding copious amounts of calories to your daily intake. Remember calories in vs calories out is still the basis of weight gain/loss whatever the situation.
I realise that this is not a good time for anybody, and my thoughts are with those who are struggling due to lack of work/income, but unfortunately this is the situation that we now find ourselves in, and by concentrating our efforts on the things that we can control, we might just get through this not only in one piece, but maybe, just maybe in better condition than when we started.