Most humans thrive in some sort of structure and habit routine. Healthy or not, we need all have routines and habits in our day to day lives. This consistency makes us feel comfortable; a feeling we all want. This is not a post about “getting out of your comfort zone.” This is about finding as much normalcy as possible.
This consistency in habits should also apply to nutrition and exercise when life is “abnormal” or when it feels like the world is going to end. No matter if your current level of stress and uncertainty is a feeling only you feel, or something everyone feels, consistent healthy habits should not be forgotten.
But, before we talk about habits, a proper and realistic mindset needs to be in place. For times when you can’t function, eat or exercise normally, goals and expectations need to be adapted to the new situation. Here are some tips:
- Don’t be perfect. This goes for any time, but especially when life is abnormal.
- Adjust your exercise goals to shorter term “process” goals such as “I will exercise every day at home for as long as I’m at home.” Setting a deadlift goal when you don’t have a barbell at home, doesn’t make much sense.
- Be OK “maintaining” bodyweight and body composition. As a trainer and coach this is always tough for me to say. The look on a client’s face when I say “It’s not a loss to maintain right now” is always a look I do not look forward to seeing. But, we have to be realistic. If your normal food and exercise routine is interrupted, expectations should be adjusted to avoid frustration.
- Be positive. This won’t last forever. Nothing lasts forever.
When we are healthy in a physical sense there is more likely a chance we are healthier in a mental state as well. And vice versa. Below is a list of habits we can all attempt to continue in regards to our personal health (physical and mental).
- Move. We are meant to move. Even if you are stuck at home you, can still move. Home gyms are awesome, but even bodyweight movement will get the job done. Times of uncertainty and stress are not a time to be perfect, set BIG goals or overachieve. Getting in “some” movement can be what it takes to alleviate stress for the next few hours. An example of a bodyweight home workout that will give you some mobility work, strength, cardio and core is below:
- 5-10 minutes of mobility work or flowing yoga
- 10-15 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) Circuit: Pick two lower body exercises (lunges, squats, wall sits etc) and two upper body exercises (pushups, plank to pushup etc). Complete 4-8 reps of exercise for as many rounds as possible in the time frame. Add light dumbbells if you have em!
- Core: Pick 2-3 core exercises and complete 20-30 seconds of each exercise for 2-3 round.
- Sleep. Do your best to keep normal sleep habits. It might be easy to stay up later and sleep in until noon, but deep down we all know this is not healthy. If you normally wake up at 6am, do your best to get up at the same time and find your normal morning routine. This means, no late night Netflix binges. Get to sleep at the same time as normal.
- Portion size can always be controlled. If the TYPE and quality of food available is not normal, don’t freak out. Yes, this sucks, but you can always control HOW MUCH you eat. Let’s say you have to buy some pre-made meals instead of making your normal meal prep. That’s not ideal, but you can adjust. One of or maybe even half of one of those meals is probably the right portion size for you. There is no reason to hoard or stock up on food for the next year. This will lead to over eating or wasting of food.
- Avoid buying unhealthy foods that you now are “triggers” for you. Times when all your normal healthy food might be scarce makes nutrition quite a bit tougher. No doubt about that. But, don’t use this as an excuse to buy foods that caused you issues in the past. Stay disciplined and remember this is not lasting forever. Building unhealthy habits now will catch up to you in a few months….
- Take your extra time to focus on your recovery. For me this means making sure I continue getting in a 20 minute power nap daily, walking Nahla daily and doing extra mobility and stretching daily. Sometimes it’s difficult to know if we are pushing too hard in the gym until we actually take a rest day or two. Then when we come back, the weight or the miles feel a bit easier. This means you needed to dial things back and recover. Hindsight is 20/20.
- Continue meal prepping or at least planning out meals in advance. If this habits helps you avoid “last minute stress eating” during the week then I argue this habit is important enough to continue, no matter the situation. Meal prep might need to be adjusted. Maybe its simply getting “pre made” meals in the freezer so you have a “healthier” dinner than pizza every night. Again, times like this are not a time to be perfect. We need to adjust and do our best.
- Drink water. Unless water gets contaminated, this should be a given.
Times like this can be overwhelming. Finding some normalcy is one of the best ways to fight through the stress. Pick 3-4 of the above healthy habits that you want to focus on each day. Remember, you probably have more time on your hands than ever before…there are no excuses to not focus on YOU.
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