Quarantine Realities: Snacking, Movement, & Managing Expectations
This current Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is challenging for all of us—whether you are an essential employee working overtime and not finding enough time to eat, workout, spend time with your family, or whether you are quarantined at home surrounded by snacks and boredom—this situation is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced.
Here are some helpful tips to get through these wild times:
1. Be forgiving of yourself and manage your expectations.
Many of us have been working hard on health and fitness goals and have been torn away from our routines, our gyms, and our structure. Of course, there are adaptations we can make to get through and keep us focused (more on that later), but the reality is things have changed and some of our priorities need to shift. It’s important to keep perspective. We are in the middle of a global pandemic, so perhaps our fat loss, muscle gain, or squat PR goals need to be set aside while we focus on getting through this. It's not necessarily the most reasonable time to try to accomplish those things. Don’t beat yourself up if your workouts are shorter, your nutrition isn’t perfect, or you took additional rest days. All of that said, we also want to make sure we aren’t letting this time throw us off completely and come out disappointed when life goes back to normal.
2. Be aware of your caloric intake and boredom snacking.
If you are working from home, it’s very likely you are moving less. Less trips down the long hallway to the bathroom or to your meetings, less steps from the parking lot to your office, less time on your feet helping customers, etc. Not to mention, your gym is closed, and your home workouts may be less intensive or shorter than what you are used to. Less movement means less energy output (aka less calories burned), and less calories burned means potential fat gain if we are eating our normal amount. This is even more likely if we are eating more because we are home and bored. Most importantly, if you are hungry, eat! This is not about depriving yourself or restricting yourself from eating. But, if you recognize that you are eating much more than normal, try to think about what you are feeling before grabbing your next snack out of the fridge. Are you feeling bored? Stressed? Are you using the snack to help cope with that feeling? If so, consider finding some self-care activities to do in place of emotional eating. If you still want the snack, cool. Keep your house stocked with mostly healthy options.
On the other hand, if you are frantically working overtime, try to figure out ways to stay prepared so you have food handy and can stay fueled. Keep stocked with easy on-the-go stuff like nuts, protein bars, yogurt, veggies and hummus, etc. – I have yet to see shortages in the stores of these things! Also, if you have a family member at home, maybe they would be willing to help take over meal preparation/food planning.
Lastly, remember #1 – be forgiving with yourself, and try not to feel guilty about your choices.
3. Get in movement for your physical and mental health.
If you are stuck at home, it’s important to move your body. Even if not for the purposes of fat loss or achieving fitness goals, physical activity helps keep us healthy and sane. The uncertainty of this situation is likely to cause us all a lot of added stress and anxiety. Gyms are doing their best to keep their members connected and engaged. People all over the country (and world!) are sharing their workouts and creating a sense of community around working out. Take a walk with your dog or family to get some fresh air and get out of the house; do some stretching or yoga in your living room; find an accountability partner from your gym and hit the scheduled home workout—just try to move! I promise you won’t regret it when it’s done.
4. Use your additional time at home to try out some new recipes!
This is a great opportunity to be creative and try out something new. Look up some new recipes or pull some out that you haven’t made in a while and cook! Consider making extra so you have easy, ready to heat up meals on deck for lunches or dinner a different night. If you do decide that cooking isn’t gonna happen, consider supporting your favorite local (rather than chain) restaurants during this tough time for their business. If you need ideas of healthy take-out choices, check out my blog post on this topic: https://www.practicalchangenutrition.com/post/eating-and-drinking-out
I hope you, your family, and friends stay healthy and connected during this time. Thank you to all of you who are working hard and risking your health to help the community. We will all get through this together!