Updated: May 19
Most of us have struggled with diet or exercise at some point in our lives. It can be especially difficult in times of uncertainty. The COVID-19 has swept our nation inducing terror among us on its destructive worldwide path. Our lives have changed in the midst of this uncertainty and some of our routines have likely fallen out. I believe that structure, routine, and creating your schedule is essential to health and wellness.
Striving for a healthy lifestyle is the best line of defense when coping with stress and chronic disease. All of us have been affected by this pandemic in one way or another. Let’s take this difficult time as an opportunity to refocus on what is most important and what you can control. This article provides simple and effective ways to get back on track today. 1.) Move your body! Start today. Do NOT wait until Monday. If you are working from home, this may give you some flexibility. Start implementing small changes to get back on track with your goals. A routine doesn’t have to be rigorous, it just has to make sense for you. Most importantly, set it up realistically so you are able to follow through. Be honest with yourself about your likes, dislikes, and what has worked for you in the past. Contrary to popular belief, fitness can and should be enjoyable. Do some experimenting, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Involve your partner or your kids if you want. Fitness should be about you. Consider your goals and current fitness level. It is imperative to choose something you are willing and able to do. Challenge yourself to move daily. It could be a walk to the park. Write down a simple plan and follow through. I use a fitness journal but any notepad would suffice. There are also good apps such as myfitness pal which can assist you with tracking habits. Take it one day at a time and be consistent. 2.) Drink more water. Most of us are not drinking enough water. A good rule of thumb is to drink 3-4 liters (11-12 glasses) a day. It is essential for basic human function. If you are highly active, breastfeeding, or have health conditions you may need to drink more than that. It is important to note that if you consume alcohol or caffeine in excess you will need more than the recommendations above. Another way to determine if you are getting enough water is by looking at your urine. It should be a pale yellow or colorless. Dehydration has many negative effects on the body. It is an easy first step to better health and reaching your weight loss goals. Try drinking water before every meal or snack. It can also help you to prevent overeating. I put a bottle of water next to my bed every night with a bit of lemon juice in it. I drink it as soon as I wake up. Our bodies work hard while we sleep and it is important to start your day off with water. It does wonders for your beauty routine as well. Being dehydrated negatively affects your mood, attention, memory, and motor coordination. Challenge yourself to drink one more glass of water a day. Investing in a cool water bottle, adding fruit or mint to your water, and even logging your intake can help you consistently follow through. 3.) Take vitamins. Vitamins and supplements are a great way to fill in any gaps within your diet. It is especially important for those of us who have food allergies or dietary restrictions. I recommend a multivitamin produced by a reputable company. Personally, I utilize supplements such as collagen and protein powder to ensure I am getting enough micro and macronutrients although it is ideal to get nutrients from whole, real foods. Supplements can be convenient and useful in addition to your normal diet. 4.) Prioritize your sleep. As a parent, I ensure my children get to bed by 8’o clock every night. Why? I know not getting enough sleep will affect their mood and wellbeing. Adults are the same. Just because our lives are different during this national shutdown, does not mean we need any less sleep. Arguably so, sleep is more important to adhere to during a time of crisis and high stress. It may be tempting to binge on Netflix all night but it is important to stay consistent with your sleep schedule. Do your best to get to bed about the same time every night. Aim for eight hours with no less than six. If you have difficulty falling asleep try some light meditation. There are amazing apps with guided meditation and breathing exercises. Start a nightly routine to signal your brain it is time for rest. Commit to limiting screen time, news, or any stressful engagements before sleep. Stress is highly underestimated by many in terms of health. Stress can wreak havoc on our minds and body. Stress has actual physiological and psychological consequences. Protect your wellbeing and put up an imaginary “do not disturb” sign. It is okay and necessary to prioritize your mental health. Do not feel guilty if that means setting boundaries or communicating your needs to family members or partners. 5. Eat well. Eat food that makes you feel good. Change your relationship with the food you consume. Instead of focusing on everything you “can’t eat”, focus on eating foods that energize you. Make small changes in your diet and take note of how you feel. I suggest writing about what you eat in a journal. It can be as simple as scribbling down a summary of your meal and how you felt afterward. Do NOT judge yourself. The stress of it is more detrimental than the food itself. The purpose of writing your food down is to gain awareness of your current dietary habits. The idea is that you need to know where you are, to be able to get where you want to go. It will help you recognize how certain foods make you feel. Get creative and try out some new recipes or food you have never had before. We all could use some creative outlet during this time. Put some music or your favorite podcast on and cook something you have never cooked before. Food is nourishment. Allow yourself to consume without guilt and enjoy yourself! If you are not happy with your current style of eating, simply change your experience. There are so many ways to feed yourself; find another way to satisfy your hunger. Learn something new, get outside in nature, or take up a hobby. Be well, express love, and stay grateful.