How to stay fit in a COVID world
The world is now your gym. Photo by Big Dodzy

How to stay fit in a COVID world

The “new normal”

 Our worlds, once so big, have gotten very small since March of 2020. 

Gyms and workout studios are closed (or closed, reopened, closed and kind of reopened).  Peloton sales have gone UP.  App sales have gone through the roof – the fitness industry, besides the toilet paper industry, is a real winner in these “uncertain times”.

There also have been winners and losers in the fitness sphere on the consumer side. I hear binary feedback from my audience – either they got in the best shape of their lives, or suffered from the “COVID 19” weight gain.

There is still time to change your fate.

 Perhaps the most upsetting thing about the Corona virus is not the effects, per se, but the lack of control we have.  Over the economy. Over our mobility.  Over our sanity, perhaps?

In this “COVID world”, the key to adapting your fitness routine is to focus on what we CAN control. And it’s a lot more than you think. We CAN control our diet and activity. The availability of technology gives us a leg up on the otherwise cut off resources we have been used to.

Part of what can help is making sure we have the right supplements to combat a lack of sun, the right energy, and the right nutrients in the body. You will definitely want to check out my post on supplements here.

 What you don’t want to do:

Don’t gaslight yourself

You don’t want to perpetuate the two biggest weight gain culprits: Sitting on your ass and eating too much. Which is exactly what the following activities encourage.

  1. Sit in front of a computer from morning to night.
  2. Guzzle coffee or Diet Coke instead of water
  3. Sit in front of said computer in your PJs
  4. Graze mindlessly.
  5. Limit activity to your hourlong workout and sit the rest of the day.

Without the normal activities of an office, including walking during a commute for many urbanites, you can run the risk of your only physical activity being the trip to your bathroom and kitchen.

Even if you are super diligent about your workouts and are on that Peleton for 45 minutes a day, this is not enough to compensate for 23 hours of inactivity, 13 of them while you are awake. That and bad eating and personal care habits can lull you into a false sense of security. The lack of accountability of office clothing feeds into the gaslighting.

woman drinking orange liquid from bottle
Chug water, not soda!!! Photo by Sidral Mundet

What you DO want to do:

Work AND work your ass off

  1. The streets are not closed (yet).  Especially if you jumped on the COVID puppy bandwagon, getting steps is a no-brainer.  Get at least 10,000 steps a day, and gradually increase the goal to 15-20,000.
  2. You can walk while you are on calls, even join zoom, Microsoft teams, and google meets from an app on your phone. You have even more freedom to walk around during calls, so embrace that.  We have now embraced video calls, for sure, but there are definitely calls where you can get away with the camera off or just joining by phone, like for team scrums or general update calls with 20+ participants..
  3. If you need to be at your computer because you are expected to substantially participate, consider getting a treadmill desk or a floor treadmill. You can even get a mini stair-stepper for a cheaper price like this one. Then, you don’t have to actually turn your camera on until you are speaking, when you can slow the machine down or stop.  It may sound like a lot of trouble, but once you get it set up it is so worth it in the end. I have noticed a huge difference since I started using my calls as an activity break.
  4. If weather is prohibitive, pace back and forth.
  5. Consider investing in a walking floor treadmill you can fold and store, if space is an issue, or a desk treadmill.
  6. If calls are not a big part of your job (say you are a software designed or in an IT-related field), then this is where you need discipline and the help of electronics to force you to get up and walk around.  Set a timer (or ask Alexa to remind you) to get up once every hour and take a break for 15 minutes.  Use that break to knock out an errand, take a walk, or even a quick 10-minute HIIT workout (more on that later).

Set the tone for being active all day

  1. Work out the first thing in the morning to set a precedent for staying active all day. Use APPs to your advantage.  You can check out my review of APPS in this POST/CHAPTER.
  2. Another trick that I do is I get a long walk out of the way in the morning, usually with my dog, during the time I would have spent getting ready and commuting to the office, so in reality, I am not losing any time.
  3. Hold yourself accountable.  Now is not the time to sit in PJ’s or yoga pants from the waist down.  Change into workout clothes as soon as you get up. Have them laid out “fireman style” next to the bed, down to the socks and outer layer.
  4. Once you finish working out, shower and dress in fitted pants or jeans like you had to be in the office – that way you psychologically have the message that you need to watch what you eat – both frequency and portions.  Putting on your work clothes will make you feel professional, be aware of your eating, and this does include makeup if you wear it  – although the rules of the game are different for Zoom – for good makeup tricks, try this guide to  Zoom makeup tips.  The commute may be out of the picture, but that time you save is enough, so no more of the excuses of saving time because you are working in your pjs and having brushed your teeth yet.

Drink a lot of water and eat high-protein meals earlier in the day

  1. Approach your meals the same way you would in the office. Eat breakfast at the same time you would before you head out the door. Pack a lunch and snacks like you would when going to the office the night before.
  2. The more protein you get earlier in the day, the less likely you are to get hungry and fall prey to munchie foods later in the day. No one wants to eat pretzels or chips at 8am, so that’s a great time to have scrambled eggs to stave off later hunger.
  3. Drink at least a liter of water when you wake up, and 80 percent of your water consumption before noon. This will ensure that you stay hydrated and make bathroom trips so you are constantly moving.
  4. If you don’t like chugging water, eat water rich foods that are low in calories and healthy, like celery, carrots, apples, and watermelon, and cucumber. This serves the dual purpose of satisfying the “munchies” and staying hydrated.

Mid-day: Take intentional breaks

  1. Set aside one or two 15-minute breaks on your calendar in the afternoon. This is normally when you would go get coffee or take a break, so take that break and go for a walk or do a quick yoga or HIIT sesh. In my app review post there are plenty of “7-minute” workout options, and 10 minute yoga classes.
  2. If you are catching up on any team connect calls or one on one with a colleague, make it a walking call as a way to motivate each other.
  3. Take advantage of micro breaks you have to do incremental household chores. For example, wipe a counter, empty some of the dishwasher, stick in a load of laundry. Doing these chores incrementally during the day because you are home already helps keep you active and also gets more household stuff done in bite-size chunks so it does not seem so overwhelming.

Weekends

  1. Especially when we are confined to our homes, weekends can be a Netflix binge-watch and order pizza danger zone.
  2. This is compounded by a lack of a structured schedule
  3. The solution is to structure your schedule as you would a workday. Keep working out to be part of the morning routine. Plan on listening to a podcast or calling a friend while taking a long walk. Or take a long walk with your family/significant other.
  4. Prep healthy watch snacks like baby carrots and salsa or hummus, salted cucumber, fruit, and instant soups that can be warmed in a mug and sipped slowly.

More: 10 tips for working from home (Cleveland Clinic)

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