As I write this, I don’t know what day of the week it is and only have a vague understanding that it might be a working day rather than the weekend. For someone who operates a small business from my home (when I am not at the gym…and I’m not), I consider myself a self-disciplined and driven person. But somewhere vaguely back in March, my hard-won routine quarantined itself far and away from me. I‘ve been left alone to pick up the pieces.
Luckily for me, picking up pieces and putting them together to form a healthy lifestyle is exactly what I do for a living. Now, don’t get me wrong. It has not been easy, and I find I’m learning as I go along, but I also tend to have a positive outlook on life. Instead of seeing this time as something to shrink back from, I find myself embracing it as an opportunity to make healthy habits a priority.
Here are some tips on building healthy habits around eating well during the chaotic (yet oddly slow-mo) time that is the COVID-19 pandemic:
● Self-Awareness ○ So, self-awareness is all about knowing yourself and being honest about your motivations. For example, right now I say aloud that I am relaxed, not stressed at all, I am handling things well. I GOT THIS. But deep inside, everything I do is fueled by a low-level uncertainty that causes me to feel continuously restless. Do you feel this way? If so, you need to have a nice, positive talk with yourself and lay down some quarantine ground rules. If you think this has nothing to do with what you choose to put in your mouth, you and yourself might as well be quarantining on separate continents.
● Routine ○ Structure is key! Likely when you were living your normal life, you followed some type of routine, though you may not have been aware of it at the time. Try to find this again. The more you stick to a routine, the more likely you are to form a habit. One of the ways you can do this is by setting an alarm on your phone for mealtimes. Kitchen adventures are only allowed when a scheduled mealtime alarm has rung.
● Timing ○ Turn your thoughts to food timing for maintaining healthy eating habits, along with a healthy weight. Forays into chronobiology have shown consistently that when you eat is just as important as what you eat. Dr. Michael Greger suggests in his most recent book, How Not to Diet, to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Basically, the later we eat, the more likely our bodies are to turn our meals into fat rather than fuel. And since the gyms are closed…
● Stocking Your Kitchen ○ Everyone seems to be Spring Cleaning for a lack of better things to do. When was the last time you did this for your fridge and pantry? If you are truly invested in eating a healthy diet, your kitchen should reflect that. The term “Quarantine Snacks” has become pervasive! Tempting, ultra processed, high-fat and calorie-dense foods should be banished. Foods should be as whole and unprocessed as possible. Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables are relatively easy to get right now. Let’s try eating less out of boxes, packets, and take-out bags.
● Cooking At Home ○ In our enthusiasm to support the local restaurant business, we can easily shoot ourselves in the foot health-wise. I recommend scheduling one restaurant meal or indulgence a week and to cook at home most days. As a Certified Health Coach, I find that people who enjoy cooking and cook often are the most successful when attempting to be healthy. These people are not only saving money, they are being creative, which makes the journey more engaging. If you’re a beginner or don’t feel confident in
your cooking chops, what better time to learn? Pinterest is my go-to for easy recipes. You can look up my “Recipes” board by searching “Brittany Hall, Certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach.”
Following these basic tips can promote a healthy lifestyle, if only you are willing to accept the challenge. And it will be challenging, make no mistake, because times are uncertain. But that makes the reward so much sweeter, right? Now, moving on to relearning the days of the week.
Brittany Hall is the owner of Brittany Hall Certified Personal Training and Health Coaching LLC. She is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer (ACE-CPT), ACE Certified Health Coach (ACE-CHC), and ACE Mind Body Specialist, all earned with the American Council on Exercise (ACE). She also holds an advanced certification with the Cancer Exercise Training Institute (CETI) as a Cancer Exercise Specialist (CES). She was an attendee at the Active Lives: Transforming Our Patients and Ourselves conference presented by The Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Harvard Medical School as well as the IDEA World Fitness Convention presented by the IDEA Health and Fitness Association. Her latest venture is as a POP Pilates instructor.