Hey everyone! I hope you are all keeping well, given the COVID-19 pandemic, and that you aren’t going too crazy with all the social-distancing and having to quarantine at home. I was looking through my planner the other day and saw that today was caramel popcorn day! How delicious and heavenly does that sound? Now I was tempted to write a post all about the wonders of this scrumptious treat, along with a recipe of mine to make the best caramel popcorn ever. However, as I was writing out my recipe I was struck by inspiration and found something even better to talk about. As amazing as caramel popcorn is, it isn’t exactly the healthiest and that got me thinking … this period has been challenging for all of us and one of the predominant hurdles is how on earth we are meant to stay fit and healthy when we have to stay home and limit our grocery shopping to non-perishables or frozen foods. I love pastas and frozen meals as much as the next guy, but that doesn’t mean they are friendly on our diets or bodies. It isn’t easy, and certainly far from ideal, but even in this current situation, there are ways for us to keep our health in check. It just requires a little extra effort and a positive, persistent attitude.
I only learned about this recently but hydration is a crucial aspect of maintaining our health. Being properly hydrated helps our body to function properly, can help prevent illness but also influences our sleep, mood and mental health. Who knew drinking enough water had that many impacts on our health? Keeping your body properly hydrated can also aid with weight-loss. Our brains sometimes trick us into believing we are hungry when we are just a little dehydrated, but we are often fooled by this trap and thus eat even when we don’t need to. By staying hydrated, and having a glass of water when you are hungry, you’ll find you won’t feel so snackish all the time and this is great when we are stuck at home. So, try to drink plenty of water during the day – not only will it keep your appetite at bay but it will also help you stay healthy.
Keep that heart rate up
Ugh why is exercise always so good for us? Can’t it for once be bad for us? Being quarantined at home means that even those active individuals who make an effort to go to the gym can no longer head out to burn off the calories. No matter your fitness level, the only gym all of us will be visiting is that square of open space in our bedroom/lounge. Now some of you may think that because the gyms are all closed and we can’t exactly go for a run outside, that means we get a free pass from exercise until all our respective lockdowns are lifted, but sadly that isn’t the case. Being at home all day means being more prone to snacking and less movement overall so it is even more critical for us to keep our heart rates up to stay healthy. I know that not everyone has gym equipment at home (because who loves gym that much??) but there are still ways to burn off all our meals. There are dozens of HIIT workouts that you can do at home that require zero equipment – Pinterest is full of great ideas for home workouts! You could also do yoga, or join a YouTube workout group that uses the same equipment you have access to. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you can’t exercise – it just takes a little more drive.
Try not to binge eat
Hours ahead of us with nothing better to do than watching netflix. Who can help reaching for the popcorn? And chips. And chocolate. And hot chocolate. And biscuits. And all those other non-perishable snacks that go so perfectly with a day full of lazing about in front of a screen. I know how tempting it can be to grab just another handful for this movie and to save the rest for tomorrow, but soon the bag is empty and you’re opening the next one and three weeks later you’re wondering why your jeans suddenly feel so tight. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying all of the additional down time, and there is no fault in wanting to treat yourself to a snack every now and then, but a carton of ice cream and two bags of popcorn/chips a day sounds a bit too much like binge-eating and that is no good for anyone. The problem with eating like that is all the non-essential junk food calories we are adding to our daily intake, plus that food is unhealthy, makes us more hungry and just ends up making us feel sick and unhappy. I love sweets and I love snacks, but I also love feeling good in my clothes and I don’t want this lockdown to be the reason I’m 5kg heavier. This quarantine means less activity overall, and less access to healthy foods, so enjoy your snacks. But do so in moderation so that you don’t put on any unnecessary weight or feel sick from all of it.
Netflix and stretch
It’s safe to assume that most of us are having a lot of quality time with netflix during the period. And that’s totally okay because we are stuck at home. However, watching movies or series is an incredibly passive activity – I mean it doesn’t exactly include any high intensity movement unless you count desperately scrambling to find that dropped piece of popcorn. So, if you want to make all that sitting/lying down time more beneficial, why not tie it in with some light movement? While you’re watching, you could try out some low-level HIIT exercises (such as glute bridges or leg raises) so that you get the best of both worlds – enjoying a show and doing a little exercise/stretching. You could also do yoga or just basic stretches, or go to the extreme if you have gym equipment and sit on a stationery bike while your series plays. My dad moved one of our spinning bikes into my bedroom so that I can cycle while watching movies and while it sounds evil and torturous, it was actually such a good idea because I can benefit in a healthy way from all that time that I would have spent lounging about. You don’t have to go as far as that, but doing something active while you watch something could be a great way to keep your activity levels up while making sure you get through all your episodes.
Get enough sleep
Who needs sleep? Sleep is for children and the weak right? I mean students in general never sleep. Same for parents or simply busy people because those few extra hours of shut-eye can be so easily sacrificed. The problem with this mentality is that it quickly catches up with us and experts have been expressing for years the significant problems that come with lack of sleep. During the lockdown period, while many people may still have work (to do online), very few people have to worry about waking up very early for commutes or getting children to school. Plus, there are people who don’t have too much work as it is hard for their jobs to be transitioned into online work. This means that we all have the opportunity to catch up on sleep and be getting the proper number of hours in bed each night. Lack of sleep impacts both our physical and mental health and can impede our immune system’s abilities (and right now we need those immune systems to be in top shape), so while you have the chance, try to get enough sleep. Avoid caffeine before bed, limit alcohol and smoking, disconnect before bed and try to establish a sleep schedule so that you can get the hours of sleep you need. That way, you will be far more refreshed in general and your body will be in a better condition (you will be more mentally, physically and emotionally capable) because you are properly rested.
Eat balanced and regularly
One of the big problems with this domino effect from COVID-19 is that it has thrown the way we all eat completely out of whack. Now this could be considered a good thing (not going out as much, limited access to junk food like takeaways) but the flip side is that we have to be careful with our grocery shopping. We are meant to only go out for essentials (and yes that does include food), but that means the frequency that we buy food will decrease and that means we can’t buy as much fresh stuff because it expires much faster. The other problem is that because everyone has been stocking up, that means that most of our provisions are most likely frozen foods or non-perishables like tins and pasta. That food is fine but not always the healthiest. So, the trick to staying as healthy as possible during this time is to try and eat regularly and to have a balanced diet. Eating regularly can help stop you from getting cravings our snacking on unhealthy foods. Having a balanced diet is more difficult but it is possible with the right planning. Try to spread out your non-perishable meals so you aren’t eating the same thing every night and divvy up your fresh ingredients so you can try have a little bit with each meal. I know it is hard, because this situation is far from ideal, but doing what you can to eat as healthy as possible will go a long way in keeping you fit, strong and happy.
Be creative with it
You’re stuck at home with limited resources, which means that you’re going to have to get creative with certain things. With this, I’m referring more to exercise but you can get creative with your nutrition too (and that should be fun to see what you create!). As I said earlier, it is important to try get as much physical activity in as we can manage due to being so stagnant and one way that I’ve mentioned is to do some light activity while watching Netflix. That has lots of potential to be both fun and beneficial however there are more options than that. You could do a dance workout, or play an active game, or simply run around the garden/house with your dogs/kids. Even cleaning the house, if you are vigorous while doing it, could be considered physical activity. For me, I love dancing so I dance when I clean my room and do a fun youtube dance workout every second day. I also play Beat Saber with either my brother or boyfriend (which is a fun VR dance-like game that requires you to slice blocks in different directions to a song) and that definitely gets all of our heart rates up. There are so many fun ways that you can get active, even if you are stuck at home, so try to make the best of it rather than succumbing to life as a pillow.
Don’t punish yourself
Last but certainly not least, it is critical that you don’t punish yourself if things don’t work out the way you plan. If you couldn’t find the time to exercise today, forgot to drink your daily amount of water or had a cheat day and ate popcorn and chocolate while watching movies for 24 hours, then that is okay. Nobody is perfect, and this is an incredibly stressful time for all of us. We are all going to have days where we just don’t want to get out of bed, or can’t muster the energy to exercise, or have had a super healthy week but then a really unhealthy weekend. The important thing to note is that having these slip-ups are perfectly acceptable – don’t punish yourself for having a moment of weakness. I’m not going to say you can have six days in a row that are filled with weak moments, because that’s pushing it a little, but one day is fine. Have that one day of no exercise, or eating unhealthy snacks, and don’t punish yourself for it. That way, the guilt doesn’t make you feel bad and you can get back on track the next day without being completely absorbed by remorse. It is quarantine/lockdown after all, which means we are inclined to have one or two naughty days – just make sure it’s not one or two naughty weeks.
Being healthy is something we all dream of and unfortunately COVID-19 has been a real backstabber for all of us. Those of us who were on a roll going to the gym every day or eating nothing but fresh, organic foods, even those who made it their goal to go out for a run every day or eat salads for lunch rather than takeaways – this has been a serious blow for us all. However, being stuck at home doesn’t mean the death of all our healthy dreams. It may be difficult, and inconvenient, but there are still ways to exercise and stay healthy, and keep those calories at bay and I hope that if you’re looking for ways to do this that this blog post has helped. If you’ve got any advice that you’d like to share (such as a great home workout or a way you’re staying healthy during quarantine), please let me know in the comments section. I’d love to hear how the rest of you are keeping your health goals intact during lockdown. Otherwise, thank you all so much for reading. Your constant support means the world to me. Please everyone stay healthy and safe, and try not to become a pillow during quarantine.
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx