Keeping it Together During COVID Isolation
Sometimes I get really antsy to post on my blog. One of the best things I’ve learned for blogging is to hold back on posting, write out what I want to say, and then refine the content so it’s easy to read and makes sense. My first blog post this week was totally rushed and I edited out about half of it out way after the fact – my apologies but I was a little discombobulated. Now, I am taking the time to write something I think is actually useful so thanks for bearing with me. It’s a weird time for me, too.
I’ve had a lot of clients postpone their appointments and many of them end the message or call with a comment about how they aren’t sure what shape they’ll be in when we finally do meet up but they are hopeful they can keep it together. So, I figured, why not just give some tips for keeping it together?! Here we go...
If your daily activity has gone down
Perhaps you haven’t worked out since the gym closed or you shifted from an on-your-feet-job to one that can be done from the couch (no shame in the comfort-work game!). Even just removing a commute can be a game changer. So, without that activity, we need to adjust energy intake down. There’s a couple of ways to do this:
Increase low density foods (more veggies, fruits)
Decrease high density foods (fats, large portions of proteins or carbohydrates)
Increase water intake
Remove a snack
I recommend sticking to a schedule for meals but swapping out a little bit of carb or fat from a meal and adding more veggies. Veggies are full of fiber and water which means low calorie but very filling, volume wise. Volume is important because the stretch receptors in your stomach will be hit triggering that full feeling. We especially don’t want to feel physically empty when we are at home where all the snacks are!
Example: Grilled protein over a blend of veggies or salad with chopped fruit or berries mixed in instead of a sandwich or wrap for lunch.
Some favorite recipe websites:
If your activity has gone up…
Perhaps being at home has made it easier to get that morning run in or you are trying all the new video workouts. If your goals are building muscle, gaining endurance, or something related to performance, then consider increasing your energy intake throughout the day. That can be a snack before the work out (1-2 hours before), adding a bit more carbohydrate or protein to lunch and dinner, or sneaking in a midmorning snack. Eating enough can help make sure you don’t lose muscle mass or have low energy throughout the day. It takes energy to use energy.
Pre-workout Snack Ideas: Make sure it’s something that digests easily, and that you leave enough time for digestion to occur (no one likes a sloshing stomach!).
Unsweetened plain Greek yogurt (non-dairy is my preference) with berries
Fruit smoothie made with unsweetened plant-based milk, 1 banana and some dark berries
Half a peanut butter sandwich
Fig Newton bar
Banana or unsweetened applesauce
1 waffle or pancake with almond butter
Peanut butter energy bites or date and nut bar (Larabar or homemade are great!)
Apple with peanut butter and raisins
If you find yourself mindlessly eating...
Eating without paying attention is very common. We do it while we are watching tv, sitting on the couch, reading, or even working (as I notice I am eating chips right out of the bag and have already over done it)! Here are some ways to stay on track and not overeat or mindlessly eat:
- Portion out your snacks onto a bowl or plate and then put the container away. with extra time to prepare things, try to get more veggies and fruits in as snacks versus processed junk foods.
- Plan and prepare your meals and snacks just as if you were leaving for the day.
- Add more water before and between meals to help physically fill you up.
- Write out a grocery list to match your meals for the week and stock up on foods you feel positive about. If you have trigger foods or foods that are tough to ignore, try keeping them out of the house for a while.
If you’re struggling to be purposeful with your food, try to create an environment that helps you stay on track. It’s not about willpower, it’s about setting up for success.
If you’re feeling stressed…
If you’re the type of person who turns to sugar or salty snacks when you’re feeling stressed, that’s a sign that a productive coping mechanism is needed. We want to avoid, or break, the association of negative emotions with food, and hopefully learn to value food for its delicious and nourishing properties. The act of eating when stressed may actually increase our feelings of unease if we overeat or have a sugar-hangover. I suggest experimenting with meditation, trying a yoga video, taking an hourly walk around the block, or even scheduling a virtual therapy visit. Regardless of what you choose to manage your stress, take note of what your trigger situations are and try to be proactive. It’s DEFINITELY ok to be stressed right now but it’s also a great time to practice mitigating and managing that stress.
Resources I like
Headspace Meditation App
Calm Meditation and Sleep App
Triangle Breathing 1 Minute Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9Q8D6n-3qw
Therapy Resource: www.psychologytoday.com
Relaxation Yoga with Adriene https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwPzwZo6vdk
If you’re feeling really tired and unmotivated…
Sometimes being at home without a structured day can be difficult in maintaining momentum. Usually, low energy is due to not eating enough or not eating quality foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Aim to eat consistently throughout the day; no need to skip breakfast - you aren’t running out the door anymore! No bus to catch, no school to get to… Take the time to prepare something nutritious and balanced for yourself – you deserve it! Besides, you’ve been fasting all night and your body needs energy to focus, work, and juggle the kids.
Start the day with a glass of water and drink throughout the day. To mix it up, opt for unsweetened tea, soda water, or coffee. Sugar won’t help and can leave you crashing, energy wise, so try to limit or avoid sugary beverages.
Increase your fruits and veggies. These are the richest sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber and water content. Eating them will help stabilize energy, promote a feeling of physical fullness, and can add beautiful phytonutrients to your diet. Phytonutrients are things that have additional protective properties to help your health (like antioxidants!).
Experiment with cooking! Now is the perfect time to try and refine your meal game. If breakfast is always a challenge, start practicing creating easy, quick options. If lunch is, think through options and try some light meal prepping at the beginning of the week. When everything goes back to normal, the same challenges will be back so refining your approach now can be useful down the road.
If you want more personalized guidance to nutrition, please feel free to send me a note! I am conducting virtual visits now and they've gone really well. I'll be happy to help you work on your goals.