What a rollercoaster 12 months we've all had. We've still got a little way to go but there is finally a glimmer of light at the end of what's been a very dark tunnel for us all.
Along with seeing much-loved (and missed) family and friends, planning holidays and socialising again, it's also time to consider our post-lockdown fitness. For some of you, this could be a daunting prospect........
❓ Does lockdown lifting make you feel like you're 'starting again' with your fitness after a year off from healthy eating, routine or exercise?
❓ Are you struggling with confidence or lacking the motivation to return to the routine you once had and enjoyed before all this chaos started?
❓ Did you start each lockdown with great intentions - out walking more, taking up running, completing home workouts and cycling? Only to see the motivation to keep this up slide as each groundhog day passed?
❓ Maybe you jumped on the 'banana bread' and home-cooking bandwagon as there wasn't much else to do, only to now find yourself taking comfort in convenient take-outs and one too many glasses of wine instead?
❓ Has working from home thrown your daily routine out the window when it comes to food and movement and you've no idea how to get that back?
Whatever your situation, take comfort in knowing that you're NOT ALONE.
Unless you've been blessed with a home gym for easy exercise or executed some serious dedication and willpower when it came to food choices, many of us (myself included) have let some healthy habits slip and you may feel a little apprehensive about getting back on track.
To help start you on the right path, here are some post-lockdown lifestyle tips:
1. Returning To Exercise 🏋️♀️
If exercise has not been a priority for the past year or you've been focusing on bodyweight only workouts then the key here is to start slowly and steadily. You fitness and strength levels may be lower than before so don't feel like to have to 'pick up where you left off'. Ease yourself back into a routine that you know will work for you, whether that's 1 x week or 5 and take it steady for the first few weeks.
Remember that doing something, however small, is ALWAYS better than nothing and will motivate you to do it again.
If you're nervous about starting, why not join a local exercise class for added support? Or work out with a friend for accountability?
2. Reducing The Treats 🍷 🍕
It's very likely that for many of us, enjoying an alcoholic beverage or two or a take-a-way in an evening has steadily become an all-too regular occurrence and it can often be hard to return to our better pre-lockdown habits.
The trick is to ease yourself back into a healthier routine gently when it comes to food and alcohol. If we immediately tell ourselves 'we can't have a drink or a pizza tonight', we end up craving it more, feeling miserable and then caving in after a day or two and binging. It's a viscous cycle!
Try this instead: Tell yourself you're CHOOSING not to have a drink or take-out. This shift in mindset can often be enough to keep you on track. That said, still aim to slowly cut down on your intake rather than try and follow the typical 'all or nothing' approach. With regards to drinking, I always recommend having at least 3 alcohol-free days in a week but if you're used to drinking every night, start by having just one day of no drinking and build on this slowly over a few weeks. Or if that seems too much to start, use simple tricks to help you cut down such as adding soda water to your glass of wine or putting a couple of quid in a simple savings account for every drink you've chosen not to consume. Having a visual tracker (plus a nice savings pot at the end) is a great motivator! I've even done this myself (I'm up to £50 so far)! 😇
3. Emotional Eating 😔
I don't think any of us need reminding that lockdown has been tough on our mental health. This often means we take comfort in food to give ourselves a mood boost. Eating also gives us something to do when we're bored (and let's face it, there's not been much else TO do recently.)
There are many factors that play a part in emotional eating but the key is identifying your triggers and being aware of them. An argument with a loved one, a lost sale, home schooling causing you to pull your hair out etc. Whatever your trigger, it's not always easy to change the cause straight away but you can change the effect it has on you.
Next time you find yourself reaching for the biscuit tin or a large glass of vino, try changing the action you normally take. Something simple such as going for a 10 minute walk or blitzing a quick 15min workout. Often this is enough to make the craving subside and set you back on track. But if it doesn't - have it anyway and don't beat yourself up about it. You've at least done some activity beforehand!
4. Keeping Active 🚶♀️
Unfortunately, many of us have sedentary jobs which massively reduces the calories we burn every day. Since lockdown has forced most of us to work from home, this new normal has taken away extra physical activities such as the daily commute, lunchtime walks, cycling to work or walking up and down the office stairs.
Just moving around more every day can add up to quite a few calories burned without a specific exercise session in sight! Walking around while on the phone or even fidgeting burns a good chunk of calories and helps to keep our bodies and minds healthy. We are not designed to be sat down all day - we're built to move!
Now I'm not saying that prescribed exercise has no benefit - of course it does! But it doesn't make up for the 8-10hrs you may spend at your desk everyday.
We need to be conscious at to how active or inactive we are and start making time in our day to do more. Here are some ideas that you can start applying now and continue when you're back working from your office:
⏰ Set an alarm for every hour during your working day to remind yourself to get up and walk around for 5-10mins or run up and down the stairs 10 times.
🧍♀️ Get a standing desk. You're more likely to move around if you're already on your feet.
🥪 Take a lunch break to break up your day. Get outside and go for a walk around the block. Have lunch prepared in advance so you still have time to eat. Aim for 20-30mins. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
🧹 If you hate the thought of hours of endless housework, break it up into smaller chunks during the week. Each day spend 20mins either hoovering part of your house, dusting a room or two or getting some of those manual labour jobs done you keep putting off.
🚶♀️ Arrange a walk with a friend. Meeting someone gives you accountability and gives you an extra reason to do it.
🦵 Do 10 squats every time you go to the bathroom! This quickly adds up!
If after reading this you're still struggling, drop me an email and I'll happily have a chat with you to help you get started.