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The Age of Social Distancing: 5 Tips to Help You Maintain Your Fitness Goals (and Sanity)

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

We’ve come to a place where everything that we once knew as normal is no longer the norm. Traffic has become non-existent. The percentage of school-aged children home-schooled in America went from less than 3% of the population to 100% in a week. Three months after committing to a new year’s fitness resolution, gyms have closed. Working from home was once impossible at your job, then magically your employers developed a work from home policy and equipped you for the task within a matter of a few days. Amid all the uncertainty, it seems that one thing is for sure, we’ll be spending more time inside our homes due to social distancing.

The need for everyone to practice social distancing has put a wrench in many plans. To help with containment, gyms nationwide have closed their doors until, at least, the end of the month. Restaurants have done something similar by providing only take-out. Schools are closed, which means the kids are home with you all day. All of this is a recipe for getting off track with reaching your goals.

I’ve had to switch to a schedule that has me working from home four days out of the week. The other day, I’m in the office. During this time, I must ensure I stay healthy, do my part to help contain this virus, and continue to work on all my goals (fitness goals included) while figuring out the Age of Social Distancing. After week one, I have figured out some of the things I’ve needed most to continue mastering my fitness goals and maintaining sanity during this new age. However, my eyebrows are a mess.

As you adjust, consider these five tips to help you continue your journey to a fit life.

1. Be Intentional with Your Time

If social distancing has given you more downtime, use it to your benefit. Don’t squander your time because you “have nothing to do.” Be deliberate about what’s within your control, how you spend your time. Invest the time in working towards those things you desire for yourself, you know, your goals.

Plan your day out. Develop a schedule just as you did pre-COVID-19. Obviously, it won’t be the same schedule. Since I’m working from home most days now, I use the time that I’d normally use to get ready for work to get the first half of my ab workout done. I could easily sleep in. Instead, I do this so that I can still be up and ready in time for work, work on some of my fitness goals, and remain on the same sleeping pattern for when I transition back to office life post-COVID-19.

Set reminders to keep your schedule. There are apps for everything. Apps to remind you to move, to drink water, and even when to eat and stop eating. You may think its overkill to have these reminders, but it’s so easy to neglect these actions when you have downtime or equally when you’re busy. Well, maybe not eating, but if you’re considering learning to fast, a tracker is helpful.

If you’re working from home, remember to schedule breaks for yourself to step away from your work. You could incorporate this with some physical activity. At the top of every hour run the stairs in your home twice. No stairs? Do 25 jumping jacks. These are just examples. Same with drinking water, drink a bit every hour.

2. Revise Your Plans

How are you doing with working on your fitness goals in this “new age”? Now that you’re around the fridge, pantry, and couch more often, have you adjusted your plans to reach those goals? If not, now’s a good time to do so.

Review the plans you’ve made to reach your goals and determine what changes you’ll need to make to those plans. If you went to the gym 3 times a week, but now that the gym is closed you’ll need an alternative. Working out at home is an option. Think about the equipment you already have and what you may need to complete a workout. Conversely, will you focus more on your diet since the gym is closed?

If being at work, away from your children’s snacks in the pantry helps you to stay on track, how will you handle it now that you’re home all day with them? I hate having to clean dishes after eating, so I rarely cook. Due to social distancing, if I want to eat, I’ll have to get back into cooking. In my defense, I eat bowls from Chipotle a lot. *shrugs* It’s good and an easy go-to meal, that's filling and fits in my plan.

3. Focus on Nourishment to Support Your Immune System

Not my favorite, but they are tasty.

I’ll repeat it again, put your energy into those things you can control during this time of uncertainty. Most times we control the foods we bring into the home and what we consume. When planning your meals consider including these immune system boosting foods:

  • Garlic

  • Citrus fruits

  • Bell peppers

  • Broccoli

  • Ginger

  • Spinach

  • Turmeric

  • Almonds

  • Mushrooms

  • Shellfish

Include other foods that are high in Vitamins C and D, as well as zinc. Eat elderberries or take an elderberry lozenge or gummy daily.

Avoid eating junk food often. Oh, I know it’s tempting. Being home all day and the constant talk of COVID-19 can be a stressful combination. I imagine adding children to the situation would cause balding. So, I get it. However, junk food works against the immune system. Sugary foods cause inflammation in the body. Be gentle with yourself and keep an emergency snack or two for those highly stressful days. Instead, choose fruits and nuts for snacks. Also, limit dairy and beef. Even though its high in Vitamin D, dairy increases the production of mucous.

It was suggested to shop for two weeks’ worth of groceries. Don’t be afraid to get fresh fruit and vegetables. Use the chart above for storing fruit and the one below for storing vegetables. Make smoothies. They are tasty options that the entire family will enjoy. Here is a link to 8 recipes for immune-boosting smoothies.

When choosing non-perishable items, remember to avoid those foods high in sodium. Non-perishables you should include:

  • Dried beans

  • Dried beans

  • Canned vegetables (low or no sodium)

  • Nut butter (such as peanut and almond)

  • Canned tuna

  • Crackers

  • Trail mix

Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and sip on warm herbal tea to help boost your immune system. Avoid liquor. It is a diuretic and can cause you to become dehydrated.

3. Remember to be Active You also control your level of activity. No, you can’t go to the gym, but you’re still able to get moving. Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t go outside. Social distancing is deliberately increasing space between people to avoid spreading illness. Maximum space would be you at home, in a room by yourself. However, you can get outside and walk or run. Right now, state parks in GA are still open for hiking and the streets of your neighborhood are fine. Your backyard may be the perfect space for home workouts. Your living room too. Note: you’ll get additional Vitamin D from the sun if you spend some time outside. Not sure about working out at home? There are plenty of fitness gurus that post home workouts on YouTube and Instagram. Here is a link to an at-home cardio workout. Don’t let not having equipment be an issue. There are plenty of things in your home that you can use, including a small child. My youngest niece, Mo has been used quite a few times as added weight for squats and she loves it! Her giggles keep me going. I could listen to them all day. Other examples of items you can use for home workouts:

  •      Gallon jugs filled with water (increase or decrease level of water to change weight)

  • Laundry detergent bottles as kettlebells

  • Chairs (squats, hamstring stretching, triceps dips)

  • Stairs (cardio, calf raises, step-ups)

  • Towels as sliders·

  • Book bags as a weighted vest

  • Canned goods for hand weights

  • Your own body weight

5. Have Patience and Remember Your Peace

This is a time of uncertainty for everybody. Things are changing daily. Yes, it can get to be stressful, but remember you are not the only one going through this. Have patience with others and express gratitude. This is a good way to decrease and limit stress.

Make time for yourself, even if it’s five minutes. Find a safe space away from others if you’re not alone. Ever hid from your children in the bathroom? Same thing.

Mediate with deep breaths. Try out this link with short guided meditation sessions. Stretch. Read a book. Do something you enjoy. Journal. End your day writing or reflecting on three things you’re grateful for. It could be something that happened that day or something in general. Work on puzzles, either physical or online. I’m an analyst that likes numbers. Naturally, one of my favorite puzzles would be sudoku

Lastly, stay informed, but don’t oversaturate yourself with current events. Limit your time watching the news. I limit myself to 15-30 minutes in the morning (after I’ve gotten started with my workday) and in the evenings. I get push notifications from a local news station and CNN with updates. I read the notification and move on. I’m simply checking for breaking news or news that affects me.

Bonus Tips:

  • Wash your hands often and keep them out of your face.

  • Keep folks out of your face. If you can smell their breath, they are too close. You’re pretty much breathing in what they are expelling from their body.

We don't know what tomorrow will bring, but we can continue working towards those things we want to see in our future. Focus on what you can control. Spend your time as if it were currency. Remember your goals and figure out your path in this new age. Be consistent with a schedule. Determine what you'll need to help you reach your goals. Be sure to eat foods that boost your immune system. Be active and do things you love. Relax, but stay informed. Most importantly, quit touching everything, keep your hands clean, give everybody six feet of space, and be safe!

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