I have been asked on my Facebook Page for a couple of times about how to maintain your muscle and strength during the enhanced community quarantine we’re experiencing right now here in our country. You’re seeing a lot of your friends sharing a lot of workout routines, fitness models posting their workout videos, and trying to keep you pumped up during the absence of the gym and with your own home as your workout place.
Those things keep you motivated and inspired to try these things and stay fit. And luckily for me, I have a bunch of home workout equipment, take them out of storage and clean up because it’s probably been years since I’ve used them.
The truth is, not everyone has that privilege to eat healthy or have time to workout.
During the quarantine, I live alone with no one else to talk to. I have to take care of everything; cooking, cleaning, taking care of my pets, disinfecting, doing my groceries. At one point in the week, I had to stop prioritizing the need to workout. I started worrying about how my pets are going to eat for the next few days. My Bell’s Palsy therapy had to pause and that means prolonged recovery time.
When I am emotionally drained from doing the same daily routine alone, I would workout a little, do stationary bike cardio, or even choose to sit back and just watch Netflix just to entertain myself. I had to worry exactly about what am I going to eat because I don’t have a good option to get good ones all the time. And it’s not just about what “healthy” foods can I eat anymore, but “do I still have anything to eat?” I’m running out of supplements and I wanted to refill ASAP, but part of me also asks, “Do you still have to buy your Whey protein when you don’t even know if you have anything to bring on your table over the next few days?”
That’s when priorities had to be realigned. It’s not just about keeping my physique, it’s not just about staying healthy anymore, it’s about staying alive. Not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally stable now that we’re socially unattached other than being connected online.
But am I supposed to feel bad about it? NO.
I’ve said it before and now I’ll say it again: It’s okay to take a step back. We sometimes forget to take a step back and put our body first instead of our mind. Don’t confuse yourself with the general ideology of fitness being physically able, but it is also about finding the perfect balance between a healthy body, mind and spirit.
So what does this mean to you during this quarantine? That you don’t really have to “speak” to your body all the time…
Now is the perfect opportunity to LISTEN to it.
I am not going to completely neglect the idea of fitness. I know that I have prepared well-enough for Gold’s Gym BodyCon 5.0 that was supposed to happen last March, but instead of being obsessed with making sure I keep the body that I have worked a lot for by aggressively working out like a horse here at home, I can now take this opportunity to open up to a different level of listening to how my body works: on how my diet, no matter how good or bad I eat, works on my overall health. On how my workout, no matter how light or even absent for days, affects my overall physique.
More often than not, self-awareness is the forgotten part of fitness and nutrition. And now that we have given much time, maybe it’s about time to work for it.
What I do now during the quarantine:
- Count, observe, evaluate. repeat – During the first two weeks when I still have enough supply of my healthy foods, vitamins, and supplements, I tracked them using a fitness app. Observe and measure if you have the tools. But if you don’t have them, don’t despair. Track how your weight is affected by the food you have on your household and make necessary adjustments if needed. Set regular goals, break big goals down into smaller milestones. Ask yourself at the end of each day, “What did I do well today?” And, “How can I improve on this tomorrow?”
- Worst, eat what you still have on the table – Do not fear the food that you still have access to. Instead, be grateful that you actually still have food to eat, whether it’s a bunch of white bread with peanut butter or a can of tuna or sardines paired with rice.
- Focus on feeling good, not obsessing about control – This is not the right time to focus entirely on losing fat, refraining too much on carbs, or making sure you have worked out enough to keep the body you have. Free yourself from the weight-gain paranoia as it will just add up to the things we’re worried about already during this period.
- Practice saying simple “no” at home – The ability to say “no” to yourself to put off short-term gratification for the long-term gain is an important life-skill. Like a muscle, it is strengthened with exercise. The more you practice saying “no” to small daily challenges, the better you can withstand major temptations. There are plenty of daily temptations — social media, junk food, gossiping, too much Netflix. Make a goal of saying “no” to at least one temptation each day.
- Meditation – Mindfulness is also a huge aspect of being fit. It is common to fast forward into an unknown future and play out worst-case scenarios in our minds during these times. A good way to combat this is to bring awareness to our thoughts and emotions and return to presence. This helps recenter and stabilize us in times of uncertainty. Try to download meditation apps such as Balance, or you can go here to check some mindfulness tools.
- If you can’t work out, just keep moving – Find some time to do some simple workout such as the online challenges or live workouts on Facebook, such as the ones featured on Gold’s Gym Philippines Anywhere Facebook Group, or the home workout or pushup challenges being tagged to you by friends. But if there really is no chance, stay active simply by cleaning the house, dancing while doing chores, playing with your pets, doing some decluttering, or even TikTok if you want! A simple physical activity is always better than no activity at all!
- And finally, be accountable to your flaws not just during this period but all throughout – Hey, nobody is perfect. Know that being aware of your flaws, but failing to accept accountability, is just like leaving the job half-done. We’re often critical of other people’s flaws (when your friends choose to eat whatever junk they want), while ignorant of ours. Self-awareness helps turn the mirror on ourselves and prevents hypocritical behavior. Self-improvement only happens once you recognize a flaw yourself. Create a habit of acknowledging your mistakes, rather than making excuses.
Aim for balance, not perfection.
While fitness has the concept of putting a lot of discipline and hard work, during these trying times it’s not supposed to put you into a lot more stress and even anxiety, more than what we already are putting ourselves into during this COVID-19 situation.
And remember, while we are experiencing a lot of setbacks during this crisis, you can also take it from a different perspective: that this is a unique time that most people haven’t experienced. So take this opportunity to focus on yourself, and not just about the physical ones. Our mental and emotional needs are just as important. That’s what true FITNESS is all about.
Self-awareness is extremely hard to achieve. But once you have it, and now that you actually have time to spend for it… you’ll be rewarded with something that’s truly inevitable… and that’s personal growth.
We’ll get through this, fitfam! For now, stay safe and well. Ciao!