10 Tips for Getting Back to Health Post Quarantine
I originally published this blog post right after the first of the year. That’s when everyone’s on a quest to get in shape after the holidays, right? While the quarantine was no kind of holiday, especially for front line workers, people who got sick or had loved ones who did, and people who lost their jobs, a lot of us took to eating like it was the holidays again. No point beating yourself up about it, what’s done is done, but now that we’re starting to come out of hibernation and the weather’s starting to get warmer, too, I thought it was apropos to republish my health tips. They’re not about getting skinny. What’s important is taking good care of yourself every day, both physically and mentally. It’s moving and nourishing your body. It’s knowing that your numbers are all where they’re supposed to be. And it’s feeling great instead of looking great (not that looking great wouldn’t be great, too, mind you). Instead of being about weight loss, thought, the new goal is to know that you’re taking care of your health every day to the fullest extent of your ability. It’s tough to self-motivate on a new health goal, but I’ve figured out a few tricks for living a healthy single life.
Skinny does not necessarily equal healthy
Our society loves to tell us that we’re too fat. That we should all be a size 2 and that’s what’s going to make us happy. And it goes further to tell you that if you’re not a size 2 then no one’s going to be attracted to you or love you, so the fear of being unloved is what motivates us to try to get or stay skinny. Then there are the times when we get into a new relationship and then panic because someone’s actually going to see us naked. This is another fear motivator. The fear that should really be motivating us, though, is the fear of getting high blood pressure or diabetes or heart disease. Wouldn’t you agree that one or all of these things is definitely worse than someone seeing you imperfectly naked?
So, what if you were a size 2, but you never exercised, ate like crap (or didn’t eat at all), and were destined for disease and early death? Would that be better than being a size 12 who works out every day, eats healthy, and is a rock star at her next physical? Maybe the focus should be on health instead of weight, then. This is not to say that if we’re significantly overweight we shouldn’t be concerned about that. Studies have shown that carrying around extra weight is a precursor for all sorts of ailments, but maybe it’s really about the habits that are causing that extra weight to be there in the first place. Here are ten things you can do to up your health quotient and none of them involve starving yourself down to a size 2.
10 tips for getting healthy post quarantine
Tip #1 – Focus on gaining healthy habits, not on losing weight. Get rid of your scale if at all possible and just notice how you feel and how your clothes are fitting. I decided I couldn’t get rid of my scale, but I stopped obsessing over it every day and started weighing myself once a month just to check in.
Tip #2 – Compartmentalize. Just because you grabbed a burger and fries at lunch doesn’t mean the whole day is ruined. Did you work out in the morning? Did you eat a healthy breakfast? Can you eat a healthy dinner? One misstep doesn’t ruin the whole day and shouldn’t cause you to “start over on Monday.” Forgive yourself the burger and fries, and know that you checked the other healthy boxes for the day.
Tip #3 – The first day you start working out and eating right is the first day you’re living a healthy lifestyle. You don’t have to lose 30 lbs in order to claim that you’re healthy. If you’re eating what you’re supposed to and working out (and not smoking, doing drugs, or drinking to excess, of course) then you’re living a healthy lifestyle. You may still have a few pounds to shed, but you can say to yourself at the end of the day, “I’m healthy.”
Tip #4 – Get more plant-based with your eating. This doesn’t mean that every meal has to be a salad, but adding more fruits, veggies and whole grains, and reducing your meat intake (you can get protein from plants, too, y’know) has been shown to drastically increase overall health.
Tip #5 – Find healthy things that you like to eat. Don’t just eat things because you think they’re healthy and good for you. If you don’t like what you’re eating then you’ll feel deprived and your healthy eating plan won’t last long. If you really look, you can find plenty of healthy foods that you actually like.
Tip #6 – Don’t ignore calories, but don’t obsess over them, either. Eating healthy food is more important than sticking to a certain number of calories per day. If you ate 1,200 calories per day of chocolate cake, would you lose/maintain weight? Yes. But you’d also be horribly unhealthy.
Tip #7 – Don’t eat too much, but don’t eat too little, either. Neither is good for you. If you don’t know how much is too much, look at the portion size on the labels. They may seem small at first, but they’re pretty much right on. Restaurant portions are about double what you need, by the way.
Tip #8 – Plan your cheats. I hate the concept of a “cheat day,” but I do employ the 80/20 rule. If you eat healthy 80% of the time, then you can go off the rails a bit the other 20%. If you know you’re going out for happy hour Thursday night and you’re going over to your parents’ house for Dad’s waffles on Sunday, plan those to be your 20% so that you’re not depriving yourself. Then just make sure you eat healthy the rest of the week. It’s also good to not go haywire during your “cheat” meals and eat everything in sight. Exercise some self-control.
Tip #9 – Plan your meals. This sounds tedious and boring, I know, but it will become a habit eventually. I’ve been doing it for about six months now and I almost can’t eat without my plan. It makes grocery shopping much easier, as well, and takes the last-minute, I’ll-just-hit-the-drive-thru-real-quick guesswork out of eating. You just make a plan and follow it. Do the same thing with workouts. Plan when you’ll do them and what you’ll do. Be realistic, but challenge yourself, as well. Then just follow your plan. It’s a no-brainer.
Tip #10 – Sign up for some kind of fitness event – a 5K, a bike race, a sprint triathlon – and start training for it. This works better than just setting a fitness goal because it’s something scheduled, you paid money for it, and maybe you’ve even told other people about it. Nothing works better than accountability.
Living YOUR healthy single life!
This is not a diet plan, it’s a plan for your life from here forward. It’s the way you SHOULD be living, regardless of your weight. And don’t worry, the weight loss will follow. I started following these tips about a year ago and I’ve never felt better. I’m healthy. And I’m happy about being healthy. And guess what? I’ve lost 30 lbs in spite of myself. 😉
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