It seems like it’s day 50 of self-imposed isolation. I think we all know how crucial social distancing and sanitation are during the pandemic. (BTW, I agree with Indiana Governor Holcomb when he said it shouldn’t be called social distancing, it’s physical distancing, we need to be social.) For me, one of the things I miss the most is the YMCA. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with its closing, and if it were open, I wouldn’t go. However, my wife and I went four or five times a week. In some ways, it’s harder, and it’s easier staying in shape while staying at home.

Pay Attention to Your Diet

In times such as these, emotional eating often becomes a stress reliever. “Emotional eating is eating as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness, and loneliness. Major life events or, more commonly, the hassles of daily life can trigger negative emotions that lead to emotional eating and disrupt your weight-loss efforts.” — How the mood-food-weight loss cycle works

“The current pandemic might contribute to an increase in obesity rates as weight loss programs (which are often delivered in groups) and interventions such as surgery are being severely curtailed at present – and this is likely to go on for a long period of time.” — Coronavirus (COVID-19) & Obesity

Follow a routine

I’ve lost weight during COVID-19. It’s only a couple of pounds, but it beats gaining weight. So, how have I maintained my weight? Partly due to my obsessive behavior. I weigh myself every morning at the same time and check my blood sugar twice a day. I have a video conference with my G.P. scheduled. She asked me to track my blood sugar for ten days. At the beginning, it was a little high, so I went online, found diets geared toward type 2 diabetes, and adjusted my diet.

You can do the same. There are hundreds of healthy diets to be found online. Here are a few ideas from the experts.

CDC — Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight 

Mayo Clinic — Nutrition and Healthy Eating

U.S. News — Best Diets for Healthy Eating 2020

WebMD — 11 Simple Steps to a Healthier Diet

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services — Healthy Eating Plan  

Proper diet can put you at a lower risk 

Statistics show that “Obesity may increase the risk of severe illness form COVID-19.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Proper nutrition and hydration are vital. People who eat a well-balanced diet tend to be healthier with stronger immune systems and lower risk of chronic illnesses and infectious diseases. So, you should eat a variety of fresh and unprocessed foods every day to get the vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, protein, and antioxidants your body needs. Drink enough water. Avoid sugar, fat, and salt to significantly lower your risk of overweight, obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.” — WHO (World Health Organization) Nutrition advice for adults during the COVID-19 outbreak

Don’t Forget to Exercise

For me, the toughest challenge has been motivation. It’s so much easier to read a book, binge on Netflix, or eat another snack than it is to exercise. I’ve leaned on others to spur me on. Number one is my wife. We push each other, but what if you don’t share your isolation with a partner? I’ve talked with friends and family. My daughter and granddaughter invited me to a FaceTime dance party last week. It was fun. I’ve chatted with my brother about his exercise regimen, as well as my sister, mom, and friends. You don’t have to do this alone.

Go for a walk

Whether it’s around your neighborhood (be sure to keep your distance from fellow walkers) or at a park, get outside, enjoy this weather, and go for a stroll. In most cities and states, parks remain open. My favorite in Indianapolis is 15 minutes from my home, and with more than 1,400 acres of water and 3,900 acres of forest is one of the largest municipal parks in America.   Indy.gov Eagle Creek Park 

“I love being on the trails and enjoy the physicality of it, but I could get that at my local high school’s track. What brings me back time and time again is the commune with nature. The combination of low impact physical activity combined with the great outdoors is mood-altering.

Stress and anxiety relief – Whenever I find myself overwrought, anxious, or worried, the trails are the best prescription I know.

Mood lift – Even when I’m in a good place, hiking lifts my spirits higher.

Energy boost – If you exercise, you’ve experienced an energy boost at the end of a workout. But the boost at the end of a hike is something more. It’s not only a physical boost but spiritually uplifting.” — The Health and Wellness Benefits of Hiking

Work in the yard

Like I said earlier, I’m compulsive. So, when I do something, I often go big. I have more than 40 flower beds (which may become vegetable beds this year), most of which are 8’ x 4’. Spring has arrived in Central Indiana. Yesterday I spent five hours weeding, hoeing, and raking leaves out of my beds. I have two more sections to tackle today, and then I’ll mow.

Gardening is a good workout 

Digging, planting, and weeding all require lifting, bending, and carrying. “According to the Centers for Disease Control, gardening is compared to “moderate cardiovascular exercise.” Gardening 30 to 45 minutes a day can burn 150 to 300 calories. This isn’t just standing there watering the flowers, but weeding, digging, hoeing, raking, and planting.” — 9 Reasons Gardening Is The Ultimate Mind-Body Workout

And it’s a stress reliever 

“Stress-relieving effects of gardening were hypothesized and tested in a field experiment. Thirty allotment gardeners performed a stressful Stroop task and were then randomly assigned to 30 minutes of outdoor gardening or indoor reading on their own allotment plot. Salivary cortisol levels and self-reported mood were repeatedly measured. Gardening and reading each led to decreases in cortisol during the recovery period, but decreases were significantly stronger in the gardening group. Positive mood was fully restored after gardening but further deteriorated during reading. These findings provide the first experimental evidence that gardening can promote relief from acute stress.” – Journal for Health Psychology.

Bring the gym home

There are plenty of options for online workouts. Here are a few ideas.

YMCA HEALTH & FITNESS VIDEOS

Orangetheory Fitness

USA Today — 25 ways to take your favorite workout classes at home

Good Housekeeping — 25+ Fitness Studios and Gyms Offering Live-Stream Workouts During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Staying in Shape While Staying at Home 

That’s it. Eat healthy, exercise every day, don’t think you have to do it alone, and you’ll own staying in shape at home. You got this!

Photo by andrew dinh on Unsplash