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Corona Virus and Your Top Fitness Concerns

This article is transcribed from Episode 50 of The Fitness Simplified Podcast. Click HERE to listen.
[00:00:04] Kim: Welcome back to the Fitness Simplified podcast. I’m your host, Kim Schlag. Today is episode 50 and this is not the subject I would have guessed I would be tackling.

[00:00:13] Today, it is March 20th, 2020 and we here in the United States and around the world are facing a crisis we have never seen the likes of before. The Coronavirus is spreading and we are going on lockdown and quarantine and shelter in place, and we are all living in a bit of an altered reality.

[00:00:34] Today I tackle some of the top concerns I have been hearing from you about your health and fitness during this unprecedented time. Specifically, we’re going to talk about these three things:

[00:00:45] “There’s no gym anymore. How am I going to work out?”

[00:00:49] “I am eating nonstop. Help me stop eating.”

[00:00:54] And the third one, “I am going to lose all of my progress. Am I gonna lose all my progress?”

[00:01:00] That’s what we’re talking about today. Let’s go.

[00:01:12] Greetings from lockdown. As I’m recording this, it is Friday, March 20th, 2020. In recent weeks, we have seen this situation with Coronavirus escalate to the point that many of us are living in a world we never imagined possible: purposely socially isolating ourselves, working from home, schooling from home, not eating out, not going to shows, not going to church.

[00:01:40] More and more of us are on lockdown, as I am here in Southeast Pennsylvania or even in quarantine. All of the expert information from the CDC and the World Health Organization shows that this is the right thing to do, right? However, it doesn’t equal easy, as we’re all finding out here a day at a time.

[00:02:02] Today I’m going to tackle some of the top concerns, issues, worries, bumps in the road, whatever you want to call them, facing you as far as the nutrition and fitness piece of managing life during this crazy time in our history.

[00:02:19] And I want to start with your mindset. Now, don’t brush this aside, I know it sounds kind of woo woo, but how we think has a massive impact on what we do. Now, more than ever, this is going to be key to your success. And this begs the question, “how are you defining success right now?” And we need to give this some thought.

[00:02:46] What was your main fitness and nutrition goal before the situation with Corona? Maybe it was fat loss, maybe it was muscle gain, getting your first pull up or, you know, a heavier dead lift, whatever that goal was, I want you to think, “does that goal feel in line with your current circumstances emotionally, physically, timewise,” and maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t. I’m noticing two distinct groups in my clientele right now. So, I have one on one clients, and some people don’t know where they’re at quite yet. They’re still trying to figure it out. And I will say, depending on where you are in the world, things are still a little bit different place to place.

[00:03:35] I have some clients who just today their gym shut down and they went to working at home. I have other people who’ve been doing that for some time. I have several people in California, clients who are already doing shelter in place, like, they really aren’t supposed to leave at all. Where I’m at, we’re on lockdown. Everything is closed, we can still go outside, but we’re supposed to stay home as much as possible.

[00:03:58] And so what I’m noticing among my clients right now are the two biggest groups. There’s one group and they feel thrown for a loop. They feel overwhelmed. They feel like, wow, I’m in my house with all this amazing food, and I’m apparently a homeschooling mom right now, and I’m working from home at the same time. And there are all these people in my space and my house is a mess. And there’s this stress of all the things I’m used to doing, they’re gone. And I have the stress of like, “are we going to get sick and what’s going to happen with the economy?” And so, I have that group of people and then I have this other group of people who are dealing with those same things, but for them it’s kind of opened up this different spot where they feel more in control of their schedule than they ever have before.

[00:04:43] You know, maybe they’re busy executives who are always, you know, long commutes and lots of travel in eating out and social obligations, and now they’re not having any of that, and so they feel more in control of their time and their ability to meal prep and their ability to eat when they want and what they want and how they want. And so, they’re saying like, I think I could really lean in right now. Like, this is a time for me to really dial in my nutrition and go for it.

[00:05:11] And so you might find that you’re in one of those two camps and neither is right and neither is wrong. I just want you to be aware of where are you right now? How does that compare to where you were before, what your goal was before, and remind yourself that your goal doesn’t have to stay the same, but it should be clear. Right? And so, if you’ve been trying to lose weight and now you’re feeling really overwhelmed and your time feels very stretched and you’ve got kids at home and you’re working at home, and, and this feels like a lot for you. If you just, in your mind, are sort of eating in a deficit, you’re trying to eat in a deficit, but you’re actually not eating a deficit, that can be insanely frustrating because there’s still a high level of effort that you’re putting forth mentally, but you’re not going to see the payoff in terms of results. Because if you’re not in a deficit, you’re not in a deficit. Right?
[00:06:06] And so deciding that maybe for this period of time, you’re going to bring calories up to maintenance is one good option for you. And I’ll talk more specifically about what that looks like a little bit later on this podcast. So, for this piece, I want you to really think, “what was my goal? Does that goal seem appropriate right now?” And know that you can change. Like, a week from now, you might feel like, “wow, I’ve got a handle on this working at home and having my kids around and social isolation bit and I think I am ready to lean into my goal.” Great. Go for it. Whatever stage you’re at, just be very clear with yourself what you’re trying to accomplish and what steps you’re going to take to do that.

[00:06:45] So that’s the first piece of this mindset approach is getting clear on what your goal is. The other piece of the mindset topic that I think is critical is optimism. Now, being optimistic, it does not mean you’re not worried. It does not mean things have easy answers. It does not mean you have to be happy and sunshiny every second.

[00:07:09] It means you are looking for things to be grateful for. It means you are choosing to approach things from the perspective that things will all work out eventually. And I can’t stress enough that optimism is a choice. This is a choice. It’s not like, “well, that’s an optimistic person and I’m not an optimistic person,” you can choose at any moment in time to be an optimistic person. You can choose optimism and it’s a power move, my friend. Choosing optimism means choosing you focus on the things you can control instead of wallowing in what you can’t control. And that makes all the difference in both your mental health and the bottom line of your success. So, choose optimism.

[00:07:59] Okay, so those are the two mindset pieces that I really want you to focus in on first: have a clear goal, knowing you can change it at any time, and come from a place of choosing optimism.

[00:08:10] All right. Now let’s tackle three of the most common concerns that I’m hearing.

[00:08:14] I’m going to tell you what they are and we’re going to go through them one by one:

[00:08:17] “I h
ave no gym now. How will I work out?”

[00:08:22] “I’m eating nonstop. Help me.”

[00:08:25] “Am I going to lose all of my progress? I’m really worried.”

[00:08:30] Okay, so let’s talk about those one at a time.

[00:08:32] “No gym, how will I work out?”

[00:08:36] Okay, know this: you have options. It will all be okay.

[00:08:41] The first thing you can do is take stock of what equipment you have, if any. Get a good idea, like, what do you have to work with? Do you have a couple of sets of dumbbells? Do you have some slider disks? Do you have some bands? Figure out what you have. And if you have no equipment, it’s still okay — we’re going to have you use your body weight.

[00:08:58] I’m going to leave some links to a few resources that I’ve created in the show notes here. I designed 10 at-home workout programs last weekend, before this event, for the fact that we are just seeing epic numbers of people who can’t get to the gym now. So, 10 at-home programs. They’re free, there’s body weight-only programs, there’s minimal equipment programs, like if you just have a couple of light dumbbells, so there’s some workouts for that, and there are some workouts I created, if you have a pretty good array of dumbbells at home and you’re just not sure, “like, what do I do? This is not look at all like what I used to do at the gym.” I’m going to share that link in the show notes.

[00:09:37] I’m also going to share the link to a live workout I led on my YouTube last night. It’s a full body, no equipment workout. It’s workable for all fitness levels — I give regressions and progressions as I go, and I’m going to be doing another one next week, another live YouTube workout. This one I’m going to do with bands. So, if you have some resistance bands at home, that’ll be a good one for you.

[00:09:58] There’s a lot of resources out there right now for at-home workouts, so check those things that I just mentioned. Also check back on my Instagram, I’m constantly giving ideas for at-home workouts right now.

[00:10:11] Another thing you can do is create your own. Here are some guiding principles for right now, when you don’t have any equipment or very light equipment. One thing you can do is focused on single leg exercises. So, things like single leg box squats, Romanian deadlifts that are single leg, single-leg hip thrust, single-leg Bulgarian split squats, because you can tax that body part more with less weight if you’re doing it with just one limb versus with two. Then, on top of that, you can use one or more of the techniques I’m about to share with you to make those exercises harder without adding weight.

[00:10:53] You can add a half-rep. So, you could do a one and a half single leg RDL, you could do a one and a half pushup, you could do a one and a half Bulgarian split squat. So, add a half rep.

[00:11:12] You can add a pause. Okay? So, you can pause at the bottom of a squat. You can pause twice. You can do lunges where you pause halfway down, you pause at the bottom, and come back up. Those are really, really hard.  You can add a slow eccentric. Now, “eccentric” is the lengthening portion of any movement. In a push up, a squat, or lunge, it’s the down portion. And you can make that really slow.

[00:11:39] Think about doing a pushup with a five second lowering phase. That’s hard. That’s really, really hard. Think about doing a squat or a lunge with a three or a five second lowering phase. That’s a way to make it way harder without much weight or any weight at all. Okay? So those are some of the techniques you can use to make exercises harder without much weight.

[00:12:04] Now, I know a lot of people are saying, “I just don’t feel motivated to workout at home. I don’t like this body weight stuff. I like heavy weight, or I like using the machines. I just don’t feel motivated.” So, a couple of things to help you feel motivated: one thing in particular that I want you to think of doing is to give yourself a challenge. A challenge for something that you’re going to do, something you’re going to work towards doing while we’re all in our crazy quarantine, lockdown phase here.

[00:12:27] My one on one client, Corrine just messaged me today that she’s going to work towards doing her first handstand before this is all said and done, and I just love, love, love that. And she posted a little video of her trying, day one, trying to do a handstand. Couldn’t do it. And that’s okay, and she’s going to keep watching herself day by day, getting better at doing handstands. How cool is that?

[00:12:50] Okay, so what are some ideas? How about a pushup? Can you do a pushup? Can you do a really good pushup? How about setting a goal to get your first pushup? Or if you can do a couple of pushups, but they’re not really good, what about setting a goal to be able to do 10 really good pushups by the time this is all said and done.

[00:13:06] Or if you can do pushups and you want something even harder, how about weighted pushups? You could put a backpack on your back with some heavy books in it and learn to do weighted pushups and practice until you get a certain number — 10 or 20 — weighted pushups.

[00:13:19] All right, how about chin ups? Can you do a chin up? This can be a really good goal. You could work on this every day. You could order a chin up bar and some bands. I have a full tutorial on my YouTube about how exactly to get your first chin up. You could work towards getting that, and that’s something to look forward to. All of these things are something you can look forward to each day as you are going to train, like something you can get better at, something you can practice.

[00:13:42] Another really good one is getting 10,000 steps a day. If you’ve been listening to me for any length of time, you know how much I love that goal of getting more movement in. You can set yourself a goal that you are going to walk 10,000 steps every single day. And strive for that. It’s something to look forward to.

[00:13:59] So set yourself a goal. I’m considering doing that. I’m not going to say what it is yet. I have something in mind. I’m hopping on the phone with my coach tomorrow and I’m going to talk through an idea I have. I have a full gym, so I’m not doing anything different in that way, but I do want to show you and model for you like, hey, here’s something you can try and do over the next 30– who knows how many days. Are we talking 14, 30, 60, 90, who knows? But let’s come up with some cool things that we’re going to be able to do at the end.

[00:14:24] All right. The next concern I’m hearing a lot of: “I’m eating nonstop. Help me. I can’t stop eating.”

[00:14:33] So you know, as everyone was going to the grocery store and stocking up, I was looking at these carts, my own included, and a lot of them look like we gave our nine year olds our credit card and said, “Hey, go prep for a two week road trip.”

[00:14:44] Right? Are you all of a sudden finding you bought stuff that you don’t usually bring into your house and it seemed like a good idea, or maybe in a moment of panic you’re like, “I need all the Oreos,” and so now you’re sitting there in your house and you’re there all day long and it is fully stocked with the stuff that you don’t usually keep there.

[00:15:00] So the first order of business is let’s set your environment up for success. What does this mean? Take the food that you typically overeat, put it in an opaque container, in a hard to reach spot, up really, really high in a room you don’t typically go in. Do not leave it in the cupboard that you typically open to get your salt and pepper. Don’t leave it on your kitchen island. Put that staff in an opaque container in a hard to reach spot.

[00:15:30] All right. Don’t overly restrict what and how much you’re eating, even in a deficit. So, if you decide you are going to keep working for weight loss right now, cool. Still plan in treats. Don’t overly restrict. It’s a pretty self-explanatory one, something I talk about all the time, generally,
even we’re not dealing with, you know, coronavirus quarantines.

[00:15:54] All right, when you are eating or are about to eat, ask yourself, “why?” “Why am I going to eat?” “Am I hungry?” That’s a really important question. If the answer is no versus the answer is yes, we have different approaches.

[00:16:15] Now, remember, what does true hunger feel like? Hunger is a sensation that’s in your belly. It’s not in your mind, it doesn’t come from something you smell, it doesn’t come from watching a television commercial — whether you see ooey, gooey chocolate chip cookies being pulled apart — it is an empty, hollow sensation in your stomach. Sometimes it gets kind of growly. It’s this empty, hollow sensation in your stomach.

[00:16:39] If you do not feel that, it is not true hunger. If you do feel true hunger, eat something. If you do not, ask yourself, “okay, why am I eating?” And actually, even before that, let’s step back one step.

[00:16:55] Give yourself time to make a choice that’s in line with your goals. So, if you’re about to eat something or even if you already are eating something and you know you’re not hungry, put the food away, step out of the room, and give yourself 20 minutes. Give yourself 20 minutes to make a choice that’s going to be more in line with your goals. Whether the goal is maintenance or fat loss. Give yourself some time.

[00:17:18] Okay, what are you going to do during that time? Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to think, “how am I actually feeling?” We want you to identify. What are you feeling? If it’s not hunger, but you want to eat, what are you feeling? And I want to remind you here real fast, emotional eating is really common, especially at a time like right now, you are not alone if you are turning to food to soothe yourself.

[00:17:42] If you’re turning to food because you’re stressed, if you’re turning to food because you’re bored, there’s nothing wrong with you. A lot of people do that. It is a coping mechanism that we have come to rely on. It doesn’t serve us, almost across the board it doesn’t serve us whether your goal is fat loss or not, because it doesn’t actually help us manage the emotion we’re feeling, and that’s what we want to do.

[00:18:04] Okay, so you’ve walked away from the food, you’re giving yourself 20 minutes, let’s manage those emotions. So first you have to identify the emotion. What are you feeling? Are you sad? Are you scared? Are you bored? Are you lonely? So, figure out what you’re feeling and then brainstorm how to deal with that emotion in a way other than food.

[00:18:27] Now I find that this is actually better done at another time. We often emotionally overeat for the same reasons, so I want you to start looking for patterns. If you notice that you typically overeat when you’re bored, that’s a pattern. If you notice you typically emotionally eat when you’re annoyed with your kids, that’s a pattern.

[00:18:46] So as you identify these patterns, brainstorm non-food forms of self-care to help you with those emotions and write them in the notes section of your phone. Like, literally write, “when I am sad and want to eat food, here are other things I will do.” “When I’m angry and want to eat, even though I’m not hungry, here are some things I could do.”

[00:19:06] I’m going to give you some suggestions. There are loads of suggestions — and some of these ones I’m going to give you now for specific emotions, there’s a lot of overlap. They could work one versus another. So, if you’re sad, give yourself permission to cry. Like, sit down and have a good cry. Listen to music. Write. Write about what you’re feeling. Get outside. Wow. That helps it almost all of these. Getting outside helps with almost all of these.

[00:19:31] If you’re angry, workout. You know how many good workouts have come out of a bout of, “wow, I’m really friggin’ angry.” Take deep, calming breaths. Talk out loud yourself about what you’re angry about. That’s actually a really good one for almost all of these, talking out loud to yourself. If you’re lonely or bored, connect virtually. That’s pretty much all we got right now. Usually I’d say even better might be in-person, but connecting virtually. Call someone, FaceTime them, set up a Zoom call with friends. I’ve seen a lot of people doing that. Lots of groups of friends doing these Zoom calls. It’s fantastic.

[00:20:03] Get a hobby. There are so many cool things out there. I’ve seen things like, people are taking magic lessons online, they’re taking piano lessons online. I know people who are suddenly, you know, going back to doing craft projects they used to want to do, you know, all kinds of things you can try to do.

[00:20:21] So get a hobby, figure something out that’s actually interesting to you, and sit and think like, “what does interest me?” Sometimes we don’t even have any idea what might be interesting to us.

[00:20:30] Help someone. This is a big one. Now I realize a lot of the ways we would typically help someone aren’t available to us right in this moment because we’re confined to our houses, but there are still ways to help.

[00:20:42] You could write letters to service people. You could– we have the cutest thing going on in our neighborhood right now, it just started last night. We’re going to do ours today. Somebody came with this idea to do a scavenger hunt for the kids in the neighborhood. I live in a very big neighborhood with lots of kids and lots of parents who have bored children and they’re going on all these walks. And to give the kids something to look for where they’re walking, we’re going to pick a different object each week and we’re going to put it somewhere on the outside of our house or in our car. And then the goal is for these kids, as they’re walking around the neighborhood, to look for this object. So, this week we’re doing hearts. And so, people are going to put a heart in your window or on your door or on your car or on a tree. And so, as the kids walk by, they’re supposed to be looking for the object. Like I said, this week, it’s going to be heart, next week it’ll be something else. So, you could organize something like that in your neighborhood.

[00:21:27] You could call old people that you know, who you know are really sad and lonely and talk to them. So, getting outside of our self by helping somebody else can really help if we’re feeling lonely or bored.

[00:21:40] Okay, what if you’re feeling overwhelmed? A lot of people feeling overwhelmed right now. Take a nap. Go for a walk. Just get outside, even just sitting outside. Take a break. Take a break from your work, take a break from attempting to homeschool your children, take a break from social media and the news, take a break.

[00:22:01] Okay, so those are some general ideas. And like I said, you can kind of mix and match the different strategies with the different emotions to find what might work for you. And as I said, try and do this at a time outside of when you actually notice your emotional eating. Try it then, but then notice patterns and really get a good list going and make sure that they’re things you can actually do right now that work into your life.

[00:22:23] All right, now when you become aware you’re about to emotionally eat, or in the middle of it, you’re going to– this is a quick reminder, what I just said, give yourself 20 minutes, put the food away, walk away and use that 20 minutes to do one or more of the things that you brainstormed. Instead of eating your emotions, you’re going to deal with them, which is hard. That’s hard work.

[00:22:45] All right, let’s talk about this last one:

[00:22:47] “I am going to lose all of my progress.”

[00:22:51] Wow. Everybody’s really, really worried about that right now.

[00:22:55] And you know, I can understand why. You’ve gotten into this good rhythm and you go to the gym and you have your routine and now you’re, “wow, our routines are just out the window.” Here’s the question I want you to ask yourself, “did I make all of my progress in
a day?” “Did I make all my progress in a day?” “Did I make all my progress in a week?” “Did I even make all my progress in a month?”

[00:23:20] No, right? It takes many, many months. It takes years, even. You will not lose all your progress. You won’t.

[00:23:29] Now, let’s talk a little bit specifically. If you’re worried about losing your muscle, I want you to remember: it takes way less to maintain your muscle than it did to build it.

[00:23:38] Keep that in mind. Do your home workouts, be consistent with them, eat plenty of protein, and know that it just takes way less work to maintain your muscle than it did to build.

[00:23:50] Fat loss, if you’re worried you’re going to regain all the weight, remember there’s a space between eating in a deficit and eating in a surplus, and that space is maintenance.

[00:24:00] You have that buffer so you can raise your calories some from a deficit and maintain your current progress. Doesn’t mean the scale is going to stay the same. Remember, scale weight always fluctuates. Don’t let the scale freak you out. This might not even be a great time for you to be weighing. That really depends on the individual.

[00:24:17] Try adding 250 to 500 calories to your deficit calories, daily, if that’s your goal, if maintenance is your goal. Now, that’s not typically how I bring a client to maintenance. If I have a client who’s hit their goal and they’re ready to come up to maintenance, or even if they haven’t hit their goal and they just want a maintenance break, we typically do that by adding in a little bit of calories, a little bit at a time, over several weeks, while we watch what the scale does.

[00:24:42] But this is a completely different situation entirely. So, go ahead, if you want to come up to maintenance and you’re like, “what does that look like for me?” Add 250 to 500 calories to your daily deficit and stay there. And those can be your maintenance calories for now. You can pay attention to the scale, see how that’s looking, and go from there. Remember, anytime we adjust calories, everything’s always a little bit of plug and play.

[00:25:08] Also, keep up your good habits. Eat your vegetables with most meals, eat protein at every meal, eat fruit every day, eat 80/20. Remember how we’ve talked before about what 80/20 eating is like? I mean, 80% of your food should be healthy, nourishing, you know what these foods are: fruits and vegetables and meat and whole grain. Most of your food should be that, the less processed stuff.

[00:25:33] And by the way, frozen vegetables and canned vegetables count. Canned tuna counts. It doesn’t have to be picked up from the farmer’s market in your town. It doesn’t have to be organic. It doesn’t have to be fresh vegetables. It’s not the only thing that counts for vegetables.

[00:25:52] You know, you can eat right now, anytime, actually, but right now, if what you have access to is canned vegetables, if it’s frozen vegetables, great. That all counts. 80% of your food should be healthy, nourishing, minimally processed, nutrient dense food — fruit, vegetables, protein, whole grains. The other 10% to 20% can be all the other stuff. All the stuff that makes it look like we’re nine-year olds going on a road trip. Cookies and cake and frozen pizza or whatever it is you would like.

[00:26:26] Now the other thing is get up and move every single day. Get up. This was a great time to get your steps up. We have more control over our time and a lot of us just have plain ol’ more time. Nobody’s commuting anymore. Get outside, if you’re in an area where you’re still allowed to go outside, and walk. If you’re not allowed to go outside, walk in your house. Up and down the steps, pace in your living room, march in place, step up and down on a step stool, get up.

[00:26:53] And then lastly, with this whole idea of, “am I going to lose all my progress?” Remember, it is not what you do some of the time that gets most of your results, it’s what you do most of the time. And this right here is a “some of the time” event. We’re not always going to be right where we are right now, in lockdown, in quarantine.

[00:27:11] Okay, I hope this has helped to ease some of the stress on your mind and get you thinking realistically and optimistically about what you can do. We have control over so many things. There’s a lot we have no control over right now, right? But we have control over a lot of things, including how our attitude is, what we choose to be our goal, how we move our body, how often we move our body, what we eat, how often we eat, how much we eat. We have a lot of control. And it feels much more empowering, comforting, even, to remind ourselves, “Hey, we do have control over some things.”

[00:27:51] I want you to know that I’m here for you anytime. Not just now, but always. Reach out to me any time, anything I can do for you. Check out the resources I told you I was going to put in the show notes about those workouts that you can get.

[00:28:03] Thanks so much for being here. I wish you health. I wish you safety. We’re going to get through this. We’re going to get through this.

[00:28:16] Thanks so much for being here and listening in to the Fitness Simplified podcast today. I hope you found it educational, motivational, inspirational, all the kinds of -ational.

[00:28:27] If you enjoyed it, if you found value in it, it would mean so much to me if you would go ahead and leave a rating and review on whatever platform you are listening to this on. It really does help to get this podcast to other people.

[00:28:42] Thanks so much.