It's NEVER too late! Fighting the Covid Curves

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Frowning at Your Covid Curves? Is it too late to do something about it?


Are you feeling fed up? Are you wondering how you let the opportunities of this last 10 weeks of lockdown pass you by? Did you even feel like you were particularly present with your thoughts and feelings during the last 10 weeks?! I know I’m guilty of spending a fair bit of that time on screen saver or autopilot or just doing whatever I have needed to do get through another Groundhog Day! I know I’ve not wasted the time; I’ve been juggling work, home-schooling children of different ages, working out how to feed a family on lockdown supplies because I simply cannot face standing in a queue outside another supermarket only to get to the checkout and realise I’ve forgotten something crucial. Let’s not even bring up the subject of keeping everyone else’s spirits topped up and cheery!


We have all had to cope with a change in the pace of life too. Some of us have longed for this and have appreciated it massively, others are wracked with frustration and hell bent on breaking free from the lockdown shackles as soon as they can to get things “back to normal” whatever that may look like for them. How are you feeling about the impending ‘freedom’ of the next stages of lockdown lift? Are you happy in isolation or ready to burst back into your social lives and crack back on with living again?


There are many who entered this period determined to make the most of the chance to get fit, eat well, focus on themselves and their own goals for their work-life balance, and that is great. Others have been trying their best to stay on an even keel, struggling with anxiety about their health and the health of the ones they love, or managing the unfamiliar expectations of home working. That too is a great focus for their time and energy to keep life calm and manageable. The effects these issues are having on the mental health of the nation is going to be a fascinating outcome to follow. Those doing their very best with home-schooling children who are utterly bewildered at this unprecedented way of living and taking time to care for the mental health of their children moving forwards may think that their own goals are the last thing they should be focusing on. And what about the multitudes of grandparents, so actively involved in childcare for their grandchildren under normal circumstances, suddenly separated from those little ones for the last 8, 10 or even 12 weeks? Is it any wonder we are a nation at sixes and sevens? So it’s no great surprise that many of us have taken our eyes off those fitness and great food goals we set ourselves. 

Shall we jack in all hope of turning it around because we have indulged in over 2 months of desk time, sofa surfing and “survival eating” (wine, crisps, packed-lunch style dinnertimes, convenience foods, the odd take away because “Yay it’s finally open!” or chocolate biscuits by the half packet because that kids-in-bed cup of tea is too wet without them and they were only cheap ones from the pound-shop because that was the only place I didn’t have to queue outside!) 


Maybe your attempts to “Do Joe Wicks” with the kids lasted 3 days before your muscles were so soar you couldn’t sit down for a wee without wailing. Did your bum hurt so much from the out-of-practice bike rides that you were walking like John Wayne for the first 2 weeks?! 


To be fair, it might not be that extreme. Maybe you were regularly going to the gym but simply can’t now during lockdown and you’re just finding it much harder to motivate yourself to go for a run or to find an online class to suit you. Maybe the technology some of our coaches have embraced is just too much for us to cope with on top of everything else, so even if they are trying to support us, we just can’t manage to access what is on offer. Are you part of a running or walking group and simply are not allowed to exercise in groups right now? All these factors are probably negatively impacting your view of your physical fitness and quite possible your mental wellbeing is taking a hit with these frustrating but necessary social distancing regulations too.


So, we are approaching a time when these restrictions are gradually going to be lifted. Shall we just wait till then to put all this right? We might be able to exercise in groups outside in the next few weeks, so shall we pause all hope of working on our fitness till we get the go-ahead from Boris? We might be able to shop in other retail outlets in the 14 days, so shall we hang on and hope the supermarkets won’t be so busy with people just going out to Asda to do something – anything, and we can hope to shop more freely and get the things we need to rebalance our diets and get back into some healthier habits? 


Is it really too late to do anything now? Good grief NO!


We may be able to get out and about in the next few weeks to exercise in groups, but what 1 thing could we do ourselves until then to get moving a little, burn a few extra calories, tone up that tummy, energise that body? 

Start simple. Never under-estimate the power of going out for a walk in the open air. Remember a 180 lb person burns about 100 calories for every mile they walk and a 120 lb person, about 65 calories. Being out and about in the fresh air is undoubtedly good for your mental wellbeing as well as working towards your physical fitness and the ‘injection’ of vitamin D for every 20 minutes you send in the sunshine is a crucial top up for your immune system too. Green wellbeing – food for the soul :-)

If you have children why not get out in the park with them, but get involved rather than sitting on the bench whilst they chase a ball around or play tag? I'm sure that embracing your inner child will do as much for your mental wellbeing as for your fitness. Our children are watching our every move. How is the way we are behaving in lockdown influencing and inspiring them? Are we finding positive things to do? Are we eating and drinking in a way that reflects self care and nourishment or boredom, comfort eating and rebellion?

Maybe Zoom sessions with your gym instructors are too much for you to get your head around technology-wise right now but following a YouTube video on your iPad is something you know you could manage (coz your kids or grandchildren showed you how!) 

Do it! Give it a go! 

Who cares if you look like a sweaty mess when you finish? It’s not like you’ve got to walk through the gym to get to the showers - it’s only upstairs! There’s a whole wealth of these videos on YouTube, for free, so if it’s money that’s held you back thus far, dig around and find all this free stuff. No weights? No problem! Use tins of beans or bottles of water. If you could once run 5k comfortably and now struggle to jog round the block, don’t give up or focus on the frustrations of “starting it all over again” (cue eye rolling and Kevin the Teenager sulky shoulder shrugs), just go back to that trusted couch to 5k app; maybe you’ll even improve your fitness, your PB time or your race pace by revisiting the training intervals. We don’t need perfect set ups and scenarios, just #change1thing and do something and you will begin to see and feel the benefits.


As for your foody habits what could you change about that to get you those few tentative steps closer to getting your eating back on track? We all too easily adopt the approach of “Right, that’s it! No crisps, sweets, chocolate, nuts, cakes, bread, pasta, cheese….joy!” Give yourself a break! I’m a firm believer in the #change1thing approach, to which I eluded already. Even the tiniest little changes will compound over time. 


If you’ve put on half a stone during lockdown you didn’t do that from one almighty blow out binge did you? No! It’s probably crept on little by little, a pound on or off here, 2lbs there, but because it has carried on that way over a number of days and weeks, the overall compound effect is greater. But the same can and will absolutely work in reverse. Make some small changes today, continue with them day by day, and they will add up over time to take you back in the direction you want to be headed by the time this lockdown is over. 


Start today and you’ll be closer to the path you want to be on. Leave it another few days and weeks, until September when the kids go back even, and who knows where you and your waistline will have strayed to! Just imagine what changes you could embrace over the next 8 weeks, taking us till we would have been breaking up for the summer holidays, by making just 1 simple change at a time. If each of those changes resulted in you losing even half a pound a week, that’s 4lb back off that pandemic paunch! You could be rocking your pre-Covid look again by the end of July! 


Those changes really do only need to be small if that makes them feel more manageable. Maybe just 1 biscuit either with your morning coffee or your evening cuppa in front of the TV. Perhaps that glass of wine becomes your Friday or Saturday night treat to look forward to rather than your new nightly ritual or coping strategy. A bottle of wine over the weekend rather than the embarrassing walk of shame to the end of the drive on recycling day! Could your summertime puddings be bowls of fruit, yoghurt and crushed meringue rather than that gooey home-baked chocolate brownie and ice cream you had to make to find something to DO today?! Can you switch those home-baking moments into home-cooking moments, preparing marinades for lean meat/fishy BBQs, healthy dressings and exciting hot/cold salads, preparing batch cooked meals to take the thinking out of teatime creativity every night when you’ve simply got menu decision fatigue?!

When we take the children to the park or come in from playing in the garden, is it biscuits and ice cream snacks all round or have you explored the world of healthier snacking, like crackers and cheese or houmous and chopped veg/salad sticks? These tiny habit switches all add up to make the difference over time.

One of the things I have enjoyed doing each week is taking a good old root around in my cupboards and freezer and having a “stock take”. I can then see what I’ve got to get creative with. Don’t get me wrong, lockdown has resulted in some interesting combos, but in the main, we have done pretty well at thrifty shopping, using up the stocks and finding things that were both edible and enjoyable. It’s been a great opportunity to get in the kitchen as a family too, getting both boys involved in cooking either with me, with my partner, who thankfully is a brilliant and creative cook, or even the boys teaming up together to give us a night off!

If you’re looking for an excursion to break up the boredom, maybe a trip to a local farm shop might inspire us with vegetables to roast, tasty meats and fancy spice rubs to stir-fry or fresh eggs to enjoy a filling and healthy protein-rich breakfast before walking the dog (or the children) to get out and about for the afternoon! You’re also supporting local producers, so can leave with a warm glow of satisfaction and pride in doing your bit for the community. It’s been great to see some of these businesses actually thriving with their new-found customers when these outlets are who we have relied upon to avoid those hideous supermarket queues. I hope that way of local shopping continues as we come out of these times.


So you see, it’s never too late. Your opportunity to claw your way back on track hasn’t passed you by. If you do nothing to change your behaviours, then sure thing, you won’t get anything different to what you’ve been getting over the last 10 weeks. That pandemic paunch will continue to grow and you can continue to struggle to squeeze those Covid curves into your summer clothes happy in the knowledge no-one else is getting to see you really anyway so you don’t have to make yourself more uncomfortable by changing anything!


But if you believe in the power of changing tiny, manageable things over the coming days and weeks, and trusting that these will compound over time, then just let yourself imagine what you can still achieve…this week, this month, by the time life returns to whatever our new normal is going to be.


All it takes is your decision to switch it, to #change1thing


So come on….what’s it going to be?