The global pandemic turned our kitchen tables into offices, our living rooms into classrooms and patios into gyms. It forced us to rearrange our priorities, and for many of us physical fitness was put on the backburner along the way.
In a 2,000-participant survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Naked Nutrition, about 64 percent of participants reported taking a step back from their fitness routine during pandemic times, while half of the participants admitted to increasing their refined carbohydrate intake and one third revealed a spike in their consumption of alcoholic beverages.
But it’s not all bad.
On the flip side, the lock-down has made others realize that a healthy lifestyle can be achieved at home — and on an inexpensive budget, to boot. An online survey conducted by TD Ameritrade shows that 59 percent of Americans don’t plan on renewing their gym membership once the pandemic slows down, as they have found “more affordable” ways to get their fitness on.
Whether you’ve been implementing a pandemic fitness program or you’re just getting back in the swing of things after a lockdown hiatus, it’s important to remember that, like all of our big goals, achieving our fitness goals is a marathon, not a sprint.
Remember: Break Down Your Goals
Getting back into the swing of things after a long break can feel a bit like coming out of hibernation. Our joints and muscles ache where they didn’t before, and what might have seemed like a menial activity pre-pandemic will now leave us huffing and puffing.
Unfortunately, we can’t always pick our goals up exactly where we left off. In order to get back on the right track, we have to reassess where we currently are, and chart a new path forward. Yes, that means looking at your BIG goal—whether it be losing the quarantine 20, building muscle mass, or improving your endurance—and walking it all the way back to what you can do today to start making meaningful gains. It’s a process we call Goal Setting to the Now, and if you aren’t familiar with it, check out our guide here.
When working through your roadmap for a better you, it always helps to keep a few things in mind. So, here are seven workout and nutrition tips that will help you improve your fitness for the long run.
1. Set Realistic Time (And Activity) Commitments
Don’t let your inability to dedicate extensive stretches of time for workouts deter you from moving your body. According to Harvard Medical School, we should aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activities per week and two days of muscle-strengthening activity. It might seem like a big commitment but try breaking it down. This translates to five days of 30-minute spurs of activity or 21 minutes on a daily basis.
Every moment of activity counts, and if you don’t feel capable of committing to more vigorous forms of exercise like jogging and jump rope, a brisk walk or even yard and home repair work serve as great alternatives. Start off by dedicating whatever amount of time fits your current lifestyle and make an appointment with yourself to show up for the fitness you’ve planned. Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be a permanent time frame—check in with yourself periodically to adjust.
2. Try a Two Week or Month Long Challenge
Love the feeling of adding a check mark next to a completed task? Then fitness challenges might help you stay laser-focused on your fitness goals. Publications and trainers across the web have put out challenges that extend from running to squats, push-ups, planks and number of steps. (We encourage you to learn from our company’s own fitness challenge a-has!) In fact, the challenge craze extends beyond exercise. Wellness challenges such as hydration and meditation can help support your physical fitness improvement journey.
These challenges serve as a great reintroduction into the fitness world, as they do not require a hefty time commitment. With the variety available, start off with a challenge that incorporates your favorite move or the body part you enjoy working on the most. This will tap into your intrinsic motivation and ensure you keep at it.
3. Make Use of the Great Outdoors
No gym access? No problem. Turn the great outdoors into your own personal gym by going on a brisk walk or jog (and staying safe by wearing a mask!). Depending on your fitness level and general comfort with working out in public spaces, spice things up by running up a set of stairs, using a jump rope or enjoying a yoga flow at the park.
4. Seek Virtual Accountability
One of the best ways to achieve success is letting other people know your goals and establishing a system of accountability as you work toward them. A study conducted by the American Society of Training and Development found that people who have an accountability partner are 65 percent more likely to take concrete steps to achieve their goal. Scheduling regular accountability appointments increases that probability to 95 percent.
Today’s virtual environment is the perfect landscape to seek accountability — whether it is through social media fitness communities or by tapping a trusted friend in order to connect and motivate. Whichever option makes you feel comfortable and energized is the right one for you.
5. Focus on One Long-Lasting Habit Change at a Time
What is the one change you can make now that will initiate a domino effect and power you through your fitness journey?
If you have an answer in mind, focus exclusively on picking up this habit before leaning into additional long-term behavioral changes. Be patient and give yourself enough time to develop the habit. After all, it takes up to 66 days in order to really drill the behavior in.
Gretchen Rubin writes for Psychology Today, “…There was a lot of variation, both among people and among habits — some people are more habit-resistant than others, and some habits are harder to pick up than others.” Your own habit pick-up time will depend on a variety of factors. Give yourself permission to go slow. You’re in it for the long run. And don’t forget to celebrate your small wins.
6. Plan Your Meals and Make Nutritional Changes
Being forced to stay indoors is the perfect time to revisit your nutritional habits. Meal planning is a popular way to ease into becoming more aware of your nutritional habits and learning portion control. Not only can it help you eat healthier, but it can save time during weekdays, save money, avoid wasting food, and can be a fun activity to do with kids or significant others.
You can take it one step further by preparing nutritious meals in accordance with plans that you have thought about trying out in the past. Whether it is the Mediterranean diet, Whole30 or a plant-based plan, having additional time in the kitchen and closer proximity to your refrigerator minimizes the roadblocks generally encountered when acquiring new eating habits.
7. Practice Intuitive Eating
In addition to switching up the fuel that goes into your body, now is a great time to reassess your mindset around food. Intuitive eating is an inclusive way to do so. The intuitive eating model challenges you to reject diet mentality, and instead focus on honoring your hunger, respecting your fullness and making peace with food.
This model was created in 1995 by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch and honors both physical and mental health. The approach can help you rebuild a healthy body image and cultivate a healthy relationship around food intake.
Ultimately, different people are in different stages of their health and fitness journey, even during quarantine. Focus on implementing the tips that speak to your individual goals, and remember – creating the right regimen for you requires knocking over one health domino at a time. Now is the perfect opportunity to create long-lasting habits that will support your overall health for years to come.
Have you been prioritizing fitness during the pandemic? Which tips will you incorporate into your own lifestyle? Let us know on our Facebook page.
Ada Ciuca is a writer for Outfront — the editorial arm of Keller Williams Realty, Inc, a valued partner of The ONE Thing. When she’s not writing about the businesses and success strategies of the company’s top agents, she’s working on her ONE thing.