We are all in a strange time in our lives right now, but many of us are taking this opportunity to take care of ourselves in ways which we normally don’t have time for. This article will focus on 4 things that, unfortunately, often get pushed aside or pushed to the bottom of the priority list.
At this time, when we are all stuck at home occupying ourselves with odd jobs or working from home there is nothing more important for you to cover than good quality nutrition. It can be far too easy for this to feel like a holiday for lots of us however, this is the perfect time for all of us to finally take control of our own food intake.
So, what things should we be focusing on within the boundaries of nutrition?
· Calorie intake – Obviously, the first one is calorie intake. I myself know how easy it is start snacking when you get a little bit bored at home and this in turn will drive up the total daily calorie intake for sure! I don’t always recommend calorie tracking for all of my clients, but in this situation I would – especially if you have a weight management bases target.
· Cooking – During our normal daily working lives (before the current pandemic) it is easy to grab the quick option at the shop/café for our food each day, as we rush around trying to squeeze in our routine. However, many of us now have an abundance of time at home. So why not use this time to cook fresh food more often. Use this time to upskill in the kitchen. Get good at cooking the food you enjoy eating so, when we come out the other side of this crisis, you will want to continue to be able to provide yourself with good nutritious food. Many of us shy away from food prep because of the time it takes however, I hope that the time we all spend cooking now will show you what value food prep can bring in the future.
· Macros – The previous point links closely to this one. The act of increasing our levels of home cooking allows us to fully nail down our desired intake levels of both protein and vegetables which is often difficult to get when eating on the go. While you have the time, use it to your advantage to create a lifestyle that really starts to benefit your health via your nutrition.
I hope that most of us now know that adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night for it to be considered adequate. The chances of us all getting that on a regular basis when working full-time (especially with a commute) as well as playing sport or doing anything else in the evening is pretty low. So this is a perfect time for us all to ensure that we adhere to this advice and get more sleep! Why would this benefit us so much though?
Firstly, an increased amount of sleep on a regular basis gives us more focus, less inflammation and a better memory. Adenosine is a by-product of energy use in our bodies that makes us feel sleepy and is buffered during sleep. It naturally follows that getting adequate sleep will make us more alert and allow us to have/use more energy the following day.
For anyone with a weight management target it’s also worth knowing that sleep deprivation has been linked with increased levels of hunger and a higher want for calorie dense, sweet foods.
This is useful to know for two reasons. A) knowing this should encourage us to get adequate amounts of sleep so we can avoid these issues. B) if for whatever reason you do have a night where sleep is restless or inadequate you are aware of why you may feel the way you do the day after and this education can help prevent us from giving into cravings.
Sleep schedules also provide much needed structure in this time. It is also the one thing we all lack right now… structure to our day. Among a few other things, having a sleep schedule can dramatically improve the way we feel during this time. Another bit of research has shown, the early to sleep (9 or 10pm) and early to rise (6 or 7am) is linked closely with lean body compositions in adults – something I’m sure lots of us consider important.
The challenge of drinking enough water seems like a relatively simple one but many of us go through many hours of our day without even thinking about hydration. When very busy at work it’s easy to forget about this as you no doubt have lots of things on your mind or are unable to carry water with you depending on what your job entails. This time spent at home provides the perfect opportunity to tackle this head on.
Water consumption targets can easily be calculated by multiplying your bodyweight in kilograms by 0.03. For example if you weigh 80kg, this gives you a minimum daily intake of 2.4 litres of water. However, bare in mind that this is a minimum and should be added to if any form of exercise is done. I usually get asked at this point what counts as water intake and what does not and the answer is simple, everything liquid counts apart from alcohol and coffee
Adequate hydration is a key factor when looking at health because it keeps our organs fully functional, it regulates our body temperature, it helps transport certain vitamins around our bodies and to our cells and maintains lubrication within our joints. Water also plays a vital role in cognitive function – pretty essential when working from home or home schooling children all day!
One extra point to bring up here is the topic of electrolytes. These are salts that dissolve into ions in water and have many functions, including optimising muscle contractions and nerve impulses. Increasing fruit intake or simply adding lemon/lime juice to your water can greatly add to your electrolyte consumption.
The current climate leaves us stripped from many of the luxuries that we allow ourselves and although a lot of us overlook it sometimes, attending gym classes or simply training by yourself in a gym is a luxury. With all of this now gone we have been forced to adapt our training so that bodies can still move and we get the mental relief that so often comes with it. This time presents us with a huge opportunity to focus our efforts towards areas of our fitness which we often overlook or steer clear from.
For many of us I know this is cardiovascular exercise. This is the perfect time to tackle this area of our fitness head on. The key to remember here is that no, it doesn’t mean everybody must start instantly going for runs around the park or down the canal. Yes that is one option, but
remember to vary the training stimulus so that you are able to train all the energy systems we have. I would personally recommend alternating between HIIT (high intensity interval training) type sessions with other longer duration, steady state cardio sessions. I have no doubt that one of these you will favour, so make sure to tackle the one you don’t while you have this opportunity!
For me, it’s definitely bodyweight based exercise either in circuit format or on its own as a tool used for muscular endurance training. This is by far my least favourite type of exercise so I’ll be sure to make use of the time and limited equipment I have to get better at it, and so can you.
As a little bonus extra you could also spend some of the extra time you have to educate yourself on more health and fitness topics which may later on benefit you and your goals. I’d start by reading the rest of these blogs (if you haven’t already), as I’m sure they’ll be a topic on here which interests you or directly applies to your training. Remember this extra time might just be the time spent on your usual commute to work, your lunch break or your weekends.
Any further information you need on any of the subjects talked about above please don’t hesitate to drop over an email to me! Thank you for reading as always and if there is anything you would like me to write about for your targets or time at home then let me know!