How To Power Through A Pandemic
Updated: Dec 6, 2020
You’re not in this alone, even though it may feel like it sometimes. It seems fair to say that the effects of Covid-19 have changed life in more ways than we could have anticipated and have lasted longer than any of us were prepared for. And six months later the uncertainty continues for many of us.
For many of us, our health and self-care moved down to the bottom of our ‘to do’ list and finding the motivation to change that status feels next to impossible. Gym closures haven’t made it any easier, especially if you had set appointments with a personal trainer to keep you on track. If you know that you need to be exercising, eating healthier, and that you feel better when you put yourself as a priority, let’s get you back on track right now!
Who is that!?
When your body has been used to some sort of workout routine, with or without a trainer and that suddenly comes to a screeching halt, you may not notice anything immediately. Over time however, it will sneak up on you and become difficult to ignore.
Your body might start talking to you in a cranky sort of way. That shoulder or knee that hadn’t been a problem for such a long time has now reared its head again. Maybe your belly and butt seem to be expanding before your eyes.
If you’ve found yourself thrown off course with your weekly routines, and your midsection is a tad bigger than it should be.Or you aren’t sleeping soundly, instead you toss and turn restlessly. You might feel more stressed, anxious or sluggish and unmotivated. Maybe all of the above. The bottom line is, your routine has disappeared, causing you to feel out of whack. You no longer feel like the version of yourself that you want to be.
There’s good news! If you get your body moving, your blood pumping, and your muscles engaging, not only will you boost your metabolism, you will also elevate your mood and release stress. Your body likes the feeling of being strong and the act of working your muscles reminds you how alive and capable you are. You’ll be amazed how a few push-ups and timed static contraction exercises will turn that metabolism around.
"When you exercise, your heart rate increases and your body pumps more oxygen to your brain. This process can affect your overall positivity."
You are what you eat
If you feel like you’ve physically become a greasy cheeseburger with a side of onion rings, join the club. Many of us have recently learned that being in the middle of a pandemic and having to shelter in place has caused our eating habits to change drastically, and not for the better.
Unfortunately, when we are stressed, tired, and overwhelmed, a big healthy plate of vegetables is rarely the first feel-good solution that crosses our mind. Instead, binge watching our favorite show with a bottle of wine and something deliciously awful for us (that we will most definitely regret as soon as we’ve taken the last bite), seems to be the answer.
The current situation has worsened by the fact we don't leave the house very often, and when we do, we're masked. This likely pushes clear skin and staying fit down to the bottom of our list of priorities.
The saying, you are what you eat, is true, however a more accurate saying is, you feel what you eat. Think about how you feel after you eat a light lunch of fresh fruit, and a green salad with avocado, sunflower seeds, red onions, with a lemon olive oil dressing, a little crumbled goat cheese sprinkled on top. How are you feeling? Your stomach is probably feeling perfectly satisfied, and overall you’re feeling healthy, energized, and good about your menu choice.
Now think about how you feel after you eat a plate of fettuccine Alfredo with a piece of garlic bread. Your stomach is probably feeling overly stuffed as the starchy carbs continue to expand in your belly. Most likely you feel sluggish like you need a nap, and overall guilty for making that meal choice.
I don’t believe there is one diet or one style of eating for everyone, but I know that decreasing your intake of empty calories and focusing on real, nutrient dense food is the key to weight loss and feeling your best.
Whether you are a meat eater, a vegetarian, or a vegan, focusing on unprocessed, whole foods that have very few ingredients is the way to go:
Keep it simple when planning your meals and keep portions small
Increase your intake of colorful fruits and veggies and eat organic whenever possible
When you look at your plate, the majority of what you see should be plant based and any animal protein should be organic, grass fed, free-range, and free of nitrates, nitrites and antibiotics
Do yourself a favor and get rid of the tempting empty calorie type foods like cookies, chips, and soda, that have moved into your pantry and fridge. If it’s not there, you can’t eat it.
And drink lots of water! It flushes out body waste and boosts skin health!
Feeling better and losing weight doesn’t need to be complicated. More fruits and veggies! Real food equals real results.
Just tell me what to do
What if you aren't able to go to your gym because it had to shut down due to Covid-19? Going on a walk is great, but unless you’re strapping a 50-pound pack on your back and hiking up a mountain, it’s not strength training. A walk around the neighborhood is not going to work your muscles to the state of necessary fatigue in order to achieve true exercise. Since strength training increases metabolism, burns calories, improves depression, reduces anxiety, and boosts our self-confidence, let’s not waste anymore time.
“In a 2014 study published in the research journal Obesity, Harvard researchers followed 10,500 men over the course of 12 years and found that strength training is more effective at preventing increases in abdominal fat than cardiovascular exercise.”
First thing you’re going to do is grab your phone and create two events on two different days that are going to repeat every week. These two events should take place on days and times that are easy to commit to with no excuses. They should also be separated with at least 2-3 days in between. For example, Monday 7:00am and Thursday 7:00am, or Saturday 10:00am and Tuesday 5:00pm, etc. Name the event TSC-90 workout and set an alert to remind you.
At this point you are committing to yourself to workout twice a week for 30 minutes at home, completing 6 exercises each session. The more focus and hard work you put in, the more results you will see. If you feel that committing to 3 times a week is better for your personality type, then go for it.
Now you’re going to learn how to perform a TSC-90 workout. It’s safe, effective and portable.
This exercise method is known as The Everyone Anywhere Workout. The TSC stands for timed static contractions, and the 90 is how many seconds you’ll be performing each exercise. Each exercise will be one, no-rest repetition that gradually increases in necessary levels of effort.
The 3 level static push-up is a perfect exercise to introduce this method to you. You will need: a bath towel or yoga mat, a stopwatch/phone timer, and two foam yoga blocks if you have them (don't worry if you don't).
There are 3 levels to work through for this exercise, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Do your best to work through as many of these levels as you can.
Beginner level - kneel on a folded yoga mat or folded bath towel and place the 2 yoga blocks in front of you, shoulder width apart. Your knees should be close enough to the blocks, allowing you to have a bend at the waist. This is the warm-up phase. Place your hands palm down on blocks (or on the floor), bend the arms enough to make it slightly challenging. Be sure to take any shoulder limitations into account. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Intermediate level - At the 30-second mark, quickly move the foam blocks further away from the mat, at least 6 inches, in order to create less bend in the body. Quickly get into position, bend the elbows enough to make it feel like a challenge and hold for 30 seconds. Because more of your body weight is pushing into the blocks, it should feel like 75% of your effort.
Advanced level - At the one-minute mark, for advanced push-ups you will be up on your toes, butt down and body should be straight as you lower down into that hold for the final 30 seconds. If it’s too challenging, go back to kneeling in the intermediate position for the final 30 seconds.
You did it! The TSC-90 approach is challenging, effective and convenient. Don’t even try to make excuses why you can't do this, instead save that energy for the workout. For the complete list of TSC-90 exercise videos click here. These exercises will require 2 foam yoga blocks and an 8 foot yoga belt (preferably the no-slip locking style).
"When people incorporate strength training into their exercise routine, they not only burn calories, but increase lean muscle mass, which stimulates the metabolism."
Let’s wrap it up so you can get to work!
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that you'll get started on this tomorrow, and I'm here to say, "Don't wait, do it now. Right now!" All it takes to start feeling better is to take action. You want to get back on track, so start today, not tomorrow. Order your blocks and belt, and while you're waiting for them to arrive you can perform the squat and push-up exercises. Focus on real food and ditch the junk food. Eat lots of fruits and veggies, in every color, every meal, everyday. Drink plenty of water, starting first thing in the morning. Be sure to pay attention when that alert sounds on your phone and commit to your TSC-90 workouts twice a week. When you put the time and effort into your health, you’re going to feel great, look great and be great! Go on now, you know what to do.