Well, you officially made it through 2020, but the “covid 19” — you know, that extra weight you took on during quarantine — is still lingering around your waistline. While pandemic life isn’t quite over, it is possible to start living into a healthier you for the new year, even if the approach looks a little different. Here are some tips getting physically and mentally fit for the new year while still in lockdown mode.
First things first: Take off your sweatpants, dig out those pre-pandemic jeans from the back of your closet, and get dressed for work. Sure, maybe only your dog and your toddler will appreciate your freshened self, but you’ll definitely notice if you’ve gained some extra pounds. There’s nothing like a tight beltline as motivation to keep your hands out of the potato chips.
Make a Meal Plan
When your home office isn’t far from the kitchen (or maybe is the kitchen) your day becomes one big snack fest, tipping the scale a little higher than you’d like. One way to combat the constant urge to snack is by making a meal plan, including healthy snacks, and shopping only for the things you will eat that week. Fill your cart with lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean meats, and limit processed junk foods.
While opportunities to enjoy a meal at a restaurant remain limited be sure to work some of your family’s favorite meals — think a pizza night or taco night — into the plan, and take a cue from Nat Smyth, a Cincinnati-based mom, and let your kids join in the cooking fun. Maybe even let them decorate the dining area like a classy restaurant, complete with cloth napkins, candles and themed music.
Take More Walks
You miss many normal opportunities to move your body, like walking from the car to the office building or taking the stairs at work, when your commute is from the bed to the couch. To combat the sedentary nature of working from home, Emily Nicholas, a mom in West Chester, found a way to sub in one of her normal morning routines with something new.
“I replaced my morning commute and podcast with a morning walk and podcast,” she says.
You, too, can find times to squeeze in extra walks. Do a walking Zoom meeting, take the dog around the block at lunch, or walk instead of drive to the store when you run out of milk. Simply enjoy the fresh air by yourself, or do like Nicholas and use it as time to listen to some upbeat music, a favorite book or a podcast.
Play With Your Kids
The gym may be off limits for now, so consider your kids your personal trainers. They definitely exude that high-energy vibe, am I right? To put it simply, play with them. Kick around a soccer ball. Check out your local park’s frisbee golf course. Build a snowman. Download a BollyX class to do together. Not only will you get your body moving, it’ll give you that extra family bonding time that’s been so important during the pandemic.
If you need an extra motivational boost, check out child-friendly outdoor group classes. Lillian Davis, Cincinnati-based mom and owner of Fit Mom 513, started the mom-focused workout program to help herself stay on top of exercising during the pandemic and to help encourage other moms, as well.
“We do Stroller Bootcamp classes three times a week, focusing on strength training and cardio,” Davis says. Children, typically age 4 months to 2 years, join as stroller passengers, and sometimes older kids join in, as well. “This group has helped me and so many other moms in a positive way during this hard time,” she says.
Find Your Inner Peace
Good health in 2021 can be about much more than diets and exercise — it can also be about shedding sluggish attitudes, too. To ground yourself in a more peaceful year, begin your day with prayer, meditation or a yoga practice. While this might seem nearly impossible amid virtual schooling and Zoom conference calls, centering your body and quieting your mind even if for 15 minutes can make a world of difference in how you approach the rest of your day.
Stick to Your Bedtime
Believe it or not, getting all your zzz’s can help you shed that extra quarantine weight. A 2016 study from the National Institutes of Health found that people who didn’t get a full night’s rest were more likely to reach for snacks and opt for less healthy foods. Find a bedtime that will allow you to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night, and at least 30 minutes before you hit the sheets, switch out your screens for a relaxing activity. Finally, find an analog alarm clock to replace your cell phone’s alarm so you’re not tempted to reach for your phone in the middle of the night.
With a few simple adjustments to your quarantine routine, you’ll be on your way to a healthier, happier you in 2021.