Social distancing – how to use your extra time (re)productively.
We are all very aware of COVID-19 – how infectious it is and how important, for society as a whole, that we all act responsibly and stay at home. But after a week essentially locked up at home, it starts to get really, really, boring. Combining home office with home school is pushing many towards the brink - and renewing our respect for teachers! It is very tempting to stock up on ice-cream and pringles and sit back and watch all of Netflix - but rather than let the situation wear you down why not use this enforced free time positively. See this as an opportunity for constructive change. Remember that baby you have been thinking about? The one that you haven’t really had time to discuss and make a decision about. Well, you have plenty of time now! Don’t worry, we are not suggesting you have to make the decision to start making babies right now (although, 9 months from now is Christmas, wouldn’t it be lovely if Santa brought a baby this year…just say’n) but you can certainly use this time to prepare. Prepare physically and mentally. Pay attention to your body, become more aware of your menstrual cycle, and get fit and healthy within your own four walls. We have put together a few ideas on how you can use this time to rethink your diet and start a fitness plan. Be positive and be proactive!
The shelves which were plundered during the first days of social isolation have now been restocked and there is plenty of fresh local produce available. Eating seasonal fruit and vegetables is always a healthy option, so start there. March and April are still early in the season but vegetables like artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, radishes, and spring peas should be readily available and other vegetables like carrots, peppers, courgettes (zucchini), eggplant (aubergine) and tomatoes are basically now available all year round. Green leafy vegetables like broccoli are a rich source of vitamins and antioxidants while cauliflower has vitamin C ,B and K. Try making hearty stews with winter vegetables, pumpkin and sweet potato or carrot soup, broccoli and cauliflower cheese bakes or roast Mediterranean vegetables (onions, red peppers, courgettes, auburgines and tomatoes) topped with parmesan cheese. Or keep it really simple but tasty and have fried mushrooms on whole grain toast – mushrooms are a source of the antioxidant Selenium and vitamin C while whole grain toast will provide fiber.
Not a big vegetable fan? There are still measures you can take to improve your diet. Start with baby steps. Avoid highly processed foods and those with a high salt, sugar and fat content. Make healthier choices. At breakfast choose a poached egg on whole grain toast over sugary cereals. At lunch have your BLT but without the bacon or, make a vegetable soup but blend it so there are no bits. At dinner have a spaghetti with tomato sauce rather than Bolognese. Leave the frozen pizza in the freezer and try making your own pizza – you can buy the dough and choose fresh toppings. You have plenty of time on your hands right now and the internet is full of recipes and ideas. There is something out there for everyone.
Starting an exercise plan while you are confined to your house or apartment will need a good deal of motivation but staring at those four walls every day will not get you fit. Getting fit is not only good for your physical health but also for your mental health. It gives you achievable goals, keeps you busy and rewards you with better sleep, happy hormones and in the long term – better health. There are loads of exercises, both strength building and aerobic, that you can do inside, and in a small space. Let’s start with strength building. Write a plan including squats, lunges, push-ups and weights. If you don’t have weights at home, improvise! Use tins, packets of rice or flour or fill plastic bottles with water. For example, 10x squats, 10x lunges, 5x press-ups, 10x bicep curls, 10x overhead presses 10x lateral lifts, a one-minute plank and repeat! For aerobic exercises try burpees, frog jumps or good old-fashioned Jumping Jacks. If you can borrow a skipping rope that’s a great aerobic workout but if you can’t get your hands on a rope - just pretend you are using one! You don’t actually need the rope to skip.
These are just a few suggestions on where to start but, once you get going and start to feel the love, the internet is full of recipes for tasty and healthy meals and exercise plans for all levels of ability. The time you invest in your body now, when we have plenty of time on our hands anyway, will be rewarded in the coming months. Whether it is the summer body that was made in spring or the healthy, regular menstrual cycle which will make getting pregnant easier. So, let’s make the most of this extra time and use it positively.