It’s been a longstanding piece of ‘public’ information that we should take 10,000 steps per day. Before lockdown that seemed feasible, but that’s not to say many people actually did that. Now, with people wanting to avoid dense queues at the supermarkets and outlets where they source provisions combined with working from home, general activity has taken a massive hit. NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) has probably taken a backwards step too. Every little habit you’ve tried to create to improve your daily calorie burn has regressed and now having minimal effect on the way your body is burning calories.
Combined with the boredom factor of lockdown and turning to boredom or comfort eating (very real risk) it doesn’t take long for what used to be a 500 calorie deficit to become a 500 calorie over consumption.
So, what to do?
We always go on about goal setting and the importance of such but 9 times out of 10 this is usually something 6 months away. We usually define short, medium and long term goals where the short and medium goals underpin the long term stuff. The terms of these can somewhat vary and up until this situation (and some other situations I’ve come across) I would have defined short term as within the next 4 weeks, medium the next 12 and long the next 24 weeks. In this war against a deadly virus, boredom calories, inactivity and fluctuations in mental state devising a plan could be your rubber ring in this ocean of uncertainty.
For example, I don’t know when lockdown will end, I don’t think anyone does but I want to be in good shape, health and mindset when it does so I can return to work and offer Personal Training on the terms we’re all more familiar with. This ticks my long term goal for now. As for the medium term goal, I want to keep my activity level up because I understand the benefits of doing so. I understand that regular exercise improves mood quality and mood patterns. I know that regular activity uses calories which will help manage my body composition so right here my medium term goal is backing up my long term goal. Thinking back to short term I said to be 4 weeks but in current circumstances I think if you know what you’re doing from one week to the next, you’re doing great. Short term for me at the moment is in one or two days time. I know I’ve 6.30 BP Live to do 3 times a week which straight away is backing up my medium term goal (which backs up the long term one), but I don’t want to let my years of training to regress (and it will, it’s called reversibility) and make hard work for myself when lockdown does eventually lift so I’m keeping on top of my running and cycling, both of which are outdoor activities.
Outdoor activities are great because you naturally consume your RDA of Vitamin D (which helps the body absorb calcium) which will help the body stay healthy and strong. However, that’s all good and when the weather is nice and being outdoors is a pleasure anyway. ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad preparation’ is an expression I grew familiar with during my time as a Royal Marines Commando but sometimes it’s just not worth the risk to your health training outdoors given the current conditions. Your body is at its weakest in the latter stages of exercise and early stages of recovery. Cold, wet miserable conditions will only make the effects worse and potentially start something much worse. The great thing about the sessions we offer at the moment whether it be on Zoom or FB Live is that the workouts require minimal equipment, are highly effective, enjoyable and can be done under the warming sunrise under birdsong, or in the comfort of your living room when outdoor conditions are unworkable.
I realise that the above example is one sided and all about me, and what I’m doing but it’s more of an example of how I’ve rationalised the situation. I did this by reversing the goal setting cycle and ascertaining what I don’t want the outcome to be.
Do it nice or do it twice, don’t let this environment bring you back to square one, and leave you with it all to do again, just because. Set a long term goal and work back from it, you’ll be amazed at how much structure you can create in a time where there is no clear route for progression.