My alarm dings at 4:45AM… “time to get up!” I quickly silence the noise on my phone so I don’t wake up my husband, and I bounce out of bed. I feel rested and fresh, getting close to eight glorious hours of beauty rest. Throwing on my gym clothes that were set out the night before, I head over to the kitchen and fill up a tall glass of water, set out my vitamins for the day, and turn on the coffee pot.
Slowly sipping my water, I head over to my comfy living room chair and settle in to do my morning meditation. After 15 minutes of breathing, and mantra meditation, I slowly open my eyes, stretch my arms up over my head, then reach over to grab my journal.
By 5:30AM, my tennis shoes are on and I’m heading out the door for my workout. Monday is leg day, my favorite! It’s the same routine every morning, I don’t even really have to think about it anymore.
I’ve been testing and tweaking my morning and evening rituals for almost a year, trying out different types of breathing techniques, cold showers, meditation, journaling, affirmations, goal checklists and figuring out how I can actually remember to take my stupid vitamins every day.
Today, I love where I’m at. Obviously nothing is perfect, but overall my body feels strong, I’m sleeping, eating well and my mind is calm and clear.
Then COVID19 came and dropped a big fat virus bomb on all the healthy habits I worked so hard to implement.
It’s a Tuesday morning, I think. We’ve been in quarantine for three weeks and the days are starting to blend together. I roll over in bed to check the time on my phone and it’s 7:35AM. I’m groggy and tired from binge watching FOUR episodes of Scandal last night, and didn’t get to sleep until 1AM. Those damn cliff-hangers get me every time!
My entire eating routine has fallen apart with the lack of a normal schedule. I just polished off an entire bag of popcorn, AFTER a larger than average bowl of cereal and I feel gross and bloated. I look down at the pouch forming on my tummy that definitely was not there two weeks ago. I’m pissed at myself because I know that the crappy care I’m taking of myself just makes me feel worse.
My business is closed because of COVID19 and I’ve been working on overdrive transitioning TriFit Wellness to online training. I’m mentally exhausted and burnt out. I am sober, THANK GOD, and maybe staying up late and having my alone time to sulk, feel sorry for myself and binge watching Netflix is my coping mechanism. At least it’s a temporary escape from the reality of all of the scary unknowns that are running on repeat in my head throughout the day.
Oh, and PS….trying to run a business while also teaching a kindergartener her phonics and math is damn near impossible. I’m really sucking at that too. To all the teachers out there, you are all SAINTS.
I wipe the popcorn crumbs off my sweat pants and glance at the time on my phone….1:14AM.
“You need to get yourself together, Laurel, this isn’t like you!” I think to myself. You’re better than this. COVID19 has completely hijacked my life and that was the day I decided enough was enough.
There is a misconception that “fitness people” have it all figured out, which couldn’t be further from the truth. We are ALL a work in progress.
However, what sets some people apart is SELF AWARENESS, and how quickly we recognize when we’ve fallen away from the fundamentals of health – sleep, water, movement, nutrient rich foods and stress management.
My healthy routines have been THE KEY to my success. Without them, clearly, I’m a mess. 😉 So often we all know what we SHOULD do, but we don’t do it. Why? It comes down to your habits. By the way, if you want to read a great book on the subject, check out the book Atomic Habits. A major pandemic threw me off my game for a couple weeks, and all those habits went right out the window.
So if you’re reading this right now, and you notice the slightest inkling of familiarity in my words, read on and don’t wait another second to make some immediate changes. I promise that you’ll feel a whole hell of a lot better.
Here are some behavioral habits to focus on to set yourself up for success if you work from home:
1. Set a non-negotiable bedtime
The body simply cannot function without adequate sleep – shoot for at least 7 hours. When we are in a stressful situation, we require even more sleep than usual. Staying up until the wee hours of the morning binge watching your favorite series might be a fun escape in the moment, but lack of sleep will leave you groggy, moody and unproductive for the rest of your day.
2. Plan your day!
This is so critical, that is why it is #2 on our list. When you work from home, having a schedule is more important than ever. Taking 10 minutes in the morning to plan your day will set you up for success by prioritizing what needs to be done, instead of getting sucked into email first thing in the morning. My favorite tool is The High Performance Planner, by Brendon Burchard. I love this planner because it allows you to break down your priorities for the month, week and day, and also grade yourself in several key areas (business and personal) so you can easily see what needs improvement. The trick is to use it every day.
Make sure you schedule personal time to exercise, re-charge and connect with others. Set a non-negotiable “stop time” with your work, so you don’t let work overtake your personal life and steal your family time [totally guilty of this].
3. Move. Your. Body.
For goodness sake, this is NOT new advice. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2017-2018, 42% of the U.S. population was obese, with an estimated medical cost of $342 billion annually. These numbers are increasing at alarming rates each year due to sedentary lifestyles where we are sitting most of our day, and the plethora of high calorie, low quality fast foods available.
You absolutely must move your body. When you work from home this is even more important because you eliminate all required activity such as walking to and from your car, office, meetings and/or lunch room. You could, in theory, never get off your couch when you work from home (except maybe to pee). Break up the day by planning at least 20 minutes of structured exercise, AND multiple short walks during the day. Shoot for 5,000-10,000 steps per day which can be tracked with the pedometer on your phone, a Fit Bit, or Apple Watch.
Thankfully, TriFit Wellness has your back here (yes, shameless self promotion). We provide our members with access to Live Streamed, 30 minute classes that you can do right from your living room. Here is a quick peak of what a live stream class looks like. You need minimal equipment and have a certified personal trainer coaching you throughout the workout. To try a free week of live streamed workouts, drop us a line!
If strength training isn’t your thing, no problem! Whats the best kind of exercise? The kind you will actually DO! Try a pilates class, yoga or get outside and go for a run or a hike. What’s most important is that you do activities you enjoy so do them consistently, for a lifetime!
4. Use a meal delivery service
Save yourself the hassle of planning all your meals, grocery shopping and cleaning up your kitchen. Meal delivery services such as Atlas Meals, Scratch Kitchen or Protein House provide customized, balanced, clean meals so you don’t have to stress, or even think about what you’re going to make! #lifesaver These meals are typically pretty simple, so I suggest ordering 5-7 meals per week, using a service like Hello Fresh, or Blue Apron for a few dinners to add in more variety, and then leave a few meals open for takeout or a date night (assuming you’re not in quarantine!)
5. Eat whole foods
It really is never necessary to go on a diet if you simply focus on adding more whole foods into your day. What do I mean by whole foods? Colorful fruits and veggies, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. In short, things NOT in a box or package. “Diets” are short term, and set you up to fail because they are not sustainable. Check out our blog about Why you should never go on a diet, here.
Also, when you are at home all day, it’s very easy to start eating earlier, snack throughout the day and keep eating later than usual (I mean, the kitchen is right there!). Make sure you designate a time that the kitchen is CLOSED. Keeping to a schedule can be very helpful. For example, lets say you eat breakfast around 8AM, snack at 10AM, lunch at 12PM, afternoon snack at 3PM, Dinner at 6PM, and kitchen closed at 7PM!
6. Develop a morning routine (or refine what you already have)
Numerous research studies and articles reference that we are far more happy, productive and less stressed when we don’t check our phones first thing in the morning. Win the first hour of your day and you win the day!
Examine how you spend your first hour upon waking. While you are at home under quarantine, why not take this time to optimize your morning routine? Curious about different styles of meditation? Try out a few techniques, or see how you feel when you start your day off reading a good book instead of immediately checking email.
7. Stay hydrated
I know it can be tempting to drink more alcohol than usual when we encounter stressful situations, but the truth is that alcohol actually makes us less capable of handling stress, increases inflammation in our bodies (making us prone to illness), increases weight gain, and disrupts our ability to sleep. Skip the wine, have a glass of water or hot tea at the end of the day, read a few pages of a good book or go for a technology free walk outside and you will feel so much better (and sleep better too). Read more on effects of alcohol here.
Our bodies are made up of about 60% water, and water is the primary building block of cells, metabolizes proteins and carbohydrates, aids in digestion and insulates our brain, spinal cord and organs. When properly hydrated, everything works more efficiently. We should be consuming a minimum of half our body weight in water (in ounces), more if you are exercising, and even MORE if you are drinking dehydrating fluids like coffee or alcohol.
I hope these tips are helpful for you to come out of the COVID-19 quarantine feeling and looking your best. These are tips you can always come back to if you find yourself working from home in the future too. If you have any questions or comments, please drop us a comment or reach out! We would love to hear from you!