Firstly, I hope you are all keeping safe and well in these difficult times that we find ourselves in.
I thought I would share with you, my lockdown experience so far – specifically my eating and drinking habits, which seemed to have gone a little wayward!
Before I joined The Face, I worked for another clinic in the wellness industry, and part of my role, was to coach clients through a wellness programme. I am not qualified as a nutritionist or a personal trainer, but, as a mentor alongside health professionals, I helped people to learn new habits that drastically improved their physical and mental well-being.
Now, the reason I am telling you this is because I couldn’t mentor people effectively, unless I practiced what I preached. I can honestly say, that the simple changes and new habits became an every day part of my routine and I felt so much better than I had done in years. It all made sense, it wasn’t rocket science – clean eating, daily exercise, mindfulness & essential vitamin supplements. Don’t get me wrong, I was starting to slip a bit with too many treats and too much alcohol, but the basic habits had been changed and had stuck. Until……….
Boris Johnson announced that we were on lockdown! All of a sudden, overnight, it all went out of the window 😩.
We are a family of 5, and for four years, I have fed my family clean eating meals and they haven’t complained (well not too much). But as soon as the announcement came out, my head said
“We can’t go out anymore, we need to make this experience as good as we can, so we are going to make food our entertainment – every day!” And that is how it started.
I made the excuse that I couldn’t get the food that we normally ate, because the supermarket shelves were empty. I made the excuse that after a day in lockdown, I deserved “a reward” for getting through it. I made the excuse that because I was going for my daily walk I had burnt off the calories. I made the excuse that because the sun was shining and we were all working from home, it was like a holiday, so I could have a glass of wine every night. I made the excuse that because we were on lockdown, I suddenly needed to practice for the auditions of Great British Bake Off. And the excuses just kept coming….my berries and yoghurt for breakfast were replaced with toast (or worse – nothing), my salad for lunch was replaced with a sandwich, my afternoon snack of nuts or a Nakd Bar was replaced with a slice of homemade cake and then whilst I was preparing our carb laden dinner feast I snacked on crisps whilst having my first glass of wine.
Has this improved my lockdown experience !?! Arghh no. I really don’t feel great at all!
So this weekend, I sat myself down and gave myself a good talking to, drawing upon all the experience and knowledge I had learnt before. And this is what I told myself:
Physically, we only need clean food to survive. Back to caveman days: what we can grow and what we can catch. All the other treats we eat are because we have an emotional attachment to them, not because we need them to survive. That happiness of eating a bar of chocolate, only lasts for the actual time we are eating it for. So, I need to ask myself “Do I really need this, or am I looking for a short lived instant gratification”. The phrase, a moment on the lips is a lifetime on the hips rings true.
Don’t let yourself get hungry. Eating small clean portions of food regularly, will stop that feeling of immense hunger. When we are hungry we will grab something quick, that will fill us up instantly, which is usually the wrong food. Eating sugary foods or foods that contain complex carbohydrates, cause a sugar spike, so we feel full, but then get hungry again quickly. Concentrate on protein and good carbs (vegetables and salad). And don’t miss breakfast!
Plan! Plan! Plan! When I am working, I take a salad to the clinic for lunch every day. It stops me going to buy lunch when I am hungry, when I am more likely to make the wrong choices. A salad with protein (piece of chicken or salmon), will fill you up and keep you filling fuller for longer than a sandwich. Have healthy snacks available (natural nuts and cut up veg work well). Our evening meals are always planned, and often in the slow cooker or partly prepared, so they are ready as soon as we are. We can still plan and pre-prepare in lockdown.
If you are hungry…drink. And I don’t mean alcohol! Our brain, often sends hungry signals, when in fact we are thirsty. Drink water consistently throughout the day to keep hydrated. We should be drinking at least 2 litres per day.
Keep up good quality exercise. Exercise is only effective if our heart rates are raised. 20 minutes per day of exercise that raises our heart rate is better than a slow one hour amble taking the dog for a walk.
Anxiety and worry is a big part of lockdown that has affected many people. Our brains are constantly thinking, wondering, trying to work out what is going to happen next. It is important to allow our brains to switch off and relax sometimes and mindfulness is a great way to achieve this. Headspace is a really good free app that helps you practice mindfulness if you have never tried it before. This is a habit that I need to get back into on a daily basis.
Treat yourself. Any habits that are to become a daily part of your life, need to have some flexibility in order to maintain them. But the difference is the way you think about them. When having the occasional bread or a slice of cake becomes a treat, instead of you normal way of eating, you know you’ve made the change. And its ok to have a couple of glasses of wine – just not a bottle and not every day!
Can I get back on track? – of course! I haven’t broken my habits for long enough that the new ones will stick. Let’s call it a 4 week treat 🤣
I hope some of you will resonate with my excuses for my poor healthy choices, it is certainly a strange time at the moment. I am looking forward to a healthier second half of this lockdown, not just because I will feel so much better both mentally and physically, but I’m also a bit concerned that my work tunic won’t fit 😬
Miss you all… thanks for listening!
Stay safe and well