Updated: May 2
Sure, it’s easy in the face of a global crisis, social distancing, and a home lockdown, to just camp out in front of the TV and binge-watch all of the series that you haven’t watched. After all, you get through all of “Game of Thrones” in only 63.5 hours.
But why not take the extra time you have to set some health goals and start achieving them? Whether your ultimate goal is weight loss, dealing with chronic disease, or just getting in shape, now is a great time to work on it. And when all of this is over, you will have achieved something significant and established new habits that will stick with you going forward.
Make New Habits BE the Goal
At this point the important thing is to establish new habits. Make your goals be about the habit as well as the measurable outcome. Make sure to write your goals down. For example, if you develop a new habit around daily exercise, you’re going to find that once all of this is over, you’ll be far more likely to continue it.
Don’t exercise regularly? Make thirty minutes of daily exercise the goal.
Already exercise that much every day? Make it 60 minutes a day instead.
Want to eat healthier? Eat plant-based for one meal a day.
Already doing that? Eat TWO meals a day that are 100% plant-based.
Pick one goal for diet and another for fitness and just do it. And if it feels too easy, then ramp it up or even double the goal.
Here are a few other thoughts on how to structure your goals and activities to increase your likelihood of success.
Scheduled Exercise Time
My kids now have scheduled times for lunch and PE during their day of online school. Do the same for yourself by aligning your exercise time with theirs. Setting an example for them to follow will make it easier for them, and doing it together will make it easier for you!
For people who are now working remotely, it’s super easy to think that you need to be in front of the computer ALL THE TIME. But you’ll actually be more productive and think more clearly if you ramp up your exercise. So schedule a time every day and hold yourself to it. Block it out on your calendar if needed, but don’t make excuses and don’t play the “Oh I have to work” card either.
Don’t like the idea of a specific time? Then set a deadline (e.g. before noon) or put conditions on it (no dinner until I exercise).
Add-On Exercise Booster
In addition to the scheduled exercise period, I like to add-on short exercise boosters that I can do whenever I have spare time during the day. In my case it’s push-ups. My daily goal is an extra 100 push-ups. I can do 20 pushups at a time easily — so I just need to “drop and do 20” five times during the day to meet my goal.
The booster exercise could be pushups, sit-ups, pull-ups, squats, burpees, or even running up the stairs.
And if you think that little exercise booster isn’t effective, realize that an extra 100 pushups per day adds up to 700 pushups a week! And even if you can only do 10 at a time, you can still get to 100 per day pretty easily.
Family Fitness Competitions
Having the entire family locked up together in the house frankly isn’t anyone’s dream come true, so you need to find ways to stay sane. Making exercise fun is always a good idea, so in addition to everyone’s regular exercise, we’re exploring the idea fo a family fitness competition.
Involve everyone in coming up with what the contests are. In our house, we have a few: running the stairs 10 times for the fastest time; holding a plank for as long as you can; most setups in one minute. You get the idea.
There are five of us in the household, so we award points for first, second, and third places and track our point totals over time. Training is encouraged as well, so people can get better over time and we do the same competitions periodically.
Cook For Yourself
Learning to cook for yourself is a great skill to have. When shifting to a plant-based diet you will find an unlimited number of resources online, Don’t feel like you have the right level of cooking skill? Check out free online cooking classes and video recipes for a way to boost your skills. If you have an ingredient that you don't know how to use, or how to create a tasty dish, just Google it.
When cooking at home you are in control of how much oil and fats are adding to your food. Try to cut the fat wherever possible. A good place to start is with the added oil. Often it can be eliminated or significantly reduced without changing the outcome of the recipe. For example look for oil-free dressing recipes and sauteeing with broth instead of oil.
And don’t forget the fiber! Less than 3% of Americans get the recommended amount of fiber in their diet and this is a significant contributor to virtually every chronic disease that we have in this country! EAT MORE FIBER!
Have Meals Together and Minimize Snacking
Being at home all the time isn’t generally good for a disciplined approach to eating. I’ve worked from home for years and it is HARD not to swing through the kitchen and grab a handful of nuts when I go to refill my water. So try to avoid snacks and focus on eating enough at mealtime to keep you satisfied. If you still need a snack in between meals, once again choose food that has a low-calorie density.
At our house, we do this by prepping a Crudités platter of fresh vegetables every day that we can snack on when needed. Filling up on broccoli, celery, carrots, and other fresh veggies is low calorie and super healthy too.
Get Curious About Your Health
Finally, take advantage of the extra time to learn more about your health and how food affects it. Instead of watching “Game of Thrones”, here is a list of documentaries that everyone should watch to help boost your knowledge on nutrition and health:
And when it comes to specific topics or questions you may have about food and nutrition, visit NutritionFacts.org to find out what the latest science is saying about your favorite foods to help you make the healthiest choices for you and your family.