We’re now several weeks into the quarantine, and I know everyone’s starting to get a little loopy. I’m sure eating, and workouts have been all over the place. We’re not moving like we used to, maybe not eating like we’re used to, so how do we get ourselves back on track so we don’t lose all the great progress we made in the gym?
It’s hard on a normal day to control what we eat. But now we’re stuck at home just staring at our kitchens literally 24 hours of the day. Discipline would need to be at an all time high. Thankfully, there are some other factors you can focus on other than just to “not eat too much”.
True hunger vs cravings
Are you hungry because you’re just bored, or do you actually need food? This is also a stressful time. With food within arms reach it’s easy to justify an excuse to grab a bag of chips. We need to change the way we decide when and how to eat. Keep higher quality foods around. If you go to the store and bring home a bag of chips, guess what. You’re going to eat it. Between it’s tastiness, and the fact that you’re probably stressed due to the severity of the situation financially and mentally, your cortisol will be through the roof. It’ll cause you to crave comfort foods over true hunger. Lastly, we probably aren’t moving as much as we usually do, so the need for higher carb sources is going to be relatively low.
- If it’s around the house, you’re going to eat it. Try stick to mostly whole, unprocessed foods around the house, so if you do want a snack, you’ll be grabbing a fruit or protein source over a bag of chips
- Carbs vs fat - if we’re moving around less, then there is a lower need for a carb intake versus getting a good assortment of fats in. Stick to olive oils, nuts, meats, etc. vs packaged carb goodies since your body won’t likely burn off the excess carb energy.
- Stress = cortisol spike. If your cortisol is raised you’re more likely to eat comfort foods. Try meditation, or going for a walk to focus on bringing the stress down.
Daily Energy Expenditure
Regardless of diet or not, you should be trying to get outside anyways. We all could benefit getting out of the house daily, and taking a mental break from feeling isolated. But even more so than that, we simply aren’t expending as many calories per day as we usually do just from our daily movement. If maintaining your physique is a big goal coming out of this quarantine, then you need to be trying to create not only the same calories coming into the body, but the same amount of activity going out. I also just like the idea of not turning your home into the place you train your body to automatically feel stressed once you enter. If we spend too much time stressed inside our homes, that can happen and we will create a negative association.
- If you really wanna be on top of your goals, use a Fitbit, or Apple Watch, to see how many steps or total calories you’re burning each day. Go into the app, and see how it compared to before the lockdown. Are you matching the daily steps or energy out? Try to hit those numbers
- Make sure to keep a daily step or exercise regimen weekly. If you worked out 3 times a week normally, there’s not excuse to stop it now.
Modifying Your Diet
Using the advice above we can now adapt and make changes as we need to. If you have workout days and non-workout days, make sure to adjust your caloric intake to your needs. You simply won’t be burning a lot of calories when you’re barely moving or sitting around. This is why having a smart watch can help keep you accountable to do so. Having said that, don’t feel bad and give up if you do slip up. We’re human and we’re allowed to be stressed. Just get back on track and make sure the next meal is appropriate. Keep yourself busy before answering a craving. It’s easy to just grab the food, but if we have something to interrupt the cycle, it can allow us to take more time to assess whether we actually NEED food or just want to eat for the sake of it.
- Eat more on workout days and less when you aren’t. Your body doesn’t need the excess fuel (particularly carbs), especially if that non-exercise time is spent sitting on a couch.
- Empathize with yourself. If you stay in a negative mindset all day, you’ll just want to keep eating worse foods and eat more and more of it.
- Find distractions when you have cravings. Exercise, call someone, meditate, or drink 20oz of water.
- Optimize your situation - by using distractions, empathy and modifying caloric intake, you are not only preventing bad habits from forming, but you are creating new behaviors that will give you better instincts in the long run when it comes to diet and cravings.