~COVID-19 Nutrition Edition: What can we learn from this?~
Planning ahead for success. How motivated are you still during this time? Do you have fitness goals in mind? Planning is a huge component of any goal, which when we reach our goals, we call it “success”. But also with this, comes another component called “motivation”. Motivation is not something we always have, especially in these days and times. Lots has changed in the last few months, even weeks. One of the things I think is most important to stay motivated during these times is creating structure. This gives us goals, things to do during the day and something to look forward to. Coming from a fitness perspective, this could include getting up and getting a workout in, a walk, or some form of exercise. This could also include a morning meditation, reading a book or another form of mindfulness. But not all of us are as motivated at home as we used to be when we had the comfort and luxury of a gym, yoga studio or even your weekly massage therapy. Now, I think, most of us are turning to “comfort” foods.
It's also a very stressful time and with stress, can come stress eating, poor food choices or at this point, food seems to be the only thing keeping a lot of people happy and possibly sane. A big misconception that I see often and even have experienced with some of my clients is that there is no way to continue to see progress without access to exercise or working out. Be it the gym, cardio equipment or classes, people seem to forget the majority of results actually come from your diet/nutrition. Most, if not all my clients see results purely through nutritional planning and most times nothing else besides a few training recommendations.
I think one thing this pandemic has taught us is the importance of our health. It's in these times more than ever we should be on top of what we are putting into our bodies versus what we are physically doing with them as far as movement goes. I say this only because a lot of us right now have lost our exercise outlets and I think it's imperative to stay motivated regardless of this fact. I am by no means suggesting that exercise isn’t healthy or you shouldn't be still doing what you can as far as hikes, runs, walks outside or at home workouts! I am simply suggesting an alternative that you do have control over in a time where we really don't have control over much else. So how can you still maintain your health/weight without a gym and in fact come out far healthier?
This can feel overwhelming for sure, especially when we don't have access to those other luxury health outlets. This process simply comes down to your lifestyle. First and foremost, you have to start planning ahead. This means introducing foods you may not have originally had in your diet such as adding way more fibrous veggies, trying different protein sources and planning your meals ahead of time. If it comes time to eat and you have no meal planned, that can cascade down to you eating way more than you actually need and maybe not as healthy.
I think it's also important to know and understand that there are no “good” foods as well as there are no “bad” foods. There are however, certain foods that can provide more nutrients and energy to your body versus others that simply provide a sense of “comfort”. Some really great examples of this include a vegan diet. It's simpler than people think and can assist in weight loss. By simply eating the right foods in the right way, you can actually eat your way to your goals, whatever that may be at this time.
Benefits of a vegan/plant based diet include:
- Better sleep and increased energy levels
- Balanced hormone levels (Because who isn't stressed at this time?!)
- Healthier hair, skin and nails
- Increased immunity
- Weight loss (this refers to fat %, not lean mass which includes muscle)
- Save money!
People are slowly starting to try new things, learn different skills and adopt healthier habits right now. If a plant based diet is something you may be interested in, I suggest starting with one day per week. For example, “Meatless Mondays”. This can even turn into a fun family event by cooking and learning new recipes together. In fact, according to a 2016 study from Harvard University, vegan dieters saw the most weight lost, losing 5lbs more than non-vegans over a period of 18 weeks. This was also done with no changes in exercise and in fact, no exercise regimes at all were put in place. It is good to remember though that based on this evidence, the results were shown over a long, consistent period of time and is in no way a magical overnight secret to weight loss. The best way to proceed and see success with a healthy lifestyle and see these types of results is through planning, patience and motivation.
Our grocery stores are filled with really great produce and even in these times, have much to offer in the way of our health. We have 100% control over what we put into our bodies, and as the old saying goes “You are what you eat”, it rings true. If you had the ability to increase energy levels, think clearer and lose weight effortlessly, would you say yes to that or no? We can choose to feel good for a moment during the day by eating that chocolate bar, diving into ice cream or ordering a pizza… Or we can choose to feel good for the rest of our lives by eating a well rounded, balanced diet which includes the occasional treat here and there. It's in this time, more than ever, I think we should choose the second option of feeling great for the rest of our lives. As we have all learned in a very short period of time, how quickly life changes and how precious our health is. No one is immune, but there are ways to protect ourselves moving forward and coming out of this. One of them is by simply being more mindful of what we are choosing to feed ourselves in this stressful time.
It's good to consider also that all diets/eating styles are and can be healthy, as we are all different. Some people do really well and are very healthy off of a paleo (meats included) type diet while others thrive off of a plant based diet. One is not better than the other, it is however about how you balance out your current diet and nutritional needs at the end of the day. Are you staying consistent? Are you planning ahead? Are you being kind to yourself? These questions all have to do with not only our own personal values in life, but our nutritional goals too. Stay mindful, stay motivated!