Thoughts from Quarantine -Week 1

With Covid-19 hitting the planet like something out of a Michael Crichton book, I’ve elected to stay inside and I encourage you all to do the same.

While I’m not in the demographic likely to suffer from this virus, I accept responsibility as a possible carrier to stay away from folks who are susceptible. I refuse to get other people sick so I’m staying in.

Even though you can’t go out, there is plenty you can do from home to improve your personal health and fitness. I’m not just talking about home workouts either.

Here’s a collection of ideas for not just maintaining, but improving your health in our first week of quarantine life.

The biggest problems I anticipate this week are sloth and boredom eating. Here are a few guidelines I’ve put in place to keep from overeating and under-moving.

You will think you are hungry constantly. Chances are, you’ve had plenty to eat but not enough to drink. The signals your brains sends you when you’re thirsty are often confused as hunger.

Before you snack or make a meal, drink 8oz. of water and wait 10 minutes. I’d bet $50 your “hunger” goes away most of the time.

You know that Justin’s brand of peanut butter cup? It’s still a peanut butter cup. Work very hard to regulate your thought process about snacks. Just because the ingredients are higher quality doesn’t mean it has a place in your meal plan.

Snacking will still run up your calorie total. If you must snack, don’t bring the original container. Put a smaller serving in a bowl and take that with you. If you bring a pint of ice cream to your work-from-home desk, you’ll eat the whole pint. It doesn’t matter if it’s Ben & Jerry’s or Halo Top, that’s a bunch of calories you junk spent on junk food.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis or N.E.A.T. is even more of a struggle working from home. As a person who works from home a lot, I can attest to the fact that my couch is comfier than places that are not my couch. Leaving it can be difficult.

The thing is, remaining active and burning those extra non-exercise calories is very important. Without getting into the weeds on the circulatory, joint health, and overall sanity benefits of getting up and moving, it’s also important for keeping your basal metabolic rate where it is. 

A dip in your overall activity will eventually signal to your body that you don’t need to burn as many calories to maintain homeostasis, so you can shut down some of the metabolic machine. This won’t happen immediately, but over the next couple weeks it can make a difference. So build a movement habit now.

Set a timer for 55 min on your phone, watch, tablet, computer, Google Home, egg timer, or hourglass. When that thing goes off, you have to get up and move for 5 minutes. Do not skip this. When you are done with 5 minutes of movement, set the timer again. Repeat until you can return to work.

The usual 60 minute workout formula won’t serve you as well at home for a couple reasons. 

First, you won’t focus that long at home. All your stuff is there, your work is there, your dog/kid/game system is there and the tidal wave of distractions will consume you at some point. Keep your workouts to 15-ish minutes so you can keep the focused intensity you need for it to be worthwhile. Otherwise your at-home workout will have the equivalent intensity of texting while you sit in the leg press machine.

Second, you don’t wanna blow your whole workout in one sitting. Shorter workouts will have less volume so you can repeat them at a higher frequency. This will help you break up your cabin fever. This is important for your sanity and productivity. The frequent reminders that you value your health and fitness will also help you keep the other factors like movement and eating habits in check.

Pick 4-5 movements to build into a circuit. Push, Pull, Squat, Hinge, Core will do wonders. When you pick exercises for these movements use unilateral (one-armed or -one-legged) and bilateral (two-armed/legged) exercises. Switch them a lot. Repeat ones you like or need to practice. The higher frequency of your 15 minute Biohazard Bootcamps will help with motor-pattern learning.

Perform 8-12 reps of every exercise OR do 30 seconds of each exercise – all in succession without rest until the end of the circuit. Repeat the circuit for 15 minutes.

Example Workout:
Push Up   x 12
Single Arm Row   x12 each
Squats x 12
Single Leg Glute Bridge x 12 each
Sit Ups x 12
Rest 30-60 sec

Repeat for 15 min.

This is not the time to destroy your sleep schedule. You’ll eventually have to go back to real life. The fact that you don’t have to be up at 5am to commute doesn’t give you permission to stay up to midnight and roll out of bed to your kitchen table/desk at 9am. When you do have to go back to work you’ll have to shift your sleep schedule 4 hours. It’ll take you weeks to to get to a point where you don’t feel like a zombie all day.

I go to bed at 9 and get up at 5:30am almost every day of the week. The first night I was in quarantine I stayed up til 11pm. Didn’t wake up to an alarm, so I got up at 9am. If I get used to that, when I return to the gym I won’t be functional until my fourth client of the day. That’s not ok.

Keep your usual sleep schedule. Stick to your normal routine of turning off screens and avoiding caffeine several hours before bed. You’ll feel rested, more focused, more energized, and you won’t have to deal with a daylight-savings-on-steroids situation when you go back to the office.

This virus is still going strong. For the sake of public safety we could be in some form of quarantine for a while. There will be more issues to face over a greater time being more or less trapped at home.

I’ll keep adding Thoughts From Quarantine as I receive questions, experience my own struggles, and think of new helpful tips.

If you have questions you’d like answered, please send them to me. I’ll be pumping out as much helpful info as I can.