When helping students with questions about wellness, I am sometimes asked: “How do I even get started?” This question may seem even more daunting in today’s environment, where access to fitness facilities and grocery stores is limited. Wellness is a state of mind just as much as it is a state of body, and little changes can go a long way. In order to practice exercise and nutrition habits, we need information and tools that allow our goals to be easy, accessible, and convenient. The best ways to tackle these goals? Get motivated!
Make a plan
Set a goal that is S.M.A.R.T.! Writing down your health goal that is “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely” helps break it down into smaller, doable steps: “I will ride my bike three times this week for 30 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday;” “I will eat double portions of vegetables at dinner on Saturday and Sunday” (I struggle most on weekends), and so on. Give yourself a week to reach your goal. Remember to pace yourself—you don't have to work toward a goal every day.
Get creative with physical activity
Since many fitness facilities are closed and public health guidelines advise social distancing, it will be difficult to be active for the usual 45-60 minute time frame (as if you’re attending a workout class). Get creative with the ways you engage in physical activity, including:
- Connect with other healthy people digitally using video calls, activity apps, fitness tracker challenges, and online groups. You won't be alone, and it sparks friendly competition!
- Take daily living activities to a new level. Go for a longer walk or take a lecture or conference call on the move, if possible. Chores such as sweeping, vacuuming, raking, gardening, all can work up a pretty good sweat when you set a time frame and intensity. Spotify has themed music channels that follow specific beats per minute (check out “Fun Run 150-165 BPM”).
- Follow a YouTube exercise class. Keeping your fitness status and physical limitations in mind, choose a workout that’s fun and appropriate for your activity level. Check out channels such as Fitness Blender or Popsugar Fitness which post videos of varying intensity levels. Or look into the Yoqi Yoga and Qigong channel for gentle flow exercise and breathing techniques.
- It can be tough to find a fitness-related social media account without questionable motives or unrealistic body image posts. However, @myfitnesspal and @livestrong_com have several “at home” workouts, as well as helpful nutrition information.
The remote learning and work-from-home model has highlighted some nutritional dilemmas. These recommendations take a deeper dive for some solutions.
- Your timing is off! Always start with breakfast and try eating a meal or snack every three to four hours.
- You’re not getting the right balance of nutrients. Fulfilling snacks have three components: fiber, protein, and some healthy fat.
- You’re thirsty, not hungry! Fill up that reusable water bottle and keep it close.
- You’re tired. Poor sleep = stress, period. Consistent wake and lie down times help set you up for a proper eating schedule.
Best Food Buys in Trying Times
- Long-lasting fresh fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits and root vegetables are good options, and vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are relatively nonperishable.
- Dried and canned beans and legumes. Beans, chickpeas, lentils and the like are great sources of protein and fiber.
- Dried fruits, nuts and seeds. Choose unsalted or unsweetened fruits, nuts, and seeds as snacks or add-ons to oatmeal or salads. Pure nut butters with no added sugar, salt, or partially hydrogenated or palm oils are also a long-lasting, great source of healthy fats and other nutrients.
- #TastyTuesday or #FoodieFriday. Designate a day to try a new recipe each week!
- Need recipe ideas? Fridgetotable.com or supercook.com will gather recipes with the current ingredients in your fridge or pantry. Consider following @EatingWell and @Aramark’s #FeedYourPotential campaign!
This article is part of a series aimed to help students, faculty, and staff manage distance learning, working, and living during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information and resources for Wellness Services, visit gotu.us/covid19.