If you’re struggling with the rhetoric around weight loss and ultra-fitness during lockdown, you’re not alone. Sticking to these simple health tips will put you on the right track
As we’re bombarded with messages about using quarantine to create the very best version of yourself, we at IMAGE are trying to strike a different tone. It’s great to use this time to take up a new hobby, or to complete a task you’ve been putting off for ages, but it is not a time to put unnecessary pressure on yourself. A global pandemic is stressful enough, without feeling like you have to come out of it as a whole new person.
Unfortunately, not even our bodies are immune from the relentless self-improvement train on social media. Since the pandemic first struck earlier this year, many have been using the time at home as an opportunity to lose weight, overhaul their fitness regime and take on an ultra-healthy new lifestyle. While this is brilliant for those who want to do it, seeing these images constantly can have a detrimental effect on those who aren’t on the same path.
If you aren’t spending your days doing squat challenges or making kale salads, don’t worry — there are plenty of ways to stay healthy and fit without putting undue pressure on yourself.
Taking on these five very easy health tips will ensure you stay on the right track — they’re a minimum checklist to keep your health and fitness in check while everything else seems out of control. If you want to add more to this list, that’s fantastic. If not, that’s great too. The most important thing is making it through lockdown with our health in tact — here’s how to get started.
Bookend your day with 10-minute walks
Getting outside for some exercise is of paramount importance, and luckily, the weather is making it easy to be outside. It can be difficult to slot exercise into your day when everything ramps up, so getting it in before and after the madness of the day is your best option. Get outside for a ten minute walk as soon as you get up, and again after dinner in the evenings. It’s an easy way to make sure you’re getting some steps in and some fresh air, and you’ll find yourself looking forward to the break each day.
Eat a piece of fruit after every meal
Getting fruit and vegetables into you can be difficult, so try and keep to a schedule. After every meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner), have a piece of fruit on hand to finish with. This way, you’ll increase your good-food intake without really thinking about it, and once you’ve conquered three a day, it’ll be much easier to increase to five or more.
Drink 3 litres of water
This will honestly probably be the hardest tip on the list to keep to, but it’s one of the most important. How many times during lockdown so far have you gotten to 6pm and realised you’ve drank barely any water all day? Dehydration can cause fatigue and brain fog, and in this weather, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re keeping it under control. Your water intake depends on your body type but generally speaking, three litres is a great goal to keep to. Be warned — the first few days you’ll be running to the bathroom non-stop, but it’s well worth it for how much better you’ll feel.
Make one homecooked meal a day
It’s very easy to indulge in takeaways or microwave meals when you’re just sitting around at home, but try not to fall into that trap. Pick one meal every day and pledge to make it from scratch. It could be a really great breakfast, or an elaborate dinner using all the veggies in the fridge. Make a real effort to use fresh, non-processed ingredients. Indulge in both the cooking and eating — it can be a great way to wind down the day.
Get enough sleep
Probably the most important takeaway from this list is to look after your sleep schedule. Sleep can affect everything from your mood to your energy levels to physical health like gut health and muscle repair. It is so important to make sure you’re sleeping well and keeping to a regular sleeping pattern. Try and go to bed at the same time every night, and get up around the same time each morning. Avoid blue light in your bedroom (phones off!) and try to wind down before bed, with things like a luxurious skincare routine or a cup of warm milk.
Read more: ‘I wake up exhausted’: how to get a good night’s sleep, according to an Irish sleep expert
Read more: ‘That end-of-the-world feeling has passed, but 9 weeks of lockdown has taken a toll on my mental health’
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