So, here we are, settling into social distancing and a new lifestyle. This means that your daily activities, training regimen, and nutrition plan altered. This leads to uncertainty in how to move forward- how will this affect your body? What nutrients are important right now for the immune system? Should macronutrients change? Let me guide you through the answers and break this down simply. Even without any experience calculating macros, this can be a seamless transition. Truthfully, it is a time of great opportunity to build habits and optimize wellness in multiple domains! The domains are energy balance, macronutrients, whole foods, and body restoration.
It cannot be debated that the amount of energy you consume will either be used for an activity or be stored in your body, initially in your muscles and liver as glycogen, then transformed into fat for long term storage. Your energy requirements may have changed now that we are practicing social distancing- working from home, performing different workouts, and limiting extracurricular activities. In particular, performing less strength training and more light or aerobic work requires fewer calories overall, since the energy requirements for recovery are less. Chat with me about how to learn your basal metabolic rate, activity energy requirements, and corresponding nutritional plan.
Just as energy requirements change, macronutrients needs alter depending on your new training regimen or activity. Perhaps you are walking more frequently now that you work from home, but are doing less heavy lifting. This requires less carbohydrate around workouts, a steady source of protein, and adequate healthy fats. It can be tricky to learn this new eating pattern. In general, focus most carbohydrates around workouts. Decrease or limit them at other meals if you are not lifting heavy or have decreased your general activity level. This is a great opportunity to “cut” rather than bulk! The body often welcomes cycles like this, as well.
Whole foods take longer to digest, have higher micronutrient values, and contain more fiber, probiotics, and phytonutrients. Focus on a variety of vegetables, nuts and seeds, low glycemic fruits, starchy tubers, plus fatty fish and lean meats. Protein intake is essential for immune function, muscle preservation, and enzymatic activity. Eating foods that are high in fiber and prebiotics maintain a healthy gut, which in turn tremendously boots your immune system. In addition, eating whole foods keeps you fuller for longer, leading to better weight maintenance and fewer cravings.
Our bodies cannot differentiate physical stressors from emotional, psychological, or mental ones. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of ensuring you get enough rest, practice exercises for mental clarity, and nurture your spirit. Previous blog posts describe strategies to do this, but the most important thing is to find what works for you. Remember a time in your life when you felt most at peace. Is it possible to create that? Were you outside? Was this time with loved ones? Did you journal?
A fantastic and research-supported practice for boosting morale is expressing gratitude. The “Three Good Things” (https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/three-good-things) exercise walks you through a positive event on your day, how you felt, and why it made you feel that way. Share it with friends or loved ones via text or skype and hold one another accountable! You can also explore meditation- many apps are offering free trials right now- HeadSpace is a great option!
Now is the time to get those 8 hours of sleep that everyone recommends. Do you have a bedtime routine? Things to consider are:
- Limit technology use before bedtime, especially blue lights from screens. Blue light disrupts the sleep hormone melatonin, impacting your entire night.
- Explore blue light blocking glasses: BluBox and Felix Gray are great brands!
- Try out CBD Oil. I prefer the company Hello Ned!
- Make your room dark. Light cycles stimulate melatonin, regulating your hormones.
- Use a diffuser with calming oils.
- Drink teas such as camomile or tulsi rose.
- Try out magnesium calm powders- these promote muscle relaxation.
- Keep your room cooler- there are new mattress pads that help to keep the temperature lower and optimize your sleep.
- Maintain a regular bedtime.
- Stretch or do yoga prior to bed!
At Arsenal, our mission extends beyond fitness. Therefore, we aim to help you live the best life possible, thriving for decades to come. Reach out to us for information on personalized nutrition and fitness coaching as we revolutionize our online platforms!