With a return to normality in sight I took some time to reflect on how the covid shutdown has affected me in regards to my training, nutrition, health and what I've taken out of the whole situation.
Training was my main concern as the announcements were made that gyms would be shut down. I'd been making huge bounds of progress training with the weights and machines in the studio and without access to them I thought I would end up losing a lot of strength and even some of the muscle that I'd worked so hard to put on. I needn't have worried though as I actually kept nearly all the muscle I had and increased my strength immensely. With a little ingenuity I found replacement exercises for everything I'd been doing in the gym. Some replacements were obvious Lat Pull down > Pull ups, Bench Press > Push ups. Others required a little bit more thought. Squats were replaced with single leg replacements such as shrimp, skater and pistol squats. Deadlifts became Nordic Curls, Hatrop curls and single leg deadlifts. Some of these exercises have some odd names but the challenge and intensity of them are not to be doubted.
With these exercises I've built an amazing amount of strength and muscle control and these exercises are going to continue to be in my own workouts even after we return to the gym.
Nutrition was probably what I was least worried about in the whole time of the shutdown. Prior to shutdown I was on point with my nutrition, being green for all macro nutrients in the My Vision app for the entire time I'd been using it. I continued that trend throughout the shutdown, allowing me to go beyond my initial target of 85kg body weight all the way down to 81.6kg. Along the way I've allowed myself to eat the occasional "cheat" meal and blown out my carbs and fat targets but at no point have I felt unsatisfied with my food or felt like I was missing out. My girlfriend Lotte and I plan out our meals for dinner a week or two ahead allowing us to plan in for things like pizza or pasta which can be hard to allow for sometimes when counting your macros but with a few tweaks and substitutions to ingredients can become part of a balanced eating plan.
Something like spaghetti bolognese which would normally be incredibly carbohydrate heavy, we would use a half serve of spaghetti and then replace the other half with zucchini noodles.
Where the nutritional side of things got difficult was with snacking. Being at home constantly meant when bored I would go looking for something to snack on. Easy access to the fridge and pantry meant that this could have gotten out of hand but I implemented a few decisions to avoid the issue as much as possible. I made sure to be as busy and active as possible for as long as possible during the day, when something was there to distract me such as gardening or taking the dogs for a walk the last thing on my mind was food.
The second thing I did was to hide the snacks, all of our snacks are actually in a bag in a wardrobe in our bedroom, having them out of the way and out of sight made it much easier to not think about them because when I go to the pantry looking for something to snack on the only things in there are flour, olive oil and some canned beans! Thirdly was to make sure that the snacks we had available were healthy, nutritious and had a high volume for its calories. Foods like popcorn, watermelon, strawberries and cottage cheese allowed me to fill my stomach and stay inline with my target macros. Lastly I always planned to have balanced meals at breakfast lunch and dinner with a combination of all three macronutrients. This made sure I was satisfied with my meal every single time and wasn't immediately going to look for something else to eat.
When I talk about health I mean specifically mental health, being forced to stay cooped up and fairly isolated is incredibly stressful. I know from prior experience how difficult it can be to be by yourself for long periods of time with limited face to face interaction with other people. In 2019 I went to Belgium for a year with my girlfriend to meet her family and friends. I went with the idea that I would be working during that year but with the unfamiliarity of working holiday visas in Belgium businesses I was unable to find work so spent most of the year by myself while my girlfriend was working. I went a little stir crazy that year so as we approached the shutdown I was a little worried I'd feel as cooped up as I did last year. Fortunately I had my family close to hand as well as the other trainers from southport to check in with regularly which allowed me to feel a lot more connected than I otherwise would have. With the check-ins and support from the people around me I was able to keep pressing forwards with my nutrition and training goals, knowing everyone in my corner was cheering me on.
My takeaway overall from lockdown is that everything that's important for our health, training and nutrition outside of lockdown stayed the same only more so. Planning out training, even with no equipment is essential and doing random workouts all the time while enternating is not the best way to get results. The same for nutrition, planning things out, getting rid of the junk from the house and sticking to the targets you have set allows you to see some great results and changes to your body regardless of everything else going on. Our circle of influence has a huge effect on how we end up approaching the other elements in our life. Having the right people behind you lets you focus on the stuff that really matters to you because you know they'll be there to support you when you need it.
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.