In these unprecedented times of ALL sporting and social events being canceled, which is unfortunate for most of us but could be the reason our elderly parents, grandparents or relations with compromised immune systems are able to get through this and get the chance to go and enjoy these sports and social events once this horrible virus has run its course. We are all responsible to protect our friends and relations by taking simple steps. We all at this stage know what they are....
With all training cancelled the issues teams and individual athletes face now is how to maintain fitness levels, avoid putting on weight (unless you are a heavy weight boxer or sumo wrestler!) and very importantly keeping their bodies and minds healthy. Here are some simple tips under our four pillars Nutrition, Exercise, Water and Sleep (NEWS) Nutrition
Obviously it will be easy to put ourselves into a calorie surplus with no formal training
The simplest way to avoid this is by our environment. Which means keeping healthy foods choices, fruit and vegetables in our homes and keeping treats to a minimum. Think about this......‘If you go out for a coffee and a slice of chocolate cake the chances of you going back up to the counter and asking for another slice is fairly slim but if you have the same cake at home you are far more likely to have just one more slice and another and another…!’
Being at home more can lead to boredom and overeating so stick as closely as you can to normal habits, 3 main meals and a couple of healthy snacks like fruit, nuts, popcorn (instead of crisps), homemade protein balls, smoothies….
An advantage of being at home means we have more time to cook from scratch and before those of you panic and say you can't cook follow the brilliant @daveynutrition and see how simple it is to produce healthy nutritious meals.
Increasing protein and high fibre foods will keep you satiated (feeling full). By no means join the anti carb morons but as activity levels drop your body will probably require less carbs.
Increasing Vit C, Omega 3 and Vit D (if you can't get outside) can help keep coughs and colds at bay.
As formal training and gym sessions will not be happening we need to find other ways to keep our fitness levels up. Some simple ways are walking, cycling, jogging, running, interval training, HIIT training (download the 7 minute workout or similar apps), short sprints sessions, resistance training using weights (if you have them), resistance bands , body weight (press ups, dips, squats…..) or even use small kids as weights but maybe not straight after a feed or a bottle!!!
Try get out into the countryside, beaches or parks as the fresh air will help Vit D levels and release endorphins which are beneficial to our mood and by God we need our mood lifted!
Keep hydration levels up (as a nation we will drink millions of gallons of tea as it is the solution to every problem on the planet!!!) As always the simplest way to check if our hydration is correct is to check the colour of our pee (see pee chart on the website). A light straw colour is ideal but be conscious that some supplements and Vit B can discolour it. Also be aware of the high caffeine levels that are in some teas, coffees and minerals which can adversely affect the last pillar…..
As I constantly say if we can nail this pillar then the other three will be easier to maintain. If we wake refreshed our Nutrition, Exercise and Water will all be better. Sleep is not just what we do at night it is what we do in the morning, midday and evening that will affect it.
Our sleep hygiene (routine) is crucial so winding down which will help release our sleep hormone melatonin should be our priority. All research states that the single biggest impact on our melatonin is the blue light from phones, tablets and other screens. There is no doubt that turning these off an hour or so before bedtime will be hugely beneficial and I know this is not easy, we are all guilty of spending too much time on our phones whether we like to admit it or not!. Making our bedroom ‘like a cave’ - dark, cool and bare is the ideal sleeping environment. Even simple things that we don’t consciously notice like all those books which we realise we still haven’t opened and that standby light on the TV (BTW there should not be a TV in the bedroom it should only be used for the two S’s -Sleep and…….) can impact sleep. Our sleeping position can also be a factor. The research has shown that lying on your side in the foetal position will assure your brain that your vital organs are protected and it can then trigger a deeper more restful sleep. We also know that we sleep in 90 min cycles so rather than focusing on 6, 7 or 8 hours a night, focus on 35 X 90mins a week (average 7.5 hrs per night). This allows for some earlier and some later nights.
Finally and critically is our mental health. In times of uncertainty, scaremongering and gobshites on Facebook our stress levels can go through the roof leading to increased cortisol levels which will impact all four (NEWS) pillars. With all or sport / social outlets cancelled we are bombarded with wall to wall Covid-19 information and misinformation. While we all need to be informed we can feel like we are drowning in all the bad news. We do not have to sit for hours in a lotus position, wear robes, chant, do strange poses on rocks or get up at sunrise (follow @dermottodayfm to cut through the BS) simple breathing techniques and 5 min meditations (there are countless Apps I find Insight Timer great) can be enough to calm the mind and focus on controlling the controllables! Also this time can be spent reading, learning and brushing up on new skills!
As ever if you have any Q’s just shout! Dec