Getting Back Into Shape After Shutdown
People are thinking about getting back into shape now that the stay-at-home order has been lifted. Some people took advantage of the lockdown to get more active. However, I suspect many, if not most, did not. And can we blame them? It’s winter, the days are short, home workout equipment was nearly impossible to find. The stay-at-home order encouraged people to stay home, work from home, and supervise the kids’ schooling from home. I can see why someone might just hunker down and wait it out.
The good news is, we made it! Gyms are re-opening, spring is around the corner, days are getting longer. My business is picking up (again, finally!) People are ready to get back into shape.
So how does one go about getting back into shape after nearly a year of on-again, off-again shutdowns?
1. Break-In Slowly
Do not try to pick up where you left off in your strength training program. Start with 2 sets of each exercise for the first 2 weeks. Start with light weights and higher reps. Gradually, progressively, and alternatingly, add more weight and more sets.
2. Commit to Cardio
I was very happy to see many people out skating on outdoor skating rinks. Now the spring thaw is starting and gyms are re-opening. If you have access to the use of an indoor bike, elliptical, treadmill or rowing machine, or, if you are able to run outdoors, start with 10 to 20 minutes of cardio on a non-strength training day. It could be a jog mixed with walking. (But it should be more challenging then just walking). If you are an outdoor runner, chances are, cardio was one thing you were motivated to keep doing during the lockdown. For others, however, the hazards of slipping made this something to avoid. Soon the drier weather will be here and we will be back out cycling and running.
3. Add Extra NEAT
Think of ways that you can increase your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). This is all the extra movement you can do in a day aside from your workouts. Walking falls into this category. Walking is excellent for active recovery and additional calorie burning. Park at the far end of a parking lot, take the stairs, shovel snow / mow the lawn, vacuum the house. Many people have fitness trackers to count steps. Having a daily step target is a good way to increase your NEAT. The more time you spend moving, the more energy your body will use. This will help improve overall metabolism, digestion, eating and sleeping.
4. Get Quality Sleep
Most adults require 7 – 8 hours of sleep. The goal is to be able to sleep uninterrupted, and wake up without an alarm, feeling rested, happy and ready to take on the day. Having consistent sleep and wake times, even on weekends, can help with this. Sleep is when your body repairs itself so that your muscles grow and you get stronger. When you feel energized, you will be able to have a better workout and get better results.
5. Make Healthier Food Choices
Cut back on alcohol and unhealthy snacks that go with it
Alcohol, even in small amounts, will affect the body’s ability to build muscle, lose fat, and sleep well. For people trying to lose weight, it is often the snacks that go along with the alcohol that really make the calories add up.
Drink more water
Staying hydrated by drinking water is one of the best things we can do for our overall health. It helps our body function optimally. Urine should be nearly clear or pale yellow if you are well-hydrated.
Avoid ultra-processed foods
Ultra-processed foods are often high in both fat and sugar, designed to be highly palatable and addictive to our taste buds and brain. When you think about it, the combination of high-fat and highly-sweet rarely occur together in nature. An avocado is high-fat, but not sweet. A strawberry is sweet but low-fat. The man-made addition of sugars and fats has created the perfect storm for the obesity epidemic.
Eat real food
While we should pay attention to macronutrients, such as protein, carbs, and fats, and micronutrients such as fibre, vitamins and minerals, the main thing is to eat a variety of real food. Eat the colours of the rainbow. Find as many different colours as you can: green broccoli, orange sweet potato, yellow squash, red tomatoes, white cauliflower, purple cabbage… just to name a few.
I would love to assist on your journey back to getting in shape. We offer in-person training as well as customized programs that you can complete on your own with oversight from our trainer. Please contact us for a free consultation.