Turning Challenge into
Part 3 in a series by Ken Patterson, MD
Sure, times are hard, it’s difficult to get to the store and when you go the shelves are empty and you want to go seldom as possible to minimize your exposure to Covid. So, what to do about diet? Many gyms are still closed or preparing to re-open, how can we exercise?
Don’t change a thing about your diet (that is if you’re eating well already). And don’t let this be an excuse not to exercise. If you’re just looking for an excuse, you need to get into your head a little deeper and find out why you’re trying to sabotage yourself. Life is full of little difficulties, calmness in the face of them and our mastery over them is essential for a good quality life.
So, let’s work through the difficulties.
- Fresh Greens – they spoil if kept too long, so you can’t buy then in quantity so you either have to do without or go to the store too often. Buy them, eat what you can and freeze or sauté what’s left before it spoils. Of course, not lettuce. When you run out of fresh greens, have some frozen or sautéed greens. Maybe a good idea to buy some frozen or powdered greens to keep on hand.
- Restaurants are closed or only take out – yes, this cramps our style, but it’s not the end of the world. Don’t switch to unhealthy fast food! Eat take out of healthy food when you can, they need the business for sure. It’s a great time to begin to patronize the farmer’s market. Yes, there are people there, but it’s outdoors with more spacing and there you can connect with one of several local farmers who will put you on a subscription delivery vegetable service. That would be good for you, for your social network (who wouldn’t want a food producer in your network) and good for the local economy!
- Exercise – Yes, the gyms are closed. No, it’s not the end of the world. First priority: to decide that Covid is no excuse to let my health reserve fritter away. Second priority: do something!! Yes, you can walk in the parks. You can stretch at home. Many home exercise programs available of all types and intensities. Check out: resistancebandtraining.com This is a great website – of course they want to sell you bands, but for about $100/year you get access to all kinds, types and levels of training. This is a great way to get the resistance training that you have been needing since the gym closed.
- Yes, you can still walk outside, bike outside and even run, if you’re so inclined. And, believe it or not, it’s not necessary to wear a mask when you’re in the great outdoors. Droplet dispersion that might contain coronavirus is very limited, 6 feet they say.
- Anxiety, depression, CVRCF (corona virus related cabin fever), and generally not being on top of your game psychologically-yes, you probably don’t feel the same emotionally as before all this happened. Many people have lost money, stock value, business production, friend relationships, church relationships and in general many fun things to do. It would make sense if we’re not feeling quite as good about things as we were before. However, there is an upside, believe it or not! Though the pace of negative news and negative social media hasn’t slowed down, the general pace of life has tapered off some for most people. This is basically very very good! Our enslavement and addiction to a manic pace of life, together with (add your own stressors here) is one of the primary situations responsible for the loss of our health reserve. This opportunity to learn to enjoy living in a more sane pace is golden. Yes, I just said, this is a golden opportunity! The caveat is that you have to take advantage of it.
- Keep in mind that our not too distant ancestors were farmers, and before that hunter-gatherers. They worked hard, slept well and had a few lifelong close relationships. Yes they had stress, but it was occasional, not chronic and usually called for action, not worry. We have a very different life from that today, don’t we?! We have brains and bodies that were made for very different level of stress and pace of life.
- So, what to do? Start with a few deep breaths. After that, set the timer on your iPhone and as it counts off the time for three minutes breathe in for five seconds and breathe out for five seconds. After you’ve done this for one three-minute period, think about how you feel. Most people feel a sense of relaxation just from this very brief exercise. Then repeat for five minutes. Set the alarm on your phone to do this exercise four or five times a day. This simple exercise alone has remarkable long-term health benefits if it’s done daily.
- Now, for really challenging action item, write some thoughts down. Write down your reactions to the things I’ve written above. Write how you felt when you did the breathing exercises. Write down your thoughts about what could be better about the way your body is feeling and the way your mind is working. And write what other action and activities come to mind as potential remedies for the things that aren’t going right with your health.
- And remember, we’re here to help. Our health coach, Carolyn, would love to have a session with you about, not just getting by, but how to take advantage of this golden opportunity.