By: Eve Pearson, MBA, RDN
Something interesting is happening with social distancing and being quarantined at home. In my nutrition coaching practice, we’ve watched three very different personalities emerge. Which one are you?
Please consider my tips for each style below. Please note that regardless of your style, be sure you take care of your body through good nutrition habits, like eating fruits and vegetables, drinking enough water, and watching portion sizes. Now is the time to take care of your immune system.
Are you excited about less commute, and more time to plan, cook at home, and exercise? Proactive people see this time as an opportunity to reel things in a bit because they weren’t exactly on the track they should have been. While they’re stressed just like everyone else, they realize that now is a great time to implement their ideal lifestyle and nutritional plans. They are still learning how to homeschool their children, but they are using the time to plan meals better and with the correct nutrition balance. They are still grieving the loss of old routines, but are settling into a new routine with health as the priority—a priority they always wanted but were too busy to implement. With this new structure, they are convinced they will not come out of this quarantine with extra weight and bad habits.
Guidance: If this describes you, keep using this time productively to put the systems in place now, for whenever life resumes to a new normal. Get your go-to recipes, do some bulk cooking or meal prep, and show your brain and body that exercise should also be a priority. Perhaps share your ideas with others who might be “reactive” (see below). Also, accept that this won’t be forever. While the extra time is great right now, it will become a limited resource again.
Are you finding it hard to find the motivation to do anything related to nutrition and fitness? Reactive people feel this change is just too much to establish any routine, so they see little reason to do any of it. Snacking in between conference calls or Zoom meetings, only hitting 1,200 steps per day, and alcohol every night has become the new norm. My sense of these people is that they were just getting by before, struggling to maintain their nutrition goals. Actually, they were already stressed, and instead of dealing with the stress itself, they focused on exercise, diet, and nutrition as their primary coping tool.
Guidance: If this is you, pick just one thing to that you can start doing right now that will give you some sense of control back. Whatever you choose, begin doing it every day, no matter what. It could be eating breakfast at the same time (which will require that you wake up at the same time), or walking/running/biking at the same time every day, or even choosing to drink tea vs. alcohol. Once you do that for a week, pick another change to implement. Repeat. Your motivation will come back and newly established routines will help in the long run.
Are you still trying to figure out which way is up or down? Distracted people can’t make new habits fit in their new environment. Their brain is trying to rewire the old habits into the new environment for comfort. They keep trying to continue life before COVID-19. In particular, they may have used candy from a coworker’s desk or relied on daily lunch with a coworker as an excuse to eat more food or dessert. Without this old routine, they are coming face-to-face with the reality of these addictive habits. Importantly, these may be their worst habits that they didn’t realize were there (aka “in denial”). These habits kept them from reaching their goals in the past because they were distracted.
Guidance: If this is you, it can be understood why it is a very difficult time to come to grips with addictive habits. However, what you’re learning about yourself will be critical to your long-term nutrition and fitness goals. These habits can and will be turned into new habits during your time at home. Be sure that you replace them with positive instead of negative coping behaviors.
Eve Pearson (MBA, RDN) is owner of Nutriworks, Inc., founded in 2004 to help individuals learn how to use nutrition for performance. For more information, visit https://nutriworksinc.com/.