Photo above: Adelyn, Kenzai Member, training in China
Corona Fitness by Patrick Reynolds
I was living in Yokohama Japan during the Fukushima nuclear disaster. During the first few days, everyone was dazed and kind of paralyzed, mostly sitting at home glued to the news. But humans are amazingly adaptable. Once the initial shock of a nuclear meltdown in our backyard passed, people folded it into the rhythm of their lives and got on with things.
I remember at one point casually asking my wife before heading out to do an errand "What's the radiation level today? Do I need a mask?" We had bookmarked a webpage which told you the wind direction and radiation millisieverts, and would time our outings for when the wind was right. Just another day.
None of this was ok, and we were still freaked out, but at a certain point your mind normalizes an abnormal situation and lets you get back to the business of living. You can't just sit in the corner hugging your knees all day, you've got stuff to do!
I've seen a similar pattern with the 2020 outbreak of the Coronavirus. At first there was muted shock as schools, shops, and entire cities were put on lockdown. But after a few days that wonderful human resilience started shining through.
At the time of this writing, the predictions for COVID-19 are sobering. It has all the markers for a true pandemic — it's highly contagious, has a long incubation period where an unknowing carrier can move freely and spread it, and a death-rate of at least 2%, higher than the 1918 Spanish Flu.
Coronavirus won't be the end of the world, but it will enforce a new normal on all of us. The question is, in a reality where you might be self-quarantined at home for long periods, with school, work, and commerce at a trickle, what can you do to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
1. Resist the urge to eat emotionally.
A global problem that's beyond your control creates the perfect condition for emotional eating (and drinking). You're stressed, you're bummed out, but most of all, you're bored. It's easy to assuage these feelings with calorically dense food and drink.
You know how this goes. You'll feel some small relief as you eat the junk food. But within 30 minutes you'll be feeling the ill-effects in your mind and body. When you eat poorly, you're less patient and prone to strong mood swings. This is a bad place to be when you're cooped up with a bunch of other stressed people.
If you're hearing the siren-song of junk food, take a few breaths and think past the initial craving. It'll sting for a moment to not get what you're craving, but you'll be in a much better headspace in the hours to follow if you make a lighter, fresher food choice.
If you're dealing with boredom, you can even make an activity out of doing some elaborate food prep you normally wouldn't make time for. Break out a complicated recipe and enjoy the simple pleasure of following the directions to make a dish that the whole family can enjoy.
2. Don't slip into a high RPM fugue state
Think about an engine that's cranking up. As it gets moving, you'll see and hear a lot of noise and movement. As it reaches high RPM the noise becomes a soft, high-pitched whine and the parts move so fast that it seems to be still.
The same thing happens when you're worried and stressed. Your mind is spinning at such a high RPM that you end up sitting around in a kind of high-intensity fugue state. You're full of anxious energy, but unable to do anything productive with it. You try to read but you're not comprehending the sentences. You try to watch a show but you can't get into the storyline. It's the worst!
You're feeling like this because your brain has primed your system with emergency hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) that it thinks you'll need to survive a threat. This works when you have somewhere to run or something to fight, but being stuck at home sheltering from COVID-19 is a situation where all those hormones do you no good at all.
If you're feeling wound-up and finding you can't focus, don't just sit there and take it, you've got to MOVE! Your body thinks you need to run or fight something, so give it what it wants with a home workout. People have the impression that home workouts are less-intense than what you can do in a gym. I find I get much BETTER workouts at home than in a gym. At home you don't have to worry about how you look or sound, you can go all out, grunt, scream, and flop on the floor when you’re done. And if you think a home workout will be easy, take on one of our 10 Minute high intensity workouts to see what's possible with only your bodyweight and one resistance band.
If you want to make the most of a bad situation, think of a Coronavirus disruption as your chance to experience a stint in jail. If you're like me, when you imagine being locked up, you tell yourself you'd be one of those inmates that makes the most of it, reading books, educating yourself, and using your free time get fit and strong. Here's a chance to see if you've really got that drive.
Imagine going through for a few weeks of quarantine and coming out of it leaner and stronger than when it began. Imagine meeting up with your friends when it's all over and looking like you just got back from a health spa when everyone else looks frazzled and paunchy.
It all starts by getting the body moving at not letting your RPMs spin so high that you freeze up!
Keeping your stress hormones under control will also mean fewer cravings for junk food and alcohol and less emotional eating. Eating well and exercising are in a constant conversation with each other. When you do one well, the other naturally follows, no matter which direction you approach the problem from.
Coronavirus is a crappy situation that’s going to get worse before it gets better. You’ll see your friends and family reacting to it in all kinds of ways. Be one of the people who becomes your best self in tough times. The foundation for that comes from eating as well as you can and keeping your body moving as it was born to do!
Stay safe and healthy out there!
By: Patrick Reynolds // Kenzai Founder