For the first time in a year, each week that passes has more good Covid news than bad. People are getting their shots, vaccine hesitancy is easing up, and hospitalization rates are dropping. We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’ve found the trail that leads us out, and there’s a patch of blue sky in the distance.
Different countries are at different stages of this process, but it’s becoming clear that within a few months adults will be mostly vaccinated and at long last we can start seeing our friends and family in person, some of them for the first time in over a year.
Over the next few months, there will be lots of joyful reunions. It’s going to be amazing. But with all these meetups on the horizon, the team at Kenzai has seen a sudden uptick in people asking how to get in shape quickly. It’s the old “high school reunion” gambit. You haven’t seen these people in the flesh for a long time. They don’t have any idea how out of shape you’ve gotten, and heck, why should they know? What’s to stop you from getting back in shape right before the event and letting them think you’ve been crushing it this whole time!?
People don’t like talking in the open about this kind of thought process. It seems shallow and vain. But we have to remember that humans are a deeply social species. The things that motivate us are almost always social in nature — looking good in front of others, finding good social “mates” (romantic or platonic), and most of all, avoiding situations that put us in the “out” group. When you understand this is how your brain chemistry works, all the anxiety about looking good at a reunion makes perfect sense.
The people you see after your long lockdown will love you and delight in your presence no matter how you look. It’s all good. But these post-Covid reunions offer you the chance to pull off a nice bit of mental jujitsu. You know that social pressure is the strongest motivator a person can have, so why not put it to good use and leverage a positive fitness outcome for these waning days of the pandemic?
In other words, embrace the “high school reunion” dynamic and spend your last bit of lockdown getting back to a more balanced point in your health and wellness!
Getting Back in Shape for the Post-Pandemic World. An Overview
In our observations, we’ve noticed that people have pretty much fallen into the “normal distribution” for how they’ve handled a life of lockdowns and quarantines. This will give us a classic bell-curve shape:
Fitness Outcomes after 1 Year of Covid
If you’re on the “got fit” end of the bell curve, congratulations. The pandemic has taught you something incredibly valuable. You’re the kind of person who thrives in adversity. You now have undeniable proof that no matter what life throws at you, you’ll be able to stay on top of your health and fitness through any storm. Your strong mind will reward you with a strong and capable body. You’re a rockstar, and we can only hope you’ll extend your strength to the rest of us who didn’t do so well (and not make us feel any worse than we already do).
For those of you who are on the other end of the bell-curve, and have found the pandemic had a major impact on your general wellness, we have this message: It’s ok!
Life is hard enough without a global pandemic. The amount of disruption, stress, and disorder that those little Covid spikeballs brought to our lives took it to another level. Don’t spend an ounce of mental energy beating yourself up about not spending your lockdown getting ripped or whatever other metric your mind tries to make comparisons to.
Finally, let's move on to the majority of people — those who fall somewhere in the middle. Normal distribution tells us this will be about 70% in the center hump of the bell curve (with about 13% tapering off to both ends).
This big middle represents what the average person has been going through. You did your best to stay fit during the lockdowns and quarantines. You might have had a few really good weeks where you were hitting all your targets and seeing good results. But the pandemic didn’t end in a few weeks. IT. JUST. KEPT. GOING.
It’s one thing to be stressed but busy. But being stressed and isolated, and potentially bored, unable to go about your normal life, living under the equivalent of house arrest? That’s a recipe for stress eating and drinking like no other. It’s no surprise that when the New York Times checked the data of hundreds of people using smart scales during the pandemic, they found an average gain of two pounds (1kg) a month. This lines up with our own thesis about the lack of incidental calories being a major driver of pandemic fat gain.
The result is that after more than a year of pandemic life, despite your best intentions, you’ve slipped. Here's what that looks like:
You might find yourself getting winded more easily, or finding you have zero desire to get out and exercise (even if you previously enjoyed it).
When you get out of your elastic-waistband “house clothes” you find your old wardrobe fitting snugly. During your Zoom calls you might be surprised how your face has lost some sharpness. Or you find you start avoiding the mirror in the bathroom.
Your food and exercise choices are working against you, sending energy towards digesting larger, heavier, more processed foods, instead of towards your mental acuity and problem solving skills. You might find yourself feeling drowsy or lethargic when you used to power through the day.
This is just a small sample, there are so many ways the pandemic has chipped away at our mental and physical health, many of which we'll only understand as we look back later.
How to shake the pandemic slump off and get ready for your “reunions.”
With vaccinations and reduced virus numbers we now have a rough timeline of when things will be getting back to normal. The zone you want to be thinking about is “minus 3 months”. 3 months is the minimum amount of time a person can use to lose significant body fat and gain muscle mass without resorting to short-term, ineffective methods like deep calorie cuts or excessive, intense exercise. With a 3 month runway, you have the most important piece of the fitness puzzle; TIME. With time and a plan you can do anything!
Depending on how you fared during the pandemic, you'll have different strategies for what to do in the final three months before you're out and about. Think about where on that bell curve you'd put yourself and choose your path below to find out what to do!
SELECT WHICH BEST DESCRIBES YOUR FITNESS OUTCOME DURING THE PANDEMIC.
You'll be taken to the action plan that best fits your needs!
Patrick Reynolds // Kenzai Founder