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Tips to living a healthier lifestyle during a pandemic

The fabled “Freshman 15” is a term for the typical 15 pounds freshman gain during their first year of university. With our current global situation, we thought it would be a good time to talk about the idea/possibility of the “Freshman 15” turning into the “Covid 15” or “Corona 15”.

We all want to avoid unwanted weight gain during this time of self-isolation, mandatory closures and uncertainty. Here are some easy DO’s and DON’TS that can help.

Do get enough SLEEP: Insufficient sleep can cause an increase in the hunger-promoting hormone ghrelin and a decrease in the hunger-suppressing hormone leptin. A change in routine, stress and uncertainty can most certainly cause a disruption in your regular sleep patterns.

- Try to maintain a consistent time for going to bed and getting up each day.

- Avoid screen time right before turning in. (TV, Phone, Computer)

- Calming music, meditation, relaxation exercises can help reduce stress prior to turning in.

- A hot bath, chamomile tea, warm milk – have also been recommended for their calming effects.

- Avoid caffeine and processed sugar later in the day.

- There is always counting sheep!

Avoid skipping BREAKFAST: If you miss this important meal, odds are you will be hungry later in the morning and more likely to find yourself impulse snacking on higher calorie food. Rise and dine on a bowl of high fiber, whole grain cereal with skim milk. Adding protein will also help sustain you through the morning – a handful of nuts, cheese, yogurt.

Do walk off your STRESS: A major lifestyle change can be stressful and this one is a doozie! When you feel wound up, lace up your sneakers, hit the walking path and release some stress– social distancing of course!

Do include FRUITS and VEGGIES in every meal: Eating a salad or veggie soup with your meal has been shown to help cut back on the number of calories you consume during that meal. They contain healthy vitamins and minerals as well as fiber that help fill you up.

Try not to DRINK your calories: High sugar drinks, fancy coffees and alcohol can quickly add to your daily calorie count. Consume wisely!!

Do keep healthy SNACKS and BEVERAGES close at hand: We are being asked to limit our grocery store outings to once a week and for some of us, that is a bit of an adjustment. Before you head out, take the opportunity to plan out your week with healthy meals and snacks. It will help keep you on track and you might just avoid impulse buying of the “less than healthy” stuff.

Do take the time for “PREP”: One of the biggest pitfalls for people during times of stress or boredom is that “unhealthy snack foods” are readily accessible. In no time you grab a bag of chips and you are instantly munching away. This is a great time to develop a habit of preparing healthy snacks ahead so that when the urge hits, you grab an apple rather than a cookie. Clean fruits and veggies and even make individual serving sizes to make the snack grab even easier. Make snack bag/Tupperware size snack servings of nuts so that you know when you’ve hit a serving size. A little prep now might help you avoid those unwanted future pounds!

Avoid or be careful when using the INTERNET for nutritional guidance: As much as we love the internet, it can be a slippery slope, sucking us in and providing false information. Make sure your source of information is credible. The Academy is always here to help you. You can count on our experts to help you with your nutrition questions.

In addition to these helpful hints, check out our blog posts on Routines and Motivation. There are ideas there that can also help you stay active, engaged and healthy!

Lisa Kingston

Director of Personal Training, the ACADEMY

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