Lockdown #3

Yes, we’re back in lockdown in the U.K. and I think this is the hardest yet, bearing in mind it’s Winter and we’ve all got lockdown fatigue.

After overindulging at Christmas, I realised that I had to approach this 3rd lockdown as a personal challenge, otherwise I was just going to come out the other side fatter, sadder, unfit and possibly in need of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The things that helped me to stay sane in the first lockdown (which I wrote about here) are still very much relevant. The most important things being:

  1. Eating Well

This is absolutely key for feeling good, keeping my energy levels up and of course good health. I don’t diet but I do (generally) have a healthy diet which I stick to. I don’t feel guilty about food; if I really want a chocolate cookie, I’ll have one.

I never skip meals and mainly eat a low-carb diet with plenty of healthy fats. I always eat 3 meals a day. Breakfast probably being the most important. My favourite breakfast at the moment is spinach scrambled egg, broccoli and spicy Aivar (a roasted pepper and aubergine spread):

This breakfast is high in protein and keeps me full without spiking my insulin levels first thing in the morning. I also like salmon and avocado, plain Greek yoghurt and berries and porridge with blueberries, flaxseed and maple syrup.

When I’m working I don’t have much time for lunch so I’ll make myself a quick salad (again, low in carbs with some kind of protein):

I do like to have a bit of variety in my salads otherwise it can get very boring. I usually have mixed leaves and throw in some fresh herbs for interest and sometimes I’ll have it with steamed or grilled veggies. It’s important for it to be colourful and tasty.

I eat tea with my family and this is the time I eat more carbs. It can be anything from chicken curry, Dahl and rice to fish, veggies and sweet potato. We nearly always cook everything from scratch and I think this is key to eating more healthily.

Snack-wise, I love almonds, avocados, fruit, houmous, crackers and cheese. If I’m really craving something sweet I’ll have a square of dark chocolate and occasionally I’ll bake something. I do feel that at least if I bake a cake myself I know exactly what’s in it (and it’s not full of preservatives etc.). Let’s face it; life is too short not to eat cake!

2. Exercise

This, again is absolutely key for me. I read recently that 20 minutes of moderate exercise is equivalent to a low dose of anti-depressants. Of course this is so important right now and probably not something we’re all getting enough of.

I always feel less motivated in the Winter and when gyms are closed it can be quite a challenge to exercise everyday. Personally I find exercise so intrinsic in my well-being and mental-health plus it has many other benefits: better circulation, digestion, sleep-quality and clearer skin. I know that no matter how I’m feeling I will always feel better after a workout.

As I am spending nearly all my time at home now, I do find if I put on my workout gear first-thing, I’m more likely to be motivated to move.

I’ve had a NordicTrack cross trainer for about 15 years, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever bought. I combine using that with weights, yoga and I’m just getting back into Pilates. I think this combination of cardio, weights and stretching is great as it works all the muscle groups, helps with flexibility (my downfall) and balance, and builds muscle which in turn helps with bone health and metabolism.

Unfortunately my yoga teacher has stopped doing online classes and my gym is closed but there are loads of free videos and inspiration on YouTube and Instagram (I love: Move with Nicole, yoga with Ally Maz for Lulu Lemon (YouTube), Shona Vertue (Insta) and Carly Rowena (Insta)). I am trying to do at least 40 minutes of exercise a day (not including going out for a walk).

3. Routine

I found in the first lockdown that it was so important to have a routine and have pretty-much stuck to it. When the kids aren’t physically going to school, I really enjoy not having to set my alarm. I do however, always try and get up and go to bed at the same time everyday apart from at the weekend. This gives my week some structure and separates the week from the weekend.

I’m extremely lucky that I can work from home which also helps with the routine and I build my exercise around that, at about the same time everyday.

4. Pampering

I know it seems shallow but I find building a bit of pampering into my lockdown routine an essential. What with trying to juggle working from home, home schooling, cooking, cleaning etc. it’s really nice to set aside some time in the routine for some indulgence. I tend to do this at the weekend and make time for a hair mask, scalp mask, face mask and body scrub every week. My skin and hair has never looked so good! My favourites are:

I’ve also been treating myself to some new products now and again to try out. My newest buys are:

I also think the power of fake tan is not to be diminished; it really is a mood lifter.

5. Listening to music and podcasts

Music can be hugely influential in setting our mood and I’ve definitely been using this as a tool when I’ve been feeling particularly low and/or sloth-like to lift my spirits.

I’ve also been listening to more podcasts particularly whilst I’m doing a mundane task (such as cleaning) and as a result I find I’m more productive and do the task for longer.

Podcasts I’ve been enjoying lately are:

6. Having something to look forward to

This will differ for everyone but in uncertain times it is especially important. For me, I try and find little, attainable things to look forward too.

Last year I was looking forward to a Spanish holiday which never happened and I’ve decided this year that it’s better to scale things back to basics. This week for example I’m looking forward to making a walnut cake, buying myself some flowers and going for a walk with a friend. I’m also looking forward to Spring and planning a staycation.

Yes, these things are so simple but they’re hopefully achievable, both in the short term and the long term, no matter whether we’re in lockdown or not.

It’s so tempting to spend this third lockdown under a rug, binge watching Netflix, eating takeaways with copious bottles of red but I know it will make me feel terrible. So I’m going to carry on taking my vitamin D and doing all the above and I hope I’ll come out the other side fit, happy and healthy.

I hope you are all finding your own ways to stay sane and well at this difficult time. If you have any of your own recommendations, do let me know.

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