Let’s get real, for most of us the pandemic had a huge impact on our health and fitness routines.
Over the past year, I’ve talked to dozens of women who keep telling me that prior to the pandemic they ate healthy, worked out regularly and took care of themselves daily.
Once the pandemic hit however … all that went out the window.
And while staying consistent with our healthy habits has never been easy, this blow to our lifestyle – heck to our whole way of life – was shocking. It made the act of focusing on our own health exceptionally hard, mostly because of the feelings of stress and overwhelm.
However, after a year of so much disruption and change, many of us are looking for a return to normalcy.
Which means, if you’re like many of the women I work with, then while you might want to now get back on track, you might not know how.
So today, I’m going to dive into how to rebuild the framework of your lifestyle so you can make it easier to get back to eating healthy and working out. And I’ll touch on why this can feel hard right now, with everything that’s going on in the world.
Realistically, it’s not just about recreating your old routine or lifestyle – but about creating one that’s better designed for your current situation.
Whether it’s today or in a month from now, you’ll have some simple strategies to help move you forward and build your confidence so you can finally feel hopeful about regaining that part of your life which you lost.
The first thing to realize is that over the past year, you’ve already established some effective habits and strategies to help you manage and organize your life.
Take menu planning.
While everyone might approach menu planning in their own unique fashion – finding recipes, adding them to their library, creating shopping lists, planning shopping on a certain day and prepping foods/meals another day – chances are you had a system.
That system helped you pre-covid, to stay on track and to make sure that you always had healthy food available to you.
Then the pandemic hit and everyone hit the pause button.
You started working from home and maybe managing your kids while they learned remotely.
Your meal planning system – heck your whole life - was disrupted and it made it hard to do well … anything.
Which made doing all the things you normally did more difficult. Like menu planning, working out or eating healthy. Heck, even getting out of bed was probably hard somedays.
And all the small steps that you normally took to maintain a healthy lifestyle felt - well - impossible. And without those small steps that you were used to following in your pre-pandemic life, well staying on track was hard to maintain.
Even if you don’t have to do all the things that you normally did pre-covid because you’re at home, you don’t have to drive to work or drop the kids off at school … you’re probably finding that you're still not able to do the things that you used to do to stay fit and healthy. Why? Well, because you’ve lost that structure. Those steps that you took everyday so that you could eat a healthy breakfast, get the kids to school, workout after work and prep meals or snacks at night … you’re not doing them.
You actually might have more time right now, but it doesn’t mean you’re exercising more or making healthy meals.
You’re probably not doing any of it, maybe you’re spending hours on social media instead or binging on the latest TV show to drop on Netflix.
And if you’re like any of the women I have talked to, you’re probably frustrated because of it. You want to eat better. You want to workout … but you don’t know how to get started.
The thing to realize is that this isn’t your fault. Your world imploded. Your system and the habits you built were blown to bits so they aren’t working anymore.
You have to press the RESTART button and you need to build a framework based on what’s going on *now* and not based on how you used to do things.
Why is creating a framework and new system so important? Well, even in uncertain times we crave feeling “normal” and routines help us achieve that.
When we create routines and habits, we lower our stress levels which is important because stress has a huge impact on everything from our ability to think properly to our hormone balance and our health.
When we’re stressed out constantly, we’re also exhausted. Like. All. The. Time.
If you want to lower your stress levels – even during this really stressful period of time – building a simple, healthy regimen can do wonders for both your mental and physical health.
Not to mention that, with a reliable healthy routine, you can avoid decision fatigue and the inevitable f*ck it moments. In fact, building a simple routine that is health-focused can help lower your stress levels, give you a daily boost of motivation and make you feel much more confident about staying on track.
It doesn't have to be complicated. It just needs to help you take simple steps towards your health and fitness goals based so that over time, these new habits just become a part of the way you live - even if you're mostly home based.
You had these core habits before, but they were based on how you used to go through your day prior to the pandemic. Now you need to re-introduce those core habits, but in a way that fits with your current lifestyle.
Those core habits anchor us. They provide stability and focus, and they make it easier to do things that might feel hard. Like working out when you normally watch TV these days.
For most of us, those core habits triggered a cascade of other actions prior to the pandemic. When you did one thing, it automatically triggered you to do the next thing. Without those core habits, well your regimen fell to pieces.
Now you need to re-build this system and I recommend doing that by following a few simple strategies.
Step One: Start with one simple question: what’s important to you right now?
Since the pandemic hit, I’ve personally had to re-think many of my own priorities and define what’s really important to me. I’ve come to realize that as long as I’m healthy and strong, the extra few pounds that I carry just aren’t the big deal I used to think they were.
Maybe your priorities have changed too. Maybe your health has shifted up the list along with taking care of your aging parents.
So take some time to consider what your priorities are right now. What’s most important? What isn’t important? What can you drop off the list altogether?
How does your current regimen support your priorities? Are you investing time and effort in the things that truly matter to you?
If the answer is yes, then great. Keep going.
If the answer is no, then I encourage you to revisit your old regimen and use pieces of it to help you build a new one.
Step 2: Re-evaluate how you used to do things. Before the pandemic hit.
Did your old regimen enable you to remain consistent – like 80% of the time? Were you making time to workout? Eating a balance of whole foods? Managing your stress levels? Sleeping enough?
If yes, what actions were you taking to make those things happen? Were you taking time to schedule your workouts? Meal planning for the week ahead? Prepping meals and snacks to enjoy throughout the week?
How did that work? What was your regimen?
It sounds silly, I know, but stick with me here. These simple steps were crucial to your success so they matter.
When we’re stressed and overwhelmed it’s easy to stop following these steps and start reacting and eating emotionally. So instead of eating healthy or working out, you eat comfort foods and chill on the couch watching TV because it calms your mind and lowers your stress levels.
This works for a little while but over time, our need to get back to our routines can amp up that stress again. So we’re caught between the emotional stress of the pandemic and the frustrated stress of wanting to be healthier but not knowing where to start now that our normal routines have been tossed out the window.
So write down all those steps that used to make up your old regimen and start to think about how you can implement them into your new lifestyle and create a new “normal” for yourself.
And be sure to add some new habits based on how you’re living right now.
This will help you feel more secure, give you a boost in the mornings and make it easier to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
It might still serve you to …
… meal plan for the week ahead
… schedule your workouts in your calendar
… prep healthy snacks
But you might want to let go of things like …
… working towards specific body weight goals
… training for a certain fitness goal
So this means you swap calorie counting for measuring your foods more flexibly with hand portions. Or maybe it means finding workouts that are fun vs the focused high-intensity workouts you were doing before so you feel happier about your workout regimen.
For many of us, the pandemic shone a spotlight on our health and made us aware that if we weren’t taking care of ourselves before, then we should start doing it now.
And for a lot of the women I work with, it meant less of a focus on losing weight and more of a focus on getting healthy, of having more energy and of feeling younger and more vibrant. It meant focusing on improving all aspects of our lives, from the physical to the mental. Because being healthy isn’t about just one aspect of ourselves, it’s about all of it.
So if you’re feeling that same way, know that you’re not alone.
It’s actually a great feeling to have because it will help you create better life balance and help you feel happier in all aspects of your life.
So how do you get started on creating a new system or regimen? Well here are a few of my top tips:
Make a Schedule – Incorporate activities aligned with your priorities to help you build a daily routine that enables you to focus on what matters to you right now.
Tailor your Environment to your Needs – Tailor your environment to be helpful to helping you build new habits and routines. Maybe a kitchen cleanout is in order or maybe a defined workout space will help you build healthy habits.
Track your Habits – It takes time and reminders to help you build consistency in this new regimen of yours. Consider creating a to-do list, using a habit tracker or adding reminders to your phone for scheduled activities or blocking out periods of time to do certain things.
Plan Ahead – Pre-planning is one of the best ways to ensure that you prioritize the things that matter to you so consider what you can plan to ensure your success from meal plans to time planning for various activities.
Ask for Help – It’s hard to go it alone when you’re trying to re-build your regimen or adopt new habits which is why I encourage you to ask for help, to get an accountability partner or coach and enlist others to support you in your efforts.
Stack your Habits – One of the fastest ways to build new habits is to stack them with others that you are already doing right now. Like adding taking your vitamins right after your morning smoothie or adding a stretching/meditation routine as you listen to your favourite podcast.
Listen, it’s not going to be perfect. You’re not going to be perfect. It will take time, patience and perseverance.
But try it for 1 - 2 weeks and see how it goes.
Note your progress and how you're feeling as you work through creating a regimen and system that fits how you're living right now. Assess and adjust as you work through kinks and challenges.
Aim to get better at your consistency, a little bit at a time and don’t get discouraged.
Learn from what works – and what doesn’t.
This process will help you slowly ease back into a sense of normalcy and give you that feeling of structure that you had before. So you can feel happier, more purposeful and less stressed and overwhelmed.
The pandemic will end.
And when it does, your practice of building a new regimen will help you as you transition to what comes next with respect to work, life and all the other things that we enjoyed pre-pandemic times.
Sounds awesome right? Yeah, to me too.
And if you want help with this, then let’s connect. Learning how to build a healthy lifestyle and improve your nutrition so that you optimize your overall health and wellness can be tough on your own. I help my clients do this in my Better Body Composition program where I teach women how to get leaner, stronger & feel good in their skin again.
You can do this, I promise. You just have to make the decision to get started.