10 things everyone can do to stay healthy in lockdown

From eating on smaller plates to learning how to ‘rate’ your hunger, fitness expert reveals the 10 things everyone can do to stay healthy and keep off the pounds in lockdown

  • Fitness expert and editor Joe Warner shared tips for staying healthy in lockdown
  • Explained everyone should move every hour and eat on smaller plates
  • Also suggested hiding treats from yourself and learning how to ‘rate’ hunger 

The world has been turned upside down, normal life has been put on hold, and we’re all having to get used to being ‘locked down’ at home for the foreseeable future.

In these unprecedented times the temptation is to forget about finding the time to exercise, or not bother keeping an eye on what we eat, but now – more than ever – is the exact time we need to prioritise taking care of ourselves, both physically and mentally. 

That’s because staying fit, healthy and happier is one of the very best ways to get through these testing times, and the better you feel, the easier it is to be happy and positive.

If you’re struggling for motivation to look after yourself, or unsure of the right way to start, put into practice some of these 10 quick and easy tips from British fitness expert, Joe Warner.

His tried-and-tested advice comes from his brand new healthy living exercise, eating and lifestyle programme for women called, ‘Get Lean and Strong at Home’ (newbodyplan.co.uk). It includes a four-week no-kit-needed home exercise plan, a nutrition guide on eating for better health, and a lifestyle guide on how to live a fuller, happier life. 

Fitness expert Joe Warner shared his top ten tips for staying healthy in lockdown. Stock image

1. Start a ‘family fun’ jar to plan future activities

What should I do? Every time you, your partner or your kids, mention an outside activity you’d love to do right now, simply write that activity down on a scrap of paper, fold it up, and pop it in an empty jam jar!

Why should I do it? It can be very hard for us to look forward to the future positively at the moment because normal life is on hold. Creating a fun game of getting your family to write down their favourite activities that they want to do when this all blows over is an super-easy and simple way to positively reframe our way of thinking from ‘We’re missing out on…’ to ‘We’re really looking forward to…’. Keep the jam jar, paper and a pen on a table and encourage everyone to write down all the fun things they’re excited about doing again soon.

2. Set one ‘big daily task’ each morning 

What should I do? Each morning write down the one big task you’d like to achieve today, then at night jot down one thing for which you’re feeling truly grateful right now.

Why should I do it? This is such an easy new habit to forge but it will have a huge positive impact on how you feel. Don’t worry if you’ve not kept a daily diary since school; it takes mere minutes to do and all you need is a nice notebook and pen by your bedside table. 

Research proves people who keep a to-do list and make notes about grateful thoughts are significantly happier than those who don’t write things down. And the very simple act of jotting down some of the really good things in your life will flood your brain with feel-good hormones that’ll raise your mood and refocus your brain – right before bed – on all the positives rather than any negatives, so you’ll sleep better too! Give it a go – you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes!

It also means you can stop saying, ‘No, we can’t do that today’ – which is draining for you and demoralising for them – and start saying ‘Great idea – pop in in the fun jar!’ to keep everyone a little bit happier. And when this is over you’ve a ready-made list of everyone’s favourite activities to work through, and it guarantees you and your family will enjoy the activity so much more because of that build-up of anticipation!  

3. Block out 30 minutes a day for quality ‘you’ time

What should I do? Block out a 30-minute window every day when you do something just for you: it can be anything – reading a book, having a bath – so long as it’s something you find relaxing.

Why should I do it? This is SO important. You need to take care of yourself mentally because a positive, forward-looking mindset is vital to getting through these tough times. That means freeing up half an hour each day for some ‘me time’. If you’re very busy do 15 minutes – it’ll be so worth it and you’ll be glad you did! Now’s the perfect time to take up that new indoor hobby you’ve always fancied, or simply spend your time doing whatever it is you’d do to unwind and relax if you had all the time in the world. Make this one of your daily priorities because taking care of yourself is more important now than ever before.

4. Only eat at the table

Eat all your main meals, and any snacks, seated at the table, and not in front of the TV, your computer or phone. Stock image

What should I do? Eat all your main meals, and any snacks, seated at the table, and not in front of the TV, your computer or phone.

Why should I do it? This is the single-best move you can make to prevent necessary weight gain during the lock-down. Eating your meals seated at a table, instead of on the sofa watching TV, will stop you over-eating by making you more mindful at mealtimes. It’s true! We eat far more food than we need when distracted by the TV or scrolling social media than when we eat in a calm and relaxed environment at a table, according to research from Cornell University in US.

5. Use smaller plates 

What should I do? If you want to avoid unnecessary weight gain use smaller bowls for treats, and larger plates for ‘healthier’ meals.

Why should I do it? The larger your plate the more you fill it with more food, right? That’s just buffet basics! But did you also know that the reverse is true? Using smaller plates will reduce your risk of over-eating whilst still satisfying your hunger levels, according to the BMC Obesity journal, thanks to a very clever brain trick.

Subjects were given plates based on the Ebbinghaus Illusion, which is the optical trick where a central circle can be made to appear bigger or smaller than it really is because of the diameters of other circles surrounding it. Those subjects given smaller plates consistently served themselves smaller portion sizes than those given normal-sized plates, yet they still reported the same feelings of fullness! So, if you want to avoid gaining weight simply pick up larger plates when eating lean protein, salads and veg, and smaller bowls when scooping out the ice cream!

Once seated take a moment to appreciate the smell and colours on your plate, then really focus the taste, temperature and texture of each mouthful. Doing so means you will enjoy your meals so much more, and only ever eat as much as you need, so you won’t consume far more calories than your body can burn! It’s a win-win situation!

6. Walk five minutes every hour (even if it’s in the house)

What should I do? Every hour get up and move for five minutes: walk around the room, go up and down the steps, or swing your arms back and forth – any movement counts!

Why should I do it? The main reason why many people will gain weight over the coming weeks is very simple: their daily activity levels have suddenly plummeted (in lockdown our lifestyles have instantly become sedentary), compounded by an equally sudden increase in daily calorie intake (we’re stressed or worried or bored and surrounded by all our favourite foods!).

If you have an office job you’re probably used to doing 10,000 or more steps at day; now you’re at home you may only do 1,500, which is a huge drop off in daily movement and a massive decrease in the amount of energy you burn. Simply moving your body for five minutes every hour (as long as your walk isn’t straight to the biscuit tin!) will get the blood flowing, burn some calories and keep your muscles supple and not stiff.

7. Arrange to do a digital exercise class with friends

What should I do? Arrange a video call with a friend or friends and do a ‘virtual workout’ together.

Why should I do it? You may think doing an exercise class is impossible right now – but you’d be wrong! Simply find a fun and challenging home exercise programme to do, such as New Body Plan’s ‘Get Lean and Strong at Home’, then arrange a time to jump on a video call with a friend or friends and do the session together! It’s really important for our physical health to exercise and for our mental health to socialise – so this kills two birds with one stone! And once you’ve done a couple of workouts together make sure you schedule another video call for 7pm on Friday night – not for a workout, but so you can collectively raise a glass of wine together to toast all your hard work!

8. Hide the treats from yourself

What should I do? Put all those tasty high-calorie treats and snacks out of sight at the very back of the cupboard or fridge.

Why should I do it? It’s human nature to seek out comfort foods during times of stress, and a little bit of what you fancy now and then is absolutely fine. But too many treats too often, especially when you’re eating them for the sake of eating because they’re there, is the fast-route to gaining weight. Many studies have shown the smart approach is to hide snacks out of sight, because you’re far less likely to eat them if you can’t see them. The simple act of putting treats at the back of the cupboards or fridge, and placing fruit and healthy snacks such as nuts and greek yogurt at the forefront, will help you always make the smarter snack decision!

9. Rate your hunger

What should I do? Every time you’re about to raid the biscuit tin ask yourself how hungry you are on a scale of one to ten.

Why should I do it? More often than not a sweet-tooth craving isn’t a desire for sugar, but our brains letting us know we’re a bit stressed or bored! Too much sugar is really bad for is, so limit your intake easily by quickly rating your hunger level on a scale of one to 10.

Find out more about the new ‘Get Lean and Strong at Home’ plan at newbodyplan.co.uk

If it’s 4 or less you’re not really hungry and may actually be thirsty, so drink a big glass of cold water. If your hunger score’s a 5 or 6 have some water and snack on some chopped veggies or fruit, a yogurt, or a handful of nuts. If it’s 7 or higher then eat a proper meal of a couple of eggs or beans on toast, or chicken or tuna salad, to get the protein, healthy fats and the vitamins and minerals your brain and body need to work optimally, rather than only getting the short-term satisfaction of a sugary snack.

10. Sort your sleep!

What should I do? Try to limit your intake of coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks after lunch so the stimulant doesn’t affect your sleep.

Why should I do it? Now we’re all at home it can be so easy to drink copious cups of tea and coffee each day – and many of us might not be used to drinking so much caffeine. And did you know that caffeine has a ‘half life’ – which is the time it takes for half the amount you consume to leave your system – of around six hours, if you drink too much too late in the day it will seriously disrupt your ability to fall – or then stay – asleep.

Have you last cup of coffee at lunch then switch to buzz-free alternatives, such as green tea or fruit teas, and also drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is vital for good mood and motivation, and you can jazz up boring old H20 by adding slices of your favourite fruits. 

Find out more about the new ‘Get Lean and Strong at Home’ plan at newbodyplan.co.uk

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