Myself and the family have had COVID the past few weeks which has been quite a testing time and I have certainly learned a few things from it that I thought I would share with you…
My wife was first to show symptoms so she tried to isolate in the bedroom for the first 4-5 days (which is almost impossible when you have a 3 year old and a 7 year old!).
Anyway this meant I was fully in charge of running a house and looking after our boys. It was relentless and pretty stressful and by the middle of the first week I had started to sleep badly. I was regularly waking up between 2am and 4am with my brain racing which is very unusual for me. The stress that was building up during the day was obviously knocking my hormonal levels off and I was getting spikes of adrenaline and cortisol in the middle of the night.
This continued on and off for the next week or so, by which time we all had positive tests.
The first lesson I learned (or re-learned) was when I started to feel a bit better and I tried doing some really light exercise. I noticed from the first night back exercising I got a full night’s sleep and have been sleeping well ever since. This really highlighted again to me the importance of being active can have on your sleep. I mean I was literally doing 20 minutes on a stationary bike or 1 set of 6-8 strength exercises and I was back sleeping like a baby again (I never got that saying because none our babies ever slept well).
So for anyone reading this who is not sleeping well I highly recommend doing some regular light exercise to see if you can sleep better for me it was like a magic pill. I am not saying if you have chronically high stress levels and sleep issues for a while it will work instantly, but done regularly over time it might just have a positive impact for you.
Another interesting facet of having COVID was that I lost my taste and smell for three weeks.
I have spoken to a few people who have had this and there has been a mixed reaction to it. Some have completely lost their appetite during it, whilst others have been eating super healthy. I was certainly in the latter group. I found it incredibly easy to make good food choices in the time I have lost my taste. Even though we have had birthdays, trips to the beach and movie nights in that time I have not once eaten unhealthy food. This led to the health geek in me starting to analyse how much the hit we get from the taste of these sweet or fatty foods plays a part in our food choices.
Take away the taste and it becomes much easier to say no.
This got me thinking about whether shutting of the taste signals could be a useful way to get someone on a healthier eaten plan. The obvious stumbling block will be how does someone behave when they have their taste buds switched back on. My test group of 1 (me) will be able to report on this soon, as my taste and smell are slowly coming back now.
The final lesson I have learned about COVID was in relation to how we can view our health and fitness. I have pretty much been exercising consistently for 20 years. In that time I have had some periods where I have had good and bad relationships with exercise. In my early 20’s I was a typical bloke trying to build muscle, then it progressed into trying to be a bit more cardiovascular fitter which then led me down the path of running marathons and triathlons. But on reflection most of my 20’s and early 30’s I was quite obsessed with exercise, and for sure I didn’t always make the best decisions as I was blinded by my obsession to achieve an outcome.
Now in my 40’s, with two kids and a health scare later my attitude to fitness has changed a lot. I now view my fitness as a lifelong marathon where the finish line will appear when I am still able to enjoy my life to the full well into my 70’s and 80’s (if everything goes according to plan!).
So with this mindset I am not stressed about missing a few weeks of exercise due to COVID, whereas before I would have been gutted that I had just been working through a good block of training for the past 6 months and would have been chapping at the bit to get back on the horse again and get moving and would almost certainly have done too much, too soon.
However, now that I am more process focused rather than outcome focused, I am just enjoying being back in the gym and will be happy to give my body the time it needs to get back up to speed and won’t be too downbeat if that takes a while.
I will focus on the amazing things my body can do, and how exercise makes me feel better, allows me to sleep well and is a time for me that I can have for myself to listen to some good music and get my heart rate up a bit.
If you are reading this and have had COVID recently I strongly recommend that you don’t rush back to exercise too quickly. Ask yourself why you are doing your workout, is it because you have a race coming up? Because your ego is dented you are not lifting as much? Are you not running as fast or you are addicted to the adrenaline rush of high intensity exercise?
Why not use this time to move away from these measurements and just give your body some time to heal and repair. Remember it is a marathon not a sprint, if you are sensible about your return you will eventually get back stronger than you were previously.
If you were following my posts last year you will know I completed a COVID rehab course and one of the biggest messages I took from and that to share with our follower was that people who exercised before getting COVID are at higher risk of getting long COVID, as they are more likely to rush back to intensive exercise too quickly.
So please be sensible and set your ego to one side for the 4-6 weeks and take it easy.
My last thoughts as I recover from COVID are for those who have never really been an exerciser or lived a healthy lifestyle. I hope that one of the few positives that will come from this pandemic is that you will now be ready to engage with the fitness world. We are not all egomaniacs with a sadistic obsession for pushing people to breaking point. There are lots of passionate trainers out there wanting to help people like you find a way to be more healthy and live a better lifestyle.
Please, if you have enjoyed my post COVID ramblings and know someone who might benefit from reading this today please share it with them. We only have one body and we need to do everything we can within our power to protect it and make the most of its amazing capabilities.
PS. As part of our get more people healthier drive we are offering access to our free 12 week health education emails that we give to all our new clients to get them started with exercise, and we are also offering a free Fit after 50 Blueprint!
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