Is Quarantining a Time to Rest or a Time to Work(out) Even Harder?

While surfing the net, I came across three different viewpoints about fitness during the quarantine. They were extremely polarizing in their main arguments. Maybe this is just my perception, but I was bewildered by how deviant they were of each other! All three of them are summarized below so you can read every individual point of view in a dialogue form:

  • “This quarantine is the perfect time to improve on yourself. This is no time to make excuses to sit on your ass, be lazy, and watch Netflix. In fact, you should utilize this time–and I also mean EXTRA time–to bang out even harder with your fitness and diet. Cook everything at home and invest in that home gym. You’ll be grateful after this quarantine that you integrate this extra effort into your routine because you’ll feel and look even better before. No excuses, cut the bullshit, and work harder than ever.”
  • “With the quarantine at hand, you should stick to your routine exactly how it is. Don’t buy any fancy gym equipment–body workouts, including Pilates and outside runs are perfectly fine. Take this time to get higher quality sleep. Cook new recipes–both healthy and indulgent for a nice balance! You’ll realize how little you need to stay healthy and fit.”
  • “It is very tempting and stressful to think about food and exercise in this quarantine, but you don’t have to feel this way. Use this quarantine time to take a break! Eat some yummy treats and stop to rest. Learn to love yourself beyond physical appearance. Enjoy this rest period to just chill and eat delicious food!”

Each angle of extremes was jarring to mentally process all at once. On one hand, you should use this privacy and time of solitude to perhaps go on some kind of strict diet and workout routine because you have more time and energy. On the other hand, it’s best to take a breather since you’ve worked so hard already. Lastly, you don’t have to put in extra effort, but you shouldn’t slack off, either. The question is: which one of these is the best lifestyle? You may not like the answer, but it is summarized as follows: there is no correct way to approach this!

While it makes sense to grind even harder during this quarantine because you have more time on your hands, not everyone has the luxury of time. Even though many individuals have gotten laid off from COVID-19, there are quite a lot of people who are even busier with their careers (i.e. grocery store workers, nurses, food scientists of essential food products, and employees of other essential businesses). Only certain types of workers have the time to meal prep, buy healthy groceries, and exercise consistently. Not to mention–creating a gym at home is not in everyone’s cards. Space, budgeting, and consistency of usage are several issues. Moreover, is it necessary to look down on someone who works 12-16 hours a day for not being prepared enough when it comes to food and exercising? Again, it’s a matter of not being able to afford making the two a top priority because pure survival is already a struggle.

Having said that, to tell someone they don’t have to make an effort to change their lifestyle or buy some weight lifting equipment may not always be in the cards for someone either. Switching a routine can be healthy, especially if it will initiate self-improvement. Alternatively, maintaining a consistent weight training plan by purchasing barbells can help someone feel healthier. Also, not everyone likes Pilates and running (I sure as hell HATE running with every fiber of my being!). Lastly, I agree with cooking more often as a factor everyone should do in an ideal setting. Again, not everyone has the time to cook every day, but meal prepping can benefit someone physically and mentally because it removes the stress of cooking on the spot and they can choose healthier options. Moreover, why not take this time to create a new healthy recipe such as a Moroccan veggie-packed stew rather than conventional tomato soup or buckwheat banana waffles instead of oats?

Finally, the notion that the quarantine is the best time to rest. For someone who is unhealthily obsessed with dieting and exercising, this is absolutely the route to choose. A physical reset will open up so much time and space to self-reflect and recover from such a distressing routine–the much needed sleep and stillness will be incredibly rewarding, especially if you eradicate the rigid diet mentality as well. On the flip side, for most people, this isn’t the case. Practically, it’s optimal to exercise consistently and not gorge on junk food all day. Imagine working at home in your kitchen with a jar of cookies staring right at you. Yeah, that jar would be empty in no time! Instead of spending the whole quarantine being sedentary and eating nothing but sugary cereal and grilled cheese sandwiches, you can also use this as an opportunity to gradually cut down and make peace with food and fitness.

What’s the solution? Take it one day at a time. List all the priorities you have, which is most likely work and academic-oriented goals and duties at the top. When you have free time, exercise or prepare a healthy meal for later. Still, you don’t have to dedicate every minute and second on your post-quarantine physical “glow up”. Every day is an opportunity to work in conjunction with the previous day; if you had one too many plates of food the evening before, perhaps eat healthier today. You can also take a much needed rest day after weeks of exercising in the pandemic.

Conclusively, this pandemic does not have to center around health and fitness. Hey, I don’t weigh the same as I did pre-quarantine! That’s because I’m enjoying more daily home-cooking that involves more experimentation, which entails ingredients a bit higher in fat, carbs, and sodium. I still dedicate 80-90% of my time to studies. My routine is no longer cardio-oriented, but more muscle-targeted. But you know what? I don’t regret anything. Bonding with my family and recognizing the true priorities in my life have never put my mind more at ease. Besides, this too shall pass and I have plenty of chances to get back in shape. What matters most is that I care for my body by making sure it’s healthy for the most part–yes, that includes a balance of hardcore exercising and exorbitant consumption of vegetables with high quality rest and vegan cake with nut butter.

What is your quarantine diet and fitness routine?


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