The 4 Quarantine Habits Worth Keeping
- Written By:Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN
Although it’s a new year, much hasn’t changed — still working from home, limited in our socializing and fitness outlets, cooking tons and continuing to wear our new facial accessory — change is coming. We now have a vaccine and life will hopefully soon go back to “normal” (whatever “normal” is now). Sure, that’s all great news, but I recently realized I’ve actually made several new, healthy habits the past year. Spending less time running from activity to activity, I had time to think, prioritize and even practice some behaviors I just didn’t make time for before. I also hear regularly from many of my clients about healthy activities they’ve begun including into their days. (And some unhealthy activities as well — another glass of wine, anyone?)
So before we toss all of the last year into the virtual trash, let’s review some of the habits you might want to keep, or even get started on right now cause, yeah, there is still time.
Cooking at home
Most of us can agree that our home cooking increased dramatically this year (even if our skills didn’t necessarily!). Sure, it may have felt like a chore, but did you know restaurant meals contain more sodium, fat, saturated fat and overall calories than home cooked meals? That’s right. By cooking your own food, you know exactly what and how much is going into your meals, and therefore your body. When your ingredients are clean (say no to industrial oils!) you tend to feel a lot better too. Of course, support small businesses and dine-out or order-in occasionally, but for your health, I hope you continue to cook most days of the week.
Making time for fitness
Just when it seemed boutique fitness was taking over the athletic world, we got locked down. And then, we pivoted to virtual. From Peleton to Apple Fitness+, to personal trainers and yoga instructors on Zoom, we made it work. We exercised with co-workers, friends and children without the commute, shower, sign-ups and scheduling. Sometimes, we didn’t even have to change our clothes (athleisure FTW). Exercise became more frequent and less of a chore. Maybe we couldn’t meet our 10,000 steps a day, but getting in the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily suddenly became doable. So when we go back to the daily grind, maybe mixing virtual and IRL training will help you stay on point with your fitness goals even on your busiest days.
Taking charge of our immunity
From supplements to foods, herbs, spices and tinctures, we stocked up, read up and smartened up about how to get and stay healthy. We took vitamins (D, C and Zinc), started to exercise, lost weight if needed, ate more fruits and veggies and even (gasp!) found time for sleep. Sometimes it takes fear to drive change, but keeping all these routines as part of your daily health regimen will keep you in fighting shape no matter what comes your way!
Making time to relax
Take the commute and the socializing out of the picture and we finally found time to sleep, watch (ok binge watch) TV, meditate and even read books. In today’s “go, go, go” culture we often put relaxing in the “I’ll get to it one day” category, but living in a state of stress and sleep deprivation can hinder our health in the long run. Research shows that sleeping less than eight hours a night can lead to health conditions over time, like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, weakened immunity and more. So let’s continue prioritizing sleep even as we step back out into the world, most nights anyway. A dark, 68 degree bedroom, clear from electronics and distraction is the way to go.
As much as I cannot wait to get back to my high energy life (I’m a New Yorker, that’s our jam), I’m not fully convinced I’ll go back to a very sweaty yoga class...in person. In 2020, we learned a few things about making ourselves feel better in times of stress and isolation. Let’s keep these tips in our back pockets and reach for them when we feel run down, tired, stressed or overwhelmed. Or hey, how about we use them to prevent these feelings before they occur? The truth is, we should have been doing these things all along for optimal health and to set ourselves up for productive, energetic lives. Let’s look forward to the change that is about to happen, but take some time to consider what habits you won’t let go of. Fill your toolbox with the things that will keep you strong while you move along.
Amy Shapiro is the founder of Real Nutrition.