Love [yourself] in the Time of COVID

By R Marshall. Created on May 21, 2020. From Health & Fitness.

I just completed a home workout for the first time in my life. I’ve gone to the gym and I’ve even taken long walks, but never worked out at home.

Weight has been a struggle for me since about third grade, which has led to a lifelong journey of self-esteem - but that’s another story that we’ll get to another day. Suffice it to say that I’ve had ebbs and flows.

Quarantine is difficult. It’s hard to get around all that’s truly happening. And, when you live in a studio like me where your entire world is located in a few hundred square feet, going stir crazy is inevitable. Compound my consistent overthinking and aforementioned self-esteem issues, you get...well, not a pretty picture.

Just before this quarantine I had heard a TED talk that provided a revolutionary thought towards my diet and other habits - 100% commitment is better than 98% commitment. In short, it’s easier to give yourself fully to things rather than decide when it’s okay and when it’s not. We get decision fatigue which leads to burnout and eventually failure. It’s a vicious cycle.

I had decided that day to forgo ‘highly processed’ foods and ‘refined sugars’ - the buzz words in modern dieting. A week later, we were told to quarantine and off the rails my new commitment went.

The first month of the stay-at-home order I justified eating sweets and anything I wanted because it was the way to find some joy in the time of COVID. Along with frequent zoom meetings and Facebook video chats. As you might guess, though, this diet was not sustainable.

I hear you thinking ‘I thought this was about loving yourself’. You’re right, it is. I’m not writing a diet blog or even about weight loss (though I have lost 5 pounds so far since making changes (woohoo!)).

I thought back to that sentiment - 100% commitment is easier than 98% commitment. In my personal slump, I also thought back to advice I had given to a friend about their own downward episode - sleep on the couch. When our mental health or usual life is interrupted it can be useful to also interrupt our routine. Sleep on the couch to give a physical cue that this isn’t normal.

What does that mean now? During this time where interruption is normal? During COVID where the future seems to be interrupted for an indeterminate time? Maybe it was time to use that to my advantage.

All habits are created. Consciously or subconsciously, they develop over time. Biting your nails. Grabbing a Resee’s. Masturbating after a long day. And if these habits are learned, they can be unlearned. So, I flipped the sleep on the couch advice around -- not to mention I don’t have room for a couch.

I would sleep in my bed and instead use the interruption to consciously work towards creating habits that are beneficial to me. Identify the appropriate triggers to change the cognitions and actions they lead to.

So, I just finished my first workout at home. And I learned all of those voices that said I was too big to go to the gym. That I would be judged for trying. I should just give up. I learned those were never external. Those were the cognitions of my ‘normal’.

Take this time as an interruption. A chance to create habits that are beneficial to you. This isn’t your ‘new normal’, but this interruption can start the journey to one.

Have a wonderful day and a beautiful tomorrow!