My last workout in a gym was over seven weeks ago. Granted, there is much more going on in the UK and the world than worrying about not having the gym in my life and I don’t, for a second, take away from that.
This post is about how the gym has become a sanctuary for me. A workout isn’t just a workout. It’s a time when I switch off from everything in my life and just focus on me and my health. Away from social media chatter, text and WhatsApp messages, emails, life dramas, chores/errands, work and so on.
So, losing that at a time that has mentally tested most, if not all, of us, I had to find a way to keep that sanctuary in some form. But how?
There’s something about going to the gym. Actually physically going.
A different setting. People with similar goals. People with different goals but equally supportive. (F45, in particular, has been great for me in terms of this community spirit. I appreciate you don’t find that in every gym!)
As you know, I took part in the F45 Challenge earlier this year. I was delighted with the progress I was making but the Challenge was cut a week short because of the Covid-19 situation. The UK government announced gyms would close – bye bye, final Challenge week. Two days later, a nationwide lockdown was imposed.
“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone?”
My mind was racing. When am I going to see my family and friends again? I live alone – what happens if I get ill? When will I ever hug someone again? As the lockdown now prepares to enter Week 8, some of those concerns have been addressed in my mind.
“There’s only so much you can control, Nim”.
Naturally, I worried about the gym too. Was my nutrition going to go out of the window? My gym was offering home workout sessions, being livestreamed over social media. Was I going to be disciplined and stick to it? Was I going to be able to implement everything I’ve learnt so far? Had I mastered willpower? Was my living room now not just my new workspace but my gym floor too?
As it turns out, I’ve not done too badly when it comes to the home workouts. Each week since the lockdown started, I’ve achieved a minimum of five workouts a week. In fact, I did two back-to-back HIIT sessions today – a total of 90 minutes.
The first week, though, I really struggled to get into it in my living room. It felt very surreal. I live on the fourth floor and so at first, I was very gentle with my jumping jacks. Seven weeks on and no complaints from the flat below, I go all out, as I would in the gym!
But the nutrition during lockdown hasn’t been great. If there hadn’t been Easter eggs on display on my weekly supermarket shops, I would have done markedly better. But that’s neither here nor there now! I’d also lost my focus on macros, making sure I was getting enough (not too much but equally not too little) protein, carbs, fats and so on. I’d got into this mode:
“You’re in lockdown. You haven’t got control over your nutrition like you normally would. Give yourself a break and don’t worry.”
Sadly, that’s evidence of my slacking. Finding an excuse to indulge.
It also didn’t help having a birthday in the middle of lockdown. While I was very appreciative of all the cake being sent my way, I’ve clearly been going WAY OVER on the sugar. (I’ll write a more informed post soon about the impact of sugar in due course because I do think it merits its own).
This week though, I’ve regained control of my nutrition. I’m eating much healthier. I’ve reduced sugar dramatically. I’ve found sugar-free Fruitella jellies – I do love sweets but these have no sugar but Stevia instead, a naturally-sourced sugar substitute with no calories. Psychologically, I’m getting my “fix”.
There are, of course, little indulgences (I am human, after all!) but all in moderation. And THAT is key!
I hadn’t expected lockdown life to be so enlightening. I was starting to lose my way but I was able to bring myself in check – not through someone making a disparaging comment about how I look or other forms of judgement but just me in myself, knowing that I was letting myself down and so risked undoing my progress to date.
Holding myself accountable.
And writing about it makes me even more so.
I also now am surrounded by more fitness-inclined people, which is great. I’ve never had that before and it’s amazing the difference that makes. As Oprah once said, “Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher”. I hadn’t intentionally sought that out but that’s what I’ve got and that really has helped me to keep sight of my goals.
I also learnt that the workout mentality can be applied anywhere. Will I be going back to the gym when it reopens? Yes because I love the energy, atmosphere and camaraderie. But the home workouts I’ve been doing (shoutout to all the amazing trainers who’ve kept the sessions fresh and ON POINT) have kept me grounded mentally, while also pushing me physically.
I’m so glad I overcame concerns about working out in my living room because it means when the gym does reopen, I’ll be going back even stronger!