Have you been sheltered at home for ages? Are you starting to feel despondent? Hopeless? Worried? Anxious? Have you been watching the news and starting to get concerned about the state of the world? Have you started to worry about all the conspiracy theories that are out there? Me too.
What can I do about any of this? Turns out I have little power to control a virus. I cannot control the news. I cannot control what people believe with regards to the virus or the economy or politics in general. Shit! I can barely get my kids to pay attention to me and clean up the huge mess they’ve made. However, I can still control my thoughts and my actions. And that’s a lot. In fact, just doing that can a be huge, time-consuming challenge.
What factors can I control about my health? I can control what I eat, I can control my exercise. I can control my breath. I can control the amount of sleep I get. I can control my exposure to screens. Even though I cannot congregate nor can I control the weather, I can still go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine. I can control my hygiene. I can take hot and/or cold baths. I can’t necessarily stop the flow of information, but I can slow it down and try to curate my experiences so I am not getting a lot of unwanted stimulae.
I cannot control a virus that might come wafting through the windows of my house. However, I can take control of my health and make my body the most anti-fragile, the most resilient, the fittest it can be. I have spent the last two months exercising every day because I have no reason not to and I enjoy it. I wish I could say I have been eating healthy as well, but I have not. I wake up every morning with the intention of taking control of my diet, but then my kids do not finish their delicious food and some other carb-laden goodies cross my path and the desire to “treat myself” overwhelms my defenses.
I, like most people, find it easy to make excuses for myself when it comes to eating. Then I thought about it and I cannot use the excuse of not being able to control what I put in my face. I’m doing 100% of the shopping and aside from some take-out and I’m cooking all the food that gets eaten in this house. Now, more than any other time in my life, can I really focus on eating better. So I have taken that back under my control. At least for myself, I have stopped eating sugar and processed carbohydrates.
While people may believe a lot of different things about health and nutrition it should be obvious that the more robust you are the harder it will be for this virus to take you down. The data supports this. The vast majority of the deaths from COVID-19 have a comorbidity. https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/nearly-all-nyc-area-covid-19-hospitalizations-had-comorbidities-67476. That means your risk of being hospitalized is greatly increased if you have another underlying health condition when you contract SARS-Cov-2. So take care of your health. The types of comorbidities that are most common are hypertension, obesity, and diabetes these happen to be three of the most common chronic metabolic diseases that are directly the result of poor diet.
Without getting too deep into the science, you should know that sugar and processed, refined carbohydrates wreak havoc on your body. As you overconsume delicious, cheap, addictive, unregulated amounts of sugar and processed carbs, your body becomes insulin resistant and starts storing lots of energy in the form of fat. Simultaneously, your blood pressure goes up and your triglycerides go up and your body becomes more inflamed. The next stop on this train is obesity, or coronary heart disease, or diabetes, or cancer, or alzheimers. When you stop eating sugar and processed carbohydrates, your body starts to heal itself. Look at the stats for how much added sugar Americans eat every year: 156 pounds per person on average! Look at the death rates due to Chronic Disease: Seven out of ten deaths in the United States are associated with chronic disease. Look at the ridiculous costs associated with managing these diseases: Seventy-five percent of the $2-trillion spent on heatlhcare goes to chronic disease. The easiest way to avoid being a statistic, is to eat a diet of whole, unprocessed foods and avoid sugar. Simple but not easy. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid buying things with a long list of ingredients. Buy fresh or frozen and cook it up yourself.
While the desire to eat carbs, stay up late and binge-watch shows seems irresistible, do your best to take control back. Get to sleep early and wake up without an alarm if you can. Make your room nice and dark and turn off all your devices. There are a lot of hacks to getting good sleep: start experimenting with them and find something that works for you.
Someone once told me there were three pillars to fitness: exercise, nutrition, and recovery. And like a stool you need all three legs to support the structure. If you neglect one of them your fitness will not be sustainable. Start with these three and once you have them under control, you can start to worry about other things.