It’s now over a year since the UK officially went into its first lockdown and we are slowly trying to get back to some semblance of normality. For health reasons both theveggie and I have been fortunate enough to have had our first vaccination but we are still cautious, still weary and theveggie insists that we wear N95 masks when needed despite the ridiculous cost of these single use masks.
One of the most surprising things I’ve discovered is this feeling of great exhaustion, even though (in my view anyway), we haven’t been doing that much, it’s just been work and childcare. But then this is where I’ve discovered where the tiredness has set in – there is no break, no boundaries and nothing to look forward too as we live day by day wondering what the new government guidelines will be on what we can do socially.
The reality sunk in on the impact of Covid-19 when I tried to put on a pair of skinny black jeans I’ve always been able to fit into (even straight after giving birth) and they were tight. And with great reluctance, I went on the scales and to my horror I had gain weight. A lot of weight. The comfy “loungewear” of working from home has hid a multitude of sins and my love of baking and sweets combined with a lack of physical activity (as we have been encouraged to stay home with government guidelines) has not been kind to me. I’ve also stopped breastfeeding finally and the additional calories I have been able to indulge in is so not necessary now. This was further exacebated when I attended a work health and wellbeing webinar on the importance of sleep and realised that at the rate I’m going I’m going to have a memory of a fish by the time I turn 50.
I started to take a long hard look at my lifestyle and started to make a few incremental changes over the past couple of weeks and I’m starting to see some positive changes already – I’m more alert and motivated, I’ve started to lose those random pounds of weight creep and most importantly, I’ve started to feel generally happy and positive again. Here are some of my tips that have helped me:
- Sleep – having good rest is important. I’ve been told that 8 hours is the golden number but I’ve been speaking to some friends and they say it does depend on the individual and it can vary from 6-9 hours. I’m no sleep expert or medical expert but I’ve found that sleep is important. Tip: Set an alarm to go to sleep at a certain time and wind down in bed 45 minutes beforehand. I’ve found that my mind takes awhile to wind down and saying I will go to bed at 11pm and going to bed at 11pm essential means I’ll fall asleep at midnight. So I’ve tried where I can at least 3 times a week (I’m trying to do this every night but it is still a personal challenge) to go to bed at 10:15pm so I’m asleep by 11pm.
- Exercise – commit to some form of exercise daily. I’m not saying run a marathon but commit to something so that there is some form of incremental activity than being a couch potato. I realised that there have been days I’ve not left my desk except for a toilet break and meals and due to bad weather I went by car to pick Willow up from nursery. This equals – bad for your health on so many levels. Tip: take a 10 minute walk after a meal even if this is all you do. My family has a strong history of diabetes and I had gestational diabetes and the 10 minute walk after a meal was the holy grail on managing blood sugars, my weight, blood pressure and wellbeing during that time. I was told by doctors afterwards to try to keep to this regime and it’s one of the small things I try to commit to even if the weather is bad outside.
- Work boundaries – stop responding to emails after work hours unless an emergency. What I’ve learned is that with the pandemic, it’s easy to respond to emails at all hours of the day. But this has made it harder for me to switch off. Tip: have a cut off point when you check emails and only respond to emails that are urgent. I won’t lie, I find this hard to do but I do try to stop looking at emails after a certain time each night. I’ve discovered if it’s a real emergency, someone will call you.
- Hobbies keep you positive – I’ve noticed when I have just focused on work and childcare and not focused on baking, cooking and blogging, I’m a little bit duller, a little bit lazier and a little bit “bleh”. Tip – schedule time for your hobbies like you would for a work meeting and commit to it. It doesn’t have to be a large chunk of time, I’ve sometimes just committed to 15 minutes one week as I was super busy.
- You are what you eat – and cake is not your best friend. Everyone’s nutrition is different and you have to do what is right for you. I know what I need to do with my family history of diabetes – eat more protein, complex carbs and lots of fruits and veg, and limit the cake. But this can go haywire when work is busy, I’m exhausted from a weekend of the toddler terrible twos and cooking fatigue is weighing me down. Tip: menu planning is your best friend as it gives you structure to your day. I find the times I’ve strayed the most is when there is no plan in place and the easiest option is Deliveroo. I’ve started to have weekly menu plans and I’ve found this has helped a lot. Oh, and of course, committing to also enjoying sweet treats to once or twice a week max.
Let’ see if I can practice what I preach over the next few months 😂.