A New Start Post-Covid
The opening up of everything since COVID entered the world has given people a lot of perspective, and for some it feels like a new start. Of course, we should have all been striving for a healthy balance in our lives before the pandemic, but with so much uncertainty, disruption in routines and limited access to certain things over the last year it might feel even more challenging to return to healthy habits after COVID than before the virus emerged.
Despite the heat here in the UAE, there is still so much that we can do to re-establish healthy habits after covid. We just have to make a conscious decision and do it. And not just do it, but set a specific goal around it and stick to it.
Setting SMART Healthy Goals
A SMART goal is:
Anything else is not a goal, but a desire or a wish.
This is an example of something that sounds like a goal, but isn’t specific enough to help you see it through:
I am committing to getting fitter and healthier from now on.
No matter how good your intentions are, this is too vague to help you get back on track.
Instead, write down exactly what you will do, when you will do it, and for how long. Eg:
Every day next week from Sunday to Saturday, I will take a brisk walk for 20 minutes from 8am.
See how specific this is?
Start with one healthy habit for a specific time period, then at the end of the time period, reassess and set a new goal. Once your commitment is solid, introduce an additional habit the same way. (Want to get serious about setting goals and taking your health to the next level? Check out my coaching services here.)
Achievable Healthy Habits for your Post-Covid Life
Dubai and the UAE have many indoor gyms and facilities now, so in most cases you can find some kind of physical activity that interests you that you can still manage to do in the heat. Yes, we know it is not the same as our outdoor activities that we enjoy in the winter, but that does not mean it is impossible now.
When coaching someone who is looking for more movement in their life, I always ask the question “What do you enjoy?” or “What activity brings you joy”? Look for those types of activities.
Yes, it may be that running along the beach is something you love, but you don’t want to get up at 5am to beat the heat. In that case, find a summer activity that fits into your schedule. Or, if you are not sure what that is, then find a movement activity that you have not tried yet that you are curious about.
Getting physical is also more fun with friends. And, it is scientifically proven, time and time again, that when you have support to achieve a goal, you are more likely to do it.
Drinking water is so important for everyone – even if you work indoors. In the summer months here we all need to drink more.
If you do not have a desk job, then it is critical to drink water whenever you can. If you are on the road, you can take a water bottle with you. Invest in a large metal water bottle and fill that before you leave for work in the morning. I do this and I have found that if you get the right brand, the water will stay cool all day.
Avoid plastic bottles (even reusable ones) because not only are they bad for the environment, they are bad for us too. As plastic heats up, it releases particles into your water that you will end up drinking. This is a good rule to follow even in winter.
If you work in retail, keep a water bottle hidden where you can easily access it and drink often. If that is not an option, drink water during breaks.
For all of us, regardless of what type of job we have, there are a few other things we can all do to support our hydration.
Tips for optimal hydration:
- Drink water in the morning. We lose water when we sleep. Even if you are a “must have my coffee first” person, try reaching for a full glass of water first. We can also hydrate by drinking water before a meal, and during a meal. Other things hydrate us as well, but water is best.
- Continue to drink water in the evening. When you are at home in the evening, even if it is just spending time with friends or watching TV, continue to drink water. Keep your bottle with you at home, so that you are fully hydrated for the next day before you go to work.
As someone who enjoys her morning coffee, I don’t use it as a midday pick me up, but I may enjoy one from time to time, or reach for a decaf black coffee in the afternoon. If you are feeling tired, caffeine can sometimes make you feel worse because your body may just need sleep or something else.
Having said that, research on coffee is still divided. There is nothing wrong with having a coffee mid-day if you are not drinking excessive amounts of it, and it does not keep you up all night. I do suggest cutting back on the sugar in coffee – once you do that, you will remember what coffee tastes like.
I am also pro-chocolate, but dark chocolate. The darker the better. Avoid chocolate with refined sugars and other unnecessary ingredients. The fewer ingredients in any food, the better. And, if you can’t pronounce the ingredients in it, or do not know what the words mean, avoid that as a snack.
The best snacks are those that are not processed. Bring your own snacks from home to avoid unhealthy snacks from vending machines and other places.
If you have a sweet tooth, a serving of your favorite fruit is great. If you are worried about blood sugar spikes, having a few of your favorite nuts can help with that. The fat and protein in the nuts will slow down the release of the sugar. Just don’t overdo it on the nuts, they are high in fat and too much of this good thing can cause weight gain.
Healthy energy boosters
Energy boosters are not always food.
Sometimes taking a break from your computer screen to look out the window can help. Even a walk around the office, or up a couple of flights of stairs can help us feel lighter.
The truest energy booster is taking care of your general health. This means getting a good night’s sleep, staying hydrated, exercising and eating a healthy diet that includes a lot of fruits and vegetables that fuel the organs in our body. When we are balanced in these areas, we will feel more energetic.
Renew Your Commitment to Healthy Habits After Covid with Wellness and Lifestyle Medicine Coaching
If you would love to take your healthy habits to the next level with some personalized guidance, I would love to help you!
Check out my Quick Start coaching package if you would like 3 quick coaching sessions to get back on track.
Ready to get serious? Learn about my 3-month Transformation health coaching package for deeply focussed support.