Tips to Keep You Busy & Avoid Mindless Eating!

As runners, we are generally used to eating a lot - before a long run, after a long run, three meals a day, plus healthy snacks in between. We love being outdoors and are accustomed to being active, busy people. Then came lockdown. The number of kilometers we’re able to log dwindled and we find ourselves with a lot more free time (to eat).

Maybe like me (and everyone else right now), you just tend to wander to the snack drawer or fridge out of boredom or have turned your kitchen into an episode of Botswana’s Best Baker. I figured whatever reasons you have for eating constantly, you probably could use some encouragement knowing you’re not alone and some ideas on how to control your appetite, so you don’t come out of lockdown felling like a watermelon. I’ve also included a few ways to keep busy and in a routine during the lockdown as it helps me avoid mindless eating.

1. Retain Some Sense of Normalcy and Routine

I have found keeping some form of my previous daily routine helps keep me motivated to accomplish things during the day rather than just sitting in my pjs or sweatpants and binge-watching Netflix. I do binge watch my favourite shows but there is a time for this. Usually in the evenings. Netflix and Chill anyone? 😉

Set an alarm for the same time every morning (with the exception of Sundays) and get out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off – Don’t press ‘snooze’! Brush your teeth, have your morning coffee and begin your day. Refrain from checking your phone first thing in the morning as this is distracting and unproductive and tends to create anxiety at the beginning of the day.

2. Do 30 Minutes of Exercise (or just MOVE your Body!) in The Morning

The best way to keep yourself motivated to exercise is to get into the habit of doing it first thing in the morning before your body and brain have time to protest. Especially if you aren’t a morning person.

Every fitness model, trainer and enthusiast on Instagram is uploading home workouts on the daily. All you have to do is pick one. Strength or HIIT training is relatively easy to do without equipment. All you need is a little determination. Even my 12-year-old has started exercising, so can you. If you have a yard, run laps in it. The distance doesn’t matter, moving is moving. Start with 5 and keep increasing the number as you go along.

If HIIT training isn’t your thing there are plenty of other options – yoga, Pilates, skipping, barre, simply to name a few – there is a You Tube video for literally everything including dance classes. Like I said, moving is moving.

3. Do a 20-minute Express Clean

Remember how you were always complaining that you never get time to spring clean or organize your home? Well, here’s your perfect opportunity. Spend 20 minutes a day re-organizing, tiding, sorting and cleaning. Set a timer on your phone if you like. Figure out what needs consolidating and do that for 20 minutes a day. It needn’t be a chore or something that takes you all day, you’d be surprised as to what you can accomplish in just 20 minutes.

4. Shower & Dress!

Yes, EVERY DAY. You don’t have to look like an Instagram influencer but even a pair of jeans and a clean tee can make you feel ‘normal’. Saturdays and Sundays are for sweatpants; for the remainder of the week try to dress neatly and look presentable. What is the point? You won’t feel and look like a slob and it will help keep your mood and spirits up. It will also help motivate not to overeat because you still want your clothes to fit you after all.

5.Learn to Cook vs Take Out

It may seem obvious, but I’ve had several people tell me that they are living on sandwiches, ready prepped meals or take out because they don’t know how to cook. What better time to learn? Ready prepared and restaurant meals tend to be very high in fat, sodium and loads of hidden calories. With plenty of chefs and Nutrition experts like Sarah Graham, Jamie Oliver, Rhiannon Reed (only to name a few) offering free recipes and instruction videos on You Tube there really is no excuse.

Click here for Jamie’s amazing webpage that includes instruction videos and recipes.

6. Plan Your Meals & Share the Cooking

It helps to plan your meals every morning or the night before so that when lunch or dinner time rolls around you aren’t trying to prep something when you’re already famished. Planning your meals ahead of time allows you to put thought into what goes into your food and how to balance your macros. My hubby and I usually cook lunch and dinner in the morning so that we can clean up once and don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen. It really makes a difference to have someone to share the load of cooking meals with as it becomes and activity you do together rather than a chore. If your partner says they don’t know how to cook, refer them to point 5 above! 😂 You’re welcome.

7. Keep Treats to a Minimum

Eating cupcakes, a slice of banana bread or ice cream every day for 28 days definitely won’t be good for your waistline and you will undeniably regret it when you have to change out of those sweatpants into your work clothes or jeans. Have a planned treat day where you eat your favourite food guilt free and then go back to your healthy eating plan straight after, which might mean getting rid of leftovers – I usually share with my neighbors or pass it on to someone on the street when I go on my grocery shopping run.

8. Get Your Vitamin D

If you do have a yard or live close enough to your local grocery store to walk this is a great way to get fresh air, some exercise and some vitamin D which is essential in keeping your immunity up. Spend at least 20 minutes outside a day, even if it is sitting on your balcony and reading. You’ll thank me later when you don’t look like the ghost of Christmas past.

I’ve included a link to an article on the importance of vitamin D –

9. Avoid Mindless Snacking

This is probably the toughest one for all of us as, after twenty days in lockdown and the depression thinking about your former life starts to set in. We often eat for comfort or out of boredom. Most of us have indulged in this at some point. My best advice is if you find yourself heading to the fridge or snack drawer absent mindlessly is to stop, drink a glass of water, take a few deep breaths and reroute yourself to do something distracting for a minimum of 20 minutes. Try calling/face timing a friend to check up on them, playing Scrabble Go or reading a good book. Taking a walk outside in your back yard can also help. Tell yourself that if in twenty minutes you are still genuinely hungry then you can make yourself a veggie packed smoothie or have a bowl of fruit and yoghurt. Try to stay away from trigger foods when you snack (mine is muesli – yeah, I know that’s weird). In fact, it is probably best not to even keep these in the house for the time being.

I want to say things like “Don’t wallow” and “This too shall pass”; but I know you have heard that a million times and it feels irrelevant right now. I too have had a couple of ‘woe is me’ moments during the past twenty days. The truth is in all of this uncertainty all we can do is take care of ourselves and our families and try to maintain some form of ‘normalcy’ to get us through.

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