Just when we thought we were pretty much in the clear (earlier this year), Covid came crashing back down on Australia like a tonne of bricks. This has meant millions of us are back to being locked down and reverting back to a somewhat restricted lifestyle.
For those who lead an active lifestyle, and those who love the gym – particularly for those in New South Wales and Victoria – this has meant their quest for gains has once again been put on hold. But, as we would’ve discussed this time last year, just because you’re spending the majority of your day at home, doesn’t mean you can’t keep your fitness levels up.
It’s a message Australian fitness and nutrition guru Sam Wood is keen to continue spreading, and DMARGE recently spoke exclusively with him, to find out his latest top tips with regards to all things fitness, nutrition and sleep, to help us see through this latest lockdown.
Check out some of Sam Wood’s lockdown workouts in the video below
To begin, Sam wanted to put forward an important message that anyone can benefit from, regardless of whether they’re active or not:
“I think the most important first step is that people acknowledge that it’s a very different circumstance we’re all living at the moment and so don’t try and fit your old structure or your old plan into this new world. It doesn’t really work, it’s like trying to fit a circle in a square hole.”
“I think the greatest success I’m seeing from people is from those who have created a new plan to suit this new situation [any lockdown compared to not being in lockdown].”
“I think sometimes it’s sort of done for you because perhaps you’re gym has shut and you need to come up with an alternative, and for a lot of people, I think we’ve particularly lost a lot of structure around food and with exercise, we’ve had to adapt.”
Speaking to our mental health, as well as our overall wellbeing, Sam suggested an incredibly simple change to your daily routine.
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“You need to get your head around to thinking that it’s ok, and it’s better to accept the new situation than continually fight the fact that the old one doesn’t exist. And then you can actually still take really good care of yourself, and then when it gets to the practicalities, I’m a huge advocate of moving in the morning.”
“It’s more important than ever now, it gets you up, it gets you going, it gives you energy, it boosts your mood, sets you up for the day. It’s very easy at the moment for a lot us, if we wanted to, to stay in our pyjamas all day, and that doesn’t necessarily do you any favours in terms of productivity or a mental health basis.”
“It’s now warmer and lighter in the mornings, it should be much easier to get up and get moving.”
“Getting some vitamin D and getting some fresh air I think is critically important. In a weird way it’s sort of been a bit of a silver lining, we’ve had so many lockdowns here in Melbourne that when we are in lockdown, you’ve never seen (depending on what the restrictions are) so many people out playing with their kids, kicking a ball around the ovals, bike riding.”
“As sh*t as the time is, there’s definitely some silver linings, you see a lot more dads working from home, they’ve got more time now because they’re not spending two hours on their commute each day. I think these silver linings will actually stay with people once we finally come out the other side of this.”
“I’m encouraging people to move in the morning [those on my 28 by Sam Wood program], I’m still trying to maintain their food structure, even though their life structure may have severely altered.”
“Just having breakfast, lunch and dinner locked in to that 8 hour window can really help you consume fewer calories, it can give you a little bit of purpose throughout your day, and it tends to help you not find that habit through boredom when working from home, of just opening the fridge or the pantry 3,000 times a day,” Sam added.
Whilst it’s certainly true that in today’s world, our food structure does revolve around three set meals a day, plus some snacks, it’s not a message Australian professor David Sinclair wishes to encourage, instead suggesting we only need to eat one meal a day and adding this can actually help prolong the ageing process.
Whether you want to go to that extreme or not (we’d encourage you to consult a health professional and do your own research first), for those who have found their home lives to be particularly busy, either still working full hours or having kids to look after, Sam recommends meal prepping: “I think meal prepping is beneficial at anytime, if you don’t mind a bit of repetition in your diet and you can spare an hour or two at the weekend, then it’s proven to help people.”
“I think when you’ve got kids and home schooling it’s much more challenging compared to living by yourself or in a couple, I can only see the benefit of it.”
So, what about working out? Your gym might be closed so you’ve had to resort to exercising at home. We’ve spoken about various ways you can do this before, but Sam has some extra advice.
“Two things, I think try and find a space in your garden or your house that is your home gym space. You don’t have to live in a mansion for that to be the case. A spare bedroom or an office nook, or even next to your own bed where you can consistently lay out your mat and your bands or your dumbbells, and you actually put yourself in a better psychological situation where you say ‘I’m here to do my workout.'”
“If you’re a bit haphazard with it, it doesn’t help your success in that space, and the other things is a lot of us our gym obsessed, but resistance training is working your body against any kind of resistance. that could be TRX, bodyweight, yoga, pilates, you will still get a great strength and tone benefit, and it’s a great opportunity to try new things.”
“And for anyone that tells me you can’t get results at home, well my whole 28 program is based on results at home for 6 years and I have tens of thousands of testimonies that will tell you otherwise. So you can absolutely get results, you’ve just got to mix it up and be consistent.”
Naturally, ensuring the meals you do eat during lockdown are as nutritious as possible, whilst juggling stress, work and potentially kids, isn’t always the easiest of tasks. However, it’s still important that you aim for good-sized servings of protein and carbohydrates in each meal.
Sam adds, “I think it’s just being aware of your output and making sure that your calorie diet is in check. An article I read recently suggests we can have a bit of a selective memory when it comes to calorie intake and expenditure, we tend to underestimate what we eat by 20% and overestimate how much we exercise we do by 20%.”
“That’s a pretty big gap. And I think in lockdown in particular, it would be a very easy thing to do, so if you do feel like your exercise or your getting out and about has dropped, and you do feel like you’re eating more, well it doesn’t take much in either direction to start putting on the kilos.”
“It’s just about self-awareness and making sure you’re moving both of the needles in the right direction and then you can use it as a good opportunity to get in shape as we enter the warmer months.”
Likewise, the end of your day is just as important as the beginning and middle, and it can be easy for many of us to overlook the importance of sleep. To this, Sam says, “There’s some real truth in your pre-bed routine: dark place, cold room, no blue light.”
“Obviously the fact you’re exercising more regularly will help your quality of sleep, don’t eat a meal too close to the time you go to sleep, your body is digesting that food while you’re trying to rest. There’s a number of factors there, and they’re probably all 2%ers, but when they’re added up together they definitely contribute to a better quality of sleep.”
“With sleep itself, obviously the 7-8 hours is the ideal number, but there’s a lot of research around getting into consistent sleep habits.”
“Waking up early and going to bed a bit earlier and getting your body used to a particular sleep/wake cycle and the benefits of that both from a mental health perspective and metabolism and quality of sleep.”
Indeed, it has been proven before – and spruiked by health hacker Dave Asprey – that getting your body into a regular routine, and subjecting yourself to even just 10 minutes of sunlight before 10 a.m., can work wonders on your circadian rhythm – or body clock, if you will. By getting into a repeating pattern, you’ll soon find you’re able to get to sleep quicker at night, and have a greater experience of deep sleep.
Sam continues, “And I just know during lockdown it’s just kind of a ‘oh stuff it’, you’re bingeing Netflix ’til 1 in the morning and then tool yourself out of bed and find yourself having a nap, and I guess there’s a lot of inconsistency when it comes to our sleep pattern. I just think it’s best if you can to try and maintain some sort of consistency with your sleep pattern.”
Plenty of advice to take onboard, then, and we hope much of it will make your lockdown that little bit more bearable.