Habits and tips to help you get through anything...
This has been an unprecedented, challenging, and uncertain time for just about everyone. Which is why, perhaps now more than ever, cultivating resilience—the ability to bounce back after you’ve been knocked down—is essential. The first step: focusing on what you can control and trying not to waste energy on what you can’t. Fortunately, there are a handful of health and well-being practices that you can do to accomplish this goal. The following evidence-based strategies will help you build a solid, strong, and resilient body and mind.
1. Strength-Train at HomeIt’s possible to develop a great workout routine without stepping foot in a gym—all you need is a few feet of open space and a $35 kettlebell.
Research suggests that the best way to build muscle is an approach called progressive overload—stress a muscle, let it recover, and then stress it more, gradually building up the stress level over time. It’s important to keep this formula in mind. Too much stress with not enough rest and you get injury, illness, or burnout. Not enough stress with too much rest and you don’t get stronger. Being healthy and strong doesn’t require heavy doses of high-intensity interval training or running 50 miles per week. You just need to follow this cycle of stress and rest, increasing the load as you go.
Do this workout two to three times per week, completing three sets of between six and fifteen repetitions for each exercise, progressing in a circuit. Rest about one minute between exercises and two to three minutes between each circuit. Over time, gradually increase the number of reps or the weight of the kettlebell, or both. For an aerobic boost, add 30 to 60 seconds of running in place or jumping rope between sets. Be sure to rest at least one day between workouts to let your body recover.
Push-UpsBegin with your chest down and palms pressing into the ground, thumbs at your nipples. Press up, locking your elbows at the top. Lower back down, so your chest gently touches the ground or hovers above it. Press up. Keep your core tight throughout the movement. For an easier option, place your hands on an elevated surface like a table or bench.
Kettlebell SwingsStand with your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart, holding a kettlebell by the horns. Pull your shoulder blades back and hinge at the hips so the kettlebell swings between your legs. Thrust your hips forward and swing the kettlebell in front of you to shoulder height.
Air SquatsStand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder width apart, feet pointing slightly out. Extend your arms out in front of you at shoulder height. Squat down, keeping heels on the ground and lowering your butt until it is at or just below your knees. Push up through both feet to stand, locking your knees at the top. For an extra challenge, hold a kettlebell at your chest.
Step-UpsPlace a bench or other sturdy object one foot in front of you. Step up, placing your entire right foot on the step. Push through your foot to bring your left foot up. Slowly step down with your right foot, then left foot. That counts as one rep. Do all reps on one side, then switch after resting for a few seconds.
2. Go for a WalkA 2018 study of over 50,000 people published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that regular, brisk walking was associated with a 20 percent reduction across all causes of death. While physical distancing is encouraged to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, most scientists agree that if you’re healthy and haven’t been recently exposed to the virus, the benefit of walking or running outdoors in uncrowded spaces outweighs the risk of transmission, especially if you avoid coming within six feet of other people. Want to increase the challenge? Find hilly terrain, carry a full backpack (aim for a weight that challenges you but doesn’t cause back pain during or after your walk), or, if you’re ready for it, mix in short bursts of running.
(Photo: Levi Brown/Trunk Archive)
3. Don’t Skimp on CarbsIn 2018, a Stanford University study compared the effectiveness of low-fat and low-carb diets and found that there’s no significant difference between the two. Another study from 2017 had athletes eat a low-carb diet for three weeks and found that it impaired performance by reducing exercise efficiency. Eating carbs can also help the body stay resistant to illness and injury. Your muscles run on a substance called glycogen, which your body makes from carbohydrates. After strenuous exercise, you become glycogen depleted, which may lead to lower immunity. Additionally, research shows that trying to stick to a restrictive diet impairs willpower and emotional control, perhaps explaining why lots of people on stringent diets come off as grumpy and impatient. (Or maybe they’re just hungry all the time.)
Here’s a carb-filled yet healthy bowl from pro runner Shalane Flanagan and runner and nutrition coach Elyse Kopecky, adapted from recipes in their two cookbooks, Run Fast. Eat Slow. and Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.
(Photo: Jamie Chung/Trunk Archive)
Spicy Black Bean and Sweet Potato Power Bowl
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2½ teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 pound dried black beans (2¼ cups), soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
- 1 chipotle chile pepper in adobo, chopped
- 1 three-inch piece kombu, 1 sprig fresh epazote, or 1 tablespoon dried epazote
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 large sweet potatoes (about 1½ pounds)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Steamed rice
- Guacamole or sliced avocado
Directions Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and 2 teaspoons of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the beans, chipotle, kombu or epazote, cumin, bay leaf, and just enough water to cover, about four to five cups. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for one to two hours, testing for doneness after one hour. The beans should be creamy and crush easily between two fingers. To thicken the liquid, smash a few beans with a fork and simmer uncovered until desired consistency is reached. Prior to serving, add the lime juice, then season with salt to taste. To make the sweet potatoes, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the sweet potatoes into one-inch cubes, leaving the skin on. Place on the baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic powder, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Spread out so they aren’t touching. Bake for 15 minutes, stir, and return to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. Serve the black beans and sweet potatoes over rice. Top with guacamole or avocado.