CORONAVIRUS

Creating a new routine, even while working from home, helps with stress and avoiding the refrigerator

Kelly Haag walks near her Marion home on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. With the closure of fitness facilities, Haag has adapt
Kelly Haag walks near her Marion home on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. With the closure of fitness facilities, Haag has adapted by walking daily to maintain her fitness goals. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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While you’re entering data into a spreadsheet, it’s there.

When a virtual meeting is interrupted by your bickering children, it’s there.

When 2 p.m. comes and you’d usually eat an apple, but ... it’s there.

The refrigerator.

Many Iowans are working from home these days to slow the spread of the coronavirus. We’re also not going to the gym, further dislodging habits built to support health goals, such as weight loss. So the question becomes, when the world goes sideways, how do you stay on track?

“While they are out of routine, there are still things within their control,” said Lynette Morton, a coach for WW, formerly Weight Watchers.

‘Craving Connection’

WW shifted in-person workshops last month to live virtual sessions on Zoom so members can continue to connect with coaches and community through the COVID-19 outbreak. Instead of one weekly meeting, members have the option of joining multiple workshops a week, Morton said.

“I’ve heard members say they feel like they could use additional support because of the stress or whatever else is going on in their lives,” she said.

One of the hallmarks of WW over the decades has been a private weigh-in before the workshop. Since mid-March, members have the option of weighing themselves at home and entering their weight into an app. This fits with the company’s shift away from weight being the only metric of success.

“More than stepping on that scale, they are just craving connection with the people that get it and understand their struggles,” Morton said.

Move In New Ways

Kelly Haag, 53, of Marion, was used to going to yoga classes and the gym to further her health goals. But with classes and gym sessions temporarily halted, Haag has felt less motivated to exercise.

“When I’m accountable to other people, I go and show up and do the class,” she said.

Haag joined Panda Marie, a Hiawatha-based healthy lifestyle program, last fall and has appreciated founder Dusty Swehla’s attempts to stay in touch with members, even during the outbreak.

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Haag has been adding a daily walk into her schedule and is doing more yardwork, both for the exercise and to be out of range of the refrigerator.

“I’m glad I can be outside,” she said.

Lynn Block, fitness coordinator for YMCA of the Cedar Rapids Metro Area, said the Y is livestreaming one or two classes a day with local instructors and has links on its website to other free workouts, including more than 100 workouts from Les Mills-On Demand.

“There is a lot of free stuff out there and available,” Block said.

For housebound Eastern Iowans whose health goals include strength training, Block recommended using canned goods, full milk jugs or detergent bottles if you don’t have weights. Pushups or burpees are other exercises that use body weight to build strength.

Maintain a Routine

Many people maintain a healthy weight by sticking with a routine. This might include walking the dog each morning, packing a nutritious lunch or staying busy to avoid snacking.

Those habits don’t have to go away when you work from home.

Morton said WW members have told her that even while working from home, they get dressed as if they were going to work, put on makeup and pack a lunch for the day.

“When 12:30 comes, which is my normal lunch hour, I pull that out,” Morton recalled them saying.

Other ideas include setting up your home office away from the kitchen, counting the number of times you go to the refrigerator or pantry and meditating or taking a quick walk when you feel stress rise. Also, avoid having tempting snacks on hand and drink a glass of water before turning to food.

“Nobody ever pretends it’s easy,” Morton said. “But it wasn’t easy when it was our other normal. This is a new normal. In three months, I’ll have another new normal. Life is ever changing.”

Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please donate. Your contribution will support news resources to cover the impact of the pandemic on our local communities.

All donations are tax-deductible.