Hey Flinders Fam!
Things are looking brighter here in SA, but we’ve still got a way to go before things return to normal, and so today we’re talking all about how we can make sure we look after our physical wellbeing while self-isolating.
What we eat and how often we move is probably one of the things that’s changed the most for many of us. When I was working on campus, I’d move so much more. Let’s be honest, Flinders is a campus that kind of forces you to be active, but even so, every lunch break I’d go outside and walk around the lake. Parking up in Siberia and moving between my office and teaching rooms would also add a lot of incidental exercise into my day. Plus, on weekends, I’d often go hiking, and twice a week I used to go to swing dancing classes (I feel like I keep revealing myself as more and more of a dork on this blog …)
But now? I sit at my desk most of the day and while I still eat my lunch outside, it’s only about 20 steps away. Hardly a hilly walk around the lake! I’ve also been reaching for the snacks so much more because they’re just so handy, and in times of high stress and anxiety, comfort eating is one of my go-to feel-good solutions. While this is okay sometimes, it’s not really sustainable and I’ve realised that what actually makes me feel better long-term is looking after myself: eating well and moving!
Remember, an investment in your physical health is also an investment in your mental health. Eating well and staying active helps our mood and focus, concentration and motivation, and, of course, our general wellbeing!
It definitely sounds simpler than it is though, especially when we’re so physically restricted. So, I’ve recruited a few experts to help us through some of this terrain.
First up, how can we make sure we’re eating well and giving ourselves the right kind of fuel when there’s so many temptations at home? Over to Dr Jayne Barbour and her brilliant Nutrition and Dietetics students.
Dr Jayne Barbour – Associate Lecturer, College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Hi everybody, my name’s Jayne Barbour and I’m one of the Nutrition and Dietetics lecturers at Flinders. Together with some of our students, we’ve put together this video with some nutrition tips for staying healthy during this time. Lots of us are spending lots of our time at home studying and working and it’s a great opportunity for us to practice our cooking skills and try some new ideas.
One of the things I’ve been trying at home is experimenting with new vegetables, or vegetables I haven’t used for a while. For example, eggplant in moussaka or curries, red or green lentils in dahl, different herbs as well like tarragon and thyme. I’ve been adding them to chicken or risotto. Fresh ginger is a great spice to use, it makes a big difference compared with powdered ginger, or galangal used in stir fry. Okra is another vegetable which is delicious in curries – but don’t cook it for too long!
I’m going to hand over now to some of our students and their tips.
Angel – Eat More Wholegrains and Low-Fat Dairy Products
My first nutrition tip is to include more wholegrain food products into your daily meals. There are lots of wholegrain options in the supermarket these days. You can things like wholegrain pasta, wholegrain bread, rolled oats, brown rice or even wholegrain snacks like wholegrain cereals or whole wheat biscuits. By including them into your daily meals you’ll get more fibre, vitamins and antioxidants compared to refined grains like white rice or white bread.
My next tip is to go for more low-fat dairy products. Milk and yoghurt, which are some of the more common dairy foods that we consume, give us a lot of protein and calcium to keep us strong and healthy. However, they’re also high in fat, so why not go for a low-fat alternative such as skim-milk or low-fat yoghurt to give us all the benefits of dairy products while avoiding all the extra energy from fat.
Chi – Eat the Rainbow
My healthy tip is to eat the rainbow. This means we have different colours or vegetables fruits and in our diets because different colours give us different nutrients, so we can stay strong. One easy way I like to do this is with one of these frozen vegetable bags. I like to put them in the oven with some crunchy garlic and spice it up with some chilli so it will become very flavourful and crunchy. So tonight, let’s make your plate colourful because if you eat the rainbow, you will get the rainbow!
Grace – Meal-Prep
My top tip for staying healthy in isolation is to meal-prep. I find that meal-prepping really beneficial because I can collate a whole bunch of recipes I want for lunch or snacks during the week, make them on Sunday night, put them in the fridge or freezer and grab them at my own convenience throughout the week when I’m unmotivated to cook. It’s an excellent way to create some healthy meals that are super delicious without the stress of cooking.
Hannah – Replace Salt with Herbs, Spices and Citrus
My tip is instead of adding salt for flavour, try adding herbs like basil, spices like ginger and nutmeg, citrus fruits like orange, lemon or lime, or other vegetables like garlic.
Melissa – Keep Healthy Snacks at Home
My nutrition tip is always to keep healthy snacks at home. Some of the healthy snacks I love include nuts, fruits, and having yoghurt in my fridge. If I’m hungry throughout the day, I pair yoghurt with fruits. It’s really simple and delicious to make, so have a go at it!
Rachel – Baking Can Be Healthy
I believe that baking can be a really fun way to keep busy during isolation, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be unhealthy. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with different substitutes for butter and sugar in my brownie recipes. I’ve tried using sweet potatoes and avocados to replace butter but still get that nice and creamy texture, and I’ve been using naturally fresh sweet fruits like apples and raspberries to substitute the sugar. The brownies still taste absolutely delicious, you can’t even tell the difference and they’re much healthier!
So many good tips from Jayne and her team. Thanks guys! But eating well is just half of the equation. Let’s hear from Chris Rawlings from Flinders Sport and Fitness about how we can stay active, and some of our excellent Like a Boss contributors about what they’re doing to keep fit in lockdown.
Chris Rawlings – Flinders Sport and Fitness
Hi everyone, my name’s Chris and I’m a clinical exercise physiologist at Flinders Uni Sport and Fitness. I’m joining you on this week’s Like a Boss to share with you my top three tips for staying physically active while you’re studying and working at home.
There’s probably been no more important time to engage in regular physical activity while we’re all stuck at home moving minimally on a day to day basis. However, I’m completely aware that when life gets turned upside down, sometimes physical activity is the first thing that goes out the window.
By implementing physical activity and finding some things that you love to do, we can not only improve your mood and concentration, but we can set you up with the strength and endurance so you can continue to do the things you love when life goes back to normal.
So, my top three tips for being physically active while you’re at home are:
#1: Implement physical activity to break up your day
- Schedule in two 10-15-minute physical activity breaks into your day.
- They can be anything: going for a walk around the block, playing with your dog, doing some hard-core housecleaning
- Whatever it is, as long as you get your heartrate up, there’s quite a bit of evidence that suggests that one single bout of physical activity can improve your mood and concentration for up to two hours
#2: Use physical activity for social engagement
- Find yourself training buddy – someone from home, or a friend
- As our normal activities are shut down and we can’t catch up at the pub or at a café, organising a training buddy is a great way to stay socially engage and lock yourself into doing some physical activity
- Plus, training with a partner is way more fun!
#3: Join a program that gives you structure and guidance
- There’s a range of online platforms available now, and some of them are offering free content
- Flinders Uni Sport and Fitness also have a heap of free content. Like our Facebook page, and find free at home HIIT, yoga and a walking and running program
- The programs are designed for people of all levels and can guide you through from start to finish
I find that going outside for a walk really helps my mental wellbeing. A lot of the time it really refreshes me and helps me feel motivated. It also helps me from feeling cooped up from being inside all day.
Before the lockdown I think I engaged in a moderate amount of physical activity. I went to the gym twice a week and do martial arts, so I also went to classes twice a week.
I actually exercise more now because I don’t do that much schoolwork, so I have more time for free time for physical exercise. I do it like six times per week. I bought a yoga matt, a resistance band and tried to turn my room into a mini gym.
It’s actually very important for me to stay physically active because, firstly, it’s a very good anchor – as I said, I don’t do that much schoolwork, so I need something to plan my day around. I do that with my exercise: I know I’m going to exercise for an hour and a half then shower, so I can plan my entire day around that. Secondly, exercising energises me because I don’t exercise that hard, so it doesn’t leave me exhausted. It leaves me pumped and motivates me to do everything else for the day.
I’ve chronically defined myself as not an athletic person, I don’t like team sports much and I’ve never really participated in sports or athletics.
However, I did start running a few years ago. I never defined myself as a runner, I was like, ‘I can’t run 5 minutes!’ But then I started running and broke that self-stigma of myself as a runner when I hit 15 minutes at a time, then I hit half an hour at a time. I was so proud of myself and I broke through that self-stigma.
My workouts have changed in the sense of what they mean to me. Before, I was doing it for my mental health, my physical health, to challenge myself, but now I really rely on that chance to get out of the house, to enjoy nature while running. So, I feel like I’m doing something that’s really good for myself.
I’m also appreciating that I get to do it more because there’s people who are in complete lockdown in other parts of the world and they don’t get to do that, or people here who maybe have a compromised immune system and can’t leave the house, or people who don’t feel like they don’t live in a safe neighbourhood. I definitely feel grateful that I get to do it.
I maintain my physical activity by regularly walking or jogging around my community. Every evening I put on a pair of sneakers, get dressed in my sport outfit and start walking or jogging for ten minutes or so. I find it convenient because you don’t need to go to the gym, so lockdown doesn’t stop us from doing our exercise. Especially as I have a beautiful walking path in my community, so it helps me to stay active and get a fresh feeling, especially in beautiful weather.
Thanks again to Chris and our students for taking the time to share their tips and experiences with us. Before we go, I want to direct you to a few more excellent free Flinders resources that can help keep you on track.
At-Home Workout with Associate Professor Claire Drummond
Speaking of free content, Associate Professor Claire Drummond, head of Exercise Science/Clinical Exercise Physiology in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and her daughter Lily Drummond from Creative Arts have created a series of workout videos to keep you moving in lockdown. I gave them a go – they’re super easy to get started with and there’s options for a range of different fitness levels.
Mindful Walking and Chair Yoga with Maureen
Maureen from Health and Counselling has a few really great resources for helping us to stay active while connecting to ourselves and our mental wellbeing. As well as being a councillor, Maureen is also a Yoga teacher who usually runs the Mindful Yoga sessions at Oasis. She’s developed Chair Yoga, a class that will get you stretching, moving and connecting from your seat!
She’s also written an excellent post about Mindful Walking, and how we can use exercise as a way to bring us into the present moment and activate our senses. This way, we can integrate all the benefits of mindfulness with the benefits of exercise.
Finally, remember that at the moment, habit formation is really important, and it doesn’t have to be difficult. Start with little steps: go for a ten-minute walk, do just ten push-ups, or try one meal that integrates a rainbow of vegetables. You don’t need to jump straight into a full-blown HIIT class straight away! Small activities will quickly build on top of one another, and you might be surprised by the results you can start to see in your physical and mental wellbeing in just a few weeks.
That’s it from all of us here at Like a Boss this week. Next time we’re talking all things procrastination, so I hope to see you there 😊