When Chaos Creates Opportunity: Healthy Habits I Developed During the Lockdown (Part 1)
It’s been a minute, friends. Make that a year since my last blog and since the Covid-19 lockdown began. Year one is now in the books, and thankfully we’re slowly, but surely, emerging from a long, and at times lonely, lockdown. I won’t get into chapter and verse about what’s happened over the past twelve months. We all know the score, and for many of us, we’ve noted the addition of the unwelcomed “COVID 15.” You know; those extra pounds many of us packed on while spending our days inside our homes throughout the lockdown. The good news during this time many of us sharpened our remote working skills and realized we can effectively manage our jobs and life from home. So, if you don’t mind hanging at home while getting paid, and you stayed healthy, count your blessings.
On the flip side, all this convenience comes with a downside. When our commute consists of short trips between the living room, bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, there are too many pitstops in the vicinity of the refrigerator and food cabinets. Out of sight, out of mind, has never been more appropriate. When you pass by your refrigerator fifty more times a day than when you’re working at the office, chances are you’ve packed on those unwelcomed pounds. Thankfully, with a bit of foresight and discipline, we can shed those Covid pounds, enhance our overall health, outlook, and even become better people.
When you remain mindful and maintain a positive perspective, chaos can be fertile ground for creation, no matter how tough things seem on the surface. As the world slowly opens, I’ve looked back to see if anything good has come out of our solitary confinement and at least for me, there are opportunities that were born and bred during the lockdown. I’ve always been a believer in the power of creation and self-improvement, even during trying times. My belief has grown stronger recognizing the incremental improvements, that have made a big difference in the quality of my life since the beginning of the lockdown. I’m not minimizing the seriousness of what we’ve been through over the past year, with the tremendous loss of lives and heroic actions of our first responders manning the front lines. I’m referring to the many good folks who followed the rules by staying home, wearing masks, and social distancing over the course of a long, long year. It’s your Guy’s Guy once again with the perspective of the glass being half full.
With that in mind, I’m sharing my positive experiences during the shutdown Guy’s Guy style. Some of the practices I’ll report on I had been doing before during the lockdown. Other practices are new additions that have made a difference in my overall well-being. I’ll share ten of these experiences and the benefits I’ve personally gleaned. So, let’s get started with Part One of my Guys’ Guy’s Healthy Habits Developed During the Lockdown. Drum roll please…
1. Rebounding – What the heck is rebounding? It’s not bouncing back after a failed relationship and jumping back into the dating scene. Rebounding is simply the practice of bouncing up and down on a small trampoline. It’s low impact, a great cardio workout, and lots of fun. You bounce for ab out thirty minutes using a comfortable cadence, rhythm, and timing like you do when jumping rope. You don’t bounce up and down aggressively. You rebound smooth and easy and in no time you’ll you’re your groove. Rebounding is gentle on the joints, good for the bones and strengthening for the legs– all positive benefits for boomers.
During the initial stages of the lockdown, my wife and I noticed our seven-year-old was getting wired from the extended time hunkered down in the house and away from school. My wife ordered a basic rebounder for indoor use. After a week of watching my son hop on and off for a few minutes before getting bored, I decided to give it a try. Now, I’m hooked. As a long-time runner with three marathons under my belt, I’ve been fortunate not to suffer serious structural injuries running outdoors. But for most boomer runners, it’s only a matter of time until our skeletal system reminds us, “Okay, that’s enough pounding the pavement.”
Rebounding gives me a convenient alternative to break to the monotony of running while protecting my joints from overuse and an eventual break down. I’m now rebounding more than running, often 4-5 times per week. Another benefit is rebounding is a more efficient workout than running, almost by twenty-five percent, which in the long run saves me a lot of time, too. On days I rebound, I sleep like a baby. Rebounding also stimulates lymphatic drainage, and I’ve yet to read anything about the risks of rebounding performed in moderation. It’s been a wonderful discovery that came to my attention during the pandemic.
2. Meditation – I’d been taking a spiritual unfoldment class for over two years and practicing a group meditation towards the end of the 90-minutes. I realized that one meditation per week was not enough to reap the benefits that meditation provides. The lockdown provided most of us with some extra time and for me this meant devoting an incremental hour to working on myself. I decided to get up an hour earlier each day or find a convenient time during the day to add to my meditation practice. Once again, the lockdown proved to be a catalyst for action.
It’s been six months since I trained myself to meditate every day. The benefits are many. Meditation reduces stress, helps create emotional health, reduces worry and anxiety, extends one’s attention span, increases our ability to focus, and enhance self-awareness. Meditation has helped me forge a stronger connection with my Higher Self and with Spirit. I also feel less on edge and taking things too personally. Overall, I’m very glad I ramped up my meditation practice.
3. No Alcohol – Six months ago I experienced a serious situation concerning my appendix. Little did I know, but my appendix was blocked and ready to burst when I was rushed to the hospital. Fortunately, the procedure was successful. Although there were complications cleaning up my blood due to infection, I’m for the most part back to normal.
You’re probably thinking, “Hey Guy’s Guy, what does your appendix have to do with drinking?” Glad you asked. As I lay writhing on my bedroom carpet, before I made the decision to go to the hospital, I felt my life force leaving my body. It was surreal, to say the least. I quickly gathered myself and pulled myself back into my physical body. While this was happening, a feeling came over me, like a voice in my head peaking to me. Although it was more of a download than an actual voice. It said, — “don’t drink alcohol”.
After the surgery, for two long weeks I took two very powerful antibiotics to kill any infections in my blood. I had no plans for drinking during this time, so I was off to a good start. As I recovered, I remembered the message I had received. So, I made the decision to give up drinking alcohol. Not just for a few days, or a month. I stopped drinking alcohol for good.
It’s been six months now. Occasionally, I miss drinking rituals like mixing a cocktail, uncorking a fine bottle of wine, or savoring the delicious tastes of top shelf tequila or dark rum. I have gained much more from eliminating alcohol consumption.
Most importantly, I feel better. My liver is recovering from decades of drinking, my mind is sharper than ever, and I’ve eliminated a major source of unnecessary sugar intake. It has been a process, but for me, at this stage of the game, the benefits of not drinking far outpace the pleasures I experienced from alcohol. I am not suggesting a completely giving up drinking is right or necessary for anyone else, but it’s been working for me. And, coincidently, it began during the lockdown, when many folks have found themselves drinking more than usual.
4. Deep Breathing / Qigong – Even though I’ve completed three marathons, I’ve never felt I’ve maximized my oxygen intake. Like many others, my breaths often feel short and through the mouth. That all changed during the lockdown.
My wife is certified to teach Hatha yoga teachers, so she knows a lot about breathing. During our extended time together during the lockdown, she’s pointed out my less-than-optimal breathing cadence on more than one occasion.
A few months ago, following my surgery I hosted Qi Gong Grandmaster Adrian Lowe on my Guy’s Guy Radio show. We discussed the practice of deep mindful breathing and accompanying movements. After the show, I began practicing his version of mindful breathing every morning. At first the process made me feel dizzy but after a few short weeks I noticed a difference in my breathing. It had become slower and deeper. I continued taking deep breaths for a count of seven, holding it in my lungs and abdomen for a count of four, and finally exhaling for a count of eight. I’d do twelve reps inhaling through my nostrils and exhaling through my mouth and immediately followed with another set of twelve inhaling through my nostrils while holding my sphincter closed and visualizing my exhaling through my perineum.
After six months my breathing is slower, freer, much easier, and more rhythmic. I’m now mindful of situations when my breathing shortens, and make sure to slow down and extend my breaths. The benefits of deep breathing practices like Qigong, which I am just beginning, include increasing the flow of energy throughout the internal organs and bodily systems, calming mental and emotional states, and increased longevity. Yet another practice incorporated during the lockdown.
5. Juicing – Following my emergency appendectomy, two empathic guests on Guy’s Guy Radio mentioned to me after the show that I needed to continue detoxing my liver. After thirty years in marketing and advertising, with many years working on some of the world’s leading wine and spirit brands, I realized that I needed to do healing work on my internal organs. We had a saying at the corporations and advertising agencies where I worked. It was called, “living the brand”, and man, that’s exactly what we did. Following long days in the office working on a spirit brand, we’d often attend events and entertain clients around New York where there were an abundance of activities and venues for promoting our brands. This could easily get out of hand so I made sure I maintained a high level of fitness while working on these popular spirit brands but, over time, all the nightlife takes a toll.
When my appendix got blocked and I almost died, I knew it was time for real changes. I have no problem with aging, but I do have great resistance to growing old. There is a big difference and our quality of life as we age often comes down lifestyle and the choices we make.
Fortunately, our all-important, yet overlooked liver has an amazing capacity for restoration. After doing some research I was convinced my liver health and rejuvenation would come from not drinking alcohol and a steadily consuming more green and red vegetables. One morning six months ago I dug out the juicer from under the kitchen counter began juicing or doing something healthy for my liver every day.
I begin each day drinking a large glass of filtered water with half an organic lime or lemon squeezed in on an empty stomach. This helps the body rid itself of toxins built up from the previous day and during sleep. I follow this with either a smoothie of organic fruits like cherries, blueberries, and pineapple, along with powdered supplements including Maca, spirulina, wheat grass, lion’s mane, goji berries, raw cacao, red beet powder, chia seeds, and more. On alternate days I juice organic celery– lots of it, without anything else which is deemed to have immeasurable healing properties for the liver. I researched an organic supplement with milk thistle and other herbs for the liver and take two capsules on the days I don’t juice.
Although I have no way of specifically measuring the improvements in my liver, I feel fantastic. Juicing can be a healthy alternative to the traditional American breakfast consisting of fried eggs, bacon, and coffee. It’s worth trying.
Well friends, we’ve hit the halfway mark for the healthy habits I picked up or enhanced during the shutdown. And while writing Part One, I wondered if these healthy practices would have hit my radar without the shutdown? Maybe, maybe not. But, these five healthy habits came into my life during the lockdown, reassuring me that chaos can create opportunities if we pay attention and live in the present. I’ll be back with Part Two very soon…