Suffolk, UK

Making Lockdown Work for Me: Starting An Isolation Health Kick #AD

THIS POST CONTAINS GIFTED ITEMS FROM REBOOT HEALTH
This post is about how I have been spending my free time during lockdown working on my physical health. But as I sit here and type out what I hope will be a useful list of tips for those who want to do the same, I am completely aware of how privileged I am to be writing on this subject. My nearest and dearest are safe and well, I have a job that continues to pay, a secure roof over my head, and although I do experience virus-related stresses and anxieties, the load that I have to carry at the moment is far smaller than of many others. 

Therefore, if you are not in a position to "make lockdown work for you" and find yourself simply focused on surviving this difficult time, spending your days snuggled up in your loungewear with a packet of biscuits, you should feel absolutely no pressure from this post to change that. Please just do whatever works for you. Nobody is judging. 

With that being said, for those of you who are fortunate enough to find themselves able to commit to other things during the lockdown, I collated this list of how I've been trying to use time at home to my advantage by concentrating on my health. My goal in doing this is to share a bit of positivity and some motivational tips, so if it proves useful to just one person, I've achieved my aim.

Race At Your Pace cycling challenge

Exercise 

When the days blur into each other as they so often do during lockdown, motivating yourself to exercise can be tricky. I found it nearly impossible at the start of the isolation period, especially since I'm currently carrying a knee injury which meant that my favoured sport of running was off the table. However, at the start of April I decided that something needed to change, so (with my brother's help) I dragged an old bicycle out of the shed and began an exercise challenge. My sister and I signed up to Race At Your Pace, a virtual race that encourages you to run, walk, cycle, or swim a set distance over the course of a month. If you reach your target distance you get a shiny medal at the end of the month too!

We decided to cycle 50 miles in the month of April and we absolutely smashed the goal, ending up with a total of over 100 miles each! Spurred on, we signed up to do the same in May and we're well on our way to achieving the target again this month. Cycling has worked wonders for my physical fitness (I can now cycle 13 miles in one go with no problems!) and it has really helped my mental health too. Getting out of the house and into the fresh air stops me from going stir crazy.
 
ArtNaturals argan oil shampoo
Sara Davenport Reboot Your Health book

Educating Myself

As someone who reads non-fiction books day in, day out as part of a PhD research programme, I usually reach for a thriller or a fantasy novel when it comes to recreational reading. However, last month I bucked this trend and opted for a more educational read, a pair of books by health advocate and breast cancer charity founder Sara Davenport. I'll be honest and tell you that when I first picked up Reboot Your Health, I was expecting a fairly dry read; plenty of facts, figures, and medical jargon. But as it turned out, I needn't have been apprehensive. 

Reboot Your Health is written in a personable, accessible way and I found it immensely readable. I flew through the first 50 pages in no time, taking note of the sections that I wanted to return to later to try out the many DIY health tests that Sara suggests. The book is laced with interesting factoids (for example, did you know that when you blush, your stomach lining turns bright red too?!) and guides to the terminology used in test results that you may be given by your doctor. This made the book very empowering - it left me feeling a lot more confident about the prospect of approaching my GP for tests in future.

Washing Hair Less No Poo Method
Fermented foods kefir yoghurt

Getting Foodie

As well as teaching you a lot about your body and providing useful tips for demystifying your GP visits, Reboot Your Health offers a guide to transforming your health through your diet. Before reading the book I thought I ate pretty healthily but having made a few changes based on its recommendations, I feel like I'm doing better than ever before. One positive change that I've made is introducing fermented foods into my diet. Fermented foods are amazing because they help boost our enzyme reserves. Enzymes are, in Sara's words, "the single most important health assistants that no one has ever heard of". They digest food, help your body to repair and renew itself, and even play a key role in your immune system. 

To give my enzymes a helping hand, I've been eating kefir (fermented yoghurt) and kimchi (fermented vegetables). The taste of fermented foods isn't for everybody - my Mum warned me off trying sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) because she's had it in the past and hated it - but I personally don't find it too bad. By making myself a bowl of kefir topped with fruit and peanut butter in the morning and popping some kimchi in a sandwich at lunchtime, I'm doing great things for my body. The best fermented food brand I've tried is called Loving Foods and their products are available on Amazon. Their turmeric and black pepper kimchi is delish!

Race At Your Pace cycling challenge
Earth Conscious natural deodorants vegan cruelty free

Natural Deodorant

My Mum has been encouraging me to ditch antiperspirants for years. After all, they're not amazing for your body. They prevent you from sweating out toxins and there are concerns over the impact of their aluminium content on your health. What's been holding me back from making the switch to a natural deodorant in the past has been the smell factor. I don't want to be known as Little Miss Stinky in the office. But lockdown (when I'm only spending time with my family who have to love me regardless of what I smell like!) provided me with perfect time to see if I could make natural deo work for me. 

The brand I opted to try was a favourite of my Mum's: Earth Conscious. There is plenty to love about them - their products are 100% natural, plastic-free, vegan and cruelty-free. Their deodorants come in blocks, housed in a metal tin. You warm the product gently with your fingertips before scooping a little out and rubbing onto clean, dry armpits. When wearing this, I definitely noticed myself sweating more than I would with an antiperspirant, but that's simply due to the fact that these products don't prevent you from perspiring - they just mask the smell. They do this job very well and now that I've been using Earth Conscious for a month, I don't think I'll go back!

lockdown exercise Race At Your Pace cycling

Hair Washing

Throughout my adult life, my hair washing habits have been far from ideal. I would wash my hair every other day without fail and as a result it produced excessive amounts of oil, getting SUPER greasy super quickly and leaving me feeling gross. A change was sorely needed but I was too afraid of looking oily and disgusting when going out to try and train my hair to go longer between washes. Enter lockdown! Again, rarely leaving the house has been a godsend and I've cut down on my shampoo use massively. My hair is now doing so much better! I now go around 5 days between washes and even on day 3, it's looking far less greasy than before.

My top tips that I've picked up are so simple, I can't believe I didn't try them out before. Switching to a natural argan oil shampoo has really made a difference, as has experimenting with new hair accessories so that I can still feel cute while keeping my oily hair off my face. Limiting touching my hair where possible is also good - I didn't realise how much I ran my fingers through my hair before! Washing my hair with just water after exercise and brushing the oils from my scalp through the rest of my hair afterwards has kept me feeling fresh. I'll definitely keep up with this healthier hair routine post-lockdown.

Have you made any positive health and lifestyle changes during lockdown? Do share in the comments below!

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