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This is not the 2020 you had planned. The new decade started with a clean slate and clear goals. You were finding your rhythm with focus and determination. 

Then the hard stop called COVID-19 closed the gym and canceled all your plans. Your goals got fuzzy, perhaps forgotten during that early rush into survival mode.  Working at home from the deck and knitting on conference calls became not just acceptable but trendy. You started running more and eating out less.

You might have gained a pound or two but oddly you feel better. Really better. With every layer of “should” and “good” that slipped away you found a little more ease and a little more peace.

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Now, as things open back up, you know you can’t go back to the BEFORE. With time to think and be, you’re finding a new understanding of what matters most and a place of deep health.

It’s time to reboot with a new focus for your post-pandemic lifestyle.

What is deep health?

Deep health is a term for the integrated form of wellness that I’ve been practicing and coaching for many years. I heard it named Deep Heath only recently by the Precision Nutrition team.

Deep health is “when all domains are in sync, not just the physical. It’s about how you think, respond, solve problems and deal with the world around you. “

In other words, it’s about your fitness journey beyond the number on the scale. It’s about how you feel, think, live and connect with yourself and others. It’s the reality that getting healthy and staying healthy is a layered process that takes into consideration all parts of your life, not just “eating less and moving more” to lose weight.

The dimensions of deep health

Precision Nutrition defines six domains of deep health: physical, existential, mental, relational, environmental and emotion. In my practice, I keep my focus on the physical, mental and existential, which I call spiritual. These are also foundational to staying healthy and navigating the new pandemic influenced world. Here are the essential things I want you to focus on as you create a rebound plan for your post pandemic lifestyle.

Physical. It’s time to rearrange the goal. If you’re primary goal prior to the pandemic was weight loss I want to ask you to shift to getting and staying healthy. Weight loss can be a part of staying healthy but you can’t control the number on the scale.  It’s more effective in the long run to focus on what you can control – the behaviors that support health, no matter what your size or shape. Self-care focused exercise and eating work for anyone and everyone. It can lead to weight loss, but it doesn’t have to.

The two most critical elements here are moving your body on a regular basis and nourishing your body instead of starving it. Movement is how your body best completes the stress cycle and it has a host of health benefits (like improved insulin sensitivity and reducing blood pressure) beyond the calorie burn. There is no magic formula for how much or the “best” kind. Your deep health goal is to start where you are, with what you have and move your body every day.

If your stress level is already high, a very low-calorie diet is just one more stressor your body doesn’t need. You probably felt better during shelter in place because you ate more (more energy) and ate out less (more nutrient dense foods). It’s time to nourish your body and let go of any guilt about anything you feel you overindulged in during shelter in place.

Your deep health plan means no more calorie counting. Instead focus on the two basic eating principles of slowing down and finding your 80% full. By tuning into your hunger signals, you can learn to self-regulate better than being a slave to calories and get connected to your body’s needs. If your stress levels are high, make sure you’re getting plenty of anti-oxidant rich vegetables and fruits and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. You’ll also want to get plenty of magnesium rich foods (like beans, nuts and avocado) and zinc rich foods (like pumpkin seeds, cashews and chickpeas).

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Mental. Planning is about preparedness, not a schedule. The shift from schedule and time-based work, to task-based planning is foundational to work/life harmony in your post pandemic lifestyle. Your deep health plan means setting aside time monthly, weekly and daily to establish the critical tasks you need to reach your goals and live the life you want. If you’re new to planning start with 15 minutes a month, 10 minutes a week and 5 minutes a day to plan.

Don’t let others try to take over your schedule again with zoom Happy Hours and extended work days. Protecting your mental health means solid boundaries and leaving white space on your schedule. Your deep health plan means learning to say no and clearly articulating your needs, to yourself and to others. Try setting out of office alerts with clear expectations for email responses, put your phone in Do Not Disturb in the evening and putting daily YOU time on your calendar.

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Spiritual. You’ve had time to think. You may have finally touched on what makes you tick, your meaning and purpose. We’re all here for a reason but that reason is not to please. What’s brings meaning to your life?

Allow yourself to reboot and do the three-step process for goal setting I wrote about in December. If you did it then, allow yourself to revisit the goals with your new consciousness. Open yourself up to indentifying who you are beyond labels like “mother and wife” or your job title.

It’s not easy to push back when “should” and the “musts” start piling up again. We’ve all been altered by the experience of our first pandemic. If you’re looking for a safe space and additional guidance in cfrafting your post pandemic plan, please check out my upcoming retreat by clicking here. The Deep Health: How We Rebound Physically, Mentally and Spiritually retreat may be just the getaway you need to find your why when you can’t go back to the way it was.

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