Early on in COVID, I decided I was going to develop a routine of quarantine workouts. I had big plans of running or walking each day, doing yoga and lifting weights. Then we rescued a dog. I got laid off. Time got away from me. Before I knew it, two months had gone by and the most exercise I’d gotten was taking the dogs for short walks.
Then a strange thing happened. I got crazy one day and stepped on the sale. I’d lost 12 pounds! I hadn’t even been trying, so I was surprised. When most people get sick, they stop eating; me, I eat. When I get stressed though, my insides get stressed, too, and I cut back on food.
I hadn’t really been stressed….at least not that I thought? I had been worried during the week our new dog got spayed. I’d missed quite a bit of sleep for a week. I also was adjusting with life after layoff. Missing my kids that didn’t live with us. Adjusting to not just lockdown, but being a stay-at-home mom making no real monetary contribution.
Apparently it got my metabolism moving and my appetite down, and I dropped 12 of the 20 pounds I’d been wanting to lose. Then the scale stopped moving. In fact, it even went up three or four pounds, depending on the week. I finally stopped weighing myself and decided to worry about other, more important things.
Then one morning I woke up and felt bloated. Tired. I hadn’t slept well and I felt like a slug. My morning walks were enjoyable but I still wasn’t noticing any further difference in how my clothes felt. I reached out to my daughter, a student in the nutrition field and a health coach. She gave me some new food plans and made suggestions on some workouts. She also reminded me that maybe I was being too hard on myself, that maybe I needed to not focus on the scale but how I felt. Wise words for us all.
Going forward from there, I tried to worry less about dropping one more size in my shorts, and more about feeling stronger, feeling more energetic, and feeling happier with myself. Stronger and energetic are easy to gauge, but happiness with ourselves is something that’s different for everyone.
For me, that meant tackling a few spots on my body that I felt less confident about. I have a broader upper body — broad shoulders and big upper arms, courtesy of years doing push-ups (starting in Army basic training) and then not doing push-ups, so my muscles lacked tone. They bug me. I also didn’t like the way my backside looked in jeans. Vain? Maybe, but nonetheless, reality.
After seven pregnancies, resulting in four live births, including two c-sections, my abs had been through the wars. I had diastasis after the first two deliveries, and it took a long time to get that fixed. A few more pregnancies, more saggy muscles. I worked hard to develop a strong core, but it requires effort to keep it that way…and I had not put in that effort.
Now it was time to put in the work. Having officially reached that ‘midlife’ stage, it takes more than quarantine workouts though. I can’t jump on a fad diet and expect it to make me lose weight AND be healthier. It takes effort. Consistency. It takes making time for yourself. It takes being realistic and working with that window of time you can feasibly do, and having it be an activity you enjoy enough to do frequently.
That’s why my daughter gave me a schedule of workouts that I could stick with, based on my fitness goals and current weight. We started it on the same week, along with healthier eating, allowing for accountability. If you’ve got someone to work out with or talk about your current efforts with, you’ll find the whole process easier.
Quarantine Workouts for the Rest of Us
I see a lot of grandiose ideas of fitness, next-level training and great things, but not everyone can do that. Not everyone wants to do that. Equipment. Space. Time. Lots of reasons. Here’s my fitness workout routine that feels realistic for busy and/or working moms and others just trying to stay fit and active.
Three days a week I do HIIT workouts.
Two days a week I do strength training.
The other two days? I do cardio in the form of a walk. Some yoga. Hiking.
HIIT workouts at home are a game changer! Have you tried them?
You’ll have a series of 4-6 moves, with or without weights. You’ll do your first move for 30-45 seconds, take a break for 10-30 seconds, then move onto the next move and so forth. Go through 3-4 series of these moves, for a total of 15-25 minutes, and you’re done! You’ll have burned a good amount of calories, raised your metabolism and pushed your muscles.
Sound easy? It does — but it’s also misleading, because when you really push yourself, even the easiest of moves gets harder as you go on. The good news is that the moves don’t need to be difficult. They don’t need to strain you or hurt. The act of getting your heart rate up, then lowering back down, over and over, is what does the work!
And, you’ll have worked out your whole body in a very short period of time!
I love HIIT workouts at home. They are the perfect quarantine workouts, because there’s a huge selection of moves to choose from. I even did one last week that was done along to Disney movie music! If I like a workout, I can repeat it, but changing up your fitness routine is good for your body. It keeps your muscles working in new ways.
Keep in mind, you’re working at such max capacity that it shouldn’t be a breeze. You should be feeling it, and you WILL get sweaty. In fact, some will make you drippy sweaty, like, take off your glasses because they are sliding down your nose sweaty. Allot yourself enough time for a shower — you will need one!
Google “HIIT workouts at home” (for women or men, if you want it even more specific) and you’ll see so many to choose from, you won’t know where to start. Some HIIT workouts are lists of moves, most with demo photos, and others are videos. (I prefer videos, but sometimes the ads that are required by YouTube now can ad for a few seconds of breaks in between, so be prepared to have to hit the “Skip Ads” button a few times or you could lower your heart rate more than intended before you finish.)
Here are a few that I like:
Do you want your quarantine workouts to include weights? Some HIIT workout routines do use weights. Others use just your body weight and some use resistance bands. (This set <affiliate link> is the one I bought and I love them as they are elastic-fabric that don’t slip down: Covacure Resistance Bands.)
My strength workouts are broken into lower body or upper body, and on those days, I also throw in a few ab moves. A lot of the HIIT workouts do include planks or push-ups so you probably will already get in some core moves already during your week. If not, be sure to round it all out with leg lifts or other moves that will work on your abs.
I do hope to drop a few more pounds, but by being consistent with quarantine workouts, both HIIT and strength, I am seeing a difference! I also just feel better. I have less back pain, less bloat and more energy. I also sleep better. I can stay up until midnight happily reading or writing, fall asleep for most of the night and wake up refreshed. Usually. It isn’t foolproof, but it sure is better than before, when I was ready for bed by 9pm and up a few times tossing and turning throughout the night.
Be sure, whatever at home workout you attempt, check with your doctor and stay hydrated! We got a reverse osmosis system installed at the beginning of quarantine, since water bottle flats were hard to find and we knew we needed to cut back on waste anyway. Now I easily drink at least 100 oz of water per day. It’s been so worth the money!