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Grind Guilt in Quarantine

We all have nothing to do all day. Absolutely nothing. 

Except – scroll through Instagram, eat five meals and walk past all the mirrors in our homes at least three times a day. 

What began as a few weeks cooped up has turned into months of shelter in place with no real end in sight. We are couch cushion warriors fighting this pandemic with a bowl of popcorn in our laps and a remote in our hands. 

For some, social distancing is a dream: no bra, no talking, sweatpants 24/7 and scrambled eggs with a side of hot cheetos for dinner. 

For others, this is creating a negative and anxiety filled space, where they can’t go to the gym or work out with buddies. Not to mention making it more than difficult than ever to stick to any sort of normal eating schedule. 

I see social media posts everyday advocating for self care and letting yourself be OK with doing less and eating more during a time of uncertainty and panic. For every one of those posts, I see five others sending the opposite message. 

Instagram fitness babes are posting at home workouts everyday and urging notes of “motivation” telling people to use this time to kick-start their weight loss or stay on track for their “summer bod.”

Quarantine has exposed the toxic cracks in the fitness and diet culture. Problems with body image and eater's remorse in those who take the health grind seriously has become an entire movement on social media in the past few weeks. 

In a time where health is at the forefront of conversation, those who base their health off Instagram grind culture are putting their mental health at risk.

Right now, mental health is just as important as physical health. Why? Because we’re going to need major mental endurance to ride this wave, especially when the crash into shore lies  beyond the horizon. 

Taking a step back from what your normal picture of physical fitness and health looks like is crucial. This doesn’t mean to stop taking walks outside or eating healthy foods; it just means you need to let go of the sweaty gym sessions and let yourself eat comfort food every once in a while so you can avoid dying of boredom. 

Letting yourself have a forgiving mindset is the right thing, but I’m not immune to the grind guilt either. 

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My sister is an avid fitness and health junkie. She works at a Corepower studio on the weekends just to get a discounted membership, and Whole Foods is one of her happy places. So naturally, four times a week, she sets up circuit workouts in the backyard for our entire family. 

Weights, resistance bands, yoga mats and some makeshift gym equipment are laid out in a circle and accompanied by a piece of paper with a designated exercise. There’s a designated workout playlist. It’s literally in my backyard, so I have no “excuse” not to do it. 

Please note: We are one of those families who runs the 5K races on Thanksgiving. We are not normal. 

For the three days my sister doesn’t set up the workout circuits, she invites me to do online fitness classes with her. It’s free, and she likes to do it in my room. No excuse. 

But, here’s my point; you don’t need an excuse not to work out. 

You don’t.

You can just not want to. You can be sore from yesterday and give your body a rest. You can want to binge watch Tiger King instead of throwing down a yoga mat. You can just not feel like it. 

The same goes for food. My mom and sister, who are the primary cooks of the home, make healthy dinners. They’re awesome and tasty and they make me feel good. But I still eat dessert and have several handfuls of Taki’s everyday. 

Sometimes I feel bad about it, and that’s OK, too. You just need to remind yourself that balance is key, and on the days where you lean more toward one way than the other, that’s fine, too. 

We all just need to learn to cut ourselves a break and, occasionally, a piece of cake.

 

wolffrg@miamioh.edu

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