Pictured above is Mel Fontenot, owner of Mel’s Total Fitness 4 Women, as she demonstrates a home work out routine while her gym is closed. (Photo courtesy of Mel Fontenot)
Stretching the limits
While the pandemic of COVID-19 has caused gyms to close all over the country, staying healthy and fit while being homebound can be tricky. The stress of dealing with a new way of life can cause you to turn to junk food or become a bit lazy when out of routine. However, there are plenty of things you can do at home to keep healthy, which will benefit not only your body, but your mind, too.
Mel Fontenot, owner of Mel’s Total Fitness 4-Women for nearly 10 years, shared her tips for staying healthy during COVID-19. When asked what are some of the ways people can keep healthy, Fontenot said, “While stuck at home, this is an opportunity to focus on you!” She said water intake and eating enough, especially green vegetables, is important. “Believe it or not, this goes hand in hand with our mood.”
Right she is, because a study conducted at Harvard Medical School linked the our gastrointestinal tract’s influence on our moods. The article, published November 2015 on Harvard Health Publishing by Eva Selhub, MD, said, “Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain. Since about 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract, and your gastrointestinal tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons, it makes sense that the inner workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food, but also guide your emotions.”
Selhub went on to say scientists have found the risk of depression is between 25% and 35% lower in people who follow a traditional Mediterranean or Japanese diets which are high in fruits, vegetables, and fish, rather than a Western diet which is high in processed foods and sugar. Mediterranean and Japanese diets also allow for modest portions of lean meat and dairy, whereas Western diets consume more dairy and fatty meat. Western diets tend to enhance inflammation, which can greatly alter one’s mood.
Selhum suggests eating a “‘clean’ diet for two to three weeks — that means cutting out all processed foods and sugar. See how you feel. Then slowly introduce foods back into your diet, one by one, and see how you feel.” She added, “When some people ‘go clean,’ they cannot believe how much better they feel both physically and emotionally, and how much worse they then feel when they reintroduce the foods that are known to enhance inflammation.”
Besides changing eating patterns, exercise is another great mood-booster. Fontenot said jumping jacks is a great way to “get your blood pumping! You don’t have to do 100. Start off with 10 and increase daily. Most important is to exercise correctly so as not to injure yourself.” She also suggested doing squats, but to make sure to do them correctly or you could injure your knees. “Be cautious and listen to your body!” She added “Practicing simple Yoga can do wonders for the mind and body with stretching and breathing techniques.”
Fontenot said making a schedule to commit to a daily exercise routine is important, as is preparing healthy snacks ahead of time. “If junk food isn’t in your cabinets, you can’t be tempted!” She has healthy recipes on her Mel’s Total Fitness 4-Women Facebook page. Here is one of those recipes:
1 packet Fiesta Ranch Mix
1 can of Black beans
1 can Corn
1 block Cream Cheese
1 can of Ro-tel
Put Chicken , Fiesta mix, black beans, corn, Ro-tel, cream cheese in the crock-pot. Don’t drain the cans. Cover with lid. Cook on high 4 to 6 hours.
Serving suggestion: over Spanish rice, tortillas, or Romaine lettuce