SS 276 – 5 Pillars In the Time of COVID-19

Episode 276 Show Notes


This week, Grant and Heavey chat about COVID-19.  This is not a medical episode, rather this episode touches on how to maintain your 5 pillars of health during these uncertain times.   

Stress management, nutrition, fitness, sleep and relationships- we’ll cover all the bases with strategies to maintain both physical and mental health in 2020.

[07:30] Who is Patient 31? And Why You Should Follow the Rules

South Korea was super fast to act on coronavirus. They have contained the outbreak to just 30 people. Then the 31st person became affected who came down with a fever. But instead of following the self-quarantine recommendation, they continued to attend church and ate at a communal buffet, and going about their regular routine.

Eventually, hundreds of people belonging to that church tested positive. Many of them continued to attend services beyond that. As of this recording, there have now been over 8,000 cases in South Korea with over 80 deaths. More than 80% of those cases can be traced back to patient 31 and this church cluster. 

So if you’re a “Spring Breaker” and don’t understand why you should be giving up Spring Break at this time, that’s why. You could be completely asymptomatic and still be highly contagious and contribute to a massive spread just like Patient 31 in South Korea.

[09:10] The 1st Pillar: Exercise

Unfortunately, the gym is not a great place to be right now. Many cities have shut down gyms. All gyms are going to be hurting financially. Some gyms are now renting out their equipment to their members so they’ve got stuff to use at home. 

This is a cool idea to help support your local gym. Secondly, you can get some equipment on-hand that will help you maintain some fitness.

Moreover, everything is sold out as people are trying to get stuff. If gym owners would have their equipment rented out, you’re providing a third benefit for your client, especially if they don’t have access to purchasing equipment they want to use right now.

[12:25] How You Can Improvise If You Don’t Have a Home Gym Equipment

If you don’t have gym equipment at your home, there are plenty of things that fall outside the conventional way that we think about fitness equipment. You probably have cement or cinder blocks around the house. There’s a ton of cinder block workout videos you can watch.

Think about some things you’ve got around your house that are heavy and find a way to incorporate that into your exercise.

[15:00] Will I Be Losing My Strength?

If you’re adjusting from squatting super heavyweight at your gym to coming home and having light dumbbells or only doing bodyweight training, accept there’s a chance you’re going to lose some strength. 

But that’s okay. Strength can come back and it usually comes back quickly. The only way to really maintain strength over time is to be able to continue to lift heavy. If you can go outside your traditional way of thinking and find some heavy objects around the house, find a way to make it work; otherwise, let it go.

[15:48] Will I Lose Muscle Mass Too?

All that being said, that doesn’t mean you have to lose muscle mass. You can build muscle mass at a much lighter weight than you need to build strength. That could be a very important focus for people in their training, transitioning to working from home. 

Switch your movements from back squat to goblet squat. You can do a 50-pound goblet squat with a rep range of 10-15 or even 20. These rep ranges can still help develop muscle. Focus on what you’re able to do right now. 

Once you transition out of this, you can go back to a period of heavy barbells and be well-equipped to build back absolute strength quickly. 

[17:18] Other Variations You Can Do

Another variation is switching from two sides to one. Instead of doing goblet squats  you can do a split squat or rear-leg elevated split squat.

You can also modify the tempo to make your movements more challenging. For example, go from 12 reps of your 50-pound dumbbell of goblet squats to doing pause squats. Take it slow, lower down to the bottom of your squat and pause down there for three seconds. Then come back up. Or, try one and a quarter squats where you squat down, come up slightly, back down, then all the way back up. 

There are so many ways to make movements more challenging if you have some weights around the house.

[18:40] Prioritize Holes in Your Fitness

Focus on your limitations so that once you get back into the gym, those are corrected and you can hit your strength even harder than it was before. You could be having problems with your mobility so you can do mobility work. 

There are people who turn their nose up at bodyweight stuff but there’s some really hard shit you can do with just bodyweight.

[21:45] Things to Consider Buying

The equipment available on Amazon is challenging and people are making a run on it. The supply chains will even out over time. Plus, there might be some stuff available at your local shops. So if you still have access to those places, then you’ve got an option to buy them.

Consider buying a doorway pull-up bar. You can get a lot of stuff done out of it. You can also get some dumbbells, resistance bands, and a TRX suspension system.

[25:05] 2nd Pillar: Nutrition

Cutting calories may not be the best thing to do at this time because your focus right now is to prioritize immune function as much as you can. 

If you really want to lose weight at this point, it’s fine. But you probably should not go through an aggressive weight loss phase right now. Otherwise, it would be a big stress on your body when you’re trying to stay healthy.

[25:55] Cook Your Own Meals!

It’s a great opportunity for people who traditionally eat out to take the time to cook their own meals. You can get fast food properly or have food delivered. 

That’s because you have extra time. The time you would have spent commuting or driving before, you can now spend in the kitchen.

Conversely, the economic and financial impacts of this crisis are going to be just as damaging in the long-term as the health impact as the service and restaurant industries. A lot of them are going to try to make it through this hard time. 

You can make use of food delivery as you still need to eat and at least they’re able to keep a bit of their money flowing. Another way to support them is to buy gift cards you can use in the future. 

This is a great time to refine your cooking skills! Make bread or try a new recipe. Try to figure out how to cook healthy foods in a yummy way. Experimentation is key right now and it’s fun!

If you’ve got some random protein and you don’t have any idea what to do with them, email [email protected] and he’ll be happy to share ideas with you!

[30:55] Are You Snacking Too Much?

Traditionally, working from home leads to you getting up and snacking out of boredom more often than you should. Instead of going straight to snacking, maybe grab a glass of water. If you’re still hungry, then maybe have a snack.

Make sure too that the snacks you have are not something you’d be having a hard time controlling yourself around. Eat low-calorie items like fruits and vegetables. 

On the flip side, you could still enjoy some treats while you’re working at home. But, make this a special moment. Put your computer aside to enjoy and savor that moment. This enables you to have a snack and take a break. Taking a break is one of the hardest things for some people. This is where mindfulness comes in.

[35:45] 3rd Pillar: Stress

We’re all under the same stresses right now. What’s going on is unprecedented! A big problem that people have here is obsessing over the news. It’s important to stay up to date, especially with how quickly things are changing. But if all you’re doing is spending time refreshing news sources and social media, this is a good way to drive yourself crazy.

Check the news once a day but don’t obsess over it because it’s going to be harmful to your mental health. 

Learning to cope with stress is a skill. If it feels like you’re slipping and stress is taking a toll, think about one way each day that you can address something. 

For instance, take steps toward improving your own capacity to handle stress. Heavey recommends the book, A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy.

Just check in the news once a day but don’t obsess over it because it’s going to be really harmful to your mental health. 

Reach out to your insurance to see what’s available for emotional support. There are companies that offer emotional support. It’s hard to find therapists so you might want to check with your insurance as well.

[41:14] The 4th Pillar: Sleep

Sleep is definitely important for immune function. It’s therefore worth prioritizing this pillar. Don’t stay up late watching TV or on your devices because that will impair your sleep quality. If you’re outside of your job and new to working from home, find a routine to stick with so you can maintain good sleep hygiene. 

Again, prioritize sleep. Get a good routine going with getting to bed on time and waking up at regular hours. Don’t let that stuff slide and you’ll continue to have good sleep practices that will help support your immune system and help you stay healthy.

[42:30] The 5th Pillar: Human Interaction

The perfect way to satisfy this is to bond and have fun with your friends and have a good chat over Skype or whatever and stay connected with them. Have a remote game night or have a Netflix party where you can stream a movie with your friends together.

It’s awesome to feel a moment of normalcy to laugh and joke and step away from the computer and stop working. A lot of people are adjusting to this new reality. 


If you’ve got some random protein and you don’t have any idea what to do with them, email [email protected] and he’ll be happy to share ideas with you!

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William Braxton Irvine

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