Dr. Chad Sato
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
In last month’s article, I shared the importance of fortifying, bolstering and maintaining a strong immune system. Achieving a prepared mindset to deal with whatever situations that COVID-19 presents is also essential during these uncertain and unsettling times. With this second lockdown over, more and more people are venturing out; small businesses are questioning why the government’s rules for them to reopen and operate are so confusing. Everyone including myself had attempted to make sense of all the bizarre mandates. All beaches, parks, and hiking trails initially were closed off, even though they were outdoors? Back then, you could go to all these places, but you had to be alone – though you were with your family and loved ones everyday in your home? And now it’s changed to groups of five outside?
Given these nonsensical mandates, I wanted to give wellness tips for your physical wellbeing in order for you to maintain mental and emotional stability. Taking care of your physical needs is another essential element in establishing being centered and well.
Physical Exercise/Purposeful Movement
With the closing of the gyms, finding an exercise or body movement routine is essential. After the first lockdown, my workout gym closed, so I chose to relax and not do much physical exercise. But after a couple of months, I gained the “COVID+19” pounds. I’m not sure how many of you fell into this pattern, but I certainly did. I soon found my work pants and day-to-day shorts becoming tight; I felt literally like a sausage. Finally, after two months and my “fat” pants on the verge of being fitted, I decided enough was enough.
One month before the first extended lockdown ended, I proceeded to work out at home to get back into some shape before I went back into the gym. I wanted to be ready when the gym reopened, so I proceeded to build up my cardiovascular health by doing some High Intensive Interval Training exercises. If intense workouts are not your thing, you can incorporate some daily stretching (10-15 minutes) or brisk walking (15-30 minutes), or practice tai chi or yoga with online instruction. You can even set an alarm every hour or two to remind yourself to get up and move a bit and stretch. Every little bit helps.
The next essential physical wellbeing booster is restful sleep. Before COVID-19, my usual morning wake-up routine was rising at 5 a.m. in order to meditate for 15 to 30 minutes, then dashing off to my gym to work out from 5:45 to 7 a.m. During the lockdown, however, I slept in until 7 a.m., which was like a treat after my 10-year routine of starting with those early mornings. I realized another important element of wellness was adequate amounts of sleep.
A lot of research studies have shown the importance of getting anywhere between eight to 10 nightly hours of sleep. The American Sleep Association resolutely recommends the importance of sleep, citing that close to 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from insomnia. The Mental Health Foundation discovered that, “[P]eople who didn’t get enough sleep were four times more likely to suffer from lack of concentration, relationship problems, and three times more likely to be depressed, and 2.6 times more likely to commit suicide.”
Heart health is also directly impacted by lack of sleep, leading to higher blood pressure and an increased likelihood of a heart attack and stroke. Weight gain and increased risk of obesity have also been linked to lack of sleep. Additionally, a person’s lifespan is impacted, and the all-important immune system is adversely affected, by lack of sleep.
Last, but not least, is your diet. What you put into your mouth is just as important as the thoughts you entertain.
Besides getting back to a consistent workout regimen and more restful sleep, I decided to clean up my diet as well. Over the first two months of the COVID-19 lockdown, I wasn’t very disciplined and became lax with what I was eating. The first thing I did was a three-day detox, where I rebooted my gut with probiotic supplements and ate very cleanly, with certain vegetables and fruits – eliminating fish, soy products, refined wheat and sugar. After the detox, I made a concerted effort to cut down on rice, pasta and bread; managed my portion sizes; and most importantly, listened to what my body felt like eating. I like to call it intuitive eating: truly checking in with what makes my body feel light and vibrant after eating.
I also made sure I had a cheat day, where I could eat whatever I wanted. The one caveat of cheat day was to not judge what I ate, but to truly enjoy the bread, ice cream or fried rice that I craved. I discovered that you must find the diet that works for you. Some people’s bodies respond better to a vegan diet, others a ketogenic diet, and yet others, a mix of the two. No two people are alike, so it is essential to find the food and diet that work best for your body.
In a family household, this may be a challenge, but honoring what foods work best for you, instead of eating what everyone else is eating, can make all the difference. Also, despite the timing of family meals, choose to eat on your timeline; know if you are a multiple-small-meal eater or a three-meal-a-day eater.
Taking care of your physical wellbeing and the needs of your body is essential in helping to keep a balanced mental and emotional state. Body movement and circulating the blood flow help release endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers. To deal with the constant messages of fear circulated in the media, make sure you have restful sleep so your body can repair during the night, making your own safety vital. Choosing to eat foods that agree with your body’s needs can go a long way to insure that, instead of your body working harder to digest the foods you eat, you will have more energy and vitality to deal with the challenge of being restricted by the government’s latest order. Staying consistent and taking care of yourself will boost your immune system, which is essential to keeping high your resilience to COVID-19.
Dr. Chad Sato graduated from UCLA in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and earned the Doctor of Chiropractic degree with honors from Life Chiropractic College West in 1998. Sato founded his practice, Aloha Chiropractic (alohachiro.biz), in Mänoa valley, O‘ahu, on Oct. 1, 1999. He is a sought-after educator, speaker, author and mind-body specialist who helps people reach new levels of empowerment when it comes to their health and wellness by staying present with their body signs, making appropriate life choices and utilizing stress instead of managing it.
This column is not intended to replace the advice of a physician. All the statements and viewpoints expressed in this column represent the general opinion of the author. They should not be considered scientific advice or diagnoses for individual patients. Please consult a competent medical professional for expert advice about your own health condition.