Some of your fitspos may not be as inspiring if they elected to be fully transparent about their reasons for movement during a pandemic.
Every morning for 34 days, I woke up and made up my bed. The sheets aren't always perfectly tucked into the corners and the pillows are unkempt. Despite the imperfections, my bed is always made before I brush my teeth, use the bathroom or turn off the lamp in my son's bedroom. COVID-19 stripped practically every norm that's in my routine and I've been trying to make peace with the obtrusive disruption placed in all of our lives.
Living in the heart of New York City doesn't make it easy for me to be an adventurer at this moment. I've followed indoor training plans from my coach and at times, deviate to create my own workouts. Many watched and gave me endless kudos. "Great work." "Powerhouse." "Outstanding." "Incredible work ethic." I've heard every compliment extended under the sun and at times, they're accompanied with questions or those seeking guidance on how I power through. I kindly remind people to do what they can and not to compare their motion to their counterparts, including me. It's hard to dissect my logic but your admiration might be of someone openly grieving and on auto pilot-- actually I am one of those people.
Quarantine Mental Olympics
Being a sponsored athlete changed my life in such a significant manner. Prior to the pandemic, my conversations revolved around work in fitness, travel plans, strategically weaving in adequate family time and training for upcoming races. When quarantine officially set in motion in New York City, I watched my travel schedule go on a fifteen minute cigarette break and leave without a two week notice. I made peace with Tokyo Marathon cancellations despite its last minute arrangements but I reserved optimism for the UA NYC Half until this too wasn't an option. Subsequently my Philadelphia races were canceled and rescheduled; other events followed suit with this same pattern. Some extended virtual options while others established an alternative date. Despite my crazy impulse to stagger races like a weekend warrior, too many are posing a scheduling conflict -- this is only if the pandemic is long gone by that point. Trying to make peace with a shitty situation, I found comfort in virtual events until some of my loved ones passed away from COVID-19. A schedule once filled with tourist spots to pursue my lactic acid induced plans is now replaced with ritualistic cleaning schedules to protect my family,
New York City is a hot spot for the pandemic considering we have favorable conditions to continue spreading this virus. Most people do not live in a private home like me. Thousands of NYC residents live in tiny apartments, possibly huddled up with a roommate. And if you're an essential - which most people are if working multiple jobs in this expensive city - commutes create sardine can environments on a public train if not commuting by taxi or cycling to your employer. Between conflicting media articles, a virus running rampant without an end date in sight and others with questionable hygienic practices, my level of paranoia increase by the day. A week into quarantine, panic attacks increased and reading rest in peace on my social media timeline became a trigger. Within a 30 day period, I lost several close friends and a handful of others that I heavily interacted with in my Instagram direct messages. I've been struggling with survivor's remorse for weeks, shifting the grieving process into being productive in any way possible.
It's been hard to reserve my inner commentary when someone tells me that they admire my grit for pressing forward. At times, movement is the only way that I can stop my brain from going to the wayside. I wish I could offer up a glamorous secret or be one of those nauseatingly positive people that pop up in your IG live streams every morning but I'm not. It's hard to admit that I'd be lost without a schedule filled with body weight workouts and indoor cycling. Running was already an obstacle course in a dense populated city and I'm expected to do this safely with maintaining at least six feet distance from another person. It's not impossible but sometimes I don't have the courage to walk out of the door without flinching or living inside of the depths of my imagination. If this was two months ago, someone may have chalked up my heightened state to suddenly becoming agoraphobic; COVID-19 makes the average person paranoid about a trip to the supermarket. One afternoon I attempted to run a 5K in my neighborhood and went into a crying fit because I couldn't find a street with little to no people on it; that was the last time I attempted an outdoor run above 3 miles.
"Within a 30 day period, I lost several close friends and a handful of others that I heavily interacted with in my Instagram direct messages."
Surviving Through Fitness and Beyond
Keeping my mind going requires for me to be physical. I managed to use my training schedule as a muse whenever I'm not cooking something on the stove. Signing up for virtual races are ways that I hold myself accountable beyond the thought of professional and fitness growth. If there's anything that I learned from years of depression is that I find it easy to stay in a dark space if I am stagnant for too long. Doing a virtual event looks impressive to some but for those who struggle like me, they understand that the real medal is in making yourself so productive that sleep comes on easy.
Because random panic attacks send my brain to an irrational state, I am strangely alert at night and cat napping during the day. Simple joys like spending an extra five minutes in the shower can send me into a downward spiral; I prefer to perform this task with my husband -- it keeps my mind from wandering. Grief makes me feel a bit manic and losing so many within a month's time scares me. Whatever illusion of control that I once had vanished once this pandemic made its rounds across the world.
Realistically I cannot workout for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week without risking overtraining; frankly it's not healthy nor do I desire to make this a regular practice. I remind myself to find other ways to cope with quarantine. Perhaps some of my approaches will be helpful for you:
Looking Beyond Appearances
Although I pride myself on being super transparent with people, it is impossible for me to lay out every part of my day and the rollercoaster ride that I experience daily. Sharing every panic attack, high and low on the internet would be annoyingly incessant and diminish the better moments throughout my day. Before the pandemic, most of us painted the pretty part of our lives without warning labels on social media or in our everyday interactions. When we see productive people on our timelines, we are often laden with the illusion that busy equivocates to happiness or strength -- sometimes it's survival. Some people are seeking that form of "real" from others, particularly public figures, on the internet. We don't want to feel like we're the only ones who are paralyzed from movement -- I have those days too. If I can leave you with anything, behind every pretty picture or elaborate production lies a layered story filled with details that others may never know. And if that person decides to open up to you to share those layers, respect their struggle and honesty.
Making up my bed each morning before I map out any of my other plans grants me a sense of hope. If I don't workout or create anything, I can hold onto a sense of accomplishment that I maintained control over one variable of my life and I did something. Breathing deliberately takes courage; movement requires more than physical strength and motivation.
CDC: Stress and Coping Through COVID-19
NEDA: National Eating Disorder Awareness and COVID-19
Women's Health: Home Workouts Replace Gyms Amidst Novel Coronavirus Pandemic
Psychology Today: Gratitude in a Time of Pandemic
TIME: Coronavirus Presents New Challenges for Those With Eating Disorders -- Here's How Survivors Are Seeking Out Support Online
Mashable: Joking about Weight During Social Distancing Isn't Helpful for Eating Disorder Recovery
HuffPost: Anyone in Eating Disorder Recovery Should Read This Coronavirus Advice
Eater: Stop Torturing Yourself With Quarantine Diets
Strava Stories: How to Approach Being Active During the COVID-19 Crisis
Latoya Shauntay Snell
For my pretentious ass bio, check out the about me page but for anyone interested in who I really am, make me a good meal at your house and I'll tell you a dope ass story.
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