Learning Through the Pandemic

I hope today finds everyone healthy, enjoying summer, and both training for and achieving peak performances. Today I’d like to recognize that we are all still in this ever-evolving situation regarding the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic and offer some perspectives on lessons that we may have learned, or should have learned, from this crisis.

#1 First of all, we are all in this together and we absolutely have to respect, love, and care for each other.
Regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status or other factors, people are equal. We are all in this world, this life, and this pandemic together. Divisiveness, hate and ignorance reduce our potential, detract from the quality of life that everyone deserves, and ultimately proves or solves nothing. We must communicate, act, and live with the well-being and dignity of every human as a priority.
#2 Gyms are awesome, but training at home has gained a whole new and much needed level of appreciation.
I love gyms. I love the spacious (usually) environment in which to train, the variety of equipment and conditioning options, the communal as well as competitive environment, and many other features.But training at home can work. Sure, there may need to be some compromise and creativity, but our world was flooded with lots of great ideas and suggestions on how you can work out at home both effectively and economically. The gym industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, but it will eventually rebound, no doubt with some altered morphology, and this we will celebrate. But seeing more people realize that they can train at home, and be more consistent…is a hidden benefit of our current situation. In the end, we need more people being healthy, fit, and peak-performing, and this greater awareness of getting there from home base is a gift.
#3 When you boil it all down, life gets pretty simple. Family, friends, and simplicity win the day.
This was a message we all knew, but benefitted from the reminder and reinforcement. Slowing down, doing one thing at a time, and identifying the Big Rocks of Life has been good for all of us. The forced reduction in hustle, bustle, stress, and multitasking BS has awakened the world to what quality of life really is, and why being productive is better than being just plain busy. Spending time with loved ones, and strengthening our close relationships, has always been important. It’s possible that point is less lost on the world right now.
#4 Health has always been important, but a much greater emphasis on it has been given light, and risk of severe illness and death are inversely correlated to one’s health.
Ostensibly, one of the great gifts of the pandemic has been to get everyone thinking and or asking, how can I become and stay healthier? The focus on quality nutrition, optimal sleep, and stress management has become much more commonplace than in 2019…across the population as a whole. Even among Lifetime Athletes, my clients, I’m finding it easier to get across the point and value of a health-first approach to athletic performance. Data is beginning to accumulate which supports our observations and anecdotal experiences. What seems like the no-brainer, well-duh, Captain Obvious statement that the healthier you are, the less likely you are to have severe consequences from this or any other virus exposure…is echoing loudly across the world.
#5 Metabolic health,  particularly with regard to insulin resistance and inflammation, is getting the attention it deserves.
What we are really understanding is that health, in all it’s categories, is most accurately represented by metabolic function. When our systems, and entire beings, are operating properly, we experience good insulin control, minimal to modest glycemic variability, and relatively low levels of glycation, oxidation, and inflammation. This improves organ, blood vessel, and tissue health, as well as cognitive function and moods. Obviously, all the things I mentioned previously come into play, such as smart training, sound nutrition, good sleep, and flow-state relationships and existence. But the factor getting perhaps the most attention with regard to metabolic health is packaged, processed junk food intake, or more accurately the avoidance of the so-called Evil Triad. The three-pack is the unholy trinity of excess sugar (we can handle a little, just not the high, chronic levels in the Standard American Diet), industrial seed and nut oils (corn, canola, cottonseed, soybean, safflower, sunflower, peanut), and processed grains (food-like substances that come in the form of white powders like cocaine and which turn to beige glop when left in water).  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…the human is a durable beast. Small amounts of any one of the Evil Triad will be tolerated by our metabolisms and pose no real harm. This of course varies with individual genetic and even epigenetic or lifestyle influences. But have lots of those things (for long enough), particularly if all combined together (think cake, cookies, chips, etc.) and a very unique, sinister thing happens to the metabolism. We become insulin-resistant, highly inflamed creatures whose immune function is both less efficient and more likely to explode with a cytokine storm in the presence of viral infection. This is the very reason why the press is often perplexed by the death of seemingly healthy, fit people with a COVID-19 infection. They looked healthy on the outside but they were less so on the inside. Mainstream medicine is sluggish in understanding and promoting this information, but it is indeed happening.
#6 Remote work…WORKS…in many cases, and we are no longer in the realm of early adoption.
And, at least for now, the pandemic has actually forced change in the worldwide workforce. Decentralization and remote work has experienced a massive upswing and this is largely a positive. I’m not suggesting that remote work has the potential to replace all the iterations of occupation and industry, nor have I ever made such a statement. We absolutely need many aspects of the service and manufacturing industries, among others, to return to pre-pandemic conditions. But for many workers, part or even all of what they do can be done from home or from an appropriately designed remote office. It is now becoming rapidly understood that much knowledge-based work can be performed and delivered cheaper, faster, and in some cases better than using antiquated models.

If I boil it all down…I want to say this: I want to be HARD TO KILL. I want to live a long, happy, healthy life, filled with success and joy, and I want to be as athletic and peak performing as possible. I want the same thing for you and everyone else, and I hope you share in that sentiment. If you like these messages…join me in the Lifetime Athlete tribe and subscribe to this blog, the podcast, and the YouTube channel. Consider getting some online coaching in peak performance, movement analysis and injury solutions, and body composition. And show your pride in the tribe by snagging some TLA products such as shirts, hats, water bottles and more, with HARD TO KILL, UNLEASH THE BEAST, and other key inspirational messages. As always thank you for being with me today. I appreciate you and I love you all. Coach JZ out.

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