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5 Tips for Staying Sane and Healthy During and After COVID-19

YPO member Jennifer Maanavi is the CEO and Co-founder of Physique 57, a fitness company with 13 studios in five countries and clients in 120 countries. It’s a business that is rapidly expanding, even more so since the emergence of COVID-19, which, says Maanavi, has really opened up some new opportunities to rethink the business model and ways to engage with consumers.  It’s a unique and optimistic take on the situation, especially from someone whose debut studio is in the epicenter of the coronavirus impact in the United States — New York City.

She recently offered some timely tips for maintaining health and wellness during the COVID-19 crisis.

Exercise frequently

Maanavi takes a very holistic approach to health and wellness. Exercise is, of course, important. In fact, she says, she considers it a necessity, while recognizing that others may have different philosophies about the importance and frequency of physical fitness in their lives. She points out that exercising every day (even if shortly) is better than a “three-times-a-week” approach. It is especially true while working from home, where your body doesn’t get as much movement as usual. In addition to exercise, though, there are other aspects of health and wellness that are equally important: meal preparation and nutrition, scheduling and preparing for the day, managing the household and children and just succeeding at life in general.

Prepare your  meals

With many people suddenly finding themselves needing to prepare more meals at home, planning and preparation is crucial to ensuring healthy eating and minimizing stress. Maanavi uses the early morning hours, when her family is still asleep, to plan meals. “I would suggest this to other people too — think about what your food is going to look like for the day,” Maanavi suggests. “It’s very hard to walk into the kitchen starving at 10 a.m. and start thinking about what you want to have for lunch.” The danger there, of course, is just grabbing whatever might be available even if it’s not the most nutritious choice.

“Thinking about your meals for the whole day is a lot better than being spontaneous,” she says.

Find alone time

It’s not easy to find time to prepare for the day, especially when juggling responsibilities that might include working a remote job, caring for children or older parents and simply handling an increased stress load because of the uncertainties we all find ourselves facing now.

“It’s really hard,” she acknowledges. “Some of the advice we’ve been giving to people is really just finding that alone time.” Maanavi finds her alone time early in the morning before the rest of the house wakes up.

During that time she’s also able to fit in a half-hour workout selecting from the more than 200 videos in the Physique 57 library as well as archived live classes available on Instagram for 24 hours after they’re presented.

Use the cutting board

The cutting board can play an instrumental role in helping to ensure a focus on nutrition, and it plays a large role in meal planning at Maanavi’s house. Why? “The first place you want to go is the cutting board, which means that you have to pick up some fruits or vegetables to slice up,” she says. That preparation can ensure that healthy choices are readily available when hunger strikes.

“Always go to the refrigerator before anything else — like the cabinets — because food in the refrigerator is more likely to be healthy,” Maanavi says.

Don’t get caught up in conventional meal definition

Maanavi eschews the idea that certain foods must be consumed at certain times of the day — like eggs for breakfast and ginger carrot soup for lunch or dinner. “One tip I would have as we’re all home and in our kitchens all day and thinking about our meal planning is to just throw away any preconceived notion you have about what should be breakfast, lunch, or dinner and just eat healthy food. You can have an omelet for dinner, and you can have a sandwich for breakfast.”

In these uncertain times, keeping up a positive outlook is more important than ever. Eating healthy food can contribute to that.  “The better food you eat, the more clarity you have in your thinking,” Maanavi says. “So much of our outlook and the way that we think is based on what we’re eating, what we’re doing and what we’re thinking.”

Even after the world returns to a semblance of normal, Maanavi says, “The fitness industry will not be the same.” But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  “There’s a lot of optimism out there,” she says. “I actually think it’s ultimately going to be stronger.” After having been through the experience of accessing and engaging with fitness classes differently, she says, some people might never go back to their old habits. Some may decide they want to come back into the live studio setting; others will continue to prefer accessing classes from the comfort and convenience of their homes. Maanavi’s goal: to meet client needs wherever they are.

A positive shift that Maanavi has seen since people have been largely confined to their homes, is that those who weren’t even working out before are now working out from home.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle — during good times and bad — is important for all of us.

To learn more health tips to stay sane during the COVID-19 pandemic, check out YPO presents Ask the Expert.

For more crisis leadership stories like these, check out the COVID-19: Leading Through Crisis page on YPO.org. All YPO members can find breaking news, offer insights and view current discussions happening about COVID-19 impact within the YPO community on the YPO member-only platform.

YPO is the global leadership community of more than 29,000 chief executives in 130 countries who are driven by the belief that the world needs better leaders. Each of our members have achieved significant leadership success at a young age. Combined, they lead businesses and organizations contributing USD 9 trillion in annual revenue. YPO members become better leaders and better people through peer learning and exceptional experiences in an inclusive community of open sharing and trust.