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Gina Cousineau

By Gina Cousineau, aka Mama G

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world faced other issues, including the mental health crisis and significant chronic diseases that have led to life-altering disabilities and deaths and are still major challenges that make us more vulnerable to this virus.

While we acclimate to social distancing, wearing masks in public and working/schooling from home, many are still fighting the very things that can help us counter this disease and its harmful effects—our food and exercise choices.

While our busy lives typically kept us away from family and friends, along with focusing on our health, this pandemic halted life as we knew it, exacerbating these issues. With the opportunity to plan visits with loved ones currently taken away in the attempt to “flatten the curve,” we now long for those connections.

Kids will be the first to admit that snow days, or other scenarios, that might have kept them out of school for a day or two, were the best surprises ever. But after weeks of being forced to stay home, with video games no longer taboo and bedtimes eased, they miss their friends and their routines.

Human beings crave schedules and some sense of normalcy. From an early age, we seem to thrive by establishing habits that provide structure to our lives. Pre-COVID, we saw the overscheduling of activities, paired with overconsumption of social media, increasing anxiety and depression across the board.

As we combine this current crucible with establishing a new normal in so many areas in our lives, I will once again challenge you to consider moving toward a healthier approach with your food and fitness routines. It is the perfect time for change.

As a nutrition and fitness professional, I have had the opportunity in the past few months to engage with people who previously didn’t have “time” to consider their nutrition and exercise pre-COVID—and for that, I could not be more thrilled.

So much of what I do with my clients involves psychology, the human mind and its attachment to food, as well as physiology—how the body reacts to the food it is provided. Before quarantine, many of my clients’ struggles with life’s daily challenges had them running to food to feel better. But as the public health crisis creates additional uncertainty, all bets are off, and using food and other substances for comfort is at an all-time high.

In life, we generally did a good job of directing our individual paths, but when obstacles get in our way, too many of us don’t have the tools to maneuver around them. This is where I talk about “controlling that which we can control.”

We can decide to use food, not only for comfort, enjoying every morsel we put in our mouths, but also to drive our health. We can also choose to move our bodies in some capacity daily, improving our health in this way, as well.

It is not all or none; it is about “some.” Some healthy habits are better than none, and there is no better time than now, since most of us have it in abundance right now.

So instead of waiting till Monday to start that new diet, depriving yourself of select food groups and restricting calories, I challenge you to do the following:

  • Drink more water
  • Get more quality sleep
  • Exercise each day (cardio, mobility, strength)
  • Practice stress reduction (yoga, meditation)
  • Eliminate soda (regular or diet)
  • Say no to non-nutritive sweeteners (Splenda, stevia, aspartame, saccharin, etc.)
  • Stop purchasing highly processed foods

Gina Cousineau works with clients virtually and is offering her services at no charge during the pandemic. Her extensive education with a BS in dietetics and MS in integrative and functional nutrition, chef training, and more than 30 years as a fitness professional, allow her to help clients with finding a practical nutrition that works for their lifestyle. You can reach her at, 949.842.9975, and on Instagram and Facebook @mamagslifestyle.

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