Coronavirus: NI weight loss mentor discusses how to stay fit and healthy during a pandemic

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When people in Northern Ireland were ordered to stay at home in the interests of the nation’s health, it posed a conflicting conundrum for those who consider themselves to be the most healthy among the population.

Sporting activities have shut down, as have gyms and leisure centres, and while outdoor activities such as running, walking and cycling are permitted, it is strictly on a solo basis and not more than once a day.

In terms of healthy diet, those is search of goji berries and quinoa don’t have the same freedom to peruse the supermarket aisles for desired ingredients for their next superfood salad.

And while hot food takeaways and off licences have been spared closure, juice bars and outdoor gyms did not escape the cull.

Staying fit and healthy was never easy, but it just got an awful lot harder.

Lurgan man Geoff Gates, who has created the Limitless weight loss programme, believes people shouldn’t use lockdown as an excuse to adopt a poor diet and exercise routine.

He said: “The Limitless philosophy has always been that the only reason people get stuck in a rut is because of their limiting beliefs. If you feel good through proper nutrition and smart exercise, you will naturally be drawn towards better lifestyle choices.”

At times of great stress, for many diet often goes out the window.

Geoff shared his advice on how to eat well during a crisis: “The issue here is we need to be not using food to combat stress but instead, tackle the stress head-on, that’s the first step.

“I get all my clients to start practising meditation immediately. When I first suggest meditation to someone, they often wonder if I’m joking or being serious. It’s not some hippy-dippy woo-woo thing, this is a proper prescription. They often report profound changes almost immediately.”

Geoff said that having been overweight and depressed himself helped him to create Limitless: “There is gold in the depths of despair, and I count my experience as a blessing now. Without my personal struggle, I could never have developed the techniques to create the best weight loss programme in the world.”

He said in terms of nutrition it was important to focus on quality food: “Broccoli is especially good for the lungs and its funny that it looks like a lung, just like walnuts a great for brain health they look like a little brain. As bizarre as this may sound, I believe our creator has provided us with clues.”

Geoff said the current situation makes it even more important to make shopping lists, especially now that visits to the shops are meant to be limited.

He commented: “There are always ways to make healthy food convenient food. We all own a freezer, so it’s just a matter of being a little bit smart and preparing ahead.

“I advise my coaching clients to buy freezer bags then put all the ingredients together in the bag and use as and when they need them.”

In terms of exercise he said: “I don’t think it’s been more relevant to use our time to focus on our health and fitness. The most used excuse I have heard continuously through my 15 years in the fitness industry was that people didn’t have time. Now we have an abundance of it.

“So now you have plenty of time the next excuse will be that you don’t have the equipment. I refuse to hear it.

“The simple truth is we don’t need gyms and never have needed them. The way I see it is the gyms have been a luxury, not a necessity.

“The misconception is that you cannot get strong, fit and healthy without one – the truth being you can get the same results with just your good self, become your own gym.”

He added: “If I was going to advise on one piece of home equipment it would be an adjustable set of dumbbells.

He suggested a quickfire lockdown workout could include 10 bodyweight squats, 10 star jumps, 20 straight punches, 20 upper cuts, 10 push ups and 20 mountain climbers.

He said those conscious of social distancing could exercise earlier to avoid encountering other people: “I have always got up at 5am to train so when I am out running in the morning, there is no one about. For me, being outside when no one is around is perfectly acceptable. We need fresh air.”

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