“Sane and surviving” – the two words we hear most whilst in quarantine lockdown. The idea leaves much to be desired. But is the notion of ‘thriving’ during a global pandemic, in social isolation, trapped inside, even conceivable? Wanting to believe it so, we got to thinking about how we can look after our minds, bodies, and spirits, during this achingly challenging time.
After an evening of research, my partner Kosta and I placed orders with a few nearby Vancouver companies in a bid to both support local businesses and bolster ourselves against the exhausting effects of quarantine. As we went to bed at the normal time (routine is apparently an important aspect of keeping oneself ‘sane’ in a time of flux and uncertainty), I couldn’t help but lie in bed worrying about all of the uncertainty. Tossing and turning, unable to get comfortable, my mind whirred with worries for hours on end, and I woke the next morning feeling lost and forlorn – my ‘new normal’ state this Spring 2020.
Luckily, after two more mornings like this, our packages arrived and I knew I could begin to work on shifting this. Recognizing the importance of eating well and staying fit, Kosta and I had chosen to try a local meal delivery service called 2 Guys with Knives, founded by executive chef – Sergio Pereira from Brazil and Patrick Carr, fitness Guru from Vancouver. Sergio’s training at the culinary institute of Brazil, with Patrick’s role as a certified personal trainer and metabolic nutritionist means that these two guys are able to create perfectly combined macro-balanced, gluten free, ultra-healthy and lean meal combinations (all made from entirely local, sustainable produce no less). Entirely customizable (and at no extra cost), these 2 guys are able to deliver to your door personalized monthly menus to ensure you meet your fitness and weightloss goals – even whilst in quarantine.
After finishing up a weary pilates session, I stumbled my way to the kitchen where Kosta was opening up our beautifully packaged food hamper that had been left in the hallway (social distancing guys). He opened up two breakfast packages, a ‘Fancy Keto Pants’ and ‘Samurai Warrior’. Together we enjoyed a guilty free truffled mushroom and goat cheese frittata, served with oven baked turkey bacon, a plump tomato flower and green walnut pesto over a bead kale greens (the ‘Fancy Keto Pants’) and antioxidant packed crunchy matcha nut granola layered with oven roasted berries & protein stacked Greek yoghurt (the ‘Samurai Warrior’). Delicious, filling, and welcomingly low calorie with an obscene amount of protein per serving, my energy levels soared, and I felt ready to tackle some remote work.
At my quarantine ‘working from home desk’ (aka. The dining table) I prepared my work-station for the day by pulling out my new Saje Wellness ‘Aroma Om’ diffuser. Known for purifying and humidifying while infusing your air with the healing power of plants, this elegant white ceramic diffuser (redolent of a luxury ornament) releases negative ions to reduce dust, pet dander, and airborne allergies like dust mite. With global pandemic fears rife across the planet, the therapeutic and calming effects of having an air purifier next to the ‘desk’ can’t be underestimated. As I put in 10 drops of ‘Liquid Sunshine’, a diffuser blend known for its uplifting properties, I found the room filling with the energizing scents of bright, citrus notes of grapefruit and lime. A hint of bergamot permeated the fragrance as if to add a welcome woody note that grounded me as much as it energized. With April’s fresh spring morning suddenly front of mind, I found myself forgetting about quarantine. Falling gradually into a state of blissful flow, I worked diligently and with focus for a full 3 hours, the fragrance refusing to wane.
My nascent hunger pangs alerted me to lunchtime, though, and as I emerged from the quarantine ‘work station’, I found Kosta busy in meetings, trapped under a deluge of his own work. Luckily, our lunch was covered by our 2 Guys With Knives delivery. I heated up a ‘Tales from Casablanca’ soup and unwrapped a ‘Policia Fashionista’ salad for him. The soup, a cauliflower and turmeric bowl of anti-inflammatory goodness came with organic lentils, ground cumin, house made veggie stock, Spanish onion and rich Moroccan spices, drizzled with coconut cream, and made for a comforting bowl of respite from the workload. The salad, a mighty kale Caesar dish came with grilled chicken, crisp greens, kale, oven roasted turkey bacon, walnut-hemp parmesan and crispy chickpea croutons and was drizzled with a creamy vegan Caesar dressing. Delicious, filling and very authentic tasting, this deceptively low-calorie and protein packed salad was the perfect lunch to sneakily graze at over his endless Zoom meetings. Meanwhile, I took my ‘Macro Shred’ salad, a keto inspired ‘pasta’ dish with herb spiced grilled chicken over a bed of carrot and zucchini noodles, topped with a vegan green walnut pesto, to the window, where I savoured the Springtime views outside.
The rest of the day flew by, enlivened by the uplifting scents of the Saje diffuser working away in the background, and our bellies feeling full of protein-packed goodness from our lunch. As we wrapped up to a close around 4pm with our work, we changed into work-out gear and got ready to go for our one hour of daily outdoor exercise. With lunch already 4 hours ago, we topped up our energy levels with some more protein-packed treats by 2 Guys with Knives. We split the ‘Delicious Peanut Butter Protein Bites’, a bag of ridiculously good vegan protein and antioxidant packed dark chocolate peanut buttery deliciousness before we headed out to the Seawall.
Surprisingly energized, we returned home after our empowering run to begin our wind down for the evening. After showering, I pulled my Calm Meditation Cushion from B Yoga out and dropped down onto the soft, buckwheat filled fabric. Feeling taller and elevated, my knees dropping down with ease, I slowly sank into a deep meditation. Having never used a meditation cushion before, I was pleased to notice my meditations definitely getting deeper and longer with the help of the slight elevation; with my hips softer, and my spine feeling longer, the cushion makes a real difference.
After my meditation, I used the cushion’s easy carry handle to put it away behind the sofa, where its neutral, muted Zen Garden colors (inspired by urban Japanese spaces) blended it in seamlessly with my living room. Feeling thankful for the respite, I made a mental note to recommend the cushion to my colleague in Burnaby – the same town that B Yoga Meditation Cushions are made in – as a great addition to her zen practices.
Recognizing the importance of keeping protein levels up for optimal health (and sanity) during quarantine, dinner was a 2 Guys With Knives special of ‘Blue Moo Keto’. A blue Cheese NY Striploin of tender AAA meat seasoned and grilled to perfection with Tuscan garlic & sun-dried tomato mushrooms, steamed green beans and fire grilled bell pepper, topped with our delicious blue cheese butter, this 19g net carb dish packed a punch of post-workout nutrients. Our veg fix came from sharing the ‘Vegan Tropic’, a crispy tamari baked tofu topped with juicy fresh mango pico over brown jasmine rice with their house made vegan peanut sauce. Minimal on the carbs yet heavy on the flavour, these macro-balanced dinners had us feeling full and satisfied, yet pleasantly at ease knowing we were eating optimally for our health.
But healthy doesn’t mean boring. Whilst the dinners were sufficiently delicious, dessert was still on the table with ‘Deconstructed Peanut Butter Protein Cups’. This chunk of silky natural peanut butter whipped together with raw coconut sugar, almond milk, soy and vanilla, layered over raw pecan cocoa crumble crust and topped with melted dark chocolate was obscenely good, and deceptively indulgent. Coming in at less than 300 calories though (that’s less than a scoop of low fat ice cream each), we only wished we’d had another one to tuck into.
With dinner over and our wind down well underway with Netflix on the go, I wrapped myself up on the couch in my new weighted blanket by DreamHug. This 20 LB blanket, designed to weigh 7-14% of your body mass, is scientifically proven to relax the body by mimicking the nurturing sense of being held through deep touch technology. Essentially distributing deep pressure across the body, this high-density blanket creates the feeling of complete relaxation. Increasing serotonin and melatonin whilst decreasing cortisol levels, the idea is that the weighted blanket lets the body rest effectively. The baby-soft micro plush fleece was soft and comforting, whilst the high-density glass beads making up the weighted filling are non-toxic, odorless, environmentally friendly and safe, letting me relax further by knowing my comfort is sustainable.
After nearly falling asleep on the couch at our second episode of The Crown, I made my way to the bedroom to crawl into bed. Tucked up under the velvety blanket, the pressure and density continued to give me a sense of comfort and stress relief. Before I knew it, I was waking up the next morning to the sounds of birds outside and a sense of restful wakefulness emanating from my body. Had I fallen asleep that quickly? And slept through a whole night? Rubbing my eyes in disbelief, I padded my way to the kitchen to find Kosta brewing coffee. As we connected over another nutritious breakfast, we mused over how quickly our quarantine stress levels had turned around with a few simple shifts in our lifestyle.