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COVID-19 Isolation: Staying Entertained & Healthy

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COVID-19 Isolation: Staying Entertained & Healthy

Here are some personal entertainment and fitness recommendations to keep you and your family sane in Coronavirus isolation!

After being home for weeks on end, it’s easy to go crazy without a schedule and to-do-list. These Coronavirus (COVID-19) tips will help you maintain your health and wellbeing during the coronavirus quarantine.

Cherish da babies even more!

I’m married with a 10-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son. One of the silver-lining joys of this quarantine is to be able to spend so much quality time with my family. Even if it’s in such incredibly cramped quarters (Welcome to life in the Big Apple!). The truth is… there are no other three humans on earth, who I’d rather fiddle with my phone next to on the couch. To clarify, I was far from an absentee father before this epidemic. But this is such a wonderfully introspective period to embrace.

Appreciate Technology

Do you remember any electrical outages as a child? Especially if you were growing up in the 70s or 80s before the internet? If there was a thunderstorm that knocked out the electricity, you would have to sit by candlelight with your family, kinda twiddling your thumbs? For me as a kid, it was like, “Ok, now what? When is this gonna be over? Wait, what? We actually have to talk… with our family?!!” It was cool for the first 30 seconds when we excitedly reached for the flashlights in the pitch blackness and lit candles. But then the novelty wore off mighty fast!

Nowadays, it’s so much easier. We’re locked into our technology (e.g., laptops, iPads, iPhones). So even though we’re in isolation with our family, we have so many options to stay connected to the outside world. And if we ever get tired of our screens, we can actually shift gears and strike up a conversation with our loved ones.

When Movies Imitate Life

For better or worse, so many amazing movie analogies come to mind during this COVID-19 quarantine – especially with seemingly unlimited access to movies online. Of course, there are the obvious choices like “Contagion” and “Outbreak,” but here are a few others that really get to the crux. Though slightly strange to see some resemblances, luckily most of these scenarios are far worse than we’re experiencing right now.

“I am Legend”

In this movie, Will Smith plays a virologist in a post-apocalyptic world, ravaged by an uncontained virus. He is the last man standing in New York City. Every morning, he awakens to search for food, supplies, and any more survivors. This comes with the very real threat of coming face-to-face with the zombie-like antagonists. Of course, these antagonists lurk in the shadows and want nothing more than to eat him alive or turn him into one of them. It’s that feeling of leaving home, putting oneself in harm’s way, and praying you come back home safely at the end of the day, which is so easy to empathize with right now. Just remember, you’re not alone facing nocturnal, cannibalistic mutants – so that’s something to be grateful for.

“The Martian”

Matt Damon plays an astronaut, who was left for dead and stranded, unbeknownst to his peers, on Mars. When NASA realizes he’s still alive, they hatch a plan to rescue him. In the meantime, he needs to ration his food supply for months and months at a time, as he waits for his colleagues to save him. He sees his food supply dwindle, and he starts to wither away. For him, food is merely a source of sustenance, not pleasure. Next time you crank open that can of baked beans, dreaming about dining out at one of your favorite bistros, be glad you’re not marooned on the Red Planet.

“Life is Beautiful”

Roberto Benigni plays a funny, Italian Jewish man in this WWII period piece. He, his wife and his kindergarten-age son are all suddenly herded off to a concentration camp. In order to maintain some semblance of normalcy for his boy, he finds a way to shield his child from the horrors around them by using humor, levity, and imagination. This fantasy world remarkably gets them through the war, with minimal anxiety, and the son’s innocence and self-esteem left intact. How will you inspire your family to thrive under these quarantine circumstances?

“Stir Crazy”

Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor play two happy-go-lucky yutzes, who get mistaken for bank robbers and wind up behind bars for a crime they did not commit. Sick of being confined to a decrepit jail cell and having their sacred freedom taken away from them unfairly, they are desperate to escape. They’re literally going stir crazy – at wits’ end – and they have to get out before prison life breaks them. Most of us can be thankful to be in the comfort of our own homes with family.


Perhaps my favorite, most-pointed movie analogy related to the COVID-19 epidemic comes from the animated kid’s flick “Trolls.” I liken myself to Branch, Justin Timberlake’s character. For years, grumpy, anti-social Branch has been giving dire warnings to his fellow tiny villagers not to tempt fate. He is paranoid that the Trolls’ mighty, giant-like, arch-nemesis, the Bergens, will one day return to the Trolls’ village and capture them, so they can then feast on them. The other Trolls pay no heed to Branch’s kooky concerns – similar to when God compelled Noah to build his biblical ark. Nobody believed him of the impending doom either. In anticipation of that dreadful day coming to pass, Branch stockpiles ten years of supplies in his very own troll-made subterranean bunker. Thus, when the prophecy comes true, and the bad-guy Bergens plunder the Trolls for their selfish pleasure, Branch remains safe and well-stocked underground.

Self-Quarantine Challenge Accepted!

To be clear, I don’t consider myself grumpy, anti-social, paranoid and/or kooky like Branch. That being said, I will do anything in my power to protect my family under these harrowing circumstances in which we find ourselves in during this current COVID-19 crisis. My family lives in New York City, the epicenter of this epidemic. Faced with our governor’s unsettling prediction that 40-80% of the state will be infected with the virus within the next 4, 6, or 9 months, the odds certainly do not seem to be in our favor. Yes, the overall city/state/national goal seems to be to “flatten that curve.” But on a personal level, it feels like a challenge – how to beat the odds. If I can reduce the chances of getting the virus by staying at home, social distancing, and wearing a mask and gloves as much as possible, then that’s what I’ll do!

Nevertheless, I understand how perceiving the COVID-19 outbreak as a challenge may come off as callous, insensitive and tone-deaf. I get that, and I apologize if that’s how it’s perceived. This is no laughing matter. People’s lives are at stake. However, I feel that accepting it as a challenge serves as an excellent coping mechanism for me, so I don’t go Richard-Pryor-stir-crazy in the coming months. Besides, to put it in perspective, if Anne Frank hid quietly in an attic to avoid Nazi persecution for two years, then what the heck am I complaining about being cooped up with Netflix for a few measly months?!!

Here’s the trick: it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon

When I was in my early 20s, I used to dabble in weightlifting. I was growing increasingly frustrated because I couldn’t get past 200 pounds of bench pressing. For months, I was literally stuck. I turned to my brother, an avid bodybuilder, for advice on how to get over that hump. He said you have to find a way to trick your body. Even though I don’t think I ever eclipsed 200 pounds, the lesson of tricking yourself remains with me to this day.

So now what is “the trick?” How to not get the virus and sustain some level of normalcy – and sanity – for me and my family over the next 4, 6, or even 9 months? How can I best mentally prepare myself for this long-haul, marathon-like challenge? Ironically, I am actually supposed to run the 2020 NYC Marathon this November to celebrate my 50th birthday. However, this milestone is obviously in jeopardy. BUT I can still rely on my marathon-training mentality to get me through this period of uncertainty!

Why take on the risks with breaking COVID-19 isolation?

Sticking with the running theme, I typically jog three miles around the park for cardio four times a week. I also lift dumbbells for strength training another two days a week. Although outdoor exercise – within a safe distance – still seems to be encouraged by government officials at this time, even as most other outdoor activities are strictly prohibited, why tempt fate? If an NIH study indicates the COVID-19 aerosol droplets remain in the air for up to three hours after an infected person coughs or sneezes, then why would you put yourself in harm’s way unnecessarily? Again, it’s important to abide by evidence-based research and not fall victim to outlandish theories. However, if the general guidelines are to “stay at home and stop the spread,” then why not make the transition to exclusively exercise inside?

If the French guy can run an entire marathon on his balcony…

How do I prioritize staying physically fit without going outside and giving my kids some sense of normalcy? You make do with what you have at your disposal. We have a minuscule, narrow railroad-style apartment. Every other day in the late afternoon (after school/work), for 30 minutes, I nonchalantly run laps with and/or chase my two kids, from one end of the apartment to the other. Fortunately, the real estate office on the ground floor below us is closed. So the constant thuds on the creaky wooden floor panels are not disturbing anyone. No, it’s not ideal, but I’m working up a mild sweat, hanging with my kids, and letting off some steam and stress, all while staying safe inside. It’s a win-win-win situation! The only downside is this doesn’t bode well for my normally sub-8-minute mile pace (or my serum Vitamin D levels). Is it sustainable? We shall see. As we hunker down for the long-haul, let’s see if I can figuratively trick myself into lifting 205 pounds after all!

Stay safe in coronavirus isolation, everyone!

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