Quarantine Journal Entry #1

Day One.

Awaking in a bed that actually fits me is a luxury I’ve not been blessed with for months. What an absolute treat. Unpacked my bag, organised my belongings.

Wrote in my journal. I used to journal at university and have sporadically started and stopped again, for no good reason. It works wonders. I’m asserting that anecdotally, though there’s plenty of evidence if you can be arsed to Google it. Handwriting out that for which you are grateful and crafting a statement of intent is a great way to start a day, or week, or month. It is a remedy for listlessness, in both meanings of the word.

Surprised myself with kettlebells. Smashed out 100 snatches with a 24kg, 10 snappy sets of 10 reps. Did some sun salutations thereafter.

Wrote and published an article outlining some of my quarantine plans, glorying in the gift of returning to the gem of Guernsey.

Later on, more kettlebells: double clean and press with the 32kg’s: 3×3 (3 sets of 3 reps), then 3×2, then 5×1. Thankfully, not much strength lost, just much chub gained. Hammered out a load of other different presses and called it a day.

Listened to press conference with Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje whilst doing the dishes. It is a beautiful but uncommon thing to see mutual respect between two top-tier fighters, it is a very rare thing to see humility and honour to boot. The same cannot be said for the Adesanyas and McGregors of this world. Very excited for the fight on Saturday.

Ensured I stayed on my feet all day, courtesy of my makeshift standing desk. First time I sat down since waking was past 7pm.

Fasted the full day, only things I consumed were black coffee (Guernsey’s Bean14, Espresso No. 1), mint tea (leaves from Limbaži in Latvia) and some sparkling water. Not a notable pang of hunger, even as I put my order in to the Guernsey Weigh for various bits and bobs.

On that note, a quote from my boy Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who wrote the following in his haunting “true fiction” of a day in the life of a Gulag prisoner, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich:

“The belly is an ungrateful wretch, it never remembers past favours, it always wants more tomorrow.”

P.S. Jesus Christ. I weighed in at 93.5kg this morning.

Day Two.


Something I conveniently forgot about fasting is the disrupted sleep and whacky dreams. You have to read some of these.

First one, which I don’t remember clearly enough to recount, I encountered cannibals.

Second one, I am rowing a wooden boat. Then I find myself being towed away by pirates. I manage to escape, untying the tow-cable at the stern of their vessel, nearly losing my arm in the process.

Then I find myself adrift at sea, with floating sofas bobbing about me, people perched atop them in groups enjoying drinks and conversation. I row towards the floating bar and order a German lager. After hearing the price, I am so shocked that I wake up. Nearly having my arm lopped off by a propellor was insufficient to shock me into consciousness, but the overpriced Leffe was. Analyse that one, Freud.

Third dream, I am at Beau Sejour Leisure Centre. I realise suddenly I am there illegally, and should be in quarantine. I ask my compadre to call me a taxi, and I run outside to catch it. Locals notice me on the way, some whispering, some exclaiming that I should be in quarantine.

Outside, there is no taxi waiting for me – but there are police. I try calmly but hastily to make myself scarce, power-walking around the corner, before trying to scale a wall to hide from the men in yellow jackets. As often happens in dreams, when I need them most, my legs become leaden and fail me. I then try frantically to wake myself up, but fail to convince myself it is all a dream. Resignedly, I approach the police, who walk straight past me. They are in pursuit of someone else.

I walk back to the entrance of Beau Sejour to nab my taxi. Stood waiting, I look to the person on my right, and double-take. It is my friend. He passed away last year. Already convinced that this is not a dream, I embrace him, and we walk away, arms over each other’s shoulders, our heads pressed together at the temples.

Then I wake up.

First full session of Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, a qigong meditative practice from China. Still in the context of a very real-feeling dream, with the ethereal eastern music playing, I get goosebumps, shivers up and down my body, through my soul.

My legs and and core muscles are feeling yesterday’s kettlebells though, phwoar. Throwing one of them one-handed for a hundred reps works your stabilising musculature like nothing else.

I continued the calmness by journaling, writing, then unpacking my stone and shell collection from university – only two years after leaving – and decorated my window-ledge with them.

Then I packed in the calmness malarkey, set up my wooden gymnastics rings and knocked out 50 pull-ups, 50 chin-ups and 50 horizontal rows. Not an open question whether I’ll be feeling that tomorrow. I’m toast. Notable spike in hunger after that, leading to an inner debate as to whether I should break this fast today or tomorrow.

Seeing the family from within my hovel is nice, though it makes me feel somewhat of a zoo animal. Excuse given to the youngest, that Beard is poorly (FYI: Beard is my niecely nickname). Nourishes the soul, seeing children at play.

Three rounds of Wim Hof’s breathing technique. The goosebumps return.

Broke my fast at an uninspiring 42hrs, 6hrs short of a two-dayer, with a feast fit for a king – or two.

Guernsey Weigh delivered my food, comprising 1.5kg of beans (can you guess what I will be cooking tomorrow?), some seeds, apple cider vinegar and vegan bouillon.

Just before he kicked the bucket, Leo Tolstoy published his last major work, A Calendar of Wisdom, in 1904 – and thank God he did. It contains wisdom, proverbs and musings from great scripture, great people and Tolstoy himself, each day of the year with a different theme. He formerly kept it for personal use, but thankfully thought best to share it with us. This quote is from the great Greek slave-turned-philosopher, Epictetus:

Do not be concerned too much with what will happen. Everything which happens will be good and useful for you.

Well, with that attitude it will be, eh.

Day 3.

Awake at 8.30am. A much-needed lie-in, and glorious prerogative of quarantine.

Another full Falun Dafa, to some different and equally calming eastern music. The second of the five exercises requires both arms to be held in the air, suspended for twenty-four minutes. No easy feat. I lowered my shaking arms prematurely, excusing myself on account of the exercises I did yesterday (no excuse). Still feel great thereafter. Calm, centred.

Upon completion, I float into the kitchen and write my journal.

Hearing a hearty knock on the door, I assume it’s family, so I open it in my boxers – it’s Border Control. Very nice man, unperturbed by my nakedness. He asked me a few inconsequential questions, evidently here just to check that I’m here.

Then I smash out a load of cleans, presses and front squats. The God-forsaken front squat. What a sadistic, vicious, testing exercise.

Then, I am rudely interrupted by my friend Luke, with whom I was supposed to quarantine, video-calling me. As we planned to do in person throughout quarantine, we smash out a mish-mash of exercises together, totalling: 170 press-ups, 80 mountain climbers, 70 burpees, 70 jump squats, 50 flutter kicks, 40 leg raises and 30 calf raises. Not ideal that my living space is now sodden with sweat. Legs are like jelly, Lord knows how they’ll feel tomorrow.

I broke my fast in the afternoon, and began preparing my vegan beanjar, AKA, jeanbar, coined by my Latvian friend who fortuitously mispronounced and thereby named this creation. Veanjar and veganjar don’t have that ring to it. Crying shame I cannot share this with anyone. I will, I promise you, upon my release.

Listened to some chirpy music whilst cooking, doing the dishes and generally faffing about the place. Music is great but I think its best taken in moderation, either side of silence, otherwise the potency is diluted by all the other music.

Ate two servings of jeanbar, after which I sank into the sofa, quite immobilised.

Read. Then, to bed.

Day 4.

Awoke 8am, feeling creaky and sore. Getting out of bed was a rude reminder of yesterday’s video-call workout.

Took a morning off of the Falun, did a few stretches instead, then wrote my journal.

Talked myself into doing something rather than nothing. So, some kettlebell swings, one of my favourite exercises, and the first time I’ve done them in almost three months. Did one-handed swings with the 32kg, ten sets of ten reps. Felt good! Like a tonic. Walking less like a constipated robot, so I swung another five sets of ten two-handers with the Beast, my overweight 48kg puppy.

I watched an Iron Wolf video. This man has inspired and saved many an exercise enthusiast during lockdown, as the comments on all of his content attests. He posts videos of his barebones and borderline-psychotic workouts, and provides easier inroads into fitness with simpler progressions at lower volumes. He is the prophet of gym goers struggling with what to do without equipment in limited space. He shows that there are no (legitimate) excuses for being sedentary in lockdown.

Iron Wolf mentions one appetising routine: kettlebell swings mixed with burpees. He suggests “30-down”, meaning 30 reps of swings, 30 of burpees, then 29 of each, then 28, 27, all the way down to 1, which would total 465 swings and 465 burpees in total… shudder. Anything that man suggests, you should usually do half of at most, if you intend on doing anything for the rest of the day or the morrow.

Fortuitously, I have little to do tomorrow, or the next ten days for that matter, and I fancy giving it a bash. Opting for an “easier” option, I go for 20-down, which totals a modest 210 reps of two-handed 32kg swings and 210 burpees. Christ on a Christmas bike. Aggressive Drum and Bass got me through those last few sets. I go outside and stretch in the wind and the rain in the garden. Thank the Lord for the grass and fresh air, cooling my body and mind, saving me from cabin fever.

Break-fasted in the afternoon, eating – you guessed it! – jeanbar.

My friend Luke and I video-call and chirp, catching up and readying for the Ultimate Fighter Championship, UFC 254, wherein Khabib and Gaethje will throw down to see who is undisputed champion of the lightweight division. We catch up and make some plans for video-call workouts during quarantine, and post-quarantine swims and savagery.

Khabib quite predictably tires him, wraps him up python-like, putting him to sleep with a triangle choke. After his win, he bursts into tears in the middle of the octagon, knowing his recently deceased father, though passed from this earthly realm, looks on proudly from above. Upon waking, Gaethje kneels down next to him, says he’s sorry for his loss, and his father would be proud of him. Khabib retires pound for pound best in the sport’s history, not a blemish on his record, his health and honour intact, an inspiration and example to all. This will be remembered and revered for millennia.

My quote for the day – chosen after the 360-swing and 210-burpee ‘rest day’, in achy awareness of the need to avoid this zero-to-sixty manner of training – comes from my boy Aristotle:

“Both excessive and deficient exercise ruin physical strength.”

Watch this space for Quarantine Journal Entry #2. Stay classy shags.

2 thoughts on “Quarantine Journal Entry #1

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