Surviving the lockdown in Lithuania

märts 31, 2021

Some countries have been in lockdown for longer than others. When Estonia has been in full lockdown only for a couple of weeks, Lithuania has been there for nearly half a year. How this lockdown has gone for the Stebby Chief Business Development Officer Kestutis Mackelis? Kestutis shares how he has managed to get to the best physical shape of his life while this lockdown has been affected a lot of us the other way. What is his secret and how he has approached this crazy period? Let’s get to know Kestutis and his mindset and learn from it.

Kestutis, when did the lockdown actually start for you?

First restrictions had come in mid-October, but proper Lockdown started on 7th of November. This is when all the restaurants and gyms have closed. After a month, on 4th December is the time when travel across the country was restricted – people could only travel to the municipalities where they own property, meaning most people were stuck in the city they reside. I was no exception – I have been stuck in Vilnius since 7th November and the countdown hasn’t stopped until now, March the 15th. I haven’t seen my relatives, including my mother since November, as they all live in Kaunas. This included a very virtual, but surprisingly entertaining Christmas via Zoom, as well as a birthday celebration, utilizing Wolt to deliver the cake. I could say you get used to it, but at the same time, I’m very eagerly waiting for this virtual relationship-building to end. 🙂

How long did it take you to really get into the lockdown routine?

I am pretty disciplined, so not much changed for me when the lockdown had started. I still wake up very early, but with no prep needed for work (hoodies & sweatpants gang), nowhere to travel – I have way more time. I would say I have even enhanced my routine because of the lockdown. I always start my morning with stretching routine, followed by either the walk around the neighbourhood with a podcast or some book reading with morning coffee. Workday mornings now have that feeling of weekend mornings, just because I learned to take them slow. Please note – even after I’m done with all of this slow morning, I still sit down at my laptop no later than 8 AM. Benefits of being an early riser 🙂

Has it been affecting you positive or negative? How?

Lockdown is annoying, there is no way to go about it, but surely it is also an opportunity to enhance your routine, to do something productive with the extra time at hands.

What have you learned about yourself during that time?

I’ve really confirmed to myself that I am a morning person and without any distractions of the office or travel I can finish majority of my work until lunchtime. Work-related revelation was that it might be beneficial to split your working day in two. When possible, I try to take myself of the work-context and go for a run, a walk or do a workout at lunchtime – this way splitting the working day in two – AM and PM session, particularly designed for different tasks. I do my focus work in AM and try to plan most of the meetings for PM.

You have been physically active but what are the biggest changes to your body? (weight, max rep, some new skill/trick or something like that)

Surprisingly, my general fitness has highly improved. I do CrossFit, so I know the times it takes me to do certain workouts and this has really improved. Of course, it is harder to maintain strength without access to the weights, but there are plenty of ways to work on your cardio even during the lockdown. Oddly, I average 17k steps a day now and the increased activity (although a mild one) is definitely a contributor to overall fitness.

Book recommendation?

When some goals failed due to COVID, other goals prospered. I aim to read 2-3 books a month which translated to 24-36 books a year. My previous record was actually 32 books, but in 2020 I have managed to read a total of 50 books. Of course, it is not a competition, I try to enjoy slow reading and take my time, but quarantine taught me various times during the day when the book could be consumed. Previously I had a habit of only reading before bedtime, but now I read with my coffee, take a reading lunch break or simply want to rest my eyes from screens and read a book instead of watching Netflix.

Anyway – I don’t throw particular book recommendations around, as they change quite often, but for this Stebbo context, I will drop something that will definitely get you moving. It’s David Goggins – Can’t hurt me. To illustrate the effect it has – I don’t really like running, but after finishing this book, I immediately put my running shoes on and went out without any goal, running for a total of 32 km, while my previous longest length was around 17 km mark. And it’s not even a sportsbook, just a Navy seal experience sharing about the psychology of motivation and obstacles. Very good book.

What’s the first thing you want to do after lockdown?

I am really looking forward to visiting a swimming pool – to do a swimming session as well as chill in the sauna. I am a big sauna fan, but this whole winter season I haven’t been to one. Everything commercial was closed and the family or relatives-owned private saunas I usually visit are located outside Vilnius, so I couldn’t travel there even if I was alone. Yeah, I really miss a good hot sauna.

Would you recommend your daily routine to others as well? Why?

I would urge people to find their own routine that allows them to spend the first hour of the day doing what they absolutely love. Be it sports, reading, dancing, enjoying a bath or taking a dog for a long walk. Starting the workday slow is something magical that will potentially end as soon as we get back to normal modern living – in a hurry, on the move. My final recommendation to keep the sanity during lockdown – do not grab your phone, laptop or tablet as soon you wake up. Do something else instead. Preferably – something you love.


Revelation of Quarantine?

Sundays are for hikes. At the start of December, we went for a short hike with the parents of my wife. You see, meeting outside was the only option and standing still in December was hardly comfortable in frozen Lithuania. So we had to walk. Now, 3 months have passed and we never missed a Sunday hike – exploring the city and surrounding of Vilnius, visiting the majority of the locations for the first time ever, despite some of the group living in the city for over 30 years. We really fell in love with the city again, exploring the unexplored parks, forests, walking paths. And I believe this tradition will stay even after the Lockdown.

Walking > driving

I was always pretty active, but lockdown taught me to live on my feet. With city borders closed, there was no reason for longer commutes, so I simply avoided my car even for shorter trips, often walking to pick up the post, walking to the store or to meet a friend. I have some interesting statistics to share:

In January I have driven 238km and have walked 312km

In February I have driven 134km and have walked 323km

Few of my hacks:

  • lunchtime walk around the neighbourhood with a podcast
  • Zoom meeting or catch up with a colleague via Walking meeting. Either walking together or both walking in their neighbourhoods. Bluetooth headphones are wow. I can leave my home without a wallet, but never without the headphones now.

Explore outdoor sports

I have done cross-country skiing, trail running, roller-blade skating during this lockdown. Also, I have found a remote forest-gym in one of the parks – I named it Flintstone Gym and I was doing my Flintstone fitness.

Try out online training

I will be honest – I hate online training. I thought it to be nonsense and protested against it. However, I was comparing it to on-demand Youtube videos without any feedback from the coach. But actually, when you do it LIVE with a coach giving commentary – it comes really close to an actual normal workout. I was doing FitQ online training myself and even pushed my mother to start doing it. She was also sceptical, saying that Youtube is full of trainings and why should I do it, but actually

Kestutis’ lockdown gallery of sports