It’s been a while now since lockdown ended here and I’m starting to feel like things are back to somewhat normal although traveling still seems to be off-limits. Although I haven’t been that diligent in maintaining my blog during this time, I’ve thought a great deal about how to bring you guys new and interesting content.

Another thing that has been on my mind the past few weeks is trying to shed the Corona pounds that I put on during lockdown. Nothing major, but just enough to make me feel a little more conscious when I wore tight jeans. As a Korean acquaintance so kindly pointed out, I had become a 확찐자 which is a fun play on the words 확진자 (confirmed Covid case) and 찌다 which means gain as in gaining weight. So, a 확찐자 is someone who’s gained a little extra lockdown weight.

Well, obviously we can’t have that, so since the start of June I’ve made a point of walking/running 10,000 – 15,000 steps every single day, eating a more wholesome diet and following a core strengthening program on youtube which tones my mid section and thighs. So far, I’m back to normal – my clothes fit nicely again, and what has surprised me most is the positive side effect that I feel better mentally. As I’ve strived to make my body stronger I’ve discovered that it has positively spilled over on my mental health. I feel more energetic, more optimistic, mentally stronger, and more positive than I’ve done in a very long while.

This insight has also inspired me to strengthen the backbone of my Korean abilities. I’m currently making a living teaching the basics and in addition to all those hours, I have been focusing on constantly challenging myself to read increasingly advanced novels and memorizing vocabulary I barely know in my native language. I’m all for pushing myself, in fact that’s the reason I get out of bed everyday, but I also realized that I might be adding more and more heavy bricks to a foundation of intermediate Korean that had been as neglected just as much as my body midsection during lockdown.

In order to remedy that I’m currently working my way through Sogang Korean books level 4A and B. They are upper intermediate level, and while I’m happy to say that I’m not learning anything new (yes, I already knew the Korean word for mugwort), I feel way more confident rereading and polishing these intermediate sentence patterns, which obviously are way more useful for daily spoken Korean than advanced metaphors from any novel by Han Kang (although I love those too).

In order to be able to improve it’s always important to maintain a strong core foundation. That goes for your physical core, which keeps your body moving around, and your language core. I like to refer to this maintenance practice as “sharpening the saw”. I haven’t always been the best at practicing this strategy, as I’ve often let my ambition for quick improvement get in the way, but I’m determined to dedicate more energy to this in the future. Reviewing and practising intermediate speech patterns improves my Korean speaking ability and confidence just like the core exercises improves my posture, general confidence, and physical and mental health and happiness. In fact, the biggest difference between maintaining my physical core and my language core is that one of these requires a yoga mat!

How are you adjusting to life after lockdown? Any changes in your daily routine? I’d love to hear in the comments.

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