This quarantine is taking its toll on all of us. The forced isolation, lack of access to gyms and just plain boredom are testing the wills of Americans all over the country, and members of Congress and professional athletes aren’t exempted.
That’s what I learned during a recent video chat between Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter. The two talked about the challenges of staying mentally and physically healthy as much of the United States shelters in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Moulton also shared his mom’s recipe for banana bread. “You’re talking to a guy who baked banana bread this morning,” he said. He then held it up to the screen, and I will admit it looked delicious. “I slightly overcooked it, but it’s pretty good.” The recipe is posted on his Facebook page. He’s become a baker, just like many of us have.
The Boston Celtics haven’t played a game since March 10, just days before the NBA postponed the season indefinitely after a player tested positive for coronavirus.
Kanter said if the season resumes, the league will give players a 25-day heads up to begin training. He admits he’s gained seven pounds over the quarantine.
“Am I ready? No way,” said Kanter. He’s been staying in shape with short workouts. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the Celtics strength coach calls and watches him exercise. It’s mostly pushups, situps and crunches for 30-45 minutes.
Moulton, who’s used to working out six days a week, said he’s having a difficult time creating new exercises now that he can’t go to his local YMCA. “I’m kinda lazy when I work out on my own,” he said.
Same, Seth. Same.
He does have a jogging stroller that he uses to push his young daughter Emmy, who briefly joined the chat.
“I don’t have weights, but I have a stack of wood out back,” said Moulton. He’s been pressing two logs to build his shoulders. And it must be working, considering one commenter referred to the congressman as a “cutie pie.”
However, the pain of social isolation is real for lots of people, and the uncertainty of when loved ones can be reunited has led to anxiety. Moulton, a former Marine and Iraq War veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, has been outspoken about mental health. During his brief campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, he introduced a plan to expand military mental health services.
During daily video conferences, Moulton said he encourages staffers to share prayers, quotes or breathing exercises.
Moulton asked Kanter how he deals with not being able to see his family, a feeling the NBA big man is all too familiar with. A critic of the Erdogan government in his native Turkey, Kanter has been exiled from his home country and hasn’t seen his family since 2015.
Kanter, who also misses the camaraderie of the NBA, encouraged people to cherish this time with their loved ones.
Asked what he’s going to do first when stay-at-home orders are lifted, Kanter said he’s getting a haircut. “I hope athletes are staying in shape, but I really hope the barbers are too.”