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With the majority of us now working at home — and really, entirely living at home — I think it’s safe to say that we’re all dealing with novel mental and physical challenges in this unprecedented time. As if self-care wasn’t hard enough for many people when the world was quasi-normal, climate change, COVID-19, and now Putin's war, have thrown a figurative atom bomb into the wellness equation.

Many of my clients have reported critical disruption to mental health, physical movement, nutrition, stress management, and other vital components of wellbeing. Let’s talk about some ways to stress less, move more, and take better care of ourselves during the virus era:

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Mental health

Keep your routines and schedules. It’s imperative that we all keep as close to a routine as possible right now — for things like showers and hygiene, getting dressed for work, eating and drinking at the same times, working out at the same times, etc. As an example: I am working from home right now, but I will drive around the block before “clocking in” to give my mindset an opportunity to shift into work mode. It’s a no brainer that hygiene, rituals of comfort, and basic nutrition will boost productivity, focus, and feelings of wellbeing throughout your entire day, at work and beyond.

Read or watch the news once per day and check your sources vigorously. Beware, the mountains of misinformation piling up by the second regarding the virus. You simply cannot trust hearsay of “he said, she said, I saw this new law going into effect tomorrow invoking Martial Law, etc.” Bluntly, I simply do not trust what people say verbally anymore until I’ve read it as a government mandate or an explicit CDC guideline. There is simply too much exaggeration, critical misunderstanding, and, frankly, bullshit circulating faster than the virus itself right now. Check the news once per day to get the facts; and then go about your day as normal. Think critically and check your sources.

Avoid hoarding. Does anyone understand the toilet paper hoarding? My gosh, people. Enough, already! Verified sources report that supply chains and production for essential goods is working seamlessly, and there’s no need for hoarding. Stockpiling goods produces unnecessary panic. Panic and stress are not just abstract topics — they’re biological, meaning they have serious consequences on your wellbeing. Stop the negativity where you can — and hoarding is an easy corner to cut. Shop normally, please.

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Emotional health

Call your friends and family. Widen your e-circle. It’s indisputable science that humans are social creatures. We are not meant to be in isolation. Take advantage of the technology available right now to video with one, or several, of your favorite people all at once. Set weekly meet-ups. Play games via apps where you can see each other. Check in with your loved ones, regularly. Together, we can get through this and to the other side.

Commit yourself, fiercely, to being productive, helpful, and positive during this time. This is a choice. It is easier, and feels better, and bestows benefits on other people as well, when you emit positivity. Yes, this is a difficult situation. Yes, many people will die, and many people will go bankrupt and worse. I am not recommending burying your head in the sand and pretending we’re sliding down rainbows riding unicorns, right now. However, as a motivational professional, it’s essential that we stay determined to make the best of this situation and to help others when we can, and to work through our own negativities and adversities for the greater good.

Keep appointments with your team of mental health professionals or consider establishing one. Therapists are riding the digital wave of offerings and are more affordable and accessible than ever. If you’re struggling, reach out to a professional who can help you de-stress and cope in healthy ways.

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Physical health

Find a structured program to suit your goals, equipment, and skill level. Online training has never been so affordable, accessible, and effective. The best trainers in the world right now are working overtime to produce lucrative, ass-kicking workouts with little to no equipment right now. Find a routine, sign up for it (don’t just vow to follow it, add an extra layer of accountability with an actual human being), bring some friends, and get to work.

Set reminders for nutrition, hydration, and supplements. It’s tragic how easy it is right now to forget the basics, and, unfortunately, nutrition and hydration are among the first to go. As mentioned above, try to stay as much on your regular schedule as possible. And, consider setting reminders on your phone, or downloading apps to do so, to ensure that you’re taking care of yourself physically. If you’re not putting enough fuel in the tank, there’s no way your machine will perform for you when the time comes.

Prioritize your physical health to feel your best mentally, emotionally, and beyond. Embrace the new environment, skills, and challenges of your new routine. New = fun and exciting. Learn to conquer pushups, handstands, and pistol squats. Get creative with props around your house or consider starting to construct your own home gym. Attitude is everything, and the more you fight the changes right now, the harder things will be.

It’s more important than ever to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. The sooner you can find your new normal, the more quickly you’ll adapt and the faster this time period will go — for you, your loved ones, and all of us. Adapt, adjust, and move forward.

Photo courtesy of Michael Feinstein.

Michael Feinstein

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Gilles Toucas

Michael Feinstein will commemorate Judy Garland’s life on March 20 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

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The worlds of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media platforms have completely revolutionized the fitness industry. Social media has, seemingly overnight, transformed virtually every facet of how we do business in fitness. It has forever changed information access, coaching, marketing, group accountability, perceptions of ideal physiques, trends and so on.

Love it or hate it, it seems as though social media is here to stay. So, I’ve put together my Trainer Tia’s Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to combining your favorite social media platform with your fitness journey.

Do vet the accounts you follow.

Social media can be a vast resource for knowledge, motivation and accountability. These are the three biggest things that most people want from a trainer or other fitness guide. If you find the right accounts to follow (easier said than done), you can get all three of these things for free! So, how does one find the right accounts to follow? Here are some pointers on what to avoid that will help you make that determination.

First, avoid profiles trying to sell things or recruit people to sell things (read: pyramid scheme). If they are constantly giving “shoutouts,” referrals, discount codes and tags, they are probably not in it for you – this kind of user is posting to promote themselves. Be wary taking advice from people who don’t want to really help you, in the end.

woman in brown turtleneck sweater covering her face with her hand Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

Also, avoid putting a lot of stock in profiles that don’t reflect your values (i.e. if you’re a vegan bodybuilder, I’d advise against following the bodybuilders who worship the animal protein part of their process). This is different for everyone, so you’ll know when you see it. Just know it’s OK to hit unfollow.

Last, but not least, avoid thirst traps (unless you’re into that kind of thing, of course). If someone looks amazing but fails to accurately relay the details of their workout program, goals, or progress, just realize that they’re best classified as eye candy and not a fitness authority. And that’s OK too.

Don’t overwhelm your followers with nudes parading around as “progress pics.”

Let’s be real, there’s already enough of that out there. Tasteful displays of physiques are one thing, but when 80 percent of your pictures are in the same booty-popped pose with way too much skin, you’re probably not taking “progress pics” anymore.

Do ask for advice and help from your favorite fitness guides.

Again, this information is free and can go a long way. Let your favorite accounts know what you’d like to see or learn and I can almost guarantee that, if they care about their reputations, they’ll answer your questions. Give it a shot. You’re not the only one who wants to know that particular answer, I promise you.

Don’t be fooled by fool’s gold.

Meaning, don’t feel compelled to try that “amazing new ab shredder guaranteed to give you a six pack in six days” … it’s not going to work. Tag your trainer friend on the post or ask your trainer if that movement or program actually works. More than likely, it’s just another sensational marketing ploy that doesn’t actually transform your body. Remember, the old school basic movements have been around for thousands of years for a reason: because they work! This new fad, diet, juice/shake, program that looks seem too good to be true – is most likely a waste of your time. Instead, find profiles that relay the realistic amount of hard work and dedication that it takes to have an ideal physique. Remember, results take time!

Blue Facebook Thumb Up Blue Facebook Thumb Up Photo by Jackson So on Unsplash

Do participate!

Like that picture. Tag your fitness friends on something that you like. Post your story with courage and belief in yourself. With the new algorithms in social media, this will result you seeing more of what you like in your feed. It’s not like you have a finite number of “likes” that you can give out. Be liberal with your liking, it lets the platform know what you’d like to see more of. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and engage with the users you admire or the content you are interested in.

Don’t compare yourself to those heavily edited photos of perfection.

I write about this frequently because it’s so prevalent. Remember, Photoshop is an incredible editing tool that can completely alter a physique, before/after comparisons, adjust lighting, draw in shadows/cuts, slim a waist, enlarge a bicep, and much more. Many photos you see on social media are not real. Please remember this when you’re comparing yourself to anything you scroll past!

Social media has become a huge part of our daily lives, and it certainly has its own decorum. Hopefully, these Do’s and Don’ts give you a taste of how a professional sees fitness and social media working (and not working) together. In the end, though, it’s your journey so customize as you see fit.

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