Photo by ABDALLA M on Unsplash

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:

Photo by Emily Underworld on Unsplash

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.

Photo by Naomi August on Unsplash

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.

Photo by Alexander Redl on Unsplash

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

Keep reading Show less
Gilles Toucas

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

Keep reading Show less

I think it’s fair to say we all want that #fitlife, especially with Spring around the corner — as well as Gaypril on the way. Whether it’s pool season yet or not, everyone would choose to look fit over not looking fit, if they could have it with a snap of their fingers. OK, the vast majority of us would.

If you’ve met me, or have been reading my articles, you know that I live, sleep, eat and breathe fitness; it’s my heart and soul. That being said, I’m here to tell you that the concept of “fitness” is oftentimes tragically misunderstood.

Before you get too aggressive with your goal for pool season, let’s dive a bit deeper into what fitness means on the inside versus what it looks like on the outside, and common misconceptions around this concept.

1. Beware of the cultural pitfalls and misleading information around fitness.

Most of the bodies you see in the media are probably not real, they just look very convincing. As a trainer who also moonlights as a photographer and Photoshop wizard, I’m telling you that it is incredibly easy to alter pictures in materially misleading ways. Once you know the tricks of the trade, the imposters are easily spotted. But that’s not what this is about.

The point is: to the untrained eye, it can be devastatingly defeating to see such impossible standards. It seems as though the cultural pressure to look a certain way, to look perfect, has spread all the way from runway models to fitness novices with the help of smartphone apps.

The truth is that we fitness models look that cut, and that lean for only a couple days at a time. That’s it! In many cases, months or even close to a year of training, dieting and programming all go into looking like that for ONE day. Let that sink in for a second. Day to day, I am less cut, less tan and much flatter muscularly than what you see in some of my pictures. That’s just the nature of the beast. So, when you have a bad day on the scale, in the mirror or in any other scenario, remember that we’re all human and that the most legitimate photos you’re comparing yourself against were from someone’s very best day. That should help to keep things in perspective.

2. Most people want the results, without actually doing the work.

Fitness is not six pack abs, it’s not superficial, it is not temporary and it’s not an isolated phase in your life. Further, fitness is not something you do for someone else, do to spite someone else or even to impress someone else.

Fitness is confidence, toughness, dedication, coordination, power, balance, speed, strength (both literally and figuratively) and persistence in the face of all obstacles. This includes control over your attitude, your mood, your sleep, your schedule, your diet and other aspects of your life. This means getting that workout in when you least feel like it.

It’s not easy, and it’s definitely a grind that has good and bad days. You must show up and keep working on the days you’re tired, stressed, rushed, defeated, doubtful, afraid and so on. The days you actually have to overcome something instead of just checking your workout off your to-do list are the days you have the greatest opportunity to really make progress, push your body and see the most improvement.

3. Fitness is really an internal mindset. The external physique is the fringe benefit.

I’ve said this time and time again, and it might sound strange coming from such an aesthetic-focused trainer, but you are not your body. Your body is a tool, it’s a means to an end, to express your internal mindset, belief system, discipline and dedication to your workout program. Your physique will come and go. Your strength will come and go. Your abilities will wax and wane depending on what you’re training for at the time.

The outside will, and should, be always changing, but the inside is what we’re really after here. Good trainers want to train you to believe in yourself when sh*t gets hard. We want to train you to be resilient in the face of injury, obstacles and other setbacks. We want you to set ambitious goals and shoot for the moon because you can get there with smart programming and relentless will (do yourself a favor and ditch the crash diets and the photo editing software).

So, as you make your spring preparations for swimsuit season, try focusing on developing a sterling, unshakeable internal character and the muscles will come along the way, this I promise you.

Keep reading Show less