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Some people have adapted well to the COVID-19 changes and have forged new fitness routines with corresponding success on their diet as well. Many people I know, however, have slipped on their discipline when it comes to both diet and exercise, in light of all the swirling uncertainty.

It’s time to face the music: you need to adapt to the new normal, and get a grip on your diet, exercise, and wellness in this new temporary world. With no clear end in sight, it’s time to make a new plan to succeed with your health, now.

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1. Move. Exercise must drive the engine. With thousands of free, easily accessible fitness plans now more available ever, there’s simply no excuse anymore for lack of movement. There is especially no excuse if you have basic equipment at home, and/or outdoor access for hiking, running, cycling, etc. My philosophy as a trainer is “exercise hard, diet moderate” for long term results. The more you exercise, the less strict you have to be on your diet, that’s a fact. Get moving to feel better and to enjoy more freedom with your food.

2. Use common sense. We might be in this scenario for a while. This is not an excuse to go off the deep end with daily drinking binges and dessert for breakfast seven days a week. It’s time to get back to normal with routine limits on indulgences. Remember, we have to connect food choices to outcomes: meaning, eating crap food and drinking too much, for too many days of the week, makes you feel bad; so, to avoid feeling bad, make different choices most of the time. Allow for the occasional deviation, but keep everything in moderation to feel, perform, and look your best.

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3. Awareness is everything. Track food and make a plan to avoid mindless eating. One of the best ways to fail with food is to not have a plan. If you know what you’re doing, sit down and plan out variables like calories, macro’s, supplements, hydration, food quality, and meal timings. Of course, though, nutrition is complicated, and so if you feel overwhelmed, consider hiring a professional to help manage your program to suit your goals.

4. Take advantage of meal delivery options. Meal delivery services eliminate many of the pitfalls people fall into with food: the meals have fixed calories and macros, typically are of cleaner quality, and they take guesswork and cravings out of the equation. Many services are affordable and include a number of options to suit tastes, goals, and food allergies. By reducing the chance for impulse and temptations, meal delivery services ensure that you stay on track with your goals.

5. Don’t buy it if it’s not on your program. Most people will agree that if tasty treats are in the pantry, they will eventually get eaten. That being said, one of the best ways to curb cravings is to simply not buy the treats in the first place. Grocery shop with a plan, not on an empty stomach, and keep your goals in mind as you’re placing items in your cart.

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6. Use time-tested strategies to check cravings: drinking caffeine, drinking water, chewing gum, consuming straight up protein. Thirst cues are often mistaken as hunger cues. When you find your appetite running out of control, try hydrating first — have a big glass of water, wait 10 minutes, and then check back in with yourself. Another way to combat snacking when bored is to drink caffeine, a proven appetite suppressant. And don’t forget about chewing gum as a distraction to misplaced hunger. Finally, how about a protein shake? The protein is least likely to be stored as fat and is going to leave you feeling full for a while. Keep a high quality protein powder on hand for situations where you need to bridge the gap between meals.

The key to navigating all of COVID-19’s changes is to find a new routine, a new normal. The truth is, we might not be back to fully normal for many months to come. Make a plan, and some backup plans, use your resources, and play your food smart to not only survive COVID but to thrive during it.


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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