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By Tia Norris, January 2019 Issue.

It’s that time of year. You know, when many of us resolve to finally pursue and achieve those deep-seated desires we’ve been putting off until now. And of course, one of the most popular (if not the most popular) resolutions around New Year’s always involves getting healthier. I would bet that 90% of goal-setting around the holiday includes losing weight, or getting in shape, or eating better in some capacity.

If you’ve been reading my columns for a while, you know my spiels on how to first set better goals, and second how to work smarter in pursuing them. To review: you have to get specific, meaning get as detailed as possible in setting your goals, including what/when/why/how. You also have to set up ways to stay accountable, like hiring a trainer, or joining a group or team, or signing up for a race to hold your feet to the fire. It’s also crucial to be realistic about what you are actually prepared to change, to sacrifice, and to endure in order to reach your goals.

So, once you’ve got those measures in place, here are my next-level tips to revolutionize your health and fitness resolutions this year:

Start slowly, progress gradually

This is perhaps the most important piece of information in this article! For most people who decide to make a change to their health, the rookie mistake is to bite off way more than they can chew. “Overzealous” is an understatement.

Many people overcommit to too many workouts, too many schedule conflicts, too much change in their diet, and soon find themselves upside-down in the difficulty of changing everything at once. Trust me, I too am impatient about many things – I understand the desire to get going when you set your sails toward the destination.

However, as a seasoned expert in health and behavioral change, you have to know that gradual, slower change will always last longer and take you much further than overhauling everything overnight.

Exercise tips

Start by committing to three workouts per week, if you’re starting from zero. Don’t overdo it, yet. Once you get a grip on three workouts, then go up to four; and again, once you master that level, move up to five. Studies show that less than three workouts per week will not yield appreciable results quite as quickly as three… so keep that number as your minimum. Next, try to find something that you actually like. If you hate your workouts, chances are that as a beginner, you’re not going to last very long. Pick something that actually sounds interesting.

Diet tips

First and foremost, start tracking your food. Awareness is power. Second, for the love of God, skip the fad diets, crash plans, juice cleanses, fasts, and all that quick-fix bullshit. Seriously, it won’t last, and you will gain everything back. Third, once you’re tracking and are on a sustainable approach, make small changes one or two at a time – like subtracting chips or cheese or cookies, and getting a grip on that, before changing more. Remember, gradual is the name of the game that will keep you accountable and sustainable for a long time.

Have a plan for roadblocks and setbacks

I wish I could tell you that the path to health and fitness would be a bed of roses but at times, it can actually be really fucking hard. You will have days where you don’t feel like it, where you don’t have enough time, where you have to work around an injury, where you want to quit, where you question your reasoning for setting this goal in the first place, etc. So, you’ll need a plan for when those moments strike.

This is one of those “fail to plan, plan to fail” moments. For all of your goals, you’ll need to have plans in place for when shit gets real, as it inevitably will. Here’s what you’ll need to write out (yes, actually write) for each goal:

Goal, specifically.

Why it’s important to you.

Potential obstacle.

Plan to overcome obstacle(s).

In order to succeed, the more planning you can do, the better. Details matter! Of course, this is where hiring an expert to work with you on your goals makes all the difference… they can help figure out which plans work best for you and your goals, if you’re new to this pursuit. Remember, make your goals specific, accountable, and realistic.

Once you’ve done the groundwork, ramp up slowly and be prepared for the long, hard road ahead. All of that hard work will undoubtedly be worth it; I can promise you that!

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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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