You’re Just One Step Away From Feeling Happier

Modest amounts of exercise, like daily walks, can be a powerful tool that reduces depression and anxiety, improves energy, and helps you feel happier. Exercise improves physical health and is vital for maintaining a healthy weight, for sure. Though, those who exercise regularly are generally motivated by the almost immediate rewards and the enormous sense of well-being it produces. In return for their efforts, they gain a higher level of energy, better sleep, a sharp mind, and more positive and calming feelings.

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How Does It Work?

What we know about how exercise helps improve mood and well-being:

  • Exercise increases serotonin, regulating mood, sleep, and appetite.
  • It reduces immune system chemicals that can make depression worse.
  • Exercise increases the level of endorphins – natural mood lifters.

Return on Your Investment

We all have only a finite amount of time. When you invest a portion of your time and energy into regular exercise, you can expect to reap these rewards:

  • Better concentration and clear thinking. Exercise stimulates the grown of new brain cells, prevents age-related decline, improves concentration, and sharpens mental focus.
  • Feel strong and powerful. As you invest in your health and well-being, a sense of accomplishment fosters feelings of body acceptance, self-worth, and confidence.
  • Sleep improvements. Even smaller amounts of exercise help establish healthy sleeping patterns, protect the brain from damage, and improve energy and focus.
  • Less Stress. Exercise reduces stress on the body and helps feelings of anxiety be replaced with a sense of calm.
  • Fewer Worries. Exercise provides a distraction from worries and helps break the cycle of negative thoughts that can fuel anxiety and depression.
  • Better Coping. When faced with challenges, exercise can help you cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to alcohol, junk food, or other negative behaviors that only make symptoms worse.
  • More energy. If you’re new to exercise, start slowly, but be consistent. Boosting your heart rate amplifies long-lasting energy.

It’s Easier than You Think

Thirty minutes of moderate exercise five days a week will allow you to begin to reap the mental health and happiness benefits of movement.

  • Break it down into two 15-minute or three 10-minute sessions if that is easier for you.
  • Start slow. It works well to set a time of day and then do even a little exercise at that time to begin to establish a pattern. You can add time, intensity, and a variety of activities as you go. As a habit develops, your energy will increase, and you’ll feel like doing more.
  • Pace yourself, so you are breathing a little heavier than usual but aren’t gasping for air. Your body should feel warmer but not overheated.
  • Schedule exercise when your energy is highest – first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, or right after work.
  • Focus on activities you enjoy. Any movement counts – walking your dog, gardening, cleaning your house, window shopping, or working on a home improvement project.
  • Add music. Pairing music with movement doubles the happy vibes.
  • Be comfortable. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing, and select a setting that you enjoy – a nearby park path, your neighborhood, or your living room.
  • Be social. Working out with someone else can be more fun and motivating.

What’s Standing in Your Way?

Even when you know that exercise will make you feel better, it can be hard to move past the obstacles in your way and get started.

Fatigue. When your body is exhausted, depressed, or stressed, it can be hard to find the motivation to move. Knowing that regular exercise is a powerful energizer may not be enough at that moment. However, if you can push past the lethargy for just a short walk, you’ll start to build a routine that will reap results.

 

Time. The thought of adding another “to-do” to your day can seem overwhelming. Try to build more activity into the things you’re already doing. Park farther away, take the stairs, walk to another area of your work rather than calling, walk extra aisle while shopping, or walk in place during commercials.

Feeling overwhelmed. Start slowly, perhaps going for a short walk or turn on music and dance. Search YouTube for free exercise videos for any experience level. Keep it simple. You don’t need new clothing or a gym membership.

Lack of Confidence. Maybe you think that you’re too old, too heavy, or too out of shape. Perhaps you fear that everyone is laughing at you. If you start to look around, you’ll notice that very few people look like the images in magazines. And most people would cheer your efforts, not criticize you. Exercise at home if you want privacy, and keep in mind that accomplishing small fitness goals will boost your confidence and improve how you think about yourself.

It’s Time to Get Happy

Now you know – long hours in the gym are not required to reap the mood-boosting benefits of regular exercise. Find activities you enjoy, start small and build from there. Soon you’ll notice that you’re feeling better and getting more out of life.

 

 

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Are There Benefits to Taking Probiotics after Weight Loss Surgery?

The addition of a daily probiotic supplement may reduce digestive discomfort, help you maintain a higher vitamin B12 level, and increase weight loss after weight loss surgery.

Your Gut is Full of Bacteria

The digestive system is full of bacteria. It’s incredible what these tiny single-cell microbes do for us. They help the body:

  • Digest food
  • Absorb nutrients
  • Make enzymes, vitamins, and amino acids
  • Produce short-chain fatty acids
  • Promote gut health
  • Protect against pathogens
  • Keep “bad” bacteria from growing out of control

The number and variety of bacteria in the gut can change from stress, diet, medications, age, and disease. A reduction in the number and diversity of good bacteria can result in inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer.

Obesity and Gut Bacteria

We have learned that there are differences in the population number and types of bacteria between moderate-weight individuals and those with obesity.

  • Overweight individuals have more firmicutes and fewer bacteroidetes than moderate-weight people.
  • Those with obesity have less diversity in their gut bacteria, and those with the least variety tend to weigh the most.
  • Transplanting gut bacteria from obese mice into lean mice results in the lean mice developing obesity.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are living microorganisms, bacteria, and yeast, which help maintain a proper balance of good bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are found in foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut. They can also be taken as a supplement.

What do Probiotics have to do with Weight?

Probiotics may affect weight in several ways:

  • Reduce the number of calories absorbed from food
  • Change the levels of hormones related to appetite and fat storage
  • Decrease inflammation, a driver of obesity

A study using probiotics with overweight men and women had positive results. Those taking the probiotic for six months lost weight, decreased waist size, and positively changed gut bacteria activity. Ten billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per day of B420 of the probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis B-420 (B420) was used for this study.

In 2009, a Stanford University study found that those taking a probiotic after gastric bypass had few digestive complaints, higher vitamin B12 levels, and lost more weight.  The study used a supplement containing 2.4 billion colonies of Lactobacillus.

Choosing a Supplement

If you would like to try taking a probiotic, be sure to:

  • Consult with your health care provider first if you have an immune disorder or serious health condition.
  • Choose a product from a trusted manufacturer and check the expiration date.
  • Consider the form that works best for you – pill, capsule, powder, liquid, or chew.
  • Look at storage instructions – some need refrigeration.
  • Look for a probiotic supplement that contains at least 5 billion CFUs per dose. Those with a variety, at least seven different bacteria strains appear to be the most effective.
  • Follow the instructions on the label.

Every Bit Helps

A probiotic supplement might just fit into your weight loss plan. Use in in combination with a wholesome diet, regular exercise, good sleep habits and a healthy lifestyle.

 

 

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Are There Benefits to Collagen Supplements After Weight Loss Surgery?

Collagen supplements are the rage right now, with claims of fewer wrinkles, a full head of healthy hair, and thicker nails. It’s big business, but does it deliver what it claims. Here’s the scoop so you can decide for yourself.

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What is Collagen?

Collagen is the form of protein most abundant in the body – making up about a third of the total protein mass. It provides structure, strength, and stability and is found in joints, bones, teeth, and skin.

Collagen is a family of proteins. There are 28 different types of collagen, each with a unique amino acid (protein building block) combination. Collagen is rich in three non-essential amino acids, lysine, glycine, and proline.

As a Protein Supplement 

Collagen is an incomplete protein, meaning it does not include all the essential amino acids that the body needs. Better options to reach protein goals include low-fat meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, whey protein supplements, or soy products.

Collagen and Skin

In the skin, collagen provides structural support and elasticity, giving the skin a healthy appearance. People make less collagen each year, starting at age 20. As collagen declines, structural support and elasticity are reduced, fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin begin to appear.

Collagen and Hair Growth

Collagen plays a significant role in maintaining healthy hair follicles. It is found in the skin surrounding each hair follicle. During the growth stage, the amount of collagen surrounding the hair bulb thickens. And then naturally thins as the hair follicle goes into the resting stage.

In the case of thinning hair after bariatric surgery, stress, rather than a collagen deficit, is likely the cause. The surgery itself, followed by a low caloric intake and the resulting rapid weight loss, creates stress in the body. This stress can cause more hair strands to go into the resting phase than usual and then 3-4 months later fall out. Hair grows back once the condition that caused the hair loss is corrected, although it can take months before the hair returns to its previous thickness.

More Collagen In Doesn’t Necessarily Equate to More Body Collagen 

When collagen is consumed from an animal product or supplement, it is broken down into single amino acids. Those amino acids are put together in different combinations to make whatever proteins, including any collagen the body needs. The amino acids may form enzymes, hormones, make red blood cells, or other needs the body has. It may not be used to plump up the skin or promote lush locks.

The body will form more collagen with a balanced diet of protein-rich foods and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Nutrients that may support collagen production include:

  • Adequate protein intake. The amino acids that make up collagen are non-essential, meaning the body can produce them if it has the right building blocks.
  • Foods rich in vitamin C like oranges, strawberries, peppers, and broccoli.
  • Copper-rich foods like shellfish, nuts, and red meat.
  • Dark green leafy and orange vegetables for vitamin A.

Limiting Collagen Breakdown

Collagen production naturally decreases with age. Although science has yet to figure out how to slow aging, other factors that lead to lower collagen levels are generally within our control:

  • Excess sun exposure
  • Smoking
  • A poor diet
  • A high sugar intake
  • Excess alcohol intake

What Do the Studies Show?

Most health professionals agree that the studies into the effectiveness of collagen supplements for skin or hair health are lacking. Those that have been done have small numbers of participants and are often funded by supplement companies.

Potential Downside

Manufacturers of collagen supplements don’t have to prove their effectiveness or safety before selling them.

Collagen supplements come from animal collagen especially, bones, skin, and fish scales. These can potentially contain toxic heavy metals.

U.S. consumers are expected to spend $293 million on collagen products in 2020.

Yet, there is Some History

In China, women have considered collagen a fountain of youth for centuries. They consume collagen sources like pig’s feet, shark fins, and donkey skin. They must believe there is some benefit.

Gelatin, a cooked source of collagen, has been a long-standing treatment for hair, skin, and nails in the United States.

And the Word-of-Mouth Testimonials

Some people swear by collagen supplement. They feel their hair and skin improve significantly after taking supplements.

The Bottom Line

There is no good research showing the effectiveness of collagen supplements. The studies that have been done are often funded by the supplement companies themselves. However, there is some history to the use and a lot of word-of-mouth testimonials.

If you decide to give it a try, buy from a reputable manufacturer and let us know what you think by posting on the Barix Clinics Facebook Support Group.

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Out with Old Habits, In With New Ones

If you typically start the New Year with a list of resolutions and solid intentions yet give up before January is over, you’re not alone. Eighty percent of people do just that. We all settle into patterns of learned behavior or habits, which are comfortable. Many daily tasks are done on autopilot—with little conscious thought required. These behaviors, good or bad, tend to stay stable over time until we drum up the motivation to change.

To make lasting changes to our habits, we need to have a planned out process. We need to be willing to sacrifice to make it happen. Here are five steps to take right now to make this year different.

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Step 1: Write down your goals in clear and measurable terms. I want to be fit is too vague. Instead, get very specific. I want to be able to run a 5k in 22 minutes by June 1. Get crystal clear on what you want and write it down.


Little by little becomes a lot.


Step 2: Uncover the “why.” Having a good understanding of the real purpose of your goal helps you stay motivated. Your goal may be to earn $10,000 more this year. Define what that money will do for you: establish a savings account so you have a safety net, get a more reliable car, or pay off debt. The purpose will keep you motivated when things get challenging.

Step 3: Decide what you are willing to give up to make this goal a reality. Say you’ve decided that your goal is to prepare five home-cooked meals every week. You will have to be willing to give up time to shop, prep, and cook.

Step 4: Make a plan and take action. What are the steps that you need to take to reach your goal? How will you measure your progress?

To run a 5k in 22 minutes by June 1, you may decide to follow a couch to 5k program. You will go to bed and get up 30 minutes earlier each day to treadmill time. Your progress can be measured on a fitness app.

To earn $10,000 additional income this year, you may decide to work a part-time job. If the part-time position pays $15 per hour, you’ll need to work 13 hours each week to reach your goal. If you plan to save the money, deposit the checks into a separate account that will grow by $833 a month.

To prepare five home-cooked meals each week, you may decide to set up a meal plan, shop each Saturday morning, and meal prep on Sundays at 2:00 PM for the following week. Progress can be measured by putting a star on your meal prep calendar for each meal prepared.


“Slow, steady progress is better than daily excuses.” Robin Sharma


Step 5: Stay Focused. It is easy to get distracted. Post your goal, the “why,” your plan, and monitor in a place where you will see it each day. There will be challenging times. Don’t give up. Recommit, refocus, pick yourself up and get back at it. Breaking through these challenges is how we move forward and improve our lives.

Step by step, form better habits that allow you to become the person you want to be.

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 Have a Healthy, Happy, and Connected Holiday

At this point, you may want to sit back and let the rest of this crazy year slide quietly into history. Instead, why not finish the year with a surge of happiness, healthiness, and connectedness?

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Happiness

Happiness is a state of mind, a choice. No matter what is going on in the world around us, we can choose to be happy. Suppose we intentionally focus on the good in our lives. We can then overcome the natural tendency to think about what is missing.

  • To be grateful for the people who impact us in positive ways: family members, friends, teachers, healthcare workers, grocery store employees, delivery drivers and warehouse workers (What would we do without them this year?), first responders, and many others. Yes, some people irritate us to no end, and they tend to be the ones who get our mental energy. But instead, gently shift your time and focus to the positive people in your life.
  • To appreciate the amazing things that our bodies and minds provide for us: the ability to feel, to think, to move, to hug, to create, to learn, to change, to adapt, to give, and to receive. Yes, there are sags, wrinkles, and cellulite. But, think of the billions of individual cells in your body. They are formed into organs and systems that communicate and work in perfect concert. Our bodies are amazing.
  • To be thankful for the comforts we have. We often take for granted the roof over our heads, the furnace that keeps us warm, and the grocery store with bountiful food choices. As you go through your day, give thanks for the little comforts that you enjoy.
  • Focus on giving to others. Reaching out and helping others lifts your spirit like nothing else. Find a person or cause that you are passionate about and find a way to help.

Shifting our focus to appreciation and gratitude brings more joy and happiness into our lives. Start and end your day by thinking of three things you appreciate. This simple practice can help you positively shift your focus.

Healthiness

We need to take a pro-active approach to our health—good health does not just happen. It is something that we need to work towards—even during the holidays. In the last few weeks of the year, vow to focus on the small positive habits that, over time, shape your health.

  • Keep to your healthy meal plan at least 80% of the time, enjoying occasional treats. Better yet, enjoy a healthy version. It’s easy to find new low-calorie, low-sugar versions of your favorite holiday treats online.
  • Finding time to exercise or simply move more throughout your day will keep you energized.
  • Don’t skimp on sleep. It has a powerful impact on health and weight.
  • The holidays can be stressful. A few minutes with candlelight and soft music or a brisk walk on a star-filled night can do wonders to restore your peace and sanity.

Connections

The pandemic provides challenges for connecting with others safely. But staying connected has never been more critical.

  • The holiday season is a great time to slow down and enjoy simple things with family members. Sit by the fire, gaze at the stars, watch a holiday movie, make special foods together, make a snowman, or drive around looking at decorations.
  • Connect by bringing out the photo albums or family home movies. Holidays raise memories of how things used to be and how they have changed. Using photos to highlight the good times you have had together as a family helps you draw closer.
  • The music of the season can help us to feel connected. Many of the songs we’ve sung since childhood. Print lyric sheets to teach the younger generation classic songs.
  • Connect through gift-giving. It is often the simple gifts we cherish–a special photo framed, an activity to do together, or a card telling the person what they mean to you.
  • Sending cards is a way to let others know you are thinking of them. Show off your family and share highlights of your year with a photo and note.
  • Technology brought us Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime. Use them to connect with those you can’t see in person.
  • Phone calls are still a great way to connect during the holidays. Make a list of those you’d like to talk with, then call one person each night. Not enough time now?—put the calls off until January.

A little forethought can make this season extra-special, full of happiness, health, and connections.

 

 

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