5 Steps to Beat Stress and Reclaim Peace

 It may seem that you just can’t catch a break, and stress is overpowering you. These five steps can help you learn to manage the stress in your life and come through feeling more peaceful and in control.

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Step 1: Identify

List all of the stressors in your life. Family, work, money, living conditions, and the state or direction of our country are typical stressors. Don’t forget to dig a little deeper and look for how your behaviors and thoughts contribute.

You may want to keep a log before making your list to identify stress patterns. You can track:

  • The cause of stress.
  • How it made you feel.
  • How you responded.
  • What you did do to feel better.

Step 2: Avoid

It is surprising how many stressors you can simply eliminate. You may be surprised how many stressors can simply be eliminated. A friend who always brings unnecessary drama – don’t answer the text and cut back on time spent with them. An awful work commute – plan to find a job closer to home or one that allows you to work from home.  The news can be downright scary – turn it off. Too much on your plate – say no to things that don’t have to be done or increase stress.

Step 3: Alter

If avoiding a stressful situation isn’t possible, you may be able to alter it.

The drama-filled friend – answer the text with a positive message and refuse to get caught up. Alter your work commute – go in 30 minutes early to miss the rush. Do a quick scan of the news headlines – don’t delve into the specifics. To free up more time, set tighter boundaries – I only have 10 minutes; what can we get done in that time.

Be proactive about building a balanced life with time for the things that matter. Learn to express your needs in a clear, calm manner and allow others to do the same.

Step 4: Adapt

When it isn’t possible to avoid or adapt to a stressor, it may help to change your expectations and perspective.

Take a step back and look at your friend’s drama as her drama – not your drama. Use your work commute to listen to some uplifting tunes, an audiobook, or an inspiring podcast. Before scanning the news headlines, remind yourself that the media uses shock to raise ratings. And that busy life – be grateful you have a family, a job, and can contribute to society.

Step 5: Accept

When a stressor is out of your control, the best way to cope may be to just accept it for what it is. You cannot control the weather, the behavior of others, the death of loved ones, a diagnosis of severe disease, the economy, or war. Nothing is helped when we stress over things beyond our control, but our physical and mental health suffers.

As you work to maintain a peaceful outlook amid a stressful situation, it may help to talk to someone about your feelings, forgive and let go of anger and resentments, look for any potential upside, and keep your focus on those things in your control.

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You Can Beat Stress in 10 Easy Moves

Stress is a part of life. In short spurts, it can boost alertness and performance. But constant stress can have a significant downside. Luckily, there is an easy natural way to beat stress through exercise.

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Exercise is, in fact, one of the best ways to combat stress and improve your mood. It works by:

  • Increasing blood flow and the body’s ability to use oxygen.
  • Producing more endorphins – giving you a natural mood boost.
  • Enhancing quality sleep – vital for replenishing your body.
  • Taking your mind off your worries.
  • Improving your health, fitness, and confidence – giving you fewer reasons to stress.

How Much Exercise?

Set an exercise goal that works for you, and then adjust it. Things to consider when you create your goals:

  • Take into account current fitness level, physical limitations, injuries, or other restrictions.
  • Start small, be consistent, and build slowly.
  • As you lose weight, it takes less work to move your body. That means the same exercise uses fewer calories. You’ll want to continuously bump up your effort to account for a shrinking body weight during the weight loss phase.
  • The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week and at least two well-rounded strength training sessions.
  • Tracking steps can also be an effective way to ensure enough overall movement in your day. Build to a daily goal of 10,000 steps a day or more.

10 Moves to Meet Your Weekly Exercise Target

Any exercise can reduce your stress. It’s always best to choose an activity you enjoy. Working out with a friend or family member can also add stress-busting benefits. After all, if you’re having fun, you’ll be more likely to stick with it. If you enjoyable and exercise don’t seem to work in the same sentence, branch out to some new activities. You’re sure to find something doable.

Move 1

Brisk Walking. It’s simple, flexible, and almost everyone can do it. Even a quick 10-minute walk can restore calm. Take frequent walks throughout your day or go for one longer walk – both strategies work. Whenever possible, get out in nature to multiply the benefits.

Move 2

Swimming or Water Aerobics. Easy on joints, swimming provides a soothing full-body workout. For added social fun, try a water aerobics class.

 

Move 3

Dancing. You can do it in your living room, take a class, or head out for a night of music and dancing- what a great way to enjoy life and get into relaxation mode.

Move 4

Cycling. Indoors or out, bike riding is a joint-friendly workout. Recumbent bikes offer a comfortable seat and back support. Combine indoor cycling with some great music or lose yourself in a drama-packed movie. Outdoors, enjoy the sights and sounds of nature as you work out the stress.

Move 5

Yoga. The stretching and breathing combination in yoga practice is an incredibly effective stress zapper. You can warm it up with hothouse yoga, get intense with aerobic yoga, or opt for a gentle approach. 

Move 6

Tai Chi. Slow, purposeful movements and breathing provide a mind-body connection in tai chi. It’s an exercise that almost everyone can do.

Move 7

Gardening. Think of all the movements you make when gardening – stretching, bending, digging, lifting, and carrying. It works a full range of muscles. You can produce food or beautify your environment and regain calm simultaneously.

Move 8

Boxing. Boxing is a great way to burn off stress while getting a heart-pumping workout. Hang a boxing bag in your basement or garage, or find a nearby class to learn the basics.

Move 9

Strength Training. The rhythmic motion of weight lifting is soothing. The fast results help you feel strong and in control.

Move 10

Non-Exercise Techniques. Exercise is necessary for a healthy body and great for stress reduction. Combine it with other calming habits for even better results.

  • Get organized. If you are constantly running late and feeling overwhelmed by a never-ending to-do list, get organized. Cut out non-essential activities and have a daily plan for your time.
  • Prioritize sleep. Sleep is your body’s time to recover. Getting a healthy dose of sleep each night can help you better tackle stress.
  • Eat right. Limit highly processed foods; instead, opt for whole, fresh foods, including lean protein sources, fresh vegetables and fruits, and whole grains. Eating right helps you have the nutrients and pep to feel your best each day.
  • Include a daily meditation practice. You may want to start with a guided meditation – there are many to choose from on the internet. Also, consider breathing exercises – very helpful for in-the-moment stress reduction.
  • Connect with others. The human connection triggers hormones that both calm and lift us up. Make time to be with others who make you feel safe and understood.
  • Have fun. Carve out time to simply relax and have fun. Nourishing yourself in this way will put you in a better place to handle the stress that comes your way.
  • Be grateful. Take time each day to focus on all of the good in your life. It’s easy to get so caught up in the things that are wrong that we lose sight of all of the things that are right.

Bottom Line

Keep your overall ability to fight stress with a good daily exercise routine. Practice a variety of stress management techniques. Then when stress hits, you’ll be able to stay cool and calm by using the tools that work best in that situation.

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How to Qualify for Bariatric Surgery

How to Qualify for Bariatric Surgery

If you’re considering a surgical procedure for weight loss, you might be curious about how to qualify for bariatric surgery. Doctors consider many factors when recommending different weight loss surgeries to patients. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose and meet certain other criteria, bariatric surgery could be a life-changing decision that helps lead to a healthier, more fulfilling life. In fact, in many cases, it can be a life-saving measure.

Understanding the factors that influence a doctor’s decision to recommend bariatric surgery can help you identify whether you’re a good candidate for a weight loss procedure. If you’ve tried other non-surgical interventions or a number of diets over the years with no luck, then you might be asking yourself, should I get bariatric surgery? We’ll address this and a number of other common questions when considering bariatric surgery.

Top Questions About Bariatric Surgery

Is my weight high enough for me to be considering bariatric surgery?

Most physicians will address this question by looking at your Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a calculation based on the ratio between your height and weight. BMI calculations place people into categories of underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obesity. Candidates for weight loss surgery have BMIs that place them in the obesity category.
The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery lists more specific criteria to qualify for bariatric surgery based on BMI. These benchmarks include:

  • A BMI >40
  • A BMI >35 with accompanying health issues such as high blood pressure, degenerative joint disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, or high cholesterol

In general, people with obesity are at a higher risk of developing associated health conditions that impact or shorten their lives, like heart disease, stroke, respiratory issues, diabetes, and cancer. Bariatric surgery can be an effective intervention to reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases in patients who can’t achieve weight loss by non-surgical methods.

Are there other factors to help me understand how to qualify for bariatric surgery?

In addition to your BMI category, there are other factors you and your doctor may discuss when considering bariatric surgery. Some of these factors include age, past attempts at weight loss, your commitment to lifestyle changes (diet, exercise), and any other medical conditions you might have.

Ideal candidates for bariatric surgery should also be willing to commit to making long-term lifestyle changes post-surgery involving healthy eating habits and regular exercise. A highly trained nutrition team can help with this.

Should I get weight loss surgery?

Each person will need to answer the question, “Should I get weight loss surgery?” for themselves. No one knows you — your past attempts at weight loss, your goals, your expectations — like you do. Weight loss surgery can significantly impact your physical and mental health, so thoughtfully discussing your case with your physician can help you decide whether weight loss surgery is right for you.

What is the difference between weight loss surgery and bariatric surgery?

Weight loss surgery and bariatric surgery are two terms that refer to the same thing. The term “bariatric” means relating to or specializing in the treatment of obesity. Bariatric surgery involves specialized procedures that aim to help patients lose weight. There are many different types of procedures, and each case is unique.

What are my next steps?

To move forward with bariatric surgery, it’s important that you have a clear understanding of the surgery, the risks, prospective outcomes, and whether you’re a good candidate. The best way to establish this is to schedule a consultation with a specialist who can address your particular medical history, diet and weight history, risk factors, and options. Your surgeon will take the time to answer all your questions and help prepare you for any further steps along the way.

The Barix Team is Here for You

At Barix Clinics, we have an entire team of experts dedicated to helping you. If you’re considering bariatric surgery, the next step is to schedule a consultation to get all of your questions answered and visit our BMI calculation page. Here you can find your BMI for yourself as well as other helpful information and guidance on how you can continue this journey toward a healthier life.

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Food Prep to Eat Better and Simplify Your Life

Do you have room for improvement when it comes to healthy eating? If so, food prep may help get you there. Start small, learn the ropes, and you’ll be a pro in no time.

There are lots of ways to work ahead to minimize your daily meal prep effort. Use these ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

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  • Make-ahead meals. Prepare and cook complete meals, then store in bulk to reheat.
  • Put single-serving snack, lunch, or dinner portions in containers for grab-and-go convenience.
  • Meals for one. Prepare and portion entire meals into single-serving containers.
  • Assemble meals (don’t cook), refrigerate or freeze to cook later.
  • Ingredient prep. Chop vegetables, marinate meat, and portion out spices to minimize daily cooking time.
  • Cook once and make several different meals. Lean ground beef can be spaghetti sauce Monday night, tacos on Tuesday, and chili on Wednesday.

The benefits to food preparation are numerous:

  • It puts you in control of the foods you cook. You can limit salt, added sugars, and saturated fat and serve right-sized portions.
  • You’ll save money. Preparing food at home minimizes more costly meals out. By planning and prepping, you will waste less food.
  • You’ll save time. There’s no need to wait in a drive-thru line. Cooking is a breeze when you’ve planned and prepped.
  • You’ll be less stressed. One less thing on your plate – tell me that doesn’t sound good?
  • You’ll eat better. Having healthy foods readily available makes it easy to make a good choice. After all, we all tend to do what is easiest at the moment.
  • It appears that all of this healthy home eating is good for the entire family. Teens that eat at home with their families are less likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs. They also get higher grades and have better-eating habits as adults. Younger children are more likely to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Woman making tasty vegetarian lunch, close up

How to start:

To garner the benefits of food prep, start with a meal plan, a shopping list, food storage containers, and a couple of hours each week.

It can be overwhelming to go from winging it to planning all your meals and snacks. You may want to start with one meal first. You’ll undoubtedly get benefits by taking this first step and then building on your successes. Keeping it simple will also help. Repeat meals, use tried-and-true recipes or simple recipes without many ingredients.

Step 1: Meal Planning

Pencil in meals on your calendar (or find an app to use), gather recipes and make a list of ingredients needed week-by-week for an entire month. You may want to use the Barix Clinics Meal Planning Guidelines to make a meal plan. Once you do this, it is easy to tweak from month to month to accommodate seasonal foods and add variety.

Step 2: Stock up on Food Storage Containers

Food storage containers come in various sizes, shapes, and materials. Find the right containers for your food prep style.

  • The sizes you select will depend on your needs.
  • Are you prepping meals for one or a large family?
  • Do you plan to portion out snacks or buy single-serving containers?
  • What shapes do you want? Round containers work well for soups. Rectangle containers fit more compactly into the fridge or freezer.
  • If you have limited storage spaces, look for empty containers that nest for storage?
  • Some food prep containers come with dividers to keep foods separate.
  • Food storage containers are typically made of plastic or glass. Plastic containers are lighter and don’t break easily. They are not typically recommended for the microwave. If you are going with glass, ensure the containers are freezer and microwave safe. Containers should have leak-proof lids.
  • Food storage bags can be a good option. They work great if you like to buy in bulk and then portion nuts and other snack foods into single servings. Freezer bags are thicker and help to keep frozen foods fresh longer.
  • Vacuum sealed. Food exposed to air oxidizes and does not stay fresh. A vacuum sealer removes air, creates a tight seal, and keeps foods fresh longer. Both bags and containers come in vacuum seal versions. Bags are typically not reusable; containers are.

Step 3: Grocery Shop

Once you have a meal plan in place, it’s easy to put together a shopping list. With a list in tow, you can minimize impulse buying. Ordering online for pick-up or delivery can also help you stick to your grocery list.

Step 4: Weekly Meal Prep

You have a plan, containers, and groceries. Now it’s time to prep. Make it fun by cranking up the tunes and enlisting the help of family or friends.

You don’t have to make an entire week’s worth of meals at one time. Instead, you may want to do an extensive prep on the weekend and a smaller prep halfway through the week. Most foods keep safely in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

If you want to start slower, chop vegetables and cook a batch of chicken in the slow cooker. Even these simple steps will ease your work week load.

If you decide to go all-out, you can:

  • Pre-cook breakfast for the week (egg bites or protein pancakes, for example)
  • Portion out (but not assemble) deli meat, bread, and toppings for lunch sandwiches
  • Portion out snacks, and prepare dinners to reheat

Once you get in the groove, meal prep is definitely doable. Start big or start small – just start.

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How to Become a Successful Food Tracker

Food tracking is a 15-minute a day proven tool for weight loss and maintenance. Those who track daily get the best results.

If you have the best intentions but struggle to track regularly, you’re not alone. Here are some common barriers to consistent food tracking and ideas for overcoming them.

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One

 You don’t have time.

It takes about 15 minutes a day to track your food intake. You can do it while waiting for an appointment, riding in the car, watching TV, or talking on the phone.

Two

You start strong but quickly lose interest.

Be specific about what you’re tracking. If you’re not sure what your goals are, you won’t know if you’re meeting them or not. You’ll soon lose interest.

In addition to tracking protein and calories, you may want to set short-term goals. For example, if you find you’re skipping breakfast, a plan may be to drink a protein drink on your way to work. Once you get that habit in place, you may decide to track something else.

Three 

Highly processed food is easy to track. Home-cooked food is more challenging.

  • Select a similar item from the app’s list.
  • Calculate the nutrition information in your recipe. If it’s one you use a lot, it may be worth the time. There are a lot of free sites that will do this online. MyFitnessPal also has this feature.
  • If you don’t have time at the moment to figure out the nutrition info on a meal, take a picture and go back later when you have a few minutes.
  • Don’t expect perfection. You will become more accurate with more practice. You’ll also find that tracking gets easier over time.

Four 

You forget.

Put reminders in place until tracking becomes more automatic. You may set the alarm on your phone, put notes in conspicuous places (in the refrigerator, on your desk, in your lunch box, etc.).

Get in the habit of tracking before you bite. Go back and adjust the amount if you eat less (or more) than you intended to.

Five

You aren’t making the best food (or drink) choices and are embarrassed to write them down.

Rather than giving up, be kind to yourself. Try to take the emotion out of it and learn from the data you are gathering. Look at the numbers and plan to correct course and get back on track. Consistently tracking, even on the “bad” days, will help you reach your goals.

You don’t need to track forever. Once you get into a sound eating routine and your weight is stable, you may be able to back off. Just pick your tracker back up again if you have a significant change. A new job, a new family member, an injury, or training for a running event can throw your eating plan out of balance.

 

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