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Health & Wellness Corner

Health and Wellness Corner is intended to give you the tools, tips, advice and resources you want and need to make a difference in your own health journey. With information on nutrition, exercise, weight management options and more, we aim to equip you with the RIGHT education to find lasting success with weight management.

How to reduce anxiety: Get curious about your state of mind to feel better

With more than 40 million adults in the U.S. suffering from anxiety, many people are looking for ways to reduce stress. Dr. Judson Brewer, an associate professor at Brown University and director of research and innovation at the school's Mindfulness Center, believes one of the best ways to fight anxiety is to combat it with curiosity. "I think of it as a two-step process," Brewer told TODAY. "The first is we need to map out some of our anxiety habit loops. We tend to feed anxious thoughts without even knowing them." Once you've determined what anxiety habits you may have — Brewer highlighted common ones like worrying or over-planning — it's important to "get curious" about what anxiety itself feels like. Ask yourself: What sensations are you experiencing? Is it a tightness or a tension? Is it heat in your body? Is it a contracted quality? How to stress less: Dr. Deepak Chopra’s tips to ease anxiety APRIL 8, 201906:46 Curiosity can be 'a superpower' "A lot of people are so identified with anxiety that they feel like 'I am an anxious person,' but in fact awareness can help them see that anxiety is just made up of thoughts and body sensations and emotions, and that these thoughts and emotions come and go," he explained. "They don't have to be as identified with them, and awareness can help that simple process." In this method, Brewer said curiosity can be "like a superpower" that can help flip the script on anxiety. "As they get curious, the curiosity itself feels better than the anxiety," he said. "They can flip it from being anxious in that moment to being curious about what anxiety feels like, and that curiosity feels better. Our brains are always looking for what I call a BBO, a bigger, better offer, and we can offer curiosity as that bigger better offer anytime anxiety comes up." Inside 1 classroom making mental health lessons mandatory SEPT. 19, 201904:29 Reduce the symptoms around anxiety In Brewer's experience, this two-step method has been hugely helpful. He recounted the case of one patient who was so scared of car accidents that he wouldn't leave his house. "He started using our anxiety program, and within a couple of months, I'm not kidding, he is now an Uber driver," Brewer said. "Actually, just last week, I was teaching a class at Brown, in Providence, and I walked out of the building while talking to some students, and he drove by, rolled down his windows, and was like 'Hey, Dr. Jud!' because he was on an Uber trip! It's great to see that." Brewer also explained the curiosity and mindfulness practices can help reduce the symptoms around anxiety. In the case of the patient who was afraid to drive, one of his top anxiety habits had been stress-eating, but Brewer said that as he began mapping out his habits, the patient was able to eliminate his stress-eating and lose weight. "It's a great example of how, if you truly map out how your mind works, you can work it in a way that's actually really helpful for you," Brewer explained. "This guy overcame his panic, lost a bunch of weight... all from mapping out his mind and bringing curiosity to his experience."

5 Steps to Manage Your Weight Using Less Willpower

How many times have you felt guilty for giving into an urge to eat something that wasn’t the healthiest for you? Unfortunately in our society, obesity is often seen as a character flaw or a sign that a person does not try hard enough. At the same time, we are leading stressful, busy lives and are continuously bombarded with food. When society sees weight struggles as a character flaw, it’s hard to feel like it’s not your fault. They say… “You just need more willpower.” “Just work harder.” “Just resist the temptation to eat, and move more.” “Here’s some candy to munch on while you wait for your doctor’s appointment.” Our environment is screaming that we should be thinner, but its messages are setting us up for failure. Responding to Willpower So, what are you supposed to do if your doctor keeps telling you that all you need is more willpower? How do you respond when well-meaning loved ones ask if you are doing enough? It’s hard not to think that they are right and you are wrong. After all, there is logic to their argument, right? The only problem is that those arguments are based on the idea that weight-loss is always simple and that you just have to resist temptation and be stronger. Meanwhile, if obesity were that simple, countless people out there that are physically active, avoiding candy and eating carefully would be more successful. The science shows us that obesity is a complex disease. It is not a moral failure. Rather, it is the body’s response to a perfect storm of biological, genetic and environmental factors that promote obesity. We have to take into account the many and varied factors that can affect your ability to reach and maintain a healthy weight. There are genetic factors that may predispose some people to having extra weight. We also have to consider these factors too: Hormone imbalances Inflammation Varying differences in insulin sensitivity Challenges that limit physical activity Addictions and mental health issues Stress Poor sleep And so on On top of that, there are environmental factors such as toxic exposures, lack of financial resources, poor access to clean and whole foods, large portion sizes, insufficient support from loved ones and more. Considering the complexity of obesity and the fact that ultra-processed food is cheap and easy to get, it would seem that using willpower isn’t as simple as they make it sound. That being said, willpower is an important part of weight management for many people. However, what I teach my clients is that willpower is only a tiny part of the process. You should probably rely less on willpower than you think. Other Steps You Can Take: 1. Get Support I recommend getting at least one close friend or family member to support you. Tell them what your goals are and why, and ask for help. It’s great to have someone to call when your confidence is low. If possible, also enlist support from anyone that you live with and even people you work with. 2. Set up Your Environment for Success The goal here is to make it difficult to indulge in foods that you know are not going to help your weight. Remove them from your house and workplace as much as possible. Ask those around you to keep junk food out of your sight. There is no shame in this. Seeing and smelling unhealthy foods can trigger your brain to desire that food. 3. Lose Weight Slowly There is evidence that people who lose weight rapidly have a higher chance of gaining it back. I know that it is enticing to imagine yourself losing a ton of weight quickly. But the truth is, this usually involves severe restrictions that are not sustainable. If you do it slowly, you will suffer less and you can gradually develop lifestyle habits that will stick for life. 4. Gradually Develop New Habits Sustaining a healthy weight has a lot to do with the right habits. Your brain relies on habits, and when you have one, your brain wants to continue it. When you have good habits, this works for you. Slowly work your way up to one new healthy habit at a time. This can make the change seem almost imperceptible so you don’t need a lot of willpower. Imagine starting by adding just one additional cup of vegetables each day for a month. After that, add another one additional cup per day. You will barely notice you are making a change, but that daily action will start to slowly build into a solid and sustainable habit that boosts your health. Slowly building healthier habits helps you reduce the pain of change. 5. Go Easy on Yourself You are not perfect. I am not perfect. That is the beauty of being human. You are going to make mistakes. You are going to eat more than you should sometimes. It’s what you do after the fact that matters. You can beat yourself up and potentially go into a downward spiral of repeating that behavior, or you can forgive yourself and start fresh the next day. Just try to remind yourself that you are making this effort to improve your health and forge on. You are not alone!

week 1

Many people struggle to move more during the work day. This is especially true if you have a job where you sit at a desk for extended periods of time. But even if your job is sedentary, there are plenty of ways you can squeeze-in extra steps during the work day and take more strides.

Park at the Back of the Parking Lot – Challenge yourself to walk a farther distance from your car to the front door of your workplace. Prepare for the weather by having an umbrella and a water bottle on-hand. Take Calls/Meetings while Walking – Having a conference call or meeting? Try taking it outside if you don’t need a computer or something to write with. Walk through the parking lot or on a nearby sidewalk to stay close. You and your co-workers will enjoy a break from routine. Walk on Your Lunch Break – Food is fuel, but so is activity! Re-energize for the second half of your work day by going on a walk during your lunch period. Either bring your lunch with you or eat before/after. Take Frequent Breaks – Staying idle can be rough on your mind and body. Try taking frequent breaks to use the restroom, walk around and maybe even pay a visit to a co-worker’s desk.