Ask the Professional

Photo: Sharon Mehalek - LifeStart Director of Account Manager

Photo: Sharon Mehalek - LifeStart Director of Account Manager

by Hailey Brady, BS, ACSM-CPT

Trying to balance all areas of our lives can be difficult, and often times we can inadvertently neglect one aspect or another.  For many, health and wellness is the first to be pushed aside. If you’re looking for quick fixes, you don’t have to look very far. From magazine articles promising six-pack abs in time for summer, to social media celebrities promoting ‘fit’ teas, detoxes and super vitamins, how do we know what to believe?

If you’re looking for a credible and trustworthy resource, you’ve come to the right place! Each week, LifeStart Certified Personal Trainers, Registered Dietitians, and health professionals will be answering your relevant health and wellness questions. Our goal is simple; to give you the tools, resources, and guidance to live your healthiest life.

With April being Stress Awareness Month, we asked the professionals:

Throughout your health journey, how do you manage stress and keep your mind in a positive and encouraging place?

1. Identify the Cause

Take a moment to assess where your stress is coming from. Is it work, family, finances? Whatever it may be, try to pinpoint it.

Dr. Michael Acanfora of The Wellness Institute suggests trying to find the silver lining in whatever stress you may be experiencing.

Ask yourself, what can I learn from this experience? This can help prevent the same stress, or similar stressful situations from occurring in the future

2. Start Everyday With A Positive Mindset  

Consider downloading positive affirmation apps, gratitude journal apps or daily quote apps and using them at the beginning of your day

Check out my personal favorite: 52 Lists for Happiness and other journals by Moorea Seal

Dr. Michael Acanfora, DC suggests:

  • Write down 3+ things you’re grateful for
  • Write down one thing you can do that will have a positive impact on your day
  • He uses the 5 minute journal app but there are plenty others - a regular notebook works too!

Need some inspiration right now?

"I try to live by the quote ‘turn expectations into appreciations’. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in expecting a lot of my friends, family, and clients, when in reality I need to sit back and appreciate all that they do. It also works for myself, I’ve learned to appreciate all that I am capable of and set realistic goals for myself.” – Casey Baxter-Wilms, General Manager and CPT @230 W Monroe

“If your thoughts are mostly positive, you're likely an optimist, which can brighten your worst day. I wake up with the mindset ‘take it one day at a time’- it makes my weeks go by much faster” - Chloe Hubler, General Manager and CPT @1 North LaSalle

3. Set Goals

Make your goals S.M.A.R.T : Specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-based

LifeStart Manager and Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), Michelle Williams, suggests highlighting or crossing off goals as you achieve them, “crossing them off leaves a sense of eagerness to work towards the next small goal”.

Try writing your short-term goals on your calendar or planner. Before the week begins, jot down some reminders or words of encouragement for yourself.

For example, if one of your goals is to workout three times this week, schedule what days and times will work for you. Treat your workout like any other appointment or meeting and try not to cancel unless absolutely necessary.

4. Practice Breathing Techniques

LifeStart General Manager and CPT, Chris Graves, uses breathing techniques to keep his stress in check, “Having my Apple Watch helps because it sets reminders, but any clock or calendar can be helpful to remind someone to go though some breathing techniques.” Chris’s routine includes a 5 second inhale with a 7 second exhale.

Breathing techniques can be practiced anywhere and they don’t require fancy gear or special guidance.

Set time aside for breathing or meditation: schedule it into your day, you’ll be less likely to skip it

More information on breathing techniques here

5. Stick with Routines

LifeStart Fitness Director and CPT, Ashley Schroeder, manages her stress by sticking with her routine. “Becoming a creature of habit and sticking to a routine has helped me manage my stress levels throughout my health journey. It starts with going to bed at a reasonable hour so I can get at least 7 hours of sleep”.

Have a question you want to ask the professionals? Email Hailey Brady at

** Some quotes have been edited for clarity