Friday, December 5, 2014

Exercise vs. Depression

Exercise vs. depression is like a tug of war.

When a person is depressed (speaking from experience) it can be hard getting out of bed never mind getting dressed for a workout. It's hard for most people to get the motivation to workout even when they aren't depressed. Self care can be difficult. The desire to 'look nice' isn't there and my outfit of choice is yoga pants/sweat pants and a T-shirt. As for my mood my husband would say I'm 'irritable'. My brain/thought capacity and short term memory is somewhat lacking at times. It becomes mentally harder to process things. My appetite is non existent due to the anxiety that also accompanies the depression. Not having an appetite for me means not having the fuel I need for my workouts. That however doesn't stop me as I force myself to eat. I remind myself how good I will feel during my workouts/exercise and then I try to find the healthiest most palatable food that will help me in my next workout. I don't want anything to get in the way of my natural medicine or self care - exercise! If exercise wasn't already incorporated into my life I can't imagine I could be efficient at following a workout routine. Walking perhaps but nothing beyond that.  

The irony with lack of motivation with depression is the most effective treatment for depression is exercise. When I was first diagnosed with depression a few years ago the only time I felt 100% normal/mentally healthy was when I was running with my friends. Ever since then I've read many articles on the topic and my psychiatrist at the time also recommended cardio exercise as an effective tool for combating depression.

I'm not sure why but for some reason my depression and anxiety are coming back even while on medication. My life seemed to be going great and I was thinking to myself how well I was doing. After Halloween I then started to not feel well to my dismay. Sleep has been difficult so I've been taking prescribed medication so I can sleep through the night. I live in New England, and it's that time of year where the days are cold, gray and short with not a lot of sunlight compared to spring and summer. I'm thinking a light box may be on the horizon for me to try.

As I write this I'm still feeling nauseous. It's a feeling I've had for several days. I have my professionals at hand to help me and a great support system. Something so key in combating this illness.

Early this morning (5:30 am) I dragged myself out of bed and to the gym. I did weight training for about 45 minutes. It was hard getting going at first in the beginning of my routine and then I got into a grove and was feeling powerful, strong and just plain great!

One of the exercises in my workout this morning. 

After getting home I got my 9 year old up for school and we went for a run outside.  Again I felt great during and after my workout for some time. For breakfast I could stomach a yogurt, banana, vitamins and my medication. As the endorphins started to ware off I started to feel nauseous again. If I could exercise 24 hours a day I would! I then spent the rest of the day running errands with a friend (the sun was shinning). By the middle of the day I actually felt really hungry for the first time in days. We went to Chipotle for lunch and I had an awesome burrito bowl (brown rice, peppers, onions, chicken, mild salsa and guacamole) I ate the entire bowl!! It felt good to want to eat in that moment. It's kind of ironic that I'm trying to get in shape and lose weight (post back surgery) and my depression/anxiety is doing a great job of helping me not eat! A dieters dream perhaps? As a test I even baked a pan of brownies for my boys this evening. I ate one brownie and I didn't get any pleasure out of it (normally I would probably lose all self control and probably eat about half the pan). All I can do is take it one day at a time right now. I will get better. It's just a matter of time and treatment.

Thank you for reading my post - it helps me mentally to write and hopefully give those a window into my world. Depression/anxiety unfortunately isn't something a person can just snap out of. It's a biological condition in the brain that can be improved with medication, therapy, sleep and exercise of course! Mental illness is 'taboo' or the big white elephant in society. I hope this post helps someone out there to not feel so alone.

As for exercise I am thankful I have the physical ability to do so. Right now that's my 'happy and relaxed pill'.

Note: If any of this post doesn't make sense please understand :-) I've proof read my writing however my brain feels like it did when I was pregnant many years ago. Somewhat disorganized at times and 'slow'. To those who are afflicted with this illness I wish you much healing and lots of support.

For more information on Depressionhttp://psychcentral.com/disorders/depression/

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Rhythm Of Weight Loss

I have a million topics and ideas to write about along with the pulls of school, being a mom, a wife and taking care of my body (my #1 priority). Right now my boys are out of the house with my husband and I'm taking a study break. I'm working on a research paper about Juicing. I haven't decided what direction I'm going to go with on the topic but the subject is very interesting!

As of today I weigh 188.2 lbs and I'm 5' 2" :-( On the upside I'm doing something about it and I've lost 5 lbs this past month. :-) 

Non food based reward! - pedicure
A pedicure instead of a food reward for losing 5 lbs
Statistics show that the majority of people who lose weight gain it back. I feel like the poster child for that statement and I want to beat the statistics. I'm learning a lot of strategies in my course work when it comes to weight loss maintenance success. One thing I've realized is that weight loss doesn't ever have a finish line. It takes a lot of hard work to lose the pounds and just as much work keeping the pounds off. 

Lately my biggest struggle has been balancing my calorie intake with my calorie burn. No matter what my body needs a calorie deficit in order to lose weight. To lose 1 lb in a week I have to have a deficit of 3,500 calories in a week. My current calorie target level for eating to lose 2 lbs per
Polar HR Monitor Watch - Track Calories Burned!
Love my Polar HR Watch! A must have to keep
track of how many calories I burn in my workouts!
week is set to 1,231 calories per day. When I exercise I can eat more than 1,231 calories but I don't consume all of the extra calories I burn. To eat every calorie burned during my workout doesn't speed up my weight loss efforts. For example if I eat 1,200 calories in a day and burn 350 calories that same day I may eat an extra 150 - 200 calories to compensate for the calories I burned during exercise (1,350 - 1,400). If I'm really hungry or don't feel satiated I'll consume all of the extra calories burned. 

Braggberry Dressing!
A Great New Dressing I love!
Braggberry Dressing!

The tricky part about counting calories is making sure I get the right amount of carbohydrates, fats, proteins. I've found for example if I don't eat enough fat I don't feel satiated and I feel hungry. The same goes for protein. Protein takes a long time for the stomach to break down hence feeling fuller longer however if I don't have a little bit of fat I don't feel satiated even though I'm full. On the subject of bulk it's all about veggies and fruit (Fiber)! Balancing out food groups and discovering what works for my body can be difficult. I've found as a rule that if I stick to whole foods and avoid processed foods I feel full and satisfied. 

For tracking my calories I've been using the Lose It AP. I've also been participating in DeitBet.com to help keep me focused in the right direction. I survived Halloween and allowed myself some of my sons candy on Halloween. After Halloween I made sure the candy was put away and out of sight. Out of sight = out of mind!

Thanksgiving is coming up and we are going out to dinner so no left overs :-) I may purchase some rotisserie turkey breast at the grocery store if I feel the need for left over turkey. 

My current workout routine has been ramping up slowly over the many weeks/months. On the weeks I don't increase my workout time I increase my workout intensity. 

My current workout routine looks like this:

Sunday = Day Off
Monday = Zumba 
Tuesday = Weights and 30 min Slow Run/Walk
Wednesday = Zumba
Thursday = Weights and 30 min Slow Run/Walk
Friday = Spin, Strength/conditioning class 
Saturday = Circuit Training

My goal is to get another day of run/walking to make it 3x a week. My goal is to run a 5k in the Spring with one of my sons. 

Think about what works for you. For me it seems to be an ever changing process as life happens and things get thrown into the mix!


PS Since my back surgery in June I haven't had any back issues or problems! I'm continuing to do lots of core strengthening exercises and strengthening my back muscles :-)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Change your mind about carbohydrates!

I hear in different conversations that carbs/carbohydrates are bad for us and and pack on the pounds.

Guess what..... Not true!

While I don't know absolutely everything (no one does) what I do know is carbohydrates aren't bad for us. There are diets out there that seem to have some variation on eating fewer carbs or low/no carbs.

First I would like to say that not all carbohydrates are the same. Our body reacts differently to simple carbs vs. complex carbs.

For example if I were to eat a cookie that was 120 calories vs. 120 calories worth of brown rice or 120 calories of apple slices my body would react differently to the cookie vs. the brown rice or apple.

Complex Carbohydrates:

Apple = Aprox 4.5 grams fiber, natural sugars (fructose), Potassium,  Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Sodium, Zinc, B1, B6, B1, E, C, A

Brown Rice = 1.8 grams fiber, 2.32 grams protein, Calcium, iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, B6,


Simple Carbohydrates:

Cookies typically contain = very little if any fiber,  white flour, sugar and butter or hydrogenated oils/fats


If I were to eat brown rice or an apple I would be satiated as these foods have fiber in them and or protein. Fiber and protein helps me feel full and slows down the emptying of my stomach. This leads to me feeling fuller longer and helps with stabilizing blood sugar vs. giving my body a sugar high and then a crash. If I were to eat a cookie that was 120 calories I would still be hungry which would lead to a few more cookies and a lot more fat, sugar and calories to only be hungry again a short time later after the sugar crash.

An excess amount of calories = weight gain.

I've found through my many years of experience with weight loss and weight gain that whole foods work!  Whole foods keep me satiated and fuller longer than simple carbs like: white bread, muffins, white rice, cookies.... (all the things I love!)


What are carbohydrates good for?

1. Carbohydrates are an energy source for our body. Carbohydrates are stored in our muscles as glycogen and in our cells as glucose. Any excess glucose in our body is stored as fat (importance of watching our calorie intake). Glycogen/glucose is what powers our muscles during activity both anaerobically (jumping) and aerobically (long slow distance).

2. Protein sparer. Carbohydrates preserve our muscle tissue protiens. The job of protein is to help maintain muscle tissue, repair and grow. If there aren't enough carbohydrates muscle tissue and fat is used for fuel through glyconeogenesis (the breakdown of protein and fat to be converted to glucose).

Glyconeogenesis occurs under these conditions:
a. Dietary Restriction - consuming little or no carbohydrates - not enough calories.
b. Prolonged Exercise - glycogen/glucose stores are depleted during the activity without any additional fuel.
c. Intense training - repeatedly.

3. Metablolic Primer. Carbohydrates serve as a primer for fat to be used as energy. The byproducts of carbohydrate breaking down is what serves as a primer to burn fat for energy. The body can not have a sustained high level of activity (aerobic) from fat only (less intense of a workout = fewer calories burned). The body needs carbohydrates.

4. Central Nervous System (brain and spinal cord). Our brain relies on carbohydrates exclusively to function. The brain gets the carbohydrates in the form of blood glucose. The brain doesn't have the capability of creating a storage of glucose to be used later (like our muscles do). During intense exercise our muscles use what glycogen and blood glucose is available. Blood glucose eventually decreases below normal and the body can have mild symptoms of hypoglycemia (weakness, hunger, dizziness). Exercise performance decreases and fatigue sets in.

Summary
Are carbohydrates bad? No!

There are valuable micro and macro nutrients that we could be missing if we avoid foods that contain carbohydrates.

Eat whole foods and you will be eating complex carbohydrates = fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, glycogen and glucose for your brain and muscles. Stay away from as much processed food as you can.

Weight Loss = our bodies using up more calories than we consume.

Cheers!



Sources:

Essentials of Exercise Physiology - fourth edition - Victor Katch, William McArdle, Frank Katch
Pg 36 -38

USDA




Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Time To Take A Breath

Time To Take A Breath.
I tell myself after my children get on the school bus.
Another summer vacation has passed and the school year is starting for my boys and I.

The healthy bagged lunches are packed and I'm interested to find out how much of it my boys ate. It was standard fare: pbj, apple, carrots, multigrain quinoa chips and bottled water.

I feel a little bit of sadness that my youngest is now in kindergarten and my oldest is experiencing his last year in elementary school. I go inside and look around my house. It looks like a tornado went through it. Towards the end of summer I started to lose my steam. I couldn't do it all and the last few weeks I sort of gave up on the house. Before my surgery and post recovery I tried to pack in as many trips to the beach as I could and activities for my boys. I felt like I was a whirling dervish during the day and went to bed each day exhausted. I figured if my house looked like a bomb went off it was OK as long as my boys where fed, clean, loved, and happy. On any given day there are about 3 loads of laundry yet to be folded and that's ok. I tell myself as I take a breath.

Thankfully I'm sending my children to some amazing yet underpaid teachers. And my husband said this morning: "It's like an early Christmas! Santa is sending us a bus to take our children!". He says this with a smile (my husband has a home office so a quiet house makes for a quiet office).

Santa's Sl.... I mean the freedom bu. I mean The School Bus

After getting the kids on the bus I went to not one, not two, not three but four different places in silence! One of those stops was the grocery store. It was a very happy moment for me. As I walked up to the grocery store I took a deep breath. Ahhh I can read labels and think without any distractions. I never thought I could be that happy in a grocery store! I wanted to skip down the isles and I didn't even look at a list. I made it a challenge to see if I could leave the store without forgetting anything. I felt somewhat giddy. I would have actually skipped down the isle but I thought I might get a few stares. The store mainly had the demographics: elders, and moms with young children. As I saw a few children in the store it brought me back to the days of when my guys where little (under the age of 3). There's a small part of me that misses when my boys where that young and then there's a part of me that wanted to jump up an down in the store and yell I'm free! I'm free! Look I have two hands and no one nagging me to buy this or that! I can even stop and read the ingredients on a label! Wait this can't be for real?! Wait a minute am I on vacation? Time to take a breath.

It's 3:29 and my boys will be home soon. Time to take a breath and brace myself for the tornados. But first to attack the pile of laundry, then dinner and baseball. And tomorrow morning? An early morning workout! No matter what! School for me starts tomorrow!! Time to take a deep breath!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Back On The Wagon With Lose It!

As I write this I'm extremely tired and my husband is yacking my ear off about watching a movie so I'm going to make this short.  This week was my first week back to the gym! I'm starting out very slow and gradual so I don't injure myself. This week I went to the gym 3x with the following routine: 10 mins total of cardio on the bike and or elliptical; one arm planks, bosu planks, Lunges with and without weights, squats with weights, skaters, and wood choppers with weight. Even though I ran at my last physical therapy appointment without any pain I want to lose some weight and get my back and core stronger before I start my running routine.

Me Doing the Wood Chop - note the bags under my eyes.
This was taken late in the day today.
My workout today went well even though I'm really tired. Last night I wasn't able to get to sleep until I took a sleeping pill at 3am. I slept 3:30 am to 9:30 am (thankfully my boys don't start school till next week!). Not ideal for me as I need 8 hours of sleep to function normally. Today I went through the day thinking it was Thursday and wondering where the week went. During my workout I asked another person to take my picture. It was my way of proving myself that I am doing the work, it will just take a while to see the results (oh and I'm trying to add more photos to my blog posts :-).

In addition to my workouts this week I had a Drs. appointment for a physical on Wednesday. That was my wake up call. The kind that's a big kick in the ass! Part of my physical of course involves stepping on that beloved scale (insert sarcastic tone). I had a picture in my mind of what I thought I weighed. I of course was wrong. 193lbs!!!!!! I haven't seen that number in a really long time (my plan was to never see that number again!). I obviously know I'm overweight/technically obese but didn't realize my number was that big! During the physical
my blood pressure was also checked. My numbers have gone up to 128/82. The last time I got my blood pressure checked it was 110 over 70.

As a result of all this wonderful news I decided I needed to act right away so I started counting calories. I'm using the ap Lose It! I like the recommendation for calorie intake based on current weight and it's adjusted according to how much you want to lose a week. It's fast easy and I love it! I'll keep you posted on my progress!

http://www.sonyaslosingit.com/p/weight-chart-stats.html




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

7 1/2 Weeks Post Op - 185lbs

It's been almost 8 weeks since my surgery.

I never thought I would see this day! The aqua therapy and physical therapy has paid off (as well as the surgery). My leg and back are pain free. Yesterday at my last physical therapy appointment I hopped, skipped, jumped and ran on the treadmill for 2 minutes! Pain Free!!! I never thought I would hear myself say the words: "I ran". My recovery time for this surgery was a lot tougher than the surgery I had last year. It feels like I can start to move forward.

Unfortunately during my recovery time for comfort I've done a lot of eating. When I was actively exercising/running I would get a runners high. I think that was a big help to keeping me on track with my eating. The endorphins gave me a comfort high. However when I feel stress and lack of control and running isn't an option I tend to gravitate to food. Food and the pleasure of eating it is something I can control. Unfortunately there is a down side and that is weight gain.

Right now I feel like I'm in my old body. I haven't gained all the weight I lost but I'm now a size 16 and I weigh 185. That makes for me needing to lose 45 - 50lbs.  Now that I have the go ahead to start running (very slowly and gradually) I'm going to follow my running plan that I designed for a class presentation last semester. The presentation was on a training program for a first time runner participating in a 5k. The prerequisite?  To be able to walk 30 minutes easily.

Here is the program I am going to follow in addition to other strengthening exercises and stretches:



My immediate and main focus is getting my exercise routine in order and slowly get back to being disciplined with my diet. As the endorphins start to kick in things will only get easier. I hope. No matter what!  One day, one minute, and one pushup/situp at a time.

What helps you stay on track? I would love to hear your success or what you're doing to make a positive change in your life!






Tuesday, July 1, 2014

10 Days Post Surgery

I'm trying to type while laying down. If my writing seems short/to the point it's because I'm somewhat irritable. Unfortunately my leg is hurting and the only way I get relief from the pain at this time is when I lay on my side. I'm able to walk around and do light house work and sit for short periods of time.

Ten days ago I had surgery. I had a discectomy as mentioned in my previous post.  I had this same surgery in October of last year on a different disc. The recovery was easy compared to after this surgery. I felt no pain post op in my leg last year.

It's difficult being a parent when you're trying to recover from surgery. I see things that need to get done around the house and I want to do them (grocery shop, prepare dinner, weed the garden or clean the windows). Thankfully I have a great support system of friends and family. A friend of mine put together a meal train for me. Friends took turns dropping off meals so that I didn't have to worry about preparing meals for my family. I am so grateful to receive help from some amazing people. My husband has also been a huge help and support for me. He is doing a lot around the house and for our boys. He fortunately has a home office so if I need him in a pinch he can help. He's been driving the kids to playdates and camp as I can't drive while being on the pain med/muscle relaxer. He's also taking them out on the weekend to keep them active. Plus he's been taking over on my usual responsibilities such as cooking.  

Yesterday I felt the need to get out of the house so I went to my nephews birthday party. The car ride there was fine (45 mins - More than I should have been sitting in a car). I walked around a little bit then I laid down in my brother and sister in laws bedroom. Thankfully I brought my pills to be sure I kept up with pain management. The ride home was not pleasant. My hip and calf were tight and in pain. As soon as I got home I went strait to bed. Total relief to stretch out! Needless to say I'm going to be very careful about how much time I spend in a car from this point forward.

My post op appointment is this Tuesday and I'm looking forward to hearing what the Dr. has to say about when I can start physical therapy. I would like to start doing exercises or stretches to help speed or aid in my recovery but I want to do it safely. Fortunately with the first surgery I didn't need any PT.

When it comes to my diet I've been eating really well. Lots of veggies and fruit with lean protein and some grains. I wouldn't be surprised if I lost some weight as my portions are much smaller and healthier. I did a lot of binging before my surgery. I thought of every food I haven't eaten in at least a year and I went out and ate it. Needless to say I needed to buy some clothes in the process :-/ Stupid.

Overall I'm trying to be patient with my recovery. I have a limited amount of energy in which I can do things so I have to choose wisely. If I choose to help my 5 year old make cookies or if I choose to do some light housework I'm done for the day. I push myself to move around just before or at the threshold of leg pain then I lay or sit down. I'm working on recovering while keeping my eye on where I want to be in the future. One small step at a time.

Note: My brain is a little foggy with the drugs so if you read something that doesn't make sense or my writing seems 'choppy' it's the drugs.