Thursday, December 21, 2017

Food for thought

Step 3

I am cleaning out the fridge!

In my last blog, "Party on My Wrist!" I stated that due to my low carb diet and the elimination of processed food, my mind is clearer.  And because of including regular exercise into my life, I feel generally better physically and mentally.  Now it's time to work on Step 3, which is to change my thoughts. The diet and exercise did help me think clearer but this area still needed further attention.

When you are depressed for a long period of time you develop very negative thought patterns.  You "feed" yourself a very negative diet of warped messages about yourself and your life.  The often repeated mantras in our heads are, I'm stupid, I'm fat, I'm ugly, I'm unlovable, I'm worthless, my life is meaningless, I'm alone, things will never change.

It's plate cleaning time ladies!  Time to get rid of our "stink'in think'in."  Time to get rid of all those bad foods for thought and replace it with a diet of fresh and nourishing ones; a diet of positivity and encouragement.

Now I am not suggesting we replace our "stink'in think'in" with a "new age" diet.  One that says that we can do no wrong and we are the center of  the universe.  One that tells us that everything about us is awesome. No, that would be replacing one bad diet with another.  What I am recommending is a diet base on the scripture Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things be of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

The fact is that we were all created in the image of God and therefore valuable people.  We are not stupid, ugly and worthless, and yet, those are the kind of thoughts we keep feeding ourselves on a daily basis.  We need to change the menu.

Philippians 4:8 says we need to think on lovely things, honest things. We aren't to make up lies to make us feel better but rather turn our focus to the things that are of "good report" in our lives.

Thoughts are powerful.  They have the ability to bring feelings of anxiety, stress, discontentment and pain.  They also have the ability to bring feelings of thankfulness, happiness, contentment and appreciation. 

We have to become aware of what we are thinking.   We need to filter our thoughts as they come into our minds.  If a negative or untrue thought comes in we have to stop it in it's track and replace it .  We need to choose to think about something else.  In our  minds, when we are starting to fill up on negativity we must tell those thoughts to leave, that they have no residence with us and try to think of something lovely instead.  We should prepare ahead of time some positive talk to displace the negative.

The attitude of gratitude has to be one of our major food groups on our thought diet.  If we are concentrating on what are we thankful for it's impossible to be negative.   Do an inventory of yourself and what you are grateful for.  Come on now, there has to be something.  Write them down and have them ready to go over when you are stuffing your mind with all the negatives about yourself.  Things like I am grateful for my blue eyes, or I am grateful that I have pretty hair, or clear skin, that people enjoy my company, that I am a good mom, that people love me, that God loves me.

Another food group we should partake  from is "the benefit of the doubt" group.    Sometimes we get ourselves all worked up and upset over how we "think" others perceive us.  Don't assume people are thinking badly of you just because you are.  God calls us to think on things that are true not what we might perceive to be true.  And even though  some of us think we are , we are not mind readers! So unless, someone comes out and tells you something "bad" about you assume they are not thinking such things.  These people are probably your family and friends, fellow church members  and wouldn't appreciate you putting such thoughts in their heads when they don't exist.

We have to be good to ourselves.  Just like we should watch our diets and nourish our bodies with good and healthy foods we need to do the same for our minds.  We need a healthy diet of true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report.  Feed on these things.

Bon appetit!

Friday, December 15, 2017

My Latest Post for 'A Mother's Heritage'

                                  My Latest Post for 'A Mother's Heritage'
Click link above.

This is my latest contribution.   Please check it out.  

Picture from my deck from last week's snow.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Party on my Wrist!

Step 2

"Party on my wrist!", is what you can often hear me saying around 7:00 pm when I am taking a stroll with my husband to get my last steps in on my "FitBit".  When I reach my goal of 5 miles a day my "FitBit" (step counter) vibrates and when you look at the display it has fireworks and stars to congratulate me.  It never fails to make me smile as I accomplish that goal for the day. :)

You can easily understand why exercise was the second step after changing my diet.  Diet and exercise just naturally, logically go together.

I can't tell you how much better I feel now that I incorporated daily exercise into my life. I feel stronger, fit and energized.  Yes, losing weight is a big plus too, but as with the diet , it is the lesser of the benefits.

I joined a gym a few months back. I go early in the morning (I leave around 6:00 am).  When I first started I could only ride the recumbent bike (It's the bike where your legs are a little in front of you not up and down like the regular stationary bike.)  My knees hurt too bad for any of the other machines you would use for aerobic exercise.  (Aerobic exercise is the better then muscle strengthening when trying to lose weight though you should try to get both in during the week.) I was the only one who used the machine at the gym except for a very nice gentleman who is 20 years my senior (and is in great shape!). I was a little embarrassed initially.  But, hey , it was the easiest on the joints and I was getting an aerobic workout that I needed. I did the bike for 30 minutes every day for weeks.  But unfortunately, it is difficult to burn a lot of calories on it. 

I would try every once in awhile to include the elliptical which I knew would burn more calories effectively. Some days I could do two minutes, others five, then on good days fifteen and then I would be back to two again.  It was a step by step process like everything else. I just kept trying, kept pushing, kept stepping. Now I don't do the bike at all.  Every morning (except Sunday) I do 45 minutes on the elliptical, 15 minutes on the stair master (which is really great for burning calories) and  15-20 minutes strength training on other machines.

Why am I telling you all this?  To encourage you to think about including exercise in your life and encourage you to fight your depression.  It's all about taking steps , baby steps at times, but the effort is worth it.  It is very difficult to see the possibility of things being better when you are in the pit of despair.

With exercise and fighting depression , you need to set goals for yourself. Start small.  Persevere. 

When I get home from the gym I have breakfast then I try (often successfully) to get my fifteen year old to go for a walk at a near by park.  If I am unsuccessful in getting my daughter to go, I walk on a path around the pond three times, which is equivalent to a mile.  If my daughter goes with me  then we walk on a trail through some woods at the park.  ( The picture on my first blog is a picture of the entrance into the woods.)  That walk is a little over a mile. 

It might sound crazy going for a mile walk outside just after coming home from the gym but I really think (I know it is for me.) very beneficial for depression sufferers to regularly spend some time outside.  Being in the sun and the fresh air is renewing. It's an opportunity to get out of the house and  enjoy nature.  It's also a chance to get some Vitamin D from the sun which most depression sufferers are depleted in.

I understand that many people may not have the time I have or the money for a gym membership.  But I encourage you all to find some way and some time in your day, your week, for exercise and time outdoors.  Wake up a little earlier if you have to.  Get a cheap step counter and challenge yourself to walk a certain amount of steps a day. Get workout videos from the library and spend 20-30 minutes doing that.  Go play outside with your kids.  Go for a walk in the evening after dinner with your husband or by yourself. Your body was made to move and feels so much better when it does!

So, now I have a clearer mind as a result of my diet and the benefits of regular exercise: more energy, weight loss, better sleep quality, less migraines (and often less intense), improved mood and reduced stress.  So far so good. What's the next step?  Stay tuned.

Pictures from my walk 

A friend I made along the way.

The pond I walk around.

The sun "peeking" at me through the trees. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Dealing and Healing

Step One

This is a picture of my breakfast that I have many mornings.
It's two scrambled eggs mixed with lots of veggies (onions, mushrooms, spinach, peppers, and sometimes broccoli)
with cucumber and tomato on the side.
The picture was taken by my daughter Elizabeth.

I get up early to go to the gym every morning but Sunday.  I just added the "Stair Master (Monster)" to my regimen.  It burns a lot of calories in a short period of time but it is brutal.  After about two minutes, I am ready to be done.  But I just tell myself just take one more step...then another...then one more. I am up to 15 minutes now just step after sweaty step.

This is how you have to approach fighting depression as well, step by step, day by day and sometimes you sweat.  Depression is a monster in it's own right.

Recognizing you are depressed and accepting the fact is critical.  You have to see that you are not just a "little blue" or just going through a bad time that will soon pass. Depression is not something that normally just passes.  And it's not something to be embarrassed about and try to hide. It is something that needs to be addressed and dealt with out in the open.  Depression is often a product of a chemical or hormonal problem going on inside of us.  It might have been triggered by some tragic event or it might just have been triggered by our everyday lives. It is normally related to some sort of stress put on us by others or by ourselves (or both).

Depression takes a toll on all aspects of our lives: spiritual, emotional, physical and mental.  It is just plain debilitating!

I am going to share in my blog posts how I am personally dealing with my depression.  My path is not your's or someone else's. This is how I am choosing to deal with this issue and it is working for me.  I have not arrived. I am still a work in progress. But maybe something I am doing might encourage or work for you.

Once I accepted that I was depressed and my eyes started opening to how it was affecting me, my family and friends, I was finally ready to take my first step up out of the pit , away from the monster.   I decided to change my diet.

Why would I start there? What about prayer, medication, counselling?   Well, I was praying .  Medication worked for awhile and then it didn't (though I still take an occasional pill for my anxiety).  Counselling is something I still consider trying.   I believe the answer to my prayer for help with my depression was changing my diet.  I had tried it years ago and had some success with it.

I know we are tired of hearing about low carb diets but I have to say it is really helping me.  The diet I am using is based on "The Schwarzbein Principal" by Diana Schwarzbein, M.D. and Nancy Deville.  It's a book that was recommended to me by the Women to Women Clinic I went to in Maine  (about 10 years ago).  Women to Women focuses on holistic healing in the issues of women's hormone health. 

It's a very strict, low carb diet (but not a no carb diet) , which eliminates all white sugar and flour and processed food.   It also excludes caffeine and alcohol.  I say my diet is just based on this book because I do drink at least 2 cups of green tea a day (even though it has some caffeine) and the book does promote eating lots of vegetables but I try to make it my goal to get 7 to 9 servings of a variety of vegetables a day.  I also drink the recommended 8 or more servings of water or herbal teas (and green tea) daily.  This was my first step.

Yes, it is not easy (especially when everyone else is eating pizza!) to stick to at first.  But it becomes natural and a habit over time.  I don't think about food the same way anymore.  I think about it more as being a fuel or medicine for my body.  It's the whole concept of garbage in - garbage out and vise-versa.  And the results for me are so worth it!

The lesser of the motivating results is that I lose weight.  I have lost 21 pounds so far in four months.  (Trying to lose 9 more.)  But the best result was the clearing of the brain fog.  It's a slow but definitely noticeable effect. I started to feel like myself. A person I hadn't seen in years. I had the ability back to see reality (which is a little scary!) but now I felt I could make better choices to improve myself and heal.

My depression fogged my mind and robbed me of the ability to see things realistically which effected my relationships with God, my family and friends.  Depression makes you feel like you are stuck in quicksand.  The big temptation is just to lie back and let yourself go under.  Or sometimes we try to "fight" through escapism. When you try to fight to get out of the quicksand of depression through unhealthy escapes you go under quicker.  By escapism I mean trying to numb the pain with excessive TV watching, over eating, under eating, excessive time on the internet, over sleeping, self-medicating... etc.  These things feel like temporary reliefs but they really just get us deeper into the quicksand of depression and despair!

So, if you are depressed you need to find your first step whatever that may look like for you (medication, rest, change of diet, counseling, reducing your stress) Ask for help from your husband, family member, friend, pastor. Once you take that step and your mind clears even just a little, you have a foothold to get out of that pit. You will have the ability to make better choices in figuring out what you need and what you can do to "deal and heal".

I will discuss my other steps in my future blogs.  If you are depressed take whatever energy you can muster and help you can find and take that first step!