"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.