Dieting and Depression

(this is a long one – bare with me – the topic was on my heart and mind)

So the question begs – are you depressed because you’re overweight and should be dieting, or, has your unsuccessful attempts at dieting caused you to be depressed?

This time of year can be hard for a couple of reasons:  Number One, it’s Winter (need I say more) and some individuals really struggle with more inactivity and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) issues.  And Number Two, we seem to be deluged with diet books, diet commercials, weight loss tv shows and feel we should do something about our extra pounds.

Now, real depression in and of itself is a tricky thing, and there’s all kinds of reasons for it.  What might get one person down, another individual takes that same event, situation, or feeling and runs with it and doesn’t give it another negative thought.

There are many reasons for depression – there are biological reasons (genetics and biochemical factors), psychological reasons (your coping style and temperament), and social reasons (your family and presence of – or lack of – support systems).

And maybe you wouldn’t personally tell someone that you’re feeling depressed because of biological or psychological reasons (usually that’s not how we talk), but maybe things aren’t going well, or you’re not feeling your physical best and you might tell someone you’re not sure why you’re feeling down, sad, lonely, frustrated, you just know you feel that way.

Some times it’s easier to look at our circumstances as the cause for ‘depression’ – maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom and the daily routine of dealing with kids and kid “stuff” is just getting to the point where it’s overwhelming.

Or what about the job you have that’s not all it’s cracked up to be, and you feel frustrated.

Or what about the relationship with (insert one of the following: your husband, your friend, your sibling, your wife, your child, your whatever) is fragmented and you’re at a loss as to how to fix it anymore.

Or what about this one – the weather is too hot, cold, bright, dull, cloudy, gloomy, sunny, barren or whatever other adjective you can think of.  By the way, as I already mentioned, this time of year (also known as Winter) is very tough for some folks and the weather can be an emotional deal-breaker for some!

Believe it or not, I can relate to all of the above. At some point in my own life, I’ve had to deal with moments of despair, feelings of worthlessness, and some things have just left me feeling boxed in.

Have you ever felt like any of the above? And one thing leads to another, and maybe you put on a few pounds as the years go by, and the image you have of yourself starts to suffer, and those heavy, very real feelings and emotions take over your thoughts.

Here are some tips or ideas to get you thinking differently:

1.  If you’re feeling bad about your body size, I want you to think about one thing you can start to do differently today. Just one thing.  It seems too simple to only do one thing, and, I’m just going to guess on this one, you feel you have to be making more of an Herculean effort to lose weight.

Good research on weight loss will tell you to start small and focus on one goal, as you are more likely to feel you can accomplish one goal and be successful at it before you move on to other weight loss goals.

Can you start drinking 6 glasses of water a day? Can you start exercising for 10 – 12 minutes a day? I don’t care what it is, just start climbing out of the black hole of weight loss attempts and DO SOMETHING – anything.  But start small!

2. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, lonely or isolated, find a good support system.

Sometimes nothing can take the place of properly used medication and good solid counseling, but there’s also times – even when you don’t want to – that you have to reach out to others.

I was listening to John Tesh the other day (he’s always very interesting) and he said  research shows that when you reach out to other people (in spite of your own circumstances) that feel-good chemicals are released within your brain and becomes like a shot of the serotonin (for the person who was initially feeling ‘depressed’) when you reach out and help others.  That made sense to me.

Support systems are always an invaluable resource to have in your life. There’s nothing like a nonjudgmental ear to listen to you, or just good people that you can hang with, have fun with and forget about yourself for awhile.  Laughter is good medicine.

3. Surround yourself with positive mantras (self-talk) – at work, in your home, car, wherever you spend time. A mantra is just commonly repeated words or phrases.

For example, throughout the last several months when I have found myself wondering and questioning things in my life, I have quoted a very specific scripture that keeps me focused, and my spirit quiet.  Repeating scripture in my thoughts during doubting moments has helped me to refocus.

I also like specific quotes. For those of you who know me, you know I have used this one -  “Don’t trade in what you want most for what you want at the moment.” It’s just a short easy quote that I can repeat when faced with temptation, or I need motivation.

Positive self-talk (or mantras) can help you find peace, helps clear your mind, and keeps you from feeling stuck.

Try these three things to get you moving in the right direction. And never ever give up!

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