Exercise

Dealing with Depression and Weight Gain

What happens first - you gain weight and then feel depressed? Or, you're depressed and gain weight because of it?  It’s a good question and one that frustrates a lot of people.

This can be a tough time of year for many people. The long, cold, winter days can linger and emotionally the mundane moments can really take a toll on your thinking and your physical being. You feel different, you act different, you move different - it’s like working your way through sludge.

If you experience depression, or know of someone who struggles with it, the ‘heaviness’ can really crush your spirit, and the physical symptoms from carrying more weight, start to affect you. It gets hard to redirect yourself without support, education, and in some cases - medication.  

So I wanted to share the following information with you. There is some interesting insight on the connection between weight gain and depression in this article and I think many of you will find it helpful!

Is Depression Wrecking Your Weight?

They are both heavy burdens - weight problems and depression, And they often go hand in hand.

Some people gain weight when they’re depressed. Others lose weight, to an unhealthy degree.

Which comes first? And how can you untangle the link between depression and weight - especially if depression has sapped you of your energy to makes changes? Here’s what experts say you need to know.

Depression and Weight Gain

A March 2010 review of 15 studies, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, linked obesity to a greater risk of developing depression - and vice versa.

But do people gain weight because they are depressed? Or do they become depressed because of the excess pounds they are carry” No one knows.

“It’s a chicken and the egg phenomenon,” says psychologist Leslie Heinberg, PhD, who directs the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. “But we do know that depression has lots of symptoms that can worsen obesity - appetite disturbances, lack of energy, lack of motivation to do things.”

In 2009, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham reported that depressed people tend to gain weight faster than people who aren’t depressed.

The bulk of those extra pounds was concentrated around their waists. That’s not good. Belly fat is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Depression, of course, comes with its own set of risk factors, including suicide, social isolation, drug and alcohol addiction, and anxiety.

Whichever comes first - depression or overweight/obesity - it is a very unhealthy combination. Often, it is a self-reinforcing combo as well.

Eating Yourself Blue

“Some foods, especially foods with high sugar and/or fat content, make you feel better, if only briefly,” says psychiatrist James Gordon, MD, author of  Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey out of Depression. 

“That good feeling makes you want to eat more, which in turn makes you feel bad about yourself,” Gordon says. “That leads to deeper depression, and more eating, and greater amounts of weight gain. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Getting out of that cycle can be a real challenge.

“When you are depressed, it is much harder to get out of bed, much less pay attention to what you are eating,” says Edward Abramson, PdD, an emeritus professor of psychology at California State University at Chico and the author of Emotional Eating: What You Need To Know Before Starting Another Diet.

For doctors, it’s less important to know which came first: the patient’s depression or with weight problems. The question is, which one should get the most initial attention?

“If someone comes to me who is severely depressed and overweight, the depression is going to be the primary focus,” says Abramson.

However, he continues, an eating disorder that causes a patient to binge might need to be addressed first: “If their eating is out of control, that becomes the primary focus.”

Although weight gain is commonly associated with depression, weight loss can also be a problem.

“With severe depression, you might lose weight because you’ve lost your interest in food, which comes from losing in interest in pleasure.” Gordon says. Loss of pleasure is a hallmark of depression,

Depression may also accompany an eating disorder. In Heinberg’s practice at the Cleveland Clinic, patients with anorexia nervosa are often depressed.

“In patients with low body weight, the brain becomes starved and they develop symptoms that meet the criteria for depression,” she says.  “Often, once you feed them, the depression goes away. It’s resolved, and it’s generally resolved quickly.”

If You Move, You Lose - Pounds and Depression

Treating depression often takes a multipronged approach that may include talk therapy and medication, as well as exercise, a healthy diet, and other lifestyle measures.

It’s important to know that weight gain is a common side effect of some of many prescribed antidepressants.

Fortunately, patients who are both overweight and depressed can help themselves with the same prescription: exercise, which can help counterbalance drug-related weight gain.

“I won’t necessarily tell them to watch what they are eating at first,” says Abramson, “but I will work with them to get them to move.”

At the beginning of therapy, that usually means walking. Abramson recommends picking up a pedometer before hitting the sidewalk. By measuring the number of steps they take each time they walk, they can monitor their progress. And, says Abramson, “small victories equal positive thoughts.”

Heinberg often prescribes walking as well. She likes to focus on her patients’ depression for the first six to eight weeks of therapy, introducing low-key exercise only to keep weight steady rather than bring it down. Once the depression is under control, she says, it becomes easier to address weight problems.

Be Active, Make Choices Feel Better

Exercise is a key part of treating overweight and depression, in part because it allows patients to play an active role in caring for themselves. In fact, Gordon maintains that exercise is the best prescription for treating mild to moderate depression, as well as being helpful for severe depression.

“People feel good about doing things for themselves - that, in itself, is therapeutic,” Gordon says.

Gordon also recommends taking a break from fast food and other unhealthy eating habits: instead, he says, make time to cook a meal for yourself.

“It goes beyond just preparing something healthier to eat than fast food,” says Gordon. “People get engage in their own care, and that’ crucial to dealing with weight.”

Gordon, who is the founder and director of the Center for Mindy Body Medicine in Washington, D.C., includes alternative and complementary treatments in his practice. Key among them is meditation.

“You have to become aware of what and how you eat, through mindfulness,” says Gordon. “Very often, if you are anxious, you are going to eat more. But if you are in a state of relaxation, you won’t be eating frantically or mindlessly.”

by Matt McMillen
article WebMD

www.hendersoncounselingservices.com

Finding it Hard to Make Time for Exercise?

Pushing yourself really hard is NOT the only way to make a workout count. A new study from Pennsylvania State University shows that middle-aged women get more of the positive benefits (such as an energy and mood boost) from less intense activity.

"Moderate exercise like brisk walking is more pleasant, especially if you're a newbie," says study author Steriani Elavsky, assistant professor of kinesiology. "You'll be more likely to stick with it." Make sure you can carry on a conversation while moving.

(Jan 2012 Woman's Day)

Start Your Weight Loss Challenge Today!

Do you need a 90 Day Weight Loss Challenge? Statistically, dieters do better when they join others making healthy lifestyle choices.  Join the challenge today - it's never too late.

These 4 videos are a little over 9 minutes long, watch them, then decide if the 90 Day Challenge is right for you! www.thinkingthinlifestyle.bodybyvi.com

 

 

 

 

 

Eating Choices and Healthy Decisions This Week

Have you caught yourself making healthier choices or decisions this week?

You seem to point out all the things you do wrong to yourself all the time.  How about flipping the script in your head and make a decision to start counting all the things you did right - or good - for yourself this week and keep building on that success.

Drink Up – Stay Hydrated

Okay, so here’s the deal. I hate to talk negative about the Summer season, as it comes and goes so quickly but it’s HOT out there right now and I just want to remind you of something.

We all know the benefits of drinking water to keep our system flushed out, and to give us a feeling of full.  But do me a favor….in this season of heat, please sip on water throughout the day - yes, even if you‘re inside in the central air.

Be aware of how quickly the hot weather can really zap your energy levels and you can easily get dehydrated.  It’s probably the only time you should be extra cautious about exercising outdoors - it’s one of those rare moments where you don’t have to feel guilty.  I KNOW what you’re thinking, trust me.

Also, try to stay away from alcohol or caffeinated drinks. Just drink good old-fashion water!

In this oppressive heat, sometimes it takes our desire to eat away - amazing how that happens isn’t it!. But do not neglect the liquid. Drink up please!  And stay safe out there until this weather system passes.

Recipe for Starting Day Off Right!

Combine the following to start your day off right:
5 mile stretch of road with very little cars and a lot of hills
1 gorgeous cloud-less 70 degree day
30 rock-n-roll songs from the 70’s (did we really listen to that - oh well, had a beat, kept me walkin’)
2 beautiful butterflies fluttering away in front of me
2 healthy legs
and
1 dose of healthy humor when garden snake crosses your path in front of you

So I had some time this morning and took a walk. Got me thinking, wishing, that every day could be like this.  It was just one of those splendid days in West Michigan where you think it can’t get any better.

If you don’t have the day off, take the time to “move along” in whatever capacity you can. I happen to work in a building with long hallways, and some days I have to consciously and purposely make myself take a walk.  Granted, it’s not as exciting as walking outside but if it’s too hot, humid, rainy, or you’re just stuck inside, take advantage of any little thing you can to get moving.

And then after work, get outside for 15, 30, 60 or however many minutes you can squeeze out and just enjoy THIS DAY.

3 Cheers for Vacations!

I’m one of those lucky ones that typically come back from vacations a few pounds lighter.  My delicate stomach tends to act up even more while traveling so we have a tendency to NOT hit the fancy restaurants or “eat along the way” as the food smells hit your senses.

I’m not going to say it doesn’t kill me not to partake, but in the end it’s not worth it to me to look for restrooms all along the way - and my husband saves a boatload of money by not splurging on meals for me. Although, let me make this clear, he does a good job in splurging me with other things! He’s a good guy, I must say. So good for me, I’m coming back a few pounds lighter - I’ll take that.

I am still amazed however that we averaged walking 8 miles a day, and I thought that once I got home (which I am now) that there would be no excuse for at least walking 5 miles - after all, it’s 3 miles less and I could certainly do that!

But the day started out with a million things to do and while I was active it was nothing near the activity I had for this past week. And then to my amusement I went out to water the flowers and thought to myself it’s way too hot and I hurried to get done so I could get back inside to the coolness.

That was two excuses - too hot and a million things to do. Isn’t it amazing how we can find excuses to NOT exercise.  My husband keeps telling me that even though it’s the same temperature here as it was in our vacation spot, the humidity is the killer.  Yeah, I thought, it’s too humid. Excuse number three.  Then daughter called and wondered if I wanted to play tennis, and off I went, with a million things to do on a hot, humid day and had a rousing game of tennis.

In spite of the hassles of vacations (those hassles are few and far between for me) they are rewarding in that they break the monotony of every day life. I was definitely in a rut before I left and I feel better, refreshed now.  I do realize a lot of people can’t go thousand of miles to get rejuvenated but you can take a day or two off to do whatever you want with whomever you want - or do absolutely nothing with just yourself.

The point is (that sometimes) in order to value and reinvigorate your mental, spiritual, and physical health, you have to shake it up every now and then.

I’m Walking on Sunshine – and don’t it feel good!

My husband and I decided to go West for a week where we hoped the sun would be plentiful (it’s been missing a lot recently in Michigan), and the sites would be many. Upon deciding to visit the Grand Canyon I knew there would be a lot of walking and I wanted to know how much walking I could actually do when it wasn’t a “required exercise time” for me.

So I put on a pedometer and we walked and walked and walked taking in the vast, expansive landscape and appreciated the sunny, crisp cool air as we hiked along enjoying each others company.

To my surprise we walked just a little over 12,000 steps. I was amazed, partly because it seemed so effortless and partly that would explain why my legs felt the way they did! I don’t have the high elevation issues at home, nor do I tend to walk up hill so much as we did but it was by far one of the most beautiful walks of my life.

Well I was delighted to find out that walking 10,000 steps is the approximate equivalent of walking 5 miles but I have to admit I don‘t know how someone figured that out, or what is considered “the best“ or “the right“ amount of steps you should do everyday. I did however find the following information that you might find helpful:

Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke has been studying pedometer walking and released an opinion in the January, 2004 issue of "Sports Medicine."

Based on the best evidence as of the end of 2003, Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke recommends the following:

Classification of pedometer-determined physical activity in healthy adults:
1) Under 5000 steps/day may be used as a "sedentary lifestyle index"
2) 5,000-7,499 steps/day is typical of daily activity excluding sports/exercise and might be considered "low active."
3) 7,500-9,999 likely includes some exercise or walking (and/or a job that requires more walking) and might be considered "somewhat active."
4) 10,000 steps/day indicates the point that should be used to classify individuals as "active".
5) Individuals who take more than 12,500 steps/day are likely to be classified as "highly active".

I was inspired by the amount of activity that we did and there’s just something about being out in the fresh air that seems so revitalizing. So after a night of resting up we’re off to do more exploring over in Nevada (primarily Las Vegas), and I KNOW you can do a lot of walking around there - my goal, is over 12,000 steps a day! Even when I get back home. What is your goal?

LOST: High Energy Metabolism – If Found, Please Call

A friend asked the pertinent question the other day - where has my metabolism gone? I thought that was a fair question, especially when you hit a certain age!

As I shared with you recently, I just found out my thyroid is not fully functioning and I’ve been struggling with a slow (very slow metabolism). But we all know that as we get older our metabolism slows down too, and there are ways of stoking the fire again so our ‘internal fire’ burns more efficiently. But it can get extremely frustrating when you feel that you’re doing all the right things - such as changing your diet and exercise - and yet you’re always sputtering and fluttering along. Nothing seems to change.

The flip side of that is you know you’re not doing everything you should - such as changing your diet and exercise - and you’re just struggling to get through some days because of stress and life circumstances. And then there’s always ‘health issues’ that can cause your metabolism to slow (or stop).

Weirdly enough our metabolism can get stuck whether we’re really trying (and nothing is happening with the scale), or life is so stressful and you’re not doing anything about your weight situation.  So I thought it might be helpful to look at what metabolism is and what it does (health line.com).

Metabolism is simply how many calories you burn in a day. Your Resting Metabolism makes up the majority of your total metabolism.

Total metabolism for the day is made up of:
Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR): the number of calories it takes to keep your body going without any movement (brain function, heart, lungs, muscle, etc)
Thermic Effect of Food (TEF): the number of calories that your body actually burns digesting food
Physical Activity (PA): the number of calories you burn moving around all day during your normal activities
Thermic Effect of Exercise (TEE): the number of calories you burn doing planned exercise

Most people's total metabolism each day is about 1800-2200 for women and 2200-2600 for men. The more you move, the higher your metabolism.

Factors that influence metabolism:
Gender: Men tend to have a faster metabolism (burn more calories) than women. Ladies, do you think this isn't fair? What do men have more of than women?
Muscle Mass: The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn all day long. Muscle is metabolically active 24 hours per day. If you have more muscle, you will burn more calories while you sit at your computer reading these blogs, drive in your car, and most importantly, you will burn more calories while you sleep. How awesome is that?
Age: The number one reason people's metabolism slows as they age........they lose muscle.
Heredity: Some people are just genetically gifted with a faster metabolism than others. They can eat a lot more calories than most people and not gain weight. If you are one of these people, thank your parents for good genes!

5 Ways to Keep Up with Your Exercise Plan

Do you struggle with making exercise a priority? I do! Sometimes it is VERY HARD to get motivated when the weather isn’t quite right, the gym is “out of your way,” or you’re just not feeling particularly healthy.

If you’ve ever have one of those days (or many of those days) where you are just feeling stuck and can’t quite make exercise a priority, here are some ideas:

1.  Start small and be realistic. Don’t set off on a 25 mile walk without building up to it. Your exercise goals should be small and realistic so you can have success at attaining something positive.

2.  This goes hand in hand with the previous mentioned but be specific with your exercise plan. Know what days you will exercise and for how long: “Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, 20 minute walks” and build up to more as your strength and stamina improve.

Don’t forget to change things up. Instead of walking three times a week, mix it up with riding bikes or taking a once-a-week exercise class.

3.  An exercise buddy can help you be more accountable to an exercise plan. Some people need that. Make sure that your exercise partner is reliable and encouraging and this could actually be a fun time to get together.

4.  Keep track of your progress. It can be as simple as putting a small letter and number, like W30 (for walking 30 minutes), or B15 (for biking 15 minutes) on the calendar on the days you exercised. Then at the end of the month, take a look back at all the days you accomplished your exercise plan.

Also, don’t forget those deliberate walks you take at work for your lunch time or break time - it all adds up!

5. Exercise can get a little….well, quite frankly, boring for all of us. Find a way to make exercise more inspiring and engaging for you by listening to music, or watching tv, or even reading while you‘re working out.