Just getting through the day.

by Christine on July 15th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

Good morning Revolutionists!

Welcome to all my new followers! Thanks to my guest blog post (“Pink Fuzzy Handcuffs”) over at Laurie’s blog (LINK HERE), I gained 10 new followers! That’s wonderful, and I appreciate the support and encouragement! I will do my best to check out all of your blogs, too.  I like reciprocation, yo.

Today I am in a terrible funk. I woke up this morning and felt too tired to get out of bed. However, my brain got active….and I still didn’t get out of bed.  I felt emotionally glued to my bed.

What had me so down?  Work.  I just can’t seem to stand to come into work. I started a new job in January, and I have been struggling a lot with it since the very first week.  This job is not a good fit for me, and I have been actively looking for a new job – networking with former colleagues, searching the want ads, sending out my resume. I have gone on a few interviews, but I don’t want to just settle for another mediocre job.  This job pays okay and has decent benefits, so if I switch jobs it should be for something that I see as a long-term fit. Right?

But this morning my brain had enough of settling for mediocrity. In fact, I’ll say it: I positively DREAD coming to work.  I don’t enjoy this. Today, I didn’t want to get out of my bed and come into a soundless and soulless environment.  I couldn’t stomach another day of it.

I started this slump yesterday afternoon, and it demonstrated the issues that I still have with food and how it relates to stress. From the moment I got home from work, I wanted to gorge myself. Oh, I wasn’t hungry; on the contrary. First I pulled out exactly FOUR tortilla chips and had four scoops of hummus, thinking that the protein would fill me up and shut up my brain.  For dinner I grilled a few sirloin tips and made a small side salad for myself.  However…and I don’t exactly understand this…but I think perhaps my stress made my gastric band feel tight because every bite I took got “stuck,” and I had to puke every single bite up.  I had 2 chunks of steak (purged) and three bites of salad (purged) and then gave up on “dinner.”

At this point I WAS hungry, but more than that – I felt bingey. Stress = eating for my brain, and I hate that correlation. I kept chugging my water, thinking that that would satiate me, and it did to some extent, but my brain wanted “comfort food.”  I nibbled on the cucumbers in my salad for a while. Then I made some fat-free cheesecake-flavored pudding (25 calories), but still I wanted to eat.  Thankfully, I’m a few years into this struggle with binge-eating, so I was able to talk myself down from the ledge and make myself recognize that this is counter-productive to my goal to lose weight. I chugged more water (I made my 64 oz yesterday), then went to bed.

Today, as I said, I just wanted to stay in bed and sleep through the day. I wanted to avoid work. No wait, I wanted to eat! NO WAIT! I wanted to sleep! No…eat!!  I threw myself off of my bed with 10 minutes to brush my hair, brush my teeth, feed the cat, and raced out the door.  Yes, I forced myself to come to work. I had two slices of cheese (50 cals) and four crackers (50 cals) at work. I’m not hungry, but all I can think about is the vending machine and the chocolate in it.

I also feel extremely tired. I haven’t been sleeping well, stressing out about this job. (Not that the job is stressful – I have ZERO responsibilities –but I stress about the fact that I hate it and need something different.)  This water challenge hasn’t done a thing for my energy. Perhaps I should have gone to the gym last night (“they” say that working out gives you more energy) but I was so lethargic, I couldn’t force myself off the couch. It’s not a physical tiredness but I mental one. Physically I feel great. Emotionally I feel distraught, worn out.

I’m still fully committed to the goals I set out for myself this week: eating healthfully, exercising, and drinking my 64 oz of water every day. I will continue to meet those goals, but today it will be a particularly hard challenge for me. Today, I will just be surviving, hoping to get by.

Drinking water today

Above: Drinking my Saratoga water this morning. Feeling disheveled and tired.


Above: A picture to make me smile! Me with Annie Beth, the beautiful little girl, while on vacation last week.

Above: Me with Aunt Alice and Uncle LeRoy. They were gracious hosts!


How to control your weight when you suffer from depression

by Christine on May 10th, 2010

filed under Diet, Food, Nutrition, Exercise, General Information

I’ve battled depression pretty much all my life. You could pretty much follow my depression levels by watching the scale go up-up-up. The more I fell into a depression rut, the faster I put on weight.  Unfortunately for me it was always one of those “chicken and the egg” situations: I would become more depressed and gain weight, which would depress me further, and I’d gain even more weight. It seemed like a never-ending cycle.

Depression can be characterized as simple feeling “low” or “down in the dumps.” Depression is very common, with an estimated 17 million Americans suffering from it, according to WrongDiagnosis. It is also treatable. Medication can definitely help (and I discuss this below), but there are also at-home remedies to you can take to keep your chemical levels more balanced and keep depression in a more manageable state.

Depression and Serotonin
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract, platelets and the central nervous system. Serotonin is primarily used to regulate intestinal movements but also helps to regulate mood, appetite, sleep, muscle contraction, and some cognitive functions. The most common antidepressant drugs regulate serotonin levels.

Eating carbohydrates helps to increase serotonin levels. If you suffer from depression do not follow low-carb diets. However, it’s important to try to consume “good carbs” and avoid refined carbs.  Good carbs include oats, whole wheats, basmati or wholegrain rice, beans, legumes, etc.  Just watch to make sure that you aren’t eating too many carbs, which may indicate that your serotonin levels are off-kilter.  A 2009 study in the General Psychiatry journal showed that people who followed a Mediterranean diet showed a 30% reduction in depression symptoms.  The Mediterranean diet has a high ratio of monosaturated fat to saturated fat, moderate intake of alcohol and diary, and a low intake of meat.  It also has a high intake of legumes, fruit and nuts, cereals, vegetables and fish.

Depression and Selenium
Selenium is a chemical element, nonmetal, that is chemically related to sulfur and tellurium. Selenium is involved in the functioning of the thyroid gland in humans; the thyroid helps to regulate the metabolism. According to annecollins.com, small amounts of selenium has been effective in the treatment of depression. You can get selenium by eating eggs, meat, fish, bran, Brazil nuts, tuna, onions, tomatoes, and broccoli.

Eating breakfast is important for anyone wanting to lose weight, but it is also very important for people suffering from depression. You can get your carbs and selenium by eating the foods listed above, which will help promote

Exercise has been known to fight depression. Exercise helps to promote endorphins, which creates a “happy” feeling.  Endorphins are produced by the pituitary gland and hypothalamus and are released during exercise, excitement, pain, and during orgasm. If you’re not exercising, you should!  Some medical studies have shown that endorphins get released the most during long, continuous workouts, when the intensity is between moderate and high, and when your breathing is difficult. A healthy sex life will also release endorphins, so ask your Significant Other to help you fight depression by participating in a little night-time exercising.

Stress and weight gain
Stress makes you gain weight. If you are juggling too many things in your life, your stress levels skyrocket, and with that, your weight.  This is related to a hormone called Cortisol, which are found in the adrenal gland. Cortisol primarily works to increase blood sugar and stores of sugar in the liver, aid the metabolism, and suppress the immune system.  While high levels of Cortisol may be good in survival situations, when Cortisol levels are elevated for a prolonged period, it can suppress the thyroid, decrease muscle density, decrease muscle tissue, create high blood pressure, and increase abdominal fat, among other medical issues. When your Cortisol levels are high, you may crave sugar and fatty foods.

If you’re suffering from depression and may have stress in your life that you cannot control, then make sure that you are staying away from caffeine, which increases Cortisol levels, and ensure that you are getting enough sleep. Relaxation techniques may also help to lower Cortisol levels. Some relaxation techniques can include meditation, yoga, listening to music, exercise, breathing exercises, journaling, etc.

I found it interesting that some oral contraceptive pills may increase Cortisol levels, especially women performing “whole-body resistance exercise training.”  If you may fall into this category, talk to your doctor about this issue.

Many people suffering from depression also have sleep problems. In fact, netdoctor says that more than 80 percent of people suffering from depression also have problems with sleep. Some may sleep too little, some may sleep too much. Some may be restless and wake up frequently.

The bottom line is this: sleeping for seven hours or more per night, with good quality sleep, is good for regulating your biological rhythms. Sleep is important not only to keep depression at bay, but also to help you lose weight.

Recent studies have shown that getting regular amounts of daylight at the right time of day helps to regulate biological rhythms. The most effective light for circadian stimulation is blue light, which is found plentifully in sunlight. When one receives blue light at the right time of day (in the morning), it helps to promote the release of melatonin (which is released at night).  It’s important that you receive a regular dose of daylight at regular times of day to promote a healthy biological cycle.  If you do, you will notice that you will sleep better, fall asleep at “normal” hours, and will have increased and sustained energy throughout the day.  Blue light therapy has been a safe medical treatment for those suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and may be effective in treating depression.

Anti-depressants and weight effects
Medicating depression should be left to the professionals. There are eight categories of antidepressants: Tricyclics (TCAs), Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin antagonists, Bupropion (Wellbutrin), Venlafaxine (Effexor), Mirtazapine Remeron), and Reboxetine.  Mixing these drugs or switching from one to the other abruptly may cause a total psychiatric breakdown, so leave this to the professionals.

However, it’s important to know that some antidpressants have weight-gain side effects, and some medications have weight-loss side effects.  A list of these drugs include:

Weight Gain Side Effects

  • Tricyclics (Tofranil, Elavil, Pamelor)
  • Mirtazapine (Remeron)

Weight Loss Side Effects

  • MAOIs (Nardil, Parnate, Eldepryl, Marplan)
  • SSRIs (Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Celexa, Pristiq)
  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor)

Set realistic goals
Setting realistic weight-loss goals is very important to anyone wanting to lose weight, but it’s even more important for people suffering from depression. I cannot tell you how many friends who suffer from depression (and also those who are bi-polar) and who have dug themselves further into depression by setting unrealistic weight-loss goals.  Aiming to lose 1-2 pounds of weight per week is a realistic goal. Hoping to lose 20 pounds in two weeks is not realistic.  When you set unrealistic goals and then subsequently fail to meet them often triggers those suffering from depression to dig deeper into a depressive cycle. You can fight this by setting small, attainable goals. When you achieve small goals, it will help to make you feel better, help fight depression, and will encourage you to achieve future goals.

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