Whoops! Who else is seeing the numbers go up?

by Christine on May 24th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates

I knew this would happen at some point, but 6 months after reaching my goal weight, I have finally seen the scale go UP.  Really, 6 months in “maintenance” wasn’t too bad, but I also know a warning sign when I see it.

Today I weighed in at 131.0. My “goal weight” is 125, although I’ve been comfortably at 127 for most of the last 6 months.

Oh, it’s easy to chalk up the 6 pounds to a variety of things. What are the excuses I’ve used in the past?

It’s just salt bloating. Drink more water and it’ll go away.

It’s my period. It’ll go down when I’m done.

It has been more humid outside; surely it’s from the humidity.

But you know what? Excuses don’t get you very far in life. And I’m well aware of knowing when I need to get my head back into the game.

I’m not the only one that has experienced a weight gain lately. So have these wonderful, fantastic bloggers that I follow:

Oh yes. I just called you all out. And there are more of you out there, too. Are you courageous enough to step up, admit your failings, and commit yourself to getting back on track?

What am I doing to try to get back on track?

  1. Calorie-counting and food journaling every day.
  2. Pre-planning my meals every day.
  3. Cutting back on the chocolates at night, which have gotten a little out of hand.
  4. Watching portion sizes, which means weighing and measuring.
  5. Making a point to exercise more.

So far, so good. But the weight didn’t come on overnight, and I can’t expect it all to come off overnight either.


Thursday ramblings

by Christine on September 23rd, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates

  • This week we signed up for a competitive volleyball league! Now that is a kind of exercise that I enjoy — a little socializing, a little moving, a little competition! Monday nights, $45 per person, 10 weeks, at a local elementary school gym.  We used to play in an intermediate league a few years ago (we stopped because we moved too far away to go regularly) and I hear that this league is not as challenging as the other one.  The other one was getting inundated by Power League players — you know, the kind that spike the ball at ten zillion miles an hour at your face? Yeah…I think an “easier” league would be really nice. I’m super excited about it! We start Monday!
  • My weight was up even more today: 138.8. That’s up almost four pounds in the last week! I do indeed feel like I can eat more lately than I should be able to. I have an appointment with my surgeon on Tuesday (to discuss my dislocated port — see pics HERE and HERE) and I will ask him for another fill at that time. I’m really looking forward to it; I hope it will help me get to my Final Goal Weight!  In the meantime, I can blame my four pound increase on: poor food choices, eating too much, period bloating, and salty foods. I’m already taking counter-measures: eating less, watching my choices, drinking lots of water.



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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