In Pursuit of Good Health

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Image courtesy of Pinterest.com.

Ah yes, the eternal battle for me and my kind. I should exercise. Everyday. Even if it’s just a walk around the block. It would do wonders for my mental health as well as my physical well-being.

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Image courtesy of Google.ca.

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Image courtesy of Google.ca.

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Image courtesy of Google.ca.

And I could stand to lose some weight. You see, the anti-depressant I take, Cipralex is notorious for weight gain. And gained weight I have. About 25 lbs since starting Cipralex. Oh, and another 25lbs that led to a diagnosis of under-active thyroid (it runs in the family). So that’s 50lbs I’ve put on in the last year and I hate it.

I hate that I had to buy new clothes 4 sizes bigger than I’ve ever worn before (not including when I was pregnant). I hate that I went up 2 cup sizes (yes, 2) in less than 6 months (do you know how expensive bras are???). I hate the way I look. I hate the way I feel. There’s a lot of negativity swimming around my brain about my body and it’s profoundly affecting my fragile mental state.

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Image courtesy of Pinterest.com.

So, what’s a girl to do? Well, diet obviously. Here’s the catch – when a person goes through an anxiety attack or a bout of depression guess what their body craves? Salt, sugar and fat – pop, chips, chocolate, cookies, cakes, fast food. All of the things that are dieting no-nos.

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Image courtesy of Pinterest.com.

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Image courtesy of Pinterest.com.

Trying to cut these foods out of my diet has proved extremely challenging. You see, once I’m experiencing an anxiety attack or bout with depression I start to crave. I’m not talking about the kind of piddling craving you get after seeing an ad on TV – “Gosh, I could really go for a Coffee Crisp right now.” No, this is an all-out, pregnancy-style “If-I-don’t-have-a-Coffee-Crisp-in-the-next-2-minutes-someone-will-pay-the-price-with-their-life” kind of craving. And I cave. Every time. So much for watching what I eat.

My therapist recommended the 5/2 diet – for 2 non-consecutive days a week you only consume 500 calories. I did this for about 2 months. For breakfast I ate fruit. At lunch I had salad with minimal dressing and supper was salad with protein, usually shrimp. And it worked. I’m pretty sure I lost about 10lbs (I don’t own a bathroom scale, I think they’re evil contraptions, so I don’t know for sure). However, my family was paying the price.

I wasn’t making them follow the diet. That would be just silly. No, what was happening was my anxiety was heightened on the days I was only eating 500 calories. I was even more antsy and short-tempered. I would rock in my chair (it wasn’t a rocking chair) and shake my hands in a vain effort to rid my body of the anxiety. I began to experience vertigo with greater frequency. Once I realized what was happening I stopped the diet immediately and gained back the 10lbs. I’m pretty sure he brought some friends to the party too.

So, what to try next? Well exercise of course. I’ll let you in on a little secret – I hate exercise. As a kid gym and recess were my least favourite times of the school day. I don’t enjoy organized sports. I’m uncoordinated and I hate the pressure of having a team full of people counting on me “for the win”.

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I always say, “I don’t run. For any reason.” Image courtesy of Pinterest.com.

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Image courtesy of Pinterest.com.

So last year, at Christmas time, I had the brilliant idea of getting me and the kids a family membership to the local YMCA. It has a lovely weight room, cardio facilities and a pool. One activity I actually enjoy is swimming. I really believed that paying the monthly membership fee would be all the encouragement I needed to go regularly. After all, I’m not in a position to waste money on unused amenities.

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Image courtesy of Pinterest.com.

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Image courtesy of Pinterest.com.

In the new year I made an appointment with a personal trainer. She helped me create a work-out plan and for a couple of months I went quite regularly; 2 to 4 times a week. Then it happened. I had an anxiety attack while on the elliptical machine.

I hadn’t been feeling that great mentally that week, but I decided to push through the bad feelings and follow my work-out schedule. I did my cardio warm-up then went and did the weight machines. I was not having fun and just wanted to go home, but it was time for my 20-minute cardio round so I dragged myself to the cardio room. I decided to try the elliptical machine for something different. I usually stuck with the bike or the rowing machine but thought a change of pace might help with my funky mood. Within minutes I was feeling nauseous. A few more minutes and my head was spinning. In less than 5 minutes I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. I didn’t want to be anywhere where there were people.

The need to escape was all-consuming. I had to get out. I shut the machine off, grabbed my water bottle and walked to the change room as quickly as possible (without drawing attention to myself). I didn’t bother changing my clothes, just grabbed my bag and bolted for the door.

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If only it worked. Image courtesy of Google.ca.

I struggled to maintain the work-out routine I had created. People (those crazy souls who enjoy the gym) kept telling me that once I got into a routine I would love going to the gym and wouldn’t want to miss a day. They were wrong. Although I did try to go back a few times I experienced the same panicked feeling every time I walked through the doors. I decided to hold onto the membership for the summer thinking the kids might make of use it (they didn’t) but I never went back to work-out again.

I went in in July and told the lady behind the counter I needed to cancel my membership. When she asked why I chose to be honest, “I have anxiety attacks every time I walk through the door.” I told her. She was very understanding and asked if I knew what triggered it, but since I didn’t there was little she could do to help. She cancelled the membership immediately. I felt a great deal of relief.

So, what have I been doing to get some exercise? Well, I’ve tried a couple of home workouts and, well, I hate them. I’ve tried getting together with a friend for walks in the bush but it hasn’t worked out. Walking in the bush is one of the few forms of exercise I really enjoy.

I have stopped eating after 7pm on most nights, which helps with my food consumption (this wasn’t really a choice, I’ve been suffering with acid reflux and if I eat after 7pm I’m up all night with severe heart burn).  But an exercise regime eludes me.

Until I figure something out, this is about as active as I’ve been…

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According to my Goodreads account I’ve read 42 books so far this year. I still have 8 more to read to reach my goal of 50. Image courtesy of Google.ca.

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About Holly

I hope you're able to glean something from this blog, a nugget of wisdom, a new perspective, a smile or even a laugh. I enjoy getting feedback so please comment, share your story with me too. After all, we're here to help each other.
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10 Responses to In Pursuit of Good Health

  1. Okay, I wish you lived in the same country – then we could talk on the phone and do a 10 min walk together! In the meantime – can you watch YouTube on your TV? Start here:

    Just take a breath and do it – it’s less than an hour. 🙂

  2. First off, no I don’t know how much bras are.
    I don’t understand why you don’t do the walking in the bush (what’s that?). You said you like it and it fits in the budget.
    In terms of the weight, I think you have bigger concerns but I hope that the regular exercise can get you to a body shape that you are comfortable with.

  3. Oh, Holly, this was a such a mixture of laughter and empathy for me! I used to go to a gym pre-Maycee days, and I honestly never really cared for it. The only thing I did care for was that working out did make me feel better, and it felt good to know I was keeping my body in shape. Post-baby just having the kiddo was plenty of exercise for me! Now, my horse riding is my exercise. It also reduces stress and anxiety considerably, and you don’t have to be moving fast on the horse or doing anything extravagant to get a good work out. I stretch on my horse now, flex my stomach muscles when I ride, use good posture, which is great for the back, and lots of leg work. Anyhow, not that I am saying you should take up riding, but rather I’m saying that exercise comes in many forms-not just gyms and work-out vids. Even cleaning house or doing yard work is exercise. Put on the music and work away-that burns calories! Park far away from the stores you go to and walk more. Watching what you eat, of course, is the best place to start, which you are trying to do-and you can buy some lighter calorie sweet alternatives for those horrible craving days. And, at least your eyes are getting great workouts with all that reading! Kudos to you for that! 🙂

    • Holly says:

      I would love to take up riding!! It’s a little out of my price range right though. It will get better, I know that. Mike’s house needs some serious work and it looks like I might be helping out with that soon.

      • You should see if there are any horse rescues in your area. These are places you can visit for free, learn about the horses, and help them with things like grooming and walking them around. Just being with horses is a spiritual and calming experience. Many areas also offer horse therapy, which again, can be either free or very inexpensive, for people with disabilities, mental or physical. On my very small budget I’ve now managed to take on TWO horses’ board and have Maycee and I back into lesson. It’s more affordable than people realize depending on where you go and what you seek out. Gosh, if only you were here, you could come with me! Love ya! XO

      • Holly says:

        I’ve looked into the rescues. The closest one is about an hour away. They also do equine therapy and look for volunteers. I’ve been thinking about doing, but the anxiety makes it hard for me to comitt because there are days I have difficulty leaving the house. It is something I must do though. I know I would enjoy it.

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