Tuesday, June 24, 2008

TO READ: Is Exercise the Answer?
If it wasn't clear to me before that the obesity-depression relationship is a big issue for many of us, it is after your comments on my recent post on the topic. But what do we do about it?

As everyone knows, diets can be very tough. And if you're already depressed, you may be fighting with low motivation to eat more healthy stuff and less junk food. You may also be one who turns to comfort food when your mood drops, despite knowing that those calories add up quickly. It's not easy for me today, but earlier in my life I diet easily, drop a few pounds, then forget about it. Now, with bipolar disorder (mostly depressions) and its attendant medications, I'm really struggling. I still haven't gotten off all my Clozaril pounds, despite being off of that drug for years. Sigh. But. . .

Then there's the other side of the issue: exercise. Unfortunately I nearly stopped my exercise program last year as I focused on writing my book. And boy could I feel it. Several weeks ago, however, I got back on that horse, joined a small women's gym near home, and I've been taking exercise classes there. The classes work for me because they obligate me to be there at a certain time, so I can't procrastinate the entire day long. After the first two, I came home, sat down, and literally didn't know if I could get up a few minutes later. But, those sore exhausted muscles at least told me I was doing something.

The exercising is getting a bit easier now, and those jeans are in fact fitting a little better already. But can it really help me overcome my weight gain? And do I have to diet too? Hundreds, if not thousands, of studies demonstrate that regular exercise is the key to preventing and healing nearly every ailment. And we all know that those endorphins it produces are mood-lifting. We know we should do it, but it's still tough when you're depressed.

What do you do about exercise -- and how does exercise interact with your depression and your meds? Does it help you lose or maintain weight? Does it help you feel less depressed? More energetic? Proud of yourself? Let me know what you think -- I can use all the opinions I can get as I still have to push and push to get my shoes on and get to those aerobics classes three times a week.


Michelle (The Beartwinsmom) said...

My problem is finding/making the time to make the commitment to exercise. It seems that I get into it, then I lose momentum. It's even harder during the summer when the kids are out of school. I know that I should try to integrate some kind of family exercise routine, but honestly, I am clueless as to how to do it.

Maybe some of your clever readers have ideas. :-)

jumpinginpuddles said...

we always find a reason not to exercise for us it is more a chore than a healing

Anonymous said...

As a person who is "medically refractory" and has refused to consider ETC, exercise is the only thing I have (that and my pets :D). I can feel myself sliding if I take off jogging for more than one day. Yes, it helps maintain weight (which has slowly increased as I age; that just happens), but for me, exercise is about the mood. My problem: I AM getting older, and those joints /tendons HURT. I haven't been able to find a good replacement activity that fits into my schedule that gives me the lift of jogging (part of the magic: I "zone out" during the run. My mind can disconnect and center. Weird but true. Another factlet -- I had a total thyroidectomy after my first episode(s) of major depression. After that, I have NEVER gotten a "runner's high").