Practicing Simple Health

If you’ve ever had excess weight to lose, and have started looking for help in this area, you know that there are more than enough gurus out there, willing to tell you how you should do it. A lot of it tends to be very conflicting, too. Do you go low carb, or low protein? Should you eat three meals a day, or six smaller ones? Paleo? Keto? Intermittent Fasting? It’ll make your head spin!

 

practicing simple healthBack in 2005, I found a method called “mindful eating” (also known as “intuitive eating”). And, in putting its principles into practice, I easily dropped twenty-five pounds in just six months. It is the only thing that has worked for me, thus far.

Prior to this, I’d tried other methods, only to give each one up after anywhere from two days to three weeks. I tried Bob Green’s ‘Make the Connection‘ diet, Weight Watchers, First Place for Health, following diabetic exchanges (even though I’m not Diabetic), and others. Nothing worked … until I found intuitive eating.

That’s the thing, though — and I believe it more and more, with each passing day: You have to find what works FOR YOU.

We are all different, with different tastes and preferences, and circumstances that are unique to each of our lives. So it makes sense, then, that no one method or plan is going to fit every single person … at least not in the same way.

After gaining back the weight I’d lost in 2005, and spending the next twelve years frustrated by my inability to repeat that previous success, I realized that I was very tired of chasing the “quick fix” (which doesn’t exist, anyway!). I was tired of trying various other methods, or attempting to add “rules” to the intuitive eating method in order to get it to work for me (again).

I determined to let go of all of the extras, get back to basics, and start practicing what I call “simple health”.

Simple Health, to me, means doing what I know works for me, using the resources I’ve already found and loved, and not making things any more complicated than they need to be.

I know, for example, from my years of trying various things, that I love:

• eating according to the mindful eating method

• walking on my treadmill -or- going to the gym -or- using my Walk Away the Pounds DVDs
(all of which are my preferred methods for exercise)

• having one or two good friends that check in on me, from time to time, to keep me accountable to my goals

• weighing myself only once a week, first thing in the morning

Now, these are just the basics of what works for me… there are other things I take into consideration (like the fact that our bodies –especially as we age– are always changing, and so we need to adapt our methods to go with those changes). I believe we always need to be learning, so I might test out several other things, in addition to these basic, simple practices that I already know work for me. Yet, if I do nothing else, I will –at the bare minimum– maintain my health through these simple things. They are my non-negotiables.

Intuitive Eating encourages us to eat and drink the food and beverages our body enjoys. Mind you, as I’ve been accustomed to eating processed and sugary foods 98% of the time, choosing those things is obviously not the most beneficial way for me to feed my body. As such, I have to use some common sense, and work to train myself to enjoy the healthier options.

Where this becomes problematic for most dieters (and I, too, fall prey to it) is turning this into some kind of hard-and-fast “rule”. For example: “I cannot have any processed or sugary foods ever again!” That is a recipe ((grins)) for disaster!

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Instead, I can choose to start by substituting a meal or two per week — swapping out the processed foods for homemade or real-food options. Then, I can add in one new “from scratch” recipe every week (or even, every other week), to slowly train my tastebuds, and adjust to my new “normal”. At the same time, I can also just not buy a lot of the sugary snacks any more. Much as I’m allowed to have them, I can tell myself that I am choosing not to, because my bigger desire — the longer-term one — is to get my body healthy {see 1 Corinthians 6:12}.

This is also where it helps to really know why I want to be healthy.

My own “why” is so that I can enjoy life to the fullest, and still be capable of fulfilling my God-given purpose, even into my senior years. I don’t want to end up with any obesity-related health issues, like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, dementia, etc. I don’t want poor health to slow me down, or age me prematurely! Instead, I want to enjoy all of the years God chooses to bless me with!

So, I’m choosing to practice simple health in 2018 and beyond. And, you’re invited to join me, if you wish! {Start with a 30-minute Kickstart Session!} I have a free Facebook community, too, where I offer ongoing support & accountability.

Let’s not let the devil continue to steal our futures by keeping us weighed down (literally!). Let’s take back our health & enjoy life to the fullest!

What is Mindful Eating?

Maybe you have heard the term “Mindful Eating” (aka, Intuitive Eating, or the Hunger/Satiety method) before. Or, maybe you think you can guess what it is, just from the name. Either way, I would like to give you my version of it here, today.

What is Mindful Eating? | Life, Unleashed

First, though, three (3) things that mindful eating is NOT:

  • It is NOT some fancy diet
  • It is NOT anything mystical, New Age, or woo-woo
  • It is NOT another fad or trend

Mindful Eating is

  1. FREEDOM from the (confusing, conflicting, and ever-changing) diet industry.
  2. RE-LEARNING to trust your God-given internal systems that tell you when to eat, and when to stop eating.
  3. CHOOSING foods & drinks that you enjoy (rather than what you think you “should” be eating).
  4. BEING MINDFUL of what type of fuel you are choosing (eg. the best would be non-processed, or as close to natural as possible).
  5. SIMPLE — no need to count calories, avoid food groups, or feel deprived at restaurants.

IMHO, mindful eating is the best choice for eating, and for weight management. Why? Well, (1) it is how God designed our bodies to function (watch any toddler or baby — they are natural-born mindful eaters!), and (2) it works for anyone (including those with special conditions, like Diabetes, or food sensitivities, etc). You simply listen to your own body to determine when, what, and how much to eat.

After all, only YOU are the expert on you!

{Want to know more? Check out my eBook, “Mindfulness & Eating: The Journey to Health & Wellness“!}

HAVE YOU TRIED THE MINDFUL EATING METHOD? OR, DO YOU WANT TO, BUT STILL HAVE QUESTIONS? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

Let’s Talk About… Depression

This isn’t an easy post to write. I’m about to get super-real with you, peeps. But I feel that this is a really important conversation to have. So, let’s talk about… Depression.

Let's Talk About ... Depression | Life, UnleashedI have suffered from depression since I was a young girl. But it wasn’t until April 2013 that I finally started taking medication for it. The reasons for my delay were these:

  1. I had been misinformed / ignorant about the different types of depression that exist, and therefore didn’t feel that I was a candidate for medical help. I didn’t fit the description of someone with major depression — though, I did have some of the symptoms — so I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously.
  2. I had long been under the impression that antidepressants are habit-forming, so I didn’t want to take them for fear that I would suffer awful consequences when I tried to go off of them.

What changed for me is that, in 2013, I read an eBook called, “Pros of Prozac” by Beca Mark*. In it, Beca outlines her own struggle with anxiety and depression, and how much taking antidepressants had helped her. Reading Beca’s story, I could relate to so much of what she described of her life before taking medication. As such, I started to –once again– really research depression and antidepressants.

Side note: I’ve also struggled with anxiety and panic attacks since 2001, so I have done a lot of research on these topics over the years.

Thanks to my new research, though, I learned two things that I’d missed before, that made all the difference for me:

First, antidepressants are not habit-forming. If you follow your doctor’s instructions for how to take them, and for how to be weaned off of them, there shouldn’t be any major issues.

Second, I have what is called, Dysthymia, also known as chronic low-level depression. That’s why, although I have some of the symptoms listed for major depression, I don’t have all of them. Yet, my form of depression is no less serious, and can still benefit from the use of antidepressants. Here is the description {source}:

Persistent depressive disorder, also called Dysthymia (dis-THIE-me-uh), is a continuous long-term (chronic) form of depression. You may lose interest in normal daily activities, feel hopeless, lack productivity, and have low self-esteem and an overall feeling of inadequacy. These feelings last for years and may significantly interfere with your relationships, school, work and daily activities.

If you have persistent depressive disorder, you may find it hard to be upbeat even on happy occasions — you may be described as having a gloomy personality, constantly complaining or incapable of having fun. Though persistent depressive disorder is not as severe as major depression, your current depressed mood may be mild, moderate or severe.

Because of the chronic nature of persistent depressive disorder, coping with depression symptoms can be challenging, but a combination of talk therapy (psychotherapy) and medication can be effective in treating this condition.

Armed with this new information, I went to see my doctor to talk with her about trying antidepressants, and she wrote me a prescription.

It took a while to figure out the proper dosage, and which brand of antidepressant worked the best for me (turns out, it’s Zoloft). But I just have to tell you: choosing to go on antidepressants was the best thing I ever did for myself. It has made a world of difference in my life. Some of the benefits include:

  • I can have important conversations with my husband, or family, without falling into tears, and then being unable to continue the conversation
  • I’m no longer irritable, grouchy, and snippy with everyone all the time
  • I can respond, rather than react, to stressful situations
  • I don’t cry over the stupidest little things
  • I have battled my anxiety and panic attacks… and (still, by the grace of God), I won! {see below}

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these things are the major highlights, for me.

When I first started taking the medication, I didn’t tell my husband about it. Reason being, he is one of those people who doesn’t agree that depression is a mental illness. He thinks it’s just “all in one’s head” and can be overcome through “mind over matter”, diet and exercise {side note: yes, a healthy diet and regular exercise have been shown to lessen the effects of Depression, so they’re still highly recommended}. In order to “show” my man that I actuallywas helped by the medication, I waited a few months of being on it before I let him in on this choice of mine. And, when I finally did tell him, I asked if he’d noticed a change in my personality over the previous few months — he had. So, he agreed that maybe this was an important choice for me to have made.

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma attached to depression and antidepressants. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and also a lot of misunderstanding. People who have never suffered from anxiety, or never had a panic attack, don’t fully know the horror of it… the feeling of being so very out of control, and the feeling of utter terror. Anxiety and panic attacks are not just “all in your head”… they are physical manifestations of a chemical imbalance in your physical body. You can know all of the statistics and information, but your body is going to react (usually there are “triggers”), regardless of your level of knowledge.

For example, in 2001 I had my first panic attack. My family and I were eating dinner, when all-of-a-sudden, I heard a helicopter flying over our house. And much as I knew it made absolutely no sense (mentally), I was utterly convinced that that helicopter was going to come and crash into our house. I ended up excusing myself from the table to go to the washroom, where I collapsed into a shaking puddle on the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. I was scared-to-death, because this had never happened to me before, and I had never heard of panic attacks. I thought I’d completely lost it, and that I was going to have to be locked away in some mental institution. I’d gone off the deep end. (Thankfully, this wasn’t the case!)

From that point on, I couldn’t hear any aircraft going by overhead without seizing up in a fit of anxiety. My heart would race, my fists would clench, and I couldn’t think of anything else.

Thankfully, my faith has helped a lot with this… I’ve learned to pray through the attacks, asking God to protect both my family, and those on the aircraft.

 

Mind you, the 9-11 attacks certainly didn’t help. Especially since I’d had some eerily “prophetic” (for lack of a better term) dreams about them before they even happened! Put it this way: I saw what the people in the World Trade Center must have seen, seconds before the plane went crashing through those windows.  This still shakes me to my core.

Anyway. Like I said, my faith has really helped me in overcoming my anxiety and panic attacks. But I also believe that the antidepressants have, as well. As proof, I can proudly say that — thanks be to God! — I was able to get on a plane and fly out to visit my sister, last summer … and I didn’t even have to take anything (tranquilizers) for the trip, either! Was I still scared? Absolutely! I was very, very nervous. But, would I do it again? Yep — in a heartbeat!

To wrap this up, let me just encourage you in a couple of things:

  1. If you, yourself, suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, and/or depression (in any of its forms), please don’t hesitate to get help. Research it, if you need to. Talk to friends or family, or go see a counselor. Talk to your doctor. It’s not worth it to continue to suffer alone. You don’t need to… Heck! Send me an email if you need to talk, and feel you have no one else! I’m here, okay?
  2. If you have, or are considering suicide, PLEASE call this number, right now:  1-800-273-TALK (8255). Reach out — you are NOT alone!
  3. Ignore the haters and those who tell you that it’s “all in your head”. Do what you feel is the right thing… for you. That’s all that matters. You are the only one who truly knows your body, and what you need. You are the only one who needs to make this decision {with the help of your doctor, of course}.
  4. If you aren’t opposed to it, seek God in the matter. Tell Him what you’re struggling with (He already knows, but He wants you to come to Him with this). Ask for His help in overcoming this. It IS possible… Did you know that the Bible encourages us by saying, “Do not fear”, 365 times?  You could also go talk to a local pastor or priest. They are trained counselors.
  5. Help spread the word! The more people who talk openly about mental health issues like Depression, the more we can get rid of the “stigma” that surrounds it, and the more we can help those who truly need help.

ETA: Have a look at this article, on the Health Ambition website, all about the top 10 anti-anxiety foods that help reduce stress… it may be of some help to you, as well.

HAVE YOU GOTTEN HELP FOR DEPRESSION? DO YOU TAKE MEDICATION FOR IT? SHARE WITH US A BRIEF SNIPPET ABOUT YOUR STORY IN THE COMMENTS! LET’S SHOW THE LOVE!