Day 4: To Succeed in the Long Term, Guess What: You Need A Plan!

Start Weight:                274.8

Goal Weight:                  160 pounds

Today’s Weigh In:        224.6 (lost over 2!, reached 2nd weight loss milestone for 2nd time)

Still To Go:                     64.6

We’ve spent the last few posts setting the stage, giving you some background, and an example of unique (but maybe not!) challenges that we in recovery from mood disorders have with weight gain, weight loss, and maintenance.

Today, we’ll talk about how to realistically set the stage for a weight loss regime that you will tailor to YOUR particular situation. There are a number of factors that we grapple with that have many things in common with individuals dealing with other chronic medical conditions.

First the basics:

1. Sit down with a piece of paper, your iPad, laptop, whatever works for you, and brainstorm what your weight loss goal/s are. (I would HIGHLY recommend doing this when you’re not cycling. Mania may give you over-inflated ideas/goals that are simply not realistic. Depressed – you may not be able to even start or give up halfway through, more discouraged than when you started.) Some questions to ask your myself: Do you want to just lose weight? Do you want to also improve your fitness level? Do you want to find activities that help moderate your symptoms (manias and or depressions)? Do you have a time frame in mind? Are there other physical issues linked to your weight and/or med side effects that need to be taken into account? Do you want to join a support type system like Weight Watchers, try a personal trainer, or go it on your own with help from your support system? When is a possible timetable for getting started that makes sense for you? Take into account cycling, med changes, and holidays!

Putting your thoughts down on paper is an important first step to clarifying the beginnings of your goal setting process.

2. Have a Pow-Wow. Once you have a more concrete idea of what you’re trying to accomplish, it’s time to talk to your doctors – all of them! You’ll need to talk to your primary care physician to get a physical if you haven’t had one this year. You may also need to get labwork to determine areas you’d like to work on such as elevated “bad” cholesterol, elevated blood sugar, and any other physical issues that will need to be taken into account. Each of us is different, not better, not worse, just different. I started out in my journey morbidly obese, with elevated blood sugar, elevated “bad cholesterol”, major joint pain from the waist down, and was so heavy it hurt my feet to walk even around the block.

Once you have your physical information, it’s off to your mental health professional (MHP). If you haven’t been using “” or a similar mood journal, it’s never too late to start and the information will not only help your whole support system, you’ll be amazed at the changes as your mental and physical health improve. Sitting down with your MHP with the details from your primary doctor will help you identify any issues you may need to build into your plan. For example, what activities you can do when in a depression (a little light yoga, even stretching, is better than nothing at all), any issues associated with your medication/s impacting diet and how much/how vigourously you can exercise. Also, how they can help you with accountability and support you when you plateau or run into road blocks. Your MHP can also help you develop a beginning “baby-step” plan to help you get started. If you are working with a therapist, you may also want to meet with them to round out this step with anything that may have been missed.

And finally, most importantly, consider your support system, and not the nagging kind, the actually helpful kind. Whether you have a spouse/partner, other family members, friends, co-workers, even a neighborhood or meetup style walking/fitness group, when you’re ready to begin this journey, talk to your support group and get their buy-in. You might also consider an on-line community like “” for times when your supporters are unavailable and YOU REALLY NEED SUPPORT! These are the people who will cheer on your first steps, your continued progress, encourage you during the tough spots, and celebrate with you once you reach your weight loss goals. And most importantly, they’ll be there afterward to support your lifestyle changes in diet and fitness that will help you maintain the weight loss you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Important Tip: For those of us taking psych (or any other prescription) meds, weight loss supplements and radical programs like the “Cleanse” can interact with our meds or take us below our necessary system med level. It is absolutely CRITICAL that if you are considering anything like this to talk to your primary doctor, MHP, and pharmacist!!!! If you have any doubt, just DON’T do it – I have a niacin story I’ll be happy to share!

Today’s Lesson: We pretty much all know that “quick fix” diets don’t work. You may lose weight initially but how many of us have gained it all back, plus some, and then fallen right into a lovely depression from the disapointment. Taking the time on the front-end to identify your core goals then working with your doctors to make it workable for you will help you achieve long term success. And if you run into “steps back” due to med side effects, depression, or even simply holiday over-eating, you’ll have your bag of tricks and support to help you get back on track.

Today’s Motto:   Make every day count and live purposefully, live energetically, live completely.


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