Extra Weight Gain? Is it Food or Meds? Or What?


We all know it starts with food – what we eat, how much, frequency, when, etc. Then it goes to activity, water consumption, getting enough sleep, but then it gets murky. In a depression, there’s tons of science about eating more, craving sugary/fatty foods, eating less or not eating. There are tons of factors but many of us end up with extra weight gain and feeling worse about ourselves as we move out of the depression or other episode. Not all, but the “I could care less” during the episode changes pretty quick for me when I look at the scale. The question is: did the depression cause the weight gain or did I gain weight by self medicating with food???? What other factors are in play?

For me, the main culprit has usually been meds. They helped me gain most of the weight, than I helped myself. Took 2 years to titrate (lower dosage) down 1 main culprit and another I was worried about dependency with. Then wham, bad episode, doc ups the “evil weight gain med” and a week later I’m 5 pounds up and feeling like a double failure. The pain of the episode, both mental and physical, pushed me over the edge to self medicate with food. Chicken, egg? The point: the med change helped me so much emotionally I’ve been coming out of the bad funk over the last few days. Have been able to slowly knock the increase back. And the 5 pounds, well with the lower dosage, lots of exercise, cutting back carbs, and increasing protein, not only are they gone, I’m actually back to July/Aug weight.

Lesson: There are so many factors that impact weight gain and loss, but for us on mood meds, they can have a very real impact on our hard work. Some are notorious “weight gainers” and while they help us feel more stable, we look in the mirror and are pretty unhappy with the side effects. What’s critical to remember is that mood stabilization, mental health, and mental safety come first. You can only do so much when you’re in an episode. Once you’re more stable, then you can talk to your doc about the weight issues and what you can safely do to address them. Be good to yourself – hopefully you have a plan in place and support system to call on when needed. If not – DO ONE!!!!! I wouldn’t be here typing away if those two things haven’t been my lifeline for 12 years. Although I’m preaching to many in the choir, hopefully this will shed some light for some others of you.

Huge Shout Out to Sandy Sue for her friendship and amazingly great advice/insight! Hugs!


Train Like Your Stronger Fitter Evil-Twin is Plotting…

How hard do you train? More importantly, what are your real fitness goals? Are they written down? Have you even thought past just losing weight and being able to shop in cooler stores?

When I started this journey in April of 2011, my only goal was to lose weight, mainly because I was just so miserable and disgusted with myself. But actual fitness goals aside from what I needed to do to lose the weight, not really. There were a few ambiguous ones like being able to walk for 20 minutes, get through a whole yoga class, that sort of thing. Now, a bit over a year later, 80 pounds lighter, and spending more time at the gym than I ever dreamed I would, now I have goals. They are:

* Consistently do at least 30 minutes of sustained activity 30 minutes 6 days a week.

* Complete 2 5K’s by December 31, 2012. (Have 1 scheduled for October. And doing the C25K program.)

* Complete a Half Marathon in 2013. (Start training in January.)

* Reach my goal weight of 160 by December 31, 2012 – and be at 25% body fat percentage (the normal range).

* Biggest: At least double the amount of weight I can lift, strength training I can do, and incorporate a program like P90X to really push losing fat and building muscle.

* And of course, ditch the “white stuff” – sugar, white flour, salt, butter/margarine (ok they’re not white) and eat as cleanly as possible.

These are my goals – sure that yours may be different in many ways. However, the next most important piece is planning how to reach whatever your goals are. Planning how you’ll do it, creating a schedule, journalling/charting your progress, and celebrating milestones. All this seems pretty basic, right?

Basic until you ignore your eating regime to have oatmeal right before bed. Til you blow off gym class to do, well whatever. Letting your schedule slide because life is getting in the weigh (family, work, school). Unless you have a plan, look at it regularly, and have a method to hold yourself accountable, it’s so very easy to let life takeover one tiny piece at a time until you’re sliding backwards and even more stressed out.

If you don’t have a plan, consider making one. If you’re not journalling to keep your food under control and charting your fitness progress, there are tons of great sites and apps to make it quick and easy. A small notebook works, too!

Don’t do what I did last night – ignore my trainer’s advice to have a protein shake at night if I get hungry and instead carb load and let it turn to fat overnight. Especially after busting butt for over an hour with my trainer that afternoon. Stepping on your own success is only frustrating and discouraging. Let that “future you” you’ll become be your guide and advise you. I ask “what would future Lara want me to do right now to help her become the fit, toned, and healthy person she became?”. The answer is: move more, eat clean and smart, and keep going! This journey is truly a marathon not a sprint. Pace yourself, do your best, and you’ll get there. In the meantime, be firm but gentle with yourself “on the weigh”!



What Can You Do Now?

Depending on where you are with your personal weight loss journey, and at regular intervals, it’s a terrific idea to think back to where you started and take a few minutes to compare what you could do then versus what you can do now. Not the obvious things like being able to walk around the block, finish a gym class, are overall healthier and have more energy.

The less obvious ones:

* Being able to run to the car through the rain without being winded.

* Being able to bend over in the shower to shave your legs.

* Automatically reaching for an apple instead of a donut without realizing you’re doing it.

* Doing a yoga pose instinctively, perfectly, the first time, to your own amazement.

* Getting up from a low couch without leaning on something or needing help.

* Comfortably crossing your legs.

* Leaning over and wrapping your arms around your legs while seated on the floor, again without thinking about it.

* Moving past the conscious decision to do a healthier activity because so many are now second nature. Like taking the stairs and parking farther away to get a little extra activity.

* And the very little things like going to sleep at a decent hour because you’re honesty tired, not because you’re eyes are fried from too much tv or video gaming, but because your body has reset itself.

* Finally, the feeling developing deep in yourself that you’re a thin person, a healthy person, temporarily wearing a fat suit. That happened to me a few days ago and it’s been instrumental in strengthening my commitment to reaching my fitness and weight goals.

As you keep a food journal, an exercise journal, maybe think of starting a list of “new developments” list of thoughts and actions that you look back and realize how long it’s been since you were able to do them, if at all. More than a number on a scale or the amount of weight you’re able to lift or miles you can now run, it’s the little things that we now take for granted that truly make all the difference.

Start that list – you’ll be glad you did. Plus you can use it for a confidence boost when your commitment wanes or you hit a plateau!

Pain, Agony, Hungry, And It’s All Going To Be Worth It!

(Thanks to Erin Says… for the terrific graphic – and grats Lady on the weight loss this week!)

Days of Pain and Ibuprofen

The new trainer gave me – finally – my new “eating plan” and not only is it incredibly strict, I feel like I’m either eating or preparing meals all the time. Which is true because I eat every 3 hours.

She also killed me in the workout side to the point that I had to lay down with my feet elevated. And stopped short of an hour and she had me ride the bike for 20 minutes. Felt like a workout wimp.

So I decided to do another monthly challenge and this one is a “take an hour for you to improve in some area” and of course mine is fitness. In that vein, started the C25K program this afternoon. Then did 20 minutes of strength training and limped to my car. Was Ms. Cranky at home until the worst of the soreness passed. Funny, even my toes hurt. And during the running portions, felt every one of the extra 40 pounds I’m lugging around as they bounced around!

Am contemplating an even bigger challenge but considering that although I finished the first C25K session, Week 1, and went on to work out more, I’m exhausted and will probably go to bed in an hour or so.

Yes, even after a well balanced meal, still hungry, in pain and on to the ibuprofen, but happy to have finished the first workout. Next, will check back in after finishing the first week. That and sticking to the meal plan…am seriously craving a cupcake – evil, bad cupcake!!

This post is a kind gentle warning for those of you considering starting the C25K program – definitely eat an hour before, make sure you do protein plus a carb, and stretch before and after. Good idea to do it on non-strength training days – major tip!

Still considering the “major challenge”!

Love to hear your stories of recent challenges you’ve decided to take on – virtual support can be just as good as the real life stuff.


What Will They Think Of Next? Fitness Teas! And a Bit More…

I was taking a few minute to look through recent Facebook posts and one jumped right off the screen at me!

The Republic of Tea (a pretty good company with a wide range of mid-priced but tasty teas) has come out with a whole range of “Fitness Teas“, a sporty “tea” bottle and cute cups, for those who have to have the whole set.

Everything from revving your metabolism, increasing flexibility, achieving better endurance, and helping your recovery time, these teas have exotic sounding herbs and a nice video to endorse them.

Will need to read up a bit more on these but am including the link for you here:



But for those of us who’ve been doing this for a little while (a very little while for me), it seems like there is a bewildering number of products out there to do all the same things, at varying price points. Dynatise has a great protein powder and I recently invested in their “recovery” powder, basically a branch chain amino acid mix that supports you during your workout and helps decrease soreness and shorten recovery time. Personally, I found it very helpful. It’s a bit pricey though. Supplements are always an option at a lower cost. So is a few ibuprofen and a rest day :-).

And, just when you think you have a handle on things, there’s something new to learn. At least the basics hold true. Staying hydrated ALL the TIME with plain water, preferably cool so it gives your stomach something to work on, supplementing that with green tea for metabolism if you can tolerate it, throwing cinnamon and chili into food as another metabolism booster, and frequent small, balanced meals. Those seem to be pretty consistent.

But then you get into what time of day is best to work out, how long is a good rest period, how soon before and after working out should you eat and what and how much, stretching, using a foam roller, machines versus free standing strength training, to run or not to run, the whole sugar thing…Whew!!!

In that vein, yesterday, the wife came home and said she spoke to her doctor who said your last meal should be at least 3 hours before you go to bed, otherwise the food just sits in your small intestine. Ok, so no chocolate chunk ice cream an hour before bed. Or ever! (That last one’s not true – treats are important for the long term so we don’t completely burn out and go on a carb/sugar/fat (the holy trinity!) binge.) But your small intestine??? Yet another thing to wonder about and finally do some research on.

The NerdyGymRat had a great post today about the best time to exercise. Am? Pm? WhenM? Turns out, according to studies, it doesn’t matter what time of day you exercise as long as you’re getting your heart rate up and exercising consistently. So if you wake up late tomorrow and can’t get to the gym until the afternoon when you’re usually a 6am’er, no worries!

Hope you enjoyed today’s post. No pretty pics of food but some good information and a new product to look into. We’ll close today with a nifty motivational quote – more tomorrow!

Tuesday Night Inspiration – And “Food For Thought”

Happy Tuesday!

After hardcore workout yesterday, a bit tired all day but found some terrific items to share with all of you.

First off, an incredibly inspiring story about a 19 year old rockclimber “Making Her Way to the Top”.

Rock Climber Sasha DiGiulian, 19, is making her way to the top”


And just when you thought the weight loss related articles, items had fled after the last few days of posts, here’s one that truly is “Food For Thought”:

“Western Diet: A Killer in Okinawa –  a YouTube News Story

This second story is, I think, yet another glaring example of how the “fast food, bad habits” western way of life is spreading and impacting otherwise historically healthy and long-lived populations. Cheap corn and government subsidies aren’t the answer. Access to healthy, non-gmo foods for EVERYONE is. What can we do, each of us, as part of the answer, not the problem? (That’s a big question I know – let’s all run over to TED and look for presentations!)

Enjoy, learn, laugh, and think a little! Have a great night!



This is Just A Phase

Been inspired reading “Epidemic of An Illness” about the frightening rise of diagnosed mental illness in the last 50 years. For those of you with BP or any type of mood disorder / mental illness, the book is quite enlightening.

BUT – what I found incredibly inspiring was the story of one woman, who after being diagnosed and dealing with over 20 years of hospitals, med changes, nasty side effects, etc. is putting her life together. Although she has been on SSDI for quite a few years, her perspective is “being on welfare (disability) is just a phase in my life, not the end”.

Not only is this important for all of us on disability who desperately want our lives back and to get back to work and being productive, it also applies beautifully to all of us on this weight loss journey.

Maybe you’ve been heavy since childhood, maybe tried diet after diet with limited success. That doesn’t mean you have to accept obesity as a way of life. Why not consider it a “phase of your life, not the end”. Flip that perception and start changing 1 habit at a time.

I was concerned yesterday that my weight loss has slowed down so much. Thankfully my wife reminded me that this is not a race. We don’t get a medal for who loses the most weight the fastest. We do get the personal pride of accomplishing our goals, the flexibility to change them as our lives change, and the knowledge that we are strong enough to get to the finish line and maintain afterward.

Don’t worry: your family and friends will be at that line cheering whether you’re there first or last. Order doesn’t matter. Developing healthy habits you can maintain for a lifetime and feeling good when you see your reflection in a mirror are the true rewards that are truly priceless. 

Have a happy and healthy Weekend!!

Whew…Back on the Saddle Again

Today’s Lesson: See Above!

After a 45 minute mixed strength workout yesterday from sparkpeople and other online video workouts, today I WENT BACK TO THE GYM!

And it felt good to be back, especially since I was meeting with a trainer to help me get back into the “groove”. After 2 weeks of much lower activity, this week I did a power yoga class, 45 minutes yesterday, and 20 minutes of interval training on a stationary bike with a trainer today.

Did I feel lightheaded and like I was going to throw up – YES! Did I do it anyway – YES!

I would apologize in advance for having down days, days I just can’t drag myself to the gym and blow off workouts, and occasional food disasters. But that said, I’ve lost almost 80 pounds in a little over a year – and am keeping it off. This is good news for you because if I can do it, you definitely can too!

And even though my weight loss has slowed to a crawl, my body is still changing. I can buy XL sizes in regular stores for the first time in years. And some XL’s are too big! The scale will go back and forth, you will have lapses and blow off days, that’s normal. What’s important (and I’m saying this to me, too) is to pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and (sing along) start all over again!

Together we can do this thing!

Do You Sneak???

Are You A “Sneaker”?

If so, you’re not alone! Here’s a short but familiar story.

Today, I started reading “Weight Loss Boss” by David Kirchhoff, the President and CEO of Weight Watchers. Most of what I’ve read so far is familiar since I was in Weight Watchers for over a year, lost about 30 pounds, and then promptly gained it back after leaving the program. But that’s just me – many people have successfully lost and kept off weight on WW. What I’ve found the most resounding though is the chapter on “sneaking”.

The hardest “willpower” times for me are when I’m at home, alone, sitting on the couch, and dealing with one of the big three: boredom, loneliness, and depression. Any of these or a combo sends me either out the door to B’s Cupcakes, to the junk drawer for a take-out menu, or to the cupboard to make easy one-bowl/pan brownies. Do I tell my honey (or anyone) about these “sneaked” treats/meals? Oh, No! Do they make me feel any better (like today’s meatball parm sub and cannoli!!!) – No, just a bit fuller and a lot guiltier. Will going to the gym to work out or take a class make up for the transgression? The latest research is also saying NO! Using exercise as either an excuse to splurge/sneak or a way to burn off excess calories doesn’t work in the short or long run. The only true way to lose weight is to eat less calories (and healthy ones) than you burn off through exercise/activity.

Saying that, and after losing almost 80 pounds in a little over a year, why I am jeopardizing all the hard work by listening to “the call of the take out menus”? My story is a lot like the book’s author. My parents didn’t keep a lot of unhealthy food in the house, except for my stepfather who had a stash of candy he bought for himself and hid. Which of course my brother and I found immediately. They would buy horrible ice milk and nasty sandwich cookies that were ok for us to eat but tasted terrible. So I clearly remember waiting until the ‘rents were gone to sneak a few snack size candy bars or Starburst fruit chews. Frankly, I didn’t really even like either of these but they sure beat the only other “sweet treats” in the house. What’s truly weird is that even after I was working, I rarely spent my money of junk food. We didn’t have dessert at home very often so even out I didn’t indulge very often. And when I was working, I was more apt to have a yogurt or other healthy snack during my breaks. So until I hit my late 20’s (and after learning what great food tasted like and enjoying the convenience of being close to a ton of terrific restaurants), I was skinny for the first 27 years of my life. But man, when it hit, it hit! Shortly after my 28th birthday, I realized I was almost 30 pounds over my “normal” weight.

I immediately went to a shady doc to get some “phen/fen”, shed all the weight, and promptly hit the mental health wall. With all the med changes, eating to self medicate, and becoming a couch potato (I was always pretty active for the first part of my life), the weight piled on. Those of you who’ve been with me know I lost most of my weight through careful diet and exercise but have had consistent bumps in the road over the last few months. Another fun fact: the more weight you lose, the slower your metabolism gets – which is why losing those last 10, 20, 40 pounds seems like climbing Mt. Everest. And that’s without “sneaking”. (Let’s not call it cheating – let’s just bite the bullet and call it what it is. If that’s you at midnight with the spoon in the carton in the dark kitchen, well you know what I mean!)

David has some terrific suggestions to help Stop Sneaking, but I’d like to share my first one now: THROW AWAY THE DANG TAKE-OUT MENUS!! I just did a few minutes ago because I know they are a huge trigger for me. Do I feel any less nauseous from my crappy delivered lunch? No, but at least I know it will be harder to indulge like that next time I’m tempted.

Other “Steps To Stop Sneaking”:

1. Focus on what works for you, not what others think. Having healthy behaviors for yourself is more important than getting approval from others. Especially others who want to order dessert!

2. Understand that going undercover with minor indulgences encourages them to blossom into monstrous food disasters. Shame is it’s own weird kind of motivation.

3. Become more aware of the situations in which you’re tempted to sneak food and find detours – or major highways – around them.

4. Plan indulgences into your routine so they don’t knock you off your path of progress. Then it’s a pothole, not a crevasse.

5. Air your dirty laundry! Whether with a friend, on a blog, or notifying Facebook friends, find a safe place to share your “sneaking” and you’ll probably be very surprised how not alone you are and the support that’s out there to help you keep on track.

I hope this has helped a bit today and I’m grateful to have this blog to safely share my “sneaking” and steps I’ll also be taking to put an end to it! Comments and sharing are welcomed!!!

Finding Beauty In Movement

Beautiful isn’t it! It’s an ad from this month’s “Yoga Magazine”. Look at the expression on the woman on the right’s face…A Madonna’s smile. Amazing!

Achieving this kind of balancing act obviously takes years of training and practice. (Plus probably some circus / acrobatic training.) But after the “Tough Love” post, thought it might be helpful to see the other side of this whole “getting in shape” thing. Yes, it’s hard, mostly unpleasant, even with the whole endorphin thing, but it can also be incredibly beautiful. Take a close look at the placement of the hands, the strength in the feet, the elegance of the pose itself, perfect symmetry.

Maybe you are training for a 5k, a body building competition, or using strength training to help with weight loss. Maybe you don’t have any goals currently. That’s just fine! But when you look at images like this one or watch someone rockin’ out in Zumba, pulling moves that don’t look humanly possible, let it inspire you. Don’t think about where you are now, the bulges, flappy skin (if it applies, and yes, sadly it does!) but the muscles that are sculpting underneath, the strength and grace you’re working toward. These things come at a price – are you willing to pay it?

Hint: the answer’s “YES”!!!