July 22, 2018

Have had my new furniture for a week.  And I must say my apartment is now feeling more like a home again instead of a hide out.  I’m also a month into my new medication routine.  I’m now back to regular sleep patterns again as I usually wake up around 7 am now.  I don’t stay up all night like I used to, even after a few cups of coffee.  Mentally I feel more than stable, I actually feel calm and at peace.  Haven’t felt peace like this for an extended time in years.  And I think I’m starting to lose weight again.  I have more energy, I recover quicker from aches and pains, and my clothing is starting to fit looser.

I haven’t had much to report for the last few days as my days have been uneventful.  Fortunately it hasn’t been so hot the last several days, so I’ve been getting outside more often and for longer stretches.  Typically late July is our hottest time of year.  But people are already talking about school starting again and fall football practice starts in a week or two.  I’m avoiding the mall and box stores so as to not fight the back to school shopping crowds.

It’s been a quiet June and July for me.  That’s not normally the case as summers are usually tough times for me.  No doubt I’m on a good luck streak right now.  And I plan to ride it as long as I can.

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First Day Back Exercising

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Today was the first day I did any real exercise since I threw out my back six weeks ago.  I can tell I have gotten real rusty and out of shape in the six weeks I spent mending my back.  I walked for only ten minutes, enough to get the blood moving but that’s about all.  I’m not sore from walking but I can tell I am out of practice.  It is quite hot in my hometown as late July and August are always the hottest times of the year.  I’m still not quite adjusted to the heat as I haven’t been outside much while my back was mending.  And it was quite a cool and wet spring this year, so I was used to exercising indoors this spring.

I’m going to start lifting arm weights again.  I’ll start that tonight.  It has been kind of an odd tradition for me to lift arm weights and do stretching while watching Star Trek reruns. A friend of mine got me started on that last summer.  I’m most of the way through Season 3 of Star Trek: Enterprise.  But when my back was healing I didn’t lift any arm weights or do much for stretching.  I’m sure I’m going to be just as rusty with the weights as I was the walking.  I’ll have to use the light weights for a couple weeks until I’m back to normal.

I also starting tracking what I eat again.  I got discouraged for the last few months and was lazy about tracking.  I was especially lazy when I couldn’t exercise outdoors and then after I hurt my back.  Before I hurt my back I had some unexplained foot pain that limited my walking for over two weeks.  So I haven’t been able to exercise hardly at all since the weather warmed up.  And I had to exercise indoors this spring because it was chilly and rainy almost every day.

When I was at my psych doctor last time, I had gained twenty pounds since the start of the year.  That was one month ago.  I’m sure I’ve gain some more as I was not exercising because of my back.  But my back is good again.  I can sleep in a regular bed again after weeks in a recliner.  I get more sleep in a regular bed but I fall asleep faster in my recliner.  I can’t figure that one out.

Because of my back pain and lack of activity I’ve been more depressed and irritable than usual.  I’m sorry I don’t make a very good patient.  But in the handful of times I’ve been in a hospital I make it a point to never get irritable with the nurses and doctors.  I force myself to be on good behavior I suppose.  When I’m healing on my own I can be more short tempered and depressed than usual.  I got angry with two of my best friends over a week ago.  I’m still embarrassed about that.  One of these friends I got mad at I hadn’t ever had an argument with and we’ve been friends for fifteen years.  Another was my best friend from high school and we have raised our voices to each other only a handful of times, mostly when I was in the grip of a mental breakdown.  I’m embarrassed I let those things happen.  I grew up in a family where we rarely yelled at each other and never had instances where we stopped talking to people.  We may not talk to each other every day but we will drop everyone for one of our own in crisis.  Even my extended family is like this to each other.

I’ve mended from my back issues, finally.  It was one of the longest six week stretches I was ever part of.  I’m beginning to exercise again.  I’m starting to socialize again.  I’m beginning to track what I eat again.  I haven’t yet got my blinds fixed but that is coming.  I might even get new carpet by summer’s end.  After months when almost nothing seemed to go right I think I’m starting to turn the corner.  Maybe things will start to get better.

 

 

Early Start to Spring Routines

It seems that spring is starting a couple weeks early this year, at least where I’m at.  So I am taking full advantage in this apparent early end to winter.  I started going to the park to walk and get sunshine (I need sunlight almost as much as a houseplant) a week and a half ago.  Slowly building up my walking times.  I can go a little longer now than even a week ago.  I knew I would be rusty as I hadn’t been able to walk outside much since my car accident back in October.  But I barely made ten minutes walking on my first day of my restarted routine.  It was embarrassing.  I could easily make thirty to forty minutes last summer with no issues.  It just shows what four months of low activity can do.  Maybe I should have gotten a gym membership after all.  But after making walking everyday for a week and a half a part of my routine I am starting to get back into the swing.

I started tracking exactly what I eat too.  I was losing at a regular clip when I was strict about tracking every day.  I wasn’t very fun at family and friendly gatherings when I wouldn’t eat as much as everyone else.  But it worked.  And it was something I had gotten out of the habit of tracking for the summer and fall of 2015.  Since I was lazy about tracking I gained weight.  I didn’t gain for most of winter once I consciously cut down on eating and got heavy into weight lifting.  I finally got back into the habit of tracking a week ago.  But I know I’m eating less already.  Took a few days to adjust but it is easier now.  It is a start and I expect things to only get more active and better as the winter officially gives way to spring.  Survived another winter and I’m already enjoying the warmer, brighter days.

Weight Loss And Mental Illness Revisited

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Winter is normally not a time people think about diet and exercise outside of a New Year’s Resolution.  These well intended resolutions to strive for better health usually don’t make it past the second week of January before old habits come back.  I think this is because few people don’t give enough time for positive change to take effect.  Far too many people think that adopting good habits are merely a matter of making a decision and acting on that decision.  The fact that highs and lows, wins and losses, up days and down days are not taken into consideration.  This is why so many people give up on good intentions after a couple rough days.  Very few people make allowances for setbacks and screw ups.

For my diet and exercise routine, the second half of 2015 was one setback after another.  I didn’t exercise enough, I was under too much stress, I ate too much, I got out of the habit of keeping track of what I ate, I quit lifting weights, and I wasn’t getting consistent sleep. Consistent sleep helps with weight loss and mental stability.  Without consistent sleep, hormones can become out of balance and that alone can mess with weight loss.  I gained at least 30 pounds from early July to New Year’s Eve precisely because things like exercise, sleep, stress levels, and eating were not consistent.  For most of the summer and fall of 2015 I was pulling two all nighters per week on average.  I’d try to sleep during the days but it just wasn’t the same.  I didn’t have enough sleep and I also didn’t have the quality of sleep I needed for weight loss or mental stability.  I didn’t get the consistent good nutrition I needed either.  Looking back on July to December of last year, it’s no wonder I went in reverse.  I’m also not surprised that I had two nervous breakdowns.  Fortunately I didn’t have to go to the hospital either time.

But since the first of January I have consciously made choices for better health.  I don’t pull all nighters any more.  I don’t skip taking my medications.  I take more time to relax and not feel guilty for having a small amount of time every day to clear my mind.  I exercise for at least 10 minutes every day rather than go hard for two days and take a day off like I was in the fall.  I’m back to lifting weights three times a week and I’m noticing improvements after only a few weeks.  I eat when I’m hungry and never just because the clock tells me it’s breakfast or dinner time.  Somedays I’ll have my last meal of the day by 5pm.  And others I won’t eat “breakfast” until 11 am.  I also make far more mental notes on what I’m eating.  I don’t track as strictly now because I know how many calories most foods have just by looking at the serving sizes and the labels.  But it took over a year and half of hard tracking to get that level of knowledge.

As a result of my efforts, I’ve lost seven pounds since January 1.  I want to eventually lose 150 more pounds.  But this is a life long commitment to a lifestyle change, not just a diet to be followed and endured for six months and then discarded once a goal has been met.  Overall since I started this lifestyle overhaul I’m down 35 pounds since March 2014.  The road has had detours and potholes along the way.  But I never gave up the dream of a healthier body and a more stable mind even when it seemed nothing was going right.

Weight Loss With Mental Illness

It has been quite hectic for several months for myself.  Between my friend’s wedding, my grandmother’s death, my typical rough late summer and early fall flare ups, my car accident, and the stomach problems, it has been quite eventful since early summer.  As a result I got stressed out and lazy about my exercise and diet routines.  I wound up gaining 35 pounds from Memorial Day to Halloween.  But after my back problems cleared and I changed my diet because of my stomach problems, I’m losing weight again.  I’m now down 12 pounds in the las six weeks.  Over all since I started the routine of diet, exercise, and lifestyle change I’m down  50 pounds.  Still want to lose at least 100 more pounds.  But I knew this was a complete lifestyle overhaul when I got started in March 2014.  This is going to take years of work and a lifetime of maintenance.  Yet I am back on the right track again.  On top of that I feel mentally more stable.  It’s amazing what a few weeks of stability and less drama can do.

Update: Dealing With External Crisis With A Mental Illness

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It’s been almost a week since my auto accident.  An update is in order.  I went to the hospital immediately after the accident because I told the EMTs I had some back pains.  I had x-rays taken and fortunately no breaks were found.  On Friday, the day after the accident, I received a copy of the accident report from the police.  With that report I went to the other driver’s insurance agency to get the paperwork started to see whether they would cover the costs of repairs.  The first estimate I had from an auto body shop said the cost of repairs might be more than my ten year old car was worth.  Early this week I was informed that the insurance company would cover the expenses.  But the repairs are going to take a minimum of three weeks once everything gets settled.  In the meantime I borrowed a car from my family rather than rent one.  I’m relieved the car will be fixed.  The car had one previous owner and only 38,000 miles so it was in as good of shape as a ten year old car could be.

For my health, I’m dealing with the changes and stresses pretty well.  While I’m not happy about what happened, events are in motion that will clean up these issues.  For my physical health I’m seeing a chiropractor to get a second opinion on my back.  Since I wasn’t at fault in this accident, the other driver’s insurance is covering the expenses.  Some chiropractors do accept Medicaid but only for some of their more basic services, from what I understand.  If the other driver did not have auto insurance I would be looking at more problems with this process but the other driver would be looking at far more serious problems.

In all of this I have been more diligent about watching and tracking what I eat.  I’ve had to be extra careful as I have been having more unexplainable pains slowing me down.  In spite of my auto accident I’ve managed to get my weight loss regiment back on track.  Overall I gained at least 25 pounds with my friend’s wedding and my grandmother’s funeral.  I’ve since lost close to 10 pounds since October 1st.  I didn’t give up on losing weight.  I just had a setback or two. I’m on track to recover from all the events of the last few months.  Hopefully this will be a quiet winter.

Losing Weight while on Anti-Psychcotic Medication

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In addition to my problems with mental illness, I’ve been fighting problems with having an unhealthy weight since at least age seventeen.  I spent the first several years of my schizophrenia diagnosis trying to figure out the many aspects of my personal mental health problems.  I was able to figure out that there were seasonal elements, certain situations and stressors that made the illness worse, people and places I needed to avoid as much as possible, and I learned coping skills that made the mental part of my health much more tolerable.

While I was covering the mental aspects of my health, I completely ignored my physical health.  I gained a lot of weight during the first ten years of my diagnosis.  One reason I neglected my physical health was I often lacked motivation to stay with an exercise program.  I would do fine the first few days.  When the inevitable aches and discomfort set in, I’d take a day or two off.  I felt terrible for taking days off and would in time drop the program.

A second reason I gained weight was I fell into the trap of believing I couldn’t lose weight while on anti-psych medication.  Many anti-psych medications have weight gain as one of their most prominent side effects.  Noticing I was at a very unhealthy weight even as far back as early 2007, I went off my medications in an attempt to lose weight.  Real bad idea. I had a relapse after being off medications for three months.  Whatever weight I lost in that time off the medications was gained back and more.

Finally about the summer of 2013, I’m guessing, my general practitioner  told me that I would have major health problems, including diabetes, heart issues, and probably even early death if I didn’t do a complete change of my eating habits and physical activity.  That gave me an incentive to at least attempt to lose weight while on anti-psych medications.  My options at that point were to either keep blaming the weight gain on my psych meds and wait for an inevitable disaster perhaps only a few years in the future, or I could get more active and accept responsibility for my physical health with the same dedication I took to getting my mental health managed.  I guess my decision to lose weight came down to the persistent thought that my well managed mental health conditions would not matter if my physical health deteriorated.

My first efforts to lose weight were not entirely successful.  Beginning to exercise wasn’t much of a problem as I had the idea of dealing with diabetes, heart disease, and a mental illness all at the same time to keep me walking at least four to five days per week.  It was the adjusting my eating habits that was the major issue.  I would lose weight some weeks.  Other weeks I would not lose and often actually gain.  This went on until about April 2014.

After several months of exercise and learning all I could find about good nutrition on a small budget, I reexamined everything I was doing.  Every thing checked out just fine.  I even changed some of my psych medications at my psych doctor’s recommendation.  I finally decided to track everything I was eating for at least a few days.  It took only one day to figure out exactly how much I was eating on an average day.  That was an attention grabber.  I figured out how much I was eating and how much I was burning off through physical activity.  I could see that on even average days I was taking in more calories than I was burning off.  I found out why I wasn’t losing weight as easily as I wanted.  It wasn’t the psych medications causing it all alone.  It was that I had no idea how much I was actually eating.

Once I figured this out, I committed to tracking everything I ate every day.  I was able to do this though tools and trackers with a free account at wedmd.com.  I just type in what I eat, how much of a food I eat, and how much exercise I do.  I had to do this everyday for at least the first two to three months every day.  Once I knew how much I was eating everyday as well as how much I was exercising everyday and was recording it, that is when the weight starting coming off.  Since I started tracking everything I ate and all exercise I did I’ve lost over 45 pounds.  I’ve been doing this tracking since the middle of April 2014, so I’ve been doing this for right at five months.  I’m sure that for those who wish to have a diet and exercise tracking app for a SmartPhone or an iPod there are several good apps available that don’t cost anything.

Weight loss while on anti-psychcotic medications is possible.  It can be done.  Like anyone else trying to lose weight, it takes a lot of work, a lot of discipline, and it takes time.  I suppose I have the thoughts of where I once was, where I’m at now, how much better I feel now than even six months ago, and where I can and want to be as motivators.