Attempting To Lose Weight With Mental Illness and Other Adaptations

Spring is here though I wouldn’t know it by the weather.  Got a few inches of snow on Easter Sunday.  Even though much of it has melted by now, it’s supposed to stay colder than normal early spring for the next few days.  It’s a pity as I was looking forward to warmer weather and fewer excuses for staying indoors most of the time.  As it is I probably won’t go anywhere until the weather finally warms up.

Been adjusting to new sleeping patterns.  I’m going to bed earlier and waking up earlier.  I still sleep only five to seven hours a night so I’m usually awake around sunrise anymore.  During much of the winter I would sleep almost until noon.  But the sleep patterns are changing with the seasons.  So I must adapt accordingly.  I still feel mentally stable even though I still have little desire to socialize much outside of friends and family.  I still call my parents a couple times a week.  Haven’t talked to my college friends much the last couple weeks.  One old friend just had his first child a couple weeks ago, so I’ve been giving him his space as he adapts to fatherhood. Other friends I have lost contact with over the last few years, I want to reestablish contact with these.  I also lost contact with some family members over the last few years I want to reconnect with.  I just got busy with my life and my mental illness got such in some cases I just didn’t want to contact even friends.  I lost many of my old interests over the last couple years.  I haven’t gone fishing in almost two years.  My back can flare up bad enough anymore that I don’t do much outdoors anymore.  I can understand why people with chronic pain can sometimes be short tempered, especially if they were in good health in their younger years.

I’ve been fighting weight problems since puberty.  Yet for the longest time in spite being over weight I didn’t have problems with mobility, pain, etc.  When I was in college I could easily walk over five miles a day in spite weighing over three hundred pounds.  Yet I think the chronic pain is catching up to me.  I can use the car accident I had messing up my back as an excuse, but after the accident I got really depressed and quit doing most physical activities.  I stopped going to the park regularly.  I stopped walking around the old downtown.  I stopped going to the library, preferring to read online articles and audio books instead.  I stopped going fishing.  I even stopped road tripping.  I hate to admit it, but the car accident really took a lot of fire out of me.  At least, I allowed it to take a lot of fire out of me.  To this end I decided I want to get back on top of my health.  I’m giving up on the sugary foods and soda pops.  I’m going to cut the bread out.  I’m cutting out most carbs.  And I started lifting arm weights again.  Oddly I got this idea from a pizza delivery lady who said she lost over fifty pounds just giving up sugar, bread, rice, and pasta.  I am going to do the same thing.  Started this over the weekend.

First I decided to track what I was eating.  Took only a couple days to see I was eating mostly bread, pasta, canned soups, and meat.  Explains why I’m not losing weight.  While I’ll probably end up spending more money on groceries buying healthier and fresher food, if I lose weight it will be worth it.  I’ve lost weight before.  I once lost over seventy pounds in less than a year.  Unfortunately I gained it all back over the course of three years.  One of my blessings is I can usually lose weight pretty fast when I commit to it.  Of course I also have the opposite curse, I can gain weight pretty fast when I am not careful about what I eat.  I tend to be undisciplined about my diet when I go through bouts of depression and anxiety.  But I’m going back to what worked in the past.  Been eating mostly meat and fresh fruit the last few days.  I’ve noticed I have a little more energy even after a few days.  And since I kicked my fast food habit over the winter, I don’t think that will be much of a problem now.  It’s just a matter of giving the time and effort to making the plans work.

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I Want To Shake Things Up and Get More Active Again

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My back has healed up.  I’m back to essentially a more normal routine.  Because of the colder weather and being housebound for two weeks, I got to do some thinking about changing things in my life.  I have essentially been in a rut for the last couple years where it’s pretty much the same old every day, day in and day out.  I haven’t done any real traveling for almost three years, spending much of my time self educating via youtube and Khan Academy and reading books.  I gained back the weight I lost within two years of my car accident back in 2015.  Now I’m getting more serious about my health again.  I don’t eat fast food anymore.  I’m starting to get out of my apartment more and walk a little every day.  I do arm weights three times a week.  And about the only things I drink anymore are water and coffee.  I feel like I’m beginning to see some results.  I started this new routine shortly after New Year’s.  Because my back slowed me down for two weeks, I just cut back on what I ate.  I’m to where I now eat meat only once a day, usually for breakfast.  The rest of the meals I eat things like spinach leaf salads, soups, peanut butter, and meatless pasta.  I think my routines are starting to work.  I feel like I have more energy.  I feel more mobile.  I’m starting to have fewer aches and pains.  And I am sleeping better too.

I’m also thinking that after I have lost some weight, I’m going to have to get out and about more.  I am in desperate need of shaking up my routines and adding more spice to my life.  A few years ago I said that I would like to do some traveling eventually.  I still have my savings that I built up a few years ago.  I’m thinking I’m going to have to see my old college friends again.  I don’t have a definite time line set just yet as this is still in the dreaming before making plans phase.  I have always wanted to get my passport and travel through Europe and see places like Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, London, etc.  Part of me would, if I get back to the same weight I was in college, love to travel on some of the old Silk Road from eastern Europe to China or vice versa.  When I was in high school I spent a couple weeks in Mexico with my Spanish class.  It was the most enjoyable vacation I had in my entire life.  Now that I am an adult, debt free, committed to getting back into good physical health, and have a little bit of a savings, I’m going to have to do this traveling before I get too old to enjoy it.  Since I am single, have a safety net in my disability pension, and I can do my blog from anywhere that has WiFi internet, I’m starting to hear the faint beckoning call of the open road again.

When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I did a little traveling every year.  My senior year of college, my parents and I went to San Antonio for Christmas.  I got to see The Riverwalk lit up for Christmas, visited the Alamo, got to see one of the Air Force bases my dad was stationed at during the Vietnam War, and got to see my Nebraska Huskers play a post season bowl game.  And an old college friend and I used to go to Denver to see Colorado Rockies baseball games, one of those games being a World Series game.  Spent all winter paying off the cost of that quick weekend trip, and even though the Rockies lost the Series, it was worth the trip.  I visited an old college friend in Minnesota for a week several summers ago.  I was amazed at how beautiful Minnesota is (I wouldn’t care to fight their winters). My friends and I used to go to minor league baseball games every summer.  We were able to get front row seats, a couple hot dogs, and a couple soda pops for less than $25 a person.  Just thinking about these old times while I was house bound for the last two weeks got me to realize just how much I missed travel and seeing different places.

I know that before I can fulfill these dreams of traveling, I have to lose some weight.  I have done it before.  And by God I can do it again.  I know it’s going to take at least a few years before I can get to doing the travel overseas like I dream of doing.  But I have pretty much gotten to where I have played all the computer games and done most of the self study I care to do.  I took a couple years doing that and I have gotten it out of my system.  Now it is time for a different chapter in my life.  It’s time to lose some weight and prepare to hit the road again.

New Beginnings and New Routines

Been getting more regular sleep the last few days.  So I’m returning to some of my old routines.  Started lifting weights again.  No doubt it’ll take a few weeks to get back into the routine of lifting weights three times a week.  I’m eating healthier again.  I used to eat fast food about once a day.  Haven’t had the stuff for two weeks now.  Been getting up around eight a.m. the last several days.  Still napping for a couple hours in the afternoons.  But I am no longer staying awake most of the nights.

Been going outside a couple times a day for the last few days.  Starting to socialize again too.  Found out that some of our more problematic residents have moved out.  One of the reasons I isolated so much over the last year or so was to avoid these people.  I can freely socialize again without fear of running into negative and angry people all the time.  Too bad this didn’t happen a few months ago.  Some of these individuals were really taxing my sanity and well being.

Had some changes in my medications.  So far they seem to be working.  As it is I have a several week supply of meds built up in case of emergencies.  I think that after several months of less than optimal times, things are starting to look good again.

Since I’m starting to sleep less and more regular hours again, I’m finding myself with more free time.  I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with this new found freedom and energy.  I have pretty much been withdrawn and homebound for awhile.  I imagine I need to start contacting friends and family again.  I haven’t been a regular on Facebook for over a month.  I want to get back in touch with people again.  I’m even starting to look forward to the holidays for the first time in a long time.  I’m glad to be back on the mend and more active again.

I want to start losing weight again.  I’ve been real lazy about diet and exercise since my car accident two years ago.  As a result I gained back all the weight I had lost previously.  I haven’t been drinking sugared sodas for a couple weeks and I’m cutting back in other places too.  I’m eating more vegetables too.  Started lifting weights again.  Been lazy about that for a long time.  So glad I kept my old hand weights during my minimalist purges.  Overall things are looking better than usual.  Even during my exiles I stayed positive for the most part.  But now I am more social and outgoing, it can get even better.

Insomnia and Mental Health

For most of the winter I had the problem of sleeping too much.  I’d sometimes sleep until noon or even later and still be wanting to sleep by midnight.  Now my problem is that I just have a real hard time staying asleep, especially in the overnight hours.  Of course I’m concerned about this.  Sometimes major problems follow large changes in sleep patterns for me.  Getting good sleep is important for controlling mental illness problems.

This has been going on for several days.  One of the changes I made in an attempt to get more consistent sleep is taking my medications earlier in the night.  Sometimes my meds can make me sleepy.  Another thing I have done is cutting back on caffeine after 4pm.  I admit I love my caffeine, especially coffee and soda pop.  But perhaps I’m getting more sensitive to caffeine as I age.  But the cutbacks on caffeine make me less jittery but they aren’t helping me sleep much.

One advantage to sleeping less is I’m getting more done.  I’m spending more time outside.   I’m able to do laundry more often.  I’m keeping less clutter around my apartment.  Some of my habits have improved as I’m drinking more water and bathing twice a day now.  I have always liked taking a hot bath right before bed.  It helps me relax.  And I think I’ve lost a few pounds in the last couple weeks because I’m more active.

I still sleep some in the overnight hours.  I just usually don’t stay asleep for more than two hours at a time.  Since I keep my windows open most of the time anymore, I can hear the birds singing in the early morning hours when I would have been sound asleep in the winter months.

As much as I enjoy being able to get more done and having more energy, I am concerned about the changes in my sleep patterns.  I have traditionally had problems after major changes in sleep patterns.  This concerns me as springs and early summers have traditionally been my happiest times of year.  Spring has always been a favorite season of mine.  I just hope that if any problems do come up because of this insomnia I’ll be able to handle them without having a blow up on my family or friends.

Spring Routines

I’m glad that spring is finally back.  I’ve been getting outside a little more often, I’m keeping my place a little cleaner, I’m watching baseball most nights, and I’m even eating less too.  I’m still not as physically active as I would like but I think it’s starting to come back.  After my car accident in October 2015 I gained back most of the weight I had lost in the previous two years.  I think I’m finally back on the right track.  Since I still don’t have a great deal of stamina yet, I’m cutting back on calories as much as I can.  This means I’m giving up most sugar and eating meat only once a day.  I am also doing my best to avoid fried foods.  After several weeks of eating less than usual, I think I’m in a new routine.  I can’t even eat as much as I could last summer.  One of my problems was, after my accident, I got depressed and lost much of my confidence.  From there I just got lazy and ate a lot.  I have made efforts over the last several weeks to break out of this vicious cycle.  And I think I’m starting to see results.

I’ve also noticed my habits are getting better too.  During the winter I had gotten kind of lazy about shaving and cleaning up as there were entire days I didn’t leave my apartment complex.  I’m back into good habits like these again.  I would hate to think I let my personal appearance slide just because I was depressed by lousy weather.  But mental illness can do odd things to a person.

I’m starting to socialize some again.  Not so much with my neighbors as I am family and old friends.  I still don’t enjoy the fact that many of my neighbors are grumpy and irritable most of the time.  I have been around that kind of negativity for years and I don’t want it dragging me down.  I spent enough of my life being depressed, irritable, and a pessimist.  I just don’t want that anymore.

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.

 

 

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.

A Sense of Normal With Mental Illness

This summer has not been a typical summer for me.  I served as a groomsman in a friend’s wedding.  I lost a grandmother who influenced my life for nothing but the better.  I also got kind of lazy about watching what I ate and gained 15 of the almost 70 pounds I had lost overall.  But I also went through the entire summer with only one flare up of the schizophrenia.  This happened back in early July.

Summers are usually tough times for me.  This is when I feel my most irritable and easily agitated.  Some of my worst flare ups occur in July and August every year like clockwork.  I’ve seen research suggesting that a good portion of people have more problems with mental illness during certain times of year.  I think my problems in summer are made worse by the heat of summer.  It’s a dry heat most of the time in my home state of Nebraska.  When it does rain the humidity can be rough.

Things have been settling down and getting back to more typical for the last three weeks.  I’ve gotten serious about dieting and exercise again and have lost 10 pounds since my grandma’s funeral.  My problems with irritability, anger, and anxiety are subsiding again.  We also had a week when it was unseasonably cool in the middle of August.  It was an early preview of the fall that will be starting in a few weeks.  We haven’t had an unbearably hot summer this year but it was hot enough for several weeks just enough to limit outdoor activity more than I would have liked.

Setbacks in Weight Loss

I haven’t posted for awhile so an update is in order.  I have been struggling with the diet and exercise routine for the last two months.  I gained around 15 pounds since the middle of May.  I admit I haven’t been as compulsive about tracking what I eat since at least early May.  I’ve been exercising at least 4 to 5 days a week, but it’s apparently not enough exercise to keep the weight loss going.  I work on losing weight as I have a family history of heart and high blood pressure problems.  I refuse to be one of those who dies in their 40s of something they could have prevented.  Overall, I’m still down 55 pounds.  But this summer has been much tougher than the last.  Heck, I was even having much better success losing weight in the winter than I am now.

I want to get back into tracking what I eat again.  That was really working. I became haphazard about it. I even quit tracking for most of this month.  I must be consuming far more than I thought.  In spring 2014, it took only one day of tracking before I figured out I was eating way too much to hope to lose weight.  I’m getting back on that again.

The exercising was going good since I got back from the Black Hills until I pulled a muscle in my lower back this morning.  Looks like heat packs, ibuprofen, and not exercising for the next day or two.  But if I was taking in more than I was burning off, then the exercise was essentially being nullified.  So the day or two away from the exercise will allow me to get reacquainted with tracking my food consumption.

Highs and Lows of Losing Weight With Mental Illness

I’ve been working on losing weight since spring of 2014.  In that time I’ve lost at least 70 pounds.  But I’ve hit a plateau lately where it seems like nothing I do is making the weight go even lower.  It’s essentially ground to a halt for the last two to three months.  I still exercise at least 5 to 6 days a week.  I still lift weights 3 days a week.  I still track what I eat.  I’m cutting how much I eat to even less than what I ate during the winter.  Yet, oddly, I still haven’t lost hardly any weight since the end of winter.  And I’m more active now than I was in the winter months.  I know what I’m doing is right and has worked in the past.  But, it is taxing to not see much in the way of results.

I am a numbers man to the point everyone I’ve met considers me a statistics and measurements geek.  Which is odd considering how bad I struggled in high school calculus.  I really go by what I can see, what I can measure, what I can quantify, and not much on how I feel.  Yes, I feel so much better now than I did this time one year ago.  But I look at all the medical statistics and facts that state, considering my weight, age, and body build, I am severely out of shape even after dropping 75 pounds.  I haven’t seen my general practice doctor since I started losing weight.  Last time I saw him he pretty much told be ‘get busy losing weight or get busy dying.’  Granted, he was more tactful than that but the message got through anyway.  So I’ve been working myself senseless losing weight and tracking what I eat to the point that most people think I went overboard.  But desperate problems need drastic solutions.  I won’t die before I’m 45 as long as I have any control over it.

While I am doing what needs to be done to get back into good health, it is still frustrating to see that the results aren’t coming as quickly as they once were.  I’m sure I probably hit a plateau or a point where the body is readjusting to the new normal for me.  I know I get lost in the day to day grind, especially when the results aren’t coming like they once were.  I have to remind myself every day that I haven’t been this is the healthiest and ‘lightest’ I’ve been since 2008.  I started having problems with sleep apnea in 2007, so when I finally do break through this current reset point it probably won’t be long before I stop having problems with sleep apnea.

This also isn’t the first reset point I’ve had in this project.  I had my first reset last autumn after having lost 45 pounds.  And that reset took over two months.  It should be noted, especially for myself, that exercise and the human body are more like chemistry sets and less like math problems.  In a chemistry set reactions happen often slowly or not at all until a given threshold or tipping point is crossed.  It isn’t just as simple as eliminate ‘x’ number of calories or burn ‘y’ number of calories in exercise.  The human body has built in survival processes that kick in if the calories or activity it was getting changes for long enough periods of time.  This worked well for most of the human experience as food sources weren’t secure and physical activity was part of every day existence.  Those age old processes are what make weight loss tough, but fortunately we can see this and compensate for our biology.  It takes daily work and it takes a lot of time.  Time is what I have in abundance as I’m semi retired at this point in time.  I’m just going to keep doing what I have been and I’ll break through this reset.  It’s just a matter of when.