Chapter 2 – Eat, Sleep & Exercise
One of the first things I tackled when cleaning up my act and getting my life sorted out with God was to sort out my physical body. I was after all pregnant and I wanted this precious one inside of me to have a perfect life, totally opposite to mine thus far. I would do anything and everything to ensure that this little life inside of me was pure. It was as if I was having a new start through her. Everything I did wrong in life I could make right by making her life lovely, wonderful, peaceful and pure. This was the mind of a pregnant seventeen year old that had just been given a fresh start in life. In many ways even though it wasn’t the truth of how it all worked it did help me change the way I saw life. The first step back then was for me to eat well and exercise, and that is the first step now too.
Time passed, my precious baby girl Lorah was born. Life continued, along with all its ups and downs, and although I really tried my best I was still far from free from all the things that were robbing me of a great life.
A little later on in life I had a small conviction that I should go to the gym and get physically fit. Coupled with that was the fact that my friend had a free weeks guest pass at a gym so I thought I would give it a try. I had never been to a gym before but had enjoyed running and swimming in my early teens before everything went pear shaped, so I thought I would give it a try. It was a bit daunting walking into the gym and having everyone ‘watch’ me exercise but once I got settled I absolutely LOVED it, I have enjoyed going to the gym ever since!
Exercise produces endorphins! Endorphins are happy hormones and you can never have too many of these, especially if you are prone to depression. In some cases it is possible to exercise your way out of depression. For those of you who are more scientific endorphins are endogenous opioid polypeptide compounds. They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates during exercise, excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food and orgasm and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being. Endorphins also work as “natural pain relievers”.
The term “endorphin” implies a pharmacological activity as opposed to a specific chemical formulation. It consists of two parts: endo- and -orphin; these are short forms of the words endogenous and morphine, intended to mean “a morphine-like substance originating from within the body”.
Now back to plain English, we need these amazing things called endorphins to help us get out of depression and at the time I was wrestling with my first real case of depression. I had no idea that this was why I was crying all the time and was feeling so very down but thankfully I had a very good circle of friends who noticed this and suggested that I may be depressed.
Psychology and Anti-depressants
My symptoms were a total lack of passion for life even though I was living what seemed like a great life. Tiredness, mood swings, constant crying, lack of energy and negativity ruled my life for no apparent reason. I had a great job, great family, great friends, no real obvious struggles and no reason that I could pin point that could explain my depression. Thank fully one of my close friend’s husband was a psychologist and he offered to see me. If it weren’t for his kind offer I would never in a million years even thought of seeing a psychologist. It was a bit daunting at first but I quickly relaxed and got used to how it all worked. It wasn’t at all how I thought it would be, there was no lying down on a couch and no chanting or freaking out. We simply had hour long conversation where at first he listened mostly and in later sessions he offered some suggestions. He did an amazing job of helping me see my life differently by showing me what I was really struggling with by getting me to describe metaphorically what I was feeling. I found myself painting this elaborate picture with words about how I felt like I was in a cage in the middle of beautiful green pastures. It was as if I could see the beauty of life but I couldn’t have it for myself, I was trapped and stuck in this cage. He helped me understand some of the things I was facing, and mentioned the possibility of using anti-depressants as a means of getting better.
Having gained a new perspective of what my problem was and because I managed to get a lot off my chest, I decided to first try a few things on my own before going down the medication route. There is no shame in taking the medication route at all but I wanted to first try other things. I asked God for keys to help me beat depression and one of the first things I felt to do was sort out my eating habits and exercising routine. Gym was the first step and the next step was to write down what I ate and drank.
Every day I marked on the calendar when I was felt low or when I felt OK. Smiley faces and sad face were drawn all over my calendar along with all sorts of little notes and details about what I ate each day. It was very interesting to see that what I ate did affect me. The exact details of what I ate have slipped my mind as it was a long time ago but I do find that too much sugar affects me a lot and caffeine. My best weeks are when I eat lots of fruit and vegetables along with “pure” food so I try to avoid food that has anything artificial in it.If you bump into me in the supermarket you are likely to find me reading the ingredient list of something I am considering buying. My number one red alert ingredient that I check for is hydrogenated vegetable oil. This is not negotiable for me AT ALL. Hydrogenated vegetable oil has no nutritional benefits at all and only exists to extend the shelf life of food, which in a nutshell is to line the pockets of the business owners. The harm it does is horrendous though, why not Google it and see all the harmful side affects that this nasty ingredient has.
Aspartame is another ingredient that I don’t negotiate with, again the side effects are horrible and if I have to have some form of sweetness, sugar seems to be the lesser of two evils. Honey however is a great sweetener for just about anything so I try my best to stick to using that rather than sugar or artificial sweeteners. As far as my budgets allows I do like to stick to organic food with lots of fruit, vegetables and pro-biotic yogurt. Most important of all is lots of water! My children will tell you how much I swear by water. The come to me with all sorts of ailments and the first thing I usually say is;
“How much water have you had today?”
Nine times out of ten it is none or very little so I get them to drink some water and come back to me later if the problem persists. Water, of course, can’t solve depression but it is definitely part of the whole healthy living package that can help you lead a depression free life.
One of my favourite books on this subject is The Makers Diet by Jordan Reuben. He writes of a fascinating journey that God took him on when he was on his death bed with an incurable disease. Not only is his testimony really powerful but his study of healthy living is fantastic and makes perfect sense! One example is the reason why God told the Jews not to eat pork…
I will stop here but chapter 2 does continue, for full details about this book please go here.