Bipolar and Weight Issues

Imagine being on a roller coaster.  You sit down and you strap in – there is no turning back at this point.  You are stuck and face the inevitable.  Now you’re heading up the first big incline and it’s steep.  You can’t stop it and you’re feeling overwhelmed and scared.  As you approach the top of the steep incline, you are apprehensive about what comes next.  All of a sudden you are plummeting down the steep hill with wild abandon.  You feel exhilarated and unstoppable.

Such is my battle with weight loss amidst my mental illness.  When I’m depressed, I am on an extreme trajectory toward weight gain and lots of it.  I usually gain 30-40 pounds in a couple of months.  I eat everything that is bad for me – sugar, carbs and processed foods.  Then as quickly as I tumbled into a depression, I change direction and I’m hypomanic.  I am super focused on my health & weight loss.  I eat healthy foods and I’m very intentional about what goes into my mouth.  I exercise every day and I’m always moving – I can’t sit still.  And just as quickly, I lose the 30-40 pounds I put on when I was depressed.

It’s a vicious cycle and according to Medical News Today, “Losing weight for a short period and then regaining it bears the name of yo-yo dieting, which some people refer to as weight cycling.  Previous research has pointed out the potentially damaging effects of these repeated cycle of weight loss and weight gain.”  So not only is it frustrating, but it isn’t good for my health either, particularly my heart health.

Below is a picture of my weight fluctuating during 2017.  This happens every year, but I happen to put these pictures side by side so thought I would share!

Bipolar Weight Fluctuation
 Example of my weight gain & loss in 2017!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

How Living a Healthier Lifestyle Saved My Life

Three years ago I made a decision that changed my life for the better. I was 80 pounds overweight, extremely depressed, and was struggling to stay alive. I had hit a low point with my depression and anxiety where I had stopped caring about myself that I allowed to let myself go. Food had become my best friend causing me to gain so much weight back then.

Three years ago was when I had my wake up call. I remember that moment when I worked up the courage to step on the scale for the first time in over a year, I knew deep down I was gaining weight, I just didn’t want to acknowledge it. When I saw that number on the scale, tears immediately filled my eyes. I began to feel embarrassed and upset with myself. I was upset that I had allowed myself to do that to myself. I was ashamed of what had happened. It was that day when I made the decision to get my life back on track.

I was living in such a haze, going through the motions day after day I didn’t realize what I was doing to myself. I had stopped loving myself and it was taking a toll on my mental and physical health.

I wasn’t taking medication either at the time and made an appointment with a psychiatrist to get started on medication again. That was when I received the correct diagnosis of Bipolar II disorder and got put on proper medication that has helped my recovery process.

Along with getting back on medication, I changed my diet and added exercise into my routine. I was eating a lot of fast food (mainly Taco Bell) and a lot of junk food. I wasn’t eating any natural whole foods and was only putting junk into my body.

I started with cutting out the fast food first, then the junk food, and replaced those with natural whole foods. I did it in a slow transition so it helped me build that habit to create a healthier diet.

I then started to exercise three to four days a week. I would either go to the gym or I would go on a run in my neighborhood. Every week I started to increase the length of time I would spend exercising to build my strength and stamina up again. About three weeks into my lifestyle change was when I started to notice the positive changes it was bringing me. I was feeling happier again, I wasn’t as anxious anymore, I had more energy, and I was starting to feel alive again. It made me realize that it wasn’t only helping me physically, but mentally as well.

By staying consistent with my exercise routine I was building up my strength and was starting to lose the weight I had gained. With the new medication I was on and my new lifestyle was helping my mental health immensely.

I truly believe that it was because of fitness that helped save my life. Three years ago I was at my lowest point. Everyday was a fight for me to stay alive. I was struggling with the negative thoughts everyday and wanted to give up so bad. When I had that wake up call and made the choice to change my lifestyle is what brought me back to life again.

Exercise has become a non-negotiable part of my lifestyle now. It’s become a part of my healing and recovery for mental health. With taking medication, exercise, and eating healthier all helped save my life and got me onto a better path.

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