Sunday, January 20, 2013

Small Changes

Going back to August, when the "Big Change" as it's come to be known in our house occured, I'd like to go into some of the smaller changes that brought about the big ones.

First off, I need to address depression. We could do a whole other post or many of them on depression in this country. This however is just how it affected me. I've suffered from it off and on for what I now realize is probably for the last 14 years or so. Perhaps if you believe that one is what they eat, then I just wasn't taking the best care of myself. Whatever caused it, I suffered mentally and emotionally in some way for more than the last decade. Even if it was just being very down on myself all the time. I still remember meeting my husband and wondering what it was he saw in me.

Through three pregnancies things got a bit worse. I had what I would finally call 'depression' after C was born. When I finally realized this is what it was, I then realized that I must have been depressed after my oldest, G, was born as well. I went on a medication and while I immediately felt in a better mood, I also felt very numb. Bad things would happen and I would feel very "whatever" about it. Which is great, but on the same level when something good would happen I was very "whatever" as well.

I weaned off this medication, which was a horrible experience, to get pregnant with A. I was fine during the pregnancy. I think that I was born to be pregnant. As soon as she was born, I went back on that medication. This time, post-partem depression wasn't going to get me. It didn't, and life went on for more than a year. I weaned off it again, by myself and once again had a horrible experience with it. I swore I would never go back on any anti-depressant. I wanted to try to treat the symptoms, not just medicate them.

Over the next year, my husband and I tried to fix some of the things we felt were adding to my stress and we really nailed a lot of things. The one thing we couldn't do anything about though was a huge area of stress. It was just not in our power to change it at the time (and still isn't really). It isn't an option for me to see a counselor right now given our insurance situation (another subject worthy of an entire series of posts all it's own). So I took myself to my general practitioner and fell on her mercy. She calmly discussed all the things about the previous medication that I liked and what I didn't like. She asked if I would be willing to try another medication or if I had definitely ruled that out. She told me about another new medication (which, I'll admit was a huge red flag for me) but she said that it was having some great results with patients who had previously not liked the other medication. I decided to take a chance and try it.

Now, whether you feel for or against this type of thing is not up for debate here on this page. I'm not looking for validation or judgement. I'm simply explaining how I came to be on that last week of August when I finally decided to take my health into my own hands and do something about it.

The first 3-4 weeks was miserable. Luckily, I had done some research and found that this was not unusual for this drug. I was having trouble sleeping at night, but I could barely stay awake during the day. I craved carbs much more than usual. I had some horrible GI trouble. However, I felt better. There were so many positive changes I just can't even begin to describe them. I felt more affectionate towards my husband. I've never been very good at initiating physical contact. I always feel awkward and maybe a little scared of rejection. Even after 10 year of marriage. I think my husband had gotten used to it and knew that, but I do think it bothered him some. After about 3 weeks, for the first time I felt comfortable initiating things and even feeling desire for that contact. Get your head out of the gutters people, I'm just talking about hugs, and kissing and whatnot. That is still huge though, and has made a big change for the two of us.

My enjoyment with my kids grew by leaps and bounds. Not that I have unlimited patience, but I found that I was just in love with them.

So once those nasty side effects lessened (just like my doc had said they would) I started feeling this desire to get moving more. We had this big vacation planned for our 10 year anniversary and I sort of jokingly said that maybe I should start taking care of myself so I wouldn't hate being in a bathing suit for the whole week we were there. This was Labor day weekend, 2012. I did the whole "I'll start on Tuesday, right after the holiday". Isn't that always the way? It's like you can't start healthy eating on a weekend.

I've done this before. Often, in fact. Friday I'll say "I'll start on Monday". It always feels so forced and without any meaning behind it. I told myself though, that I have roughly 60 days before Jamaica and that I wanted to create some new habits by then.

Tuesday dawned and I felt very committed. I asked around for the best website for journaling your calorie intake. I felt that this was a necessary step as I re-taught myself all the proper portioning for things. A serving of chicken breast isn't the one giant breast that comes in the frozen bag. A serving of fruit isn't the entire giant apple. So I needed to break some of those habits. More than one friend suggested (and their smart phone app) so I checked it out and found it very user-friendly and started right away.

That wasn't the only change I wanted to make though. I wanted to start eating very clean. I wanted to cut out all the things I knew I shouldn't be eating. Even those things that are advertised as though they are healthy additions to your diet. Things like Wheat Thins and flavored yogurts and whatnot. Plus, my Dr. Pepper habit was out of control! My coffee habit was what I'll now admit was disgusting. Huge frappuccinos loaded with fat and sugar and whipped cream with more fat and more sugar. So my goal wasn't just to lose weight. That was a big goal, but the even bigger one was going clean. I knew that if I did that, the weight would come off. I also knew that if it didn't, I would still be healthier for it.

The second thing I did was buy a FitBit. I felt like I needed help in how much to eat. Now matter how healthy you eat, your calories in should at least equal your calories out. For weight loss, they should be less than calories out. At least, this is what all the experts will tell you. I was skeptical, I felt like my metabolism was very low due to my thyroid disease. I was willing to give it a shot though. If you're not familiar with Fitbits, head over to sometime and check it out. I'll probably do a whole separate post about it. For now, I'll just state that I wasn't nearly as active as I previously thought I was.

Pretty big changes for one week. I was committed though, and had 60 days to make it stick. Stay tuned.

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