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Physical vs. mental health

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#26 CallMeFeral

Posted 04 September 2018 - 10:13 PM

There are some really wise posts from PP's on this thread. This is one, so I'm just reposting it, because it's right on point.

View Postteaspoon, on 04 September 2018 - 11:17 AM, said:

Reading your post, it sounds like over time you've created a sort of false dichotomy between physical and mental health? That you can't have both at the same time.

Does it help you to re-read your post and change the 'but's into 'and's? To help start to dismantle the either / or thinking happening.

Secondly, as a couple of PP's have mentioned, weight loss can be attacked just from the food angle, if you aren't worried about general fitness. Some theories say this is the main angle, because increased activity increases appetite. It probably differs from person to person.
For this it sounds like you will need to learn some new coping mechanisms, but it least it's not the option that actually creates a trigger, just removes a coping mechanism from a trigger. I'd actually look around to see if you can find somewhere or someone who teaches some DBT distress tolerance/emotional regulation stuff, and practice some of the techniques they will suggest. Initially they won't work as well as food, because you aren't used to them, but if you keep an open mind and try lots of things, you may find some that are good enough to get by and that can become your new go to.

Unfortunately what another PP said is also true, that losing weight and maintaining loss is more difficult than is often portrayed. Don't do crash or fad diets, there is some suggestion that the body/brain fights fast weight loss with increased craving. Maybe focus more on replacing the emotional eating habit and replace it slowly with healthy eating habits. There is some evidence that slowly lost and long maintained weight loss can rewrite the biological set point, so making it about generally positive food habits and removing the emotion link might be a more sustainable goal.

#27 Datrys

Posted 05 September 2018 - 11:10 AM

Thank you for all the replies.

Various responses:

Going back to therapy (various kinds suggested); I am reluctant.  Therapy was incredibly destabilising for me, and on reflection, for all the hours, emotional work and thousands of dollars I poured into it, I'm not sure I got much out of it that was worthwhile.  Most of what's contributed to my healing and wholeness (such as it is) has come from outside a therapeutic context.  So while I'm not ruling it out completely for ever, I'd need a very strong case to consider it, especially when I am (mostly) actually in quite a good place.

Note: this is not me knocking therapy or therapists in general, just reflecting on my personal experience of it.

Exercise options; some things here to think about.  Not being a tech-minded person I don't have any means to listen to audiobooks or the like while walking, but I could get one and give that a go.  I imagine there's a relatively cheap thing that would do the job?  

I've been trying for probably at least a year now to do the "small changes to eating" thing and it's... very hit and miss.  Two main reasons that I can identify are that eating well actually takes more time and effort, and I'm generally very time-poor; and also that I'm in a household of people whose needs and wants around food are nowhere near the same as mine.  (It's no coincidence that it's now, while I'm on leave from work, that I have time and headspace to even be thinking about this).  So I kind of feel like that on its own hasn't really gone where I'd have liked it to.  Can persevere with it but disappointed at this point.

A number of people have commented that opposing physical and mental health in this way is a false dichotomy, and I agree that for most people it would be.  But I've recognised the patterns that are going on for me; that exercise leaves me distressed, that I tend to avoid distress and alleviate it, either with food, or by keeping very busy with a job that makes me time poor (which also gives me a good excuse to not exercise) and means I struggle to manage eating well etc (but is otherwise great for my mental health, on the whole; the single best thing I can do for my mental health is work full time).  It's a complicated picture with lots of threads going off in different directions and I'm sure a couple of EB posts don't give everyone the full picture.

I am grateful for all the responses, though, and for help in thinking about what might be possible.

#28 Lucrezia Bauble

Posted 05 September 2018 - 12:14 PM

Ange you mentioned in your Op that exercise is a trigger for you and the example you gave is bad experiences at the gym - which i can understand - i hate gyms too - the people, the noise, clunky machines etc. would a more solitary exercise regime suit - have you considered pilates with a private instructor (they are invariably female) - you could maybe just do a few sessions on your own with her then just follow the routine at home on your own - door shut, curtains drawn - it would be mat work not reformer (unless you can afford a reformer) - the exercises are low intensity, focussing on stretching and core strength - no weights, no running.

#29 Datrys

Posted 05 September 2018 - 12:18 PM

My understanding is that Pilates isn't really great for weight loss?  Good for building strength but not so much for shifting the fat?  

Private instructor sounds like hell but I imagine there are things on YouTube that I could follow...

#30 Lucrezia Bauble

Posted 05 September 2018 - 12:25 PM

there are definitely things on youtube and really good books that your local library would have amd dvd’s too.

with the caveat that im not a dr/physio - i think pilates *can* assist with weight loss (it has with me) - you will build muscle strength which almost certainly helps burn fat, your core and posture will improve - exercises like the 100’s (core and ab strength) will get your heart rate up (= fat burning), you will be more toned.

i tend to agree with others that for real weight loss -like - dropping ten kilos etc - food is the key (eating less of it - and next to none of the bad stuff). unfortunately - because i well know from experience thats the hardest habit to break.

#31 halcyondays

Posted 05 September 2018 - 12:35 PM

The main reason to exercise is to maintain muscle mass so you don’t become frail as you get older. Pilates is fine- try and do a few sessions with a studio or physio and see how you go. Group Pilates makes me cry- I don’t know why!
I also like the gentle stroll after lunch or dinner if possible.
Exercise is so if you are in a negative calorie balance that you don’t burn muscle for energy, but more fat. Without weight bearing or weights, we tend to lose muscle if we go to a negative caloric balance.

#32 Lucrezia Bauble

Posted 05 September 2018 - 12:43 PM

another thing that can work (its a bit cliched probably) is to focus on the role of incidental exercise - to kind of cheat yourself out of the mental block that comes with scheduled exercise - like all day thinking “dont want to go to the gym after work, dont want to go, dont want to go” and - not surprisingly you dont go. but if its just a brisk walk to and from somewhere - ie using your own steam to get to where you need to go - that can sometimes work. and if you want you can get really serious and with a fit bit or similar monitor your steps per day - aim for 10,000 to start, then increase it.

#33 onyxmoon

Posted 05 September 2018 - 12:48 PM

Ange - don't worry about weight loss. It's too big a step... focus on step by step prioritising your physical health without losing touch with your mental health.

As others have suggested - start small. 3 days per week - a 15-30 minute walk.
Swap out ingredients in your usual meals for healthier options - e.g. in a creamy dish, greek yoghurt instead of cream etc.

Financially, would something like lite and easy work? I used to buy 5 meals for dinner and that was easy and never felt like I was depriving myself. And they're frozen so if you go out for dinner or don't eat one, you can save them up and then don't bother ordering one week.

Focus on just moving your body - pilates and yoga are great for building strength and they can be varying levels of difficulty. I can happily dead lift 60kg but some pilates/yoga classes I find challenging. Do what makes you happy.

I used to hate yoga - too slow paced for my racing mind - but I really like Erin Motz's youtube videos. 15-20 mins, fast tracking through poses and variations offered. If you or other PPs are keen, heres the link ... https://www.youtube....dRXSRlHAaFZieTL

And then lastly avoid taking the lifts, find the furthest park, if you have to wait for the bus, walk to the next stop along (if you have time). All the incidental exercise will add up.

Sincerely, time poor, chocolate loving, varying fitness according to my work/family's needs OM

#34 CrankyM

Posted 05 September 2018 - 12:51 PM

pilates can help with weight loss. It's just not a quick way to lose weight, but it helps with toning muscles and the more muscle you have the more it burns calories. Alternatively you could also look at ways to increase your incidental exercise. I now park further away from the shops when I go shopping. Not only are there more parks, but that is an extra 5 or so minutes of walking. Or if I have multiple shops to visit at a center I will park further away and then start at the furthest shop from the car. If i'm reading a book in the evening, often I will hop up and put a timer on for 10-15 mins and just walk up and down the living room while reading (which is my downtime). I "lift" small weights while watching TV. I'm distracted and so don't focus on it.

Food is hard. And when you are time poor its really hard. I can tell you a few things that helped me. I started drinking cranberry and pomegranate tea (it's just a twinnings one) whenever I had the urg to snack or eat something sugary. It took a little bit but after a a week or so, the cravings vanished. I stopped buy my regular snacks, just dropped them 1 at a time over about 8 weeks. The issue was finding an alternative, and as I don't eat fruit except strawberries that was hard. What I ended up ding was approaching it from a prospective of writing down a list of "healthy" easy things I liked and foods i don't. For me it often means I will just eat strawberries (when in season), or eat a low calorie/low sugar/high protein yoghurt tub as it makes me feel full. And then I wrote down all the myriad issues with food and tried to come up with a number of recipes that everyone will eat (ok there are some nights this doesn't happen and I end up making up 2 meals. 2 kids with food issues and a husband with intolerance and my own sensory/intolerance makes cooking a headache). Also finding alternative recipes for something I like and then make a heap of it. I have a whole heap of sandwich bag size ziplock bags with food I like that is low calorie stuffed in the freezer. It's just from times I've cooked extra.

I don't know if that is helpful or not. My weight has only recently started going down. I'm also doing the 16:8 and that is working okish.

ETA: I don't look at it as doing it to lose weight. I think of it as more trying to be healthier so I can do things with others. Getting winded running around with a kid playing soccer was a bit of a wake up call recently.

Edited by mayahlb, 05 September 2018 - 12:55 PM.

#35 Lily-bee

Posted 05 September 2018 - 01:35 PM

I tend to follow the 80:20 rule.. in that weight loss is 80% food and 20% exercise.

I think if you look at your food first and maybe get that to a good place then start incorporating exercise.

What does a day on your plate look like? What I found worked for me is  preparing my snacks for the day the night before so I don't overeat during my work days and also making sure I have lunches planned so not tempted to go buy something.
Also, changes I made within the household involved the whole family. I bought healthier foods and made healthier dinners and eventually the family got on board and now this way of eating is our new normal.

I also have used Weight Watchers in the past and found them to be good in terms of being aware of portion sizes and making smarter choices without feeling like I am denying myself anything.

I also tend to YouTube fitness videos and do them in my living room either in the morning or at night. My kids are so use to it now that they even join in. There are so many options available on YouTube from pilates to yoga to more high intensity videos.

#36 MooGuru

Posted 05 September 2018 - 01:47 PM

View Postangelam pacificae, on 05 September 2018 - 12:18 PM, said:

My understanding is that Pilates isn't really great for weight loss?  Good for building strength but not so much for shifting the fat?  

Private instructor sounds like hell but I imagine there are things on YouTube that I could follow...

Do you think it might be better if you went into thinking about it as improving your core to reduce the risk of future injuries.
My Mum has had a lot more success when weight loss hasn't been the goal but increasing strength, trying to improve a regular niggle in her back, improving balance etc have been the goals and since building relationships with other people there now friendships are a motivator for going.

#37 livelifelovehappy

Posted 05 September 2018 - 01:50 PM

Can you go for a walk, while listening to something through your headphones to distract you? Just little walks and build up slowly?

I've found walking my dog is a great motivation. I may not want to, but she needs it, so I go and then I feel so happy I did.

All the best to you, you're very brave.

#38 JinksNewton

Posted 05 September 2018 - 05:12 PM

Re the audiobooks, i just have them downloaded onto my phone and I have a subscription with Audible which gives me one book credit a month, they also have one free download so you can try them out before commiting. They have thousands of books, so glad I joined :)

#39 zenkitty

Posted 05 September 2018 - 07:42 PM

I agree that living with people who have different dietary needs makes life very difficult. My most successful weight loss periods have been when living with a partner on the same page and when living alone (lost 30kg). My current partner is one of those guys who eats whatever he likes with no issue, I’m stuck at a weight I’m not happy with but food is a social thing and something we enjoy together so I hate taking that aspect away. I regained 15kg when I started a new, stressful job and a new medication.

I find planning healthy lunches and drinking tea instead of snacking useful during the day at work. Sometimes I go a few weeks eating the same lunch every day which is boring. They still need to be easy to work for me so salad in a bag with a tin of tuna, baked beans, tuna with rocket & a tub of precooked brown rice, a big pot of soup frozen in modest portions all work for me. And a LOT of peppermint tea.

#40 Soontobegran

Posted 05 September 2018 - 07:56 PM

View Postangelam pacificae, on 05 September 2018 - 12:18 PM, said:

My understanding is that Pilates isn't really great for weight loss?  Good for building strength but not so much for shifting the fat?  

Ange, I have lost 10kgs since starting Pilates. I am not a huge exerciser as I am somewhat restricted due to old injuries but any amount of moving my body has been better than not moving it at all (which was my choice for too long).
I started in a group, I hated it, now I do it privately at home.
It certainly has had a duel affect on me in terms of physical and mental health.

Good luck.

#41 Chaotic Pogo

Posted 05 September 2018 - 09:05 PM

Audible on phone.

$5 for the podcruncher app (just nice/easier to use than the podcast one that comes on iPhone as standard) and then loads of free podcasts to listen too.

Walk on bike trails now we are nearly at daylight savings.  Then increase the load a little by doing slight hills in the same time.

#42 AsperHacker

Posted 05 September 2018 - 10:52 PM

I think the false dichotomy is your idea of exercise vs mental health - not physical health vs mental health. Physical health does not have to equal *exercise*, but it's an important part of holistic health.

I run. I'm not fit or slim or athletic. But, for me, when I run, my mind is blank - theres plenty of arguments with myself about running further and faster but theres no mind chatter. I think in nearly 2 years of running I've had 1 run where I *thought thoughts*. And it was a crap run. But every single other run I've done I've loved.

Try walking, if it doesn't work after a while, if you think too much, if you're bored, if it just doesn't work then they something else. Start with pilates, get strong... your be surprised what feeling physically strong does for your mental strength. If pilates doesn't work try a YouTube workout - I did Jillian Michaels 30 day shred years ago and loved it, its painful but exhilarating. It works for me, find what works for you. Can you walk dd to school or walk to pick her up? Can you do a family walk before or after dinner? We do family walks in summer.

Food is definitely at least 80% of weightloss but... when you're body feels good you want to feed it good stuff. I disagree with starting with food. Make your body crave good food and crave health by just being more active - in whatever way you need.

You can absolutely be mentally ****ed up and find the balance between food, physical health and mental health. You might just need to change your perspective on what those things are.

Edited by AsperHacker, 05 September 2018 - 10:54 PM.

#43 Chaotic Pogo

Posted 05 September 2018 - 11:10 PM

Also, the BTN approach. As in, it’s better than nothing. I will just do 5 mins and stop. And that’s ok.

Eventually you start thinking, well I’ll just go to the end of x before I turn around.

Key is setting low expectations but the win for hitting them 3-4 times a week. Habits don’t change overnight.

#44 AsperHacker

Posted 05 September 2018 - 11:46 PM

View PostChaotic Pogo, on 05 September 2018 - 11:10 PM, said:

Also, the BTN approach. As in, it’s better than nothing. I will just do 5 mins and stop. And that’s ok.

Eventually you start thinking, well I’ll just go to the end of x before I turn around.

Key is setting low expectations but the win for hitting them 3-4 times a week. Habits don’t change overnight.

That is my approach to everything. The worst part of everything for me is starting I set a timer for housework - I only ever have to do 15 mins. My brain cant handle more. At least for housework. Almost always I get all the stuff done once I start but if I dont, 15 mins is enough.

Every single run my fat ass has every done has been just start. I ran a half marathon, starting at 4am, on my own, last weekend using that strategy. 3 x 7 km laps out and back from my house. I could have turned around at at time and walked home. I absolutely allowed myself that option and was completely ok with not completing my goal. But, on the day, I did the whole 21kms. Another day, I might get to the end of my street and go home.

I dont think I'm awesome because I ran 21k, anyone can do that if they have enough reason. I'm awesome because I made it to the end of my street. That day i went further. Some days I'm lucky to clock up 500 steps. Every day I do a little something that is outside my comfort zone. Some days that is 15 mins of housework with the rest of the day in bed. Some days that's a kick ass work out. If you dont start then you'll never know what you might do today.

#45 hunter4

Posted 06 September 2018 - 02:05 AM

Another way of looking at this is to take up a new hobby.

Exercise does not have to come in the form of a gym or walking or running - there are lots of other things out there that you can do that will get you up and moving.

Would you be interested in doing karate/martial arts/self defense of some kind.?
Would you like to take up rock climbing?
Are there any team sports you'd like to try? -
Try an adults gymnastics class.

Try and find something that sounds like fun and just give it a go.  Even going out for a bike ride etc.

Or go hiking - its just walking but maybe using a different terminology will allow you to think of it not as exercising - something to avoid - but as something fun you want to be doing.

#46 SplashingRainbows

Posted 06 September 2018 - 06:21 AM

Your are so right that being time poor impacts on weight and eating well.

My husbands commitment to eating well in the last year or so has made a big difference to our ongoing success.

Some things we do now that are habits...

On the weekend we make two big containers of fruit salad. It’s our Sunday night after dinner routine and the kids stand at the kitchen bench and steal bits of fruit from us. It’s become a bit of a fun game. They are the adults breakfast for the week. All I have to do rah morning is scoop some into a bowl, add some fat free youghurt and chop a banana (obviously it wouldn’t last in the fruit salad). In the morning it takes about the same time as pouring some cereal and milk, but it has far better nutrition.

We also tend to buy a soup pack, stock and some diced beef and whack that into a pressure cooker in the weekend to make a batch of soup for lunches during the week. That prep means we are eating well for breakfast and lunch without too much effort.

It’s become a routine and I think that’s the key.

One small change at a time that becomes a routine you don’t need to think too hard about. As soon as I have to think too hard about it I drop the ball.

They’re just examples. Realize they may not work for you.

#47 somila

Posted 06 September 2018 - 09:50 AM

Another few things to throw into the mix while you have the time to focus on physical health.

Activities that achieve something other than an 'exercise goal'  -
  • housework, gardening (make an attractive home)
  • catching public transport (helps the environment)
  • using relaxed movement as a meditation/mindfulness tool ('walk humbly' mantra, rather than 'be still' maybe!),
  • listening to podcasts as you walk (this could be work-related, and able to be done in your work time)
  • listening to favourite music as you use a stationary bike at home - even 'one song worth' is BTN (having fun/mood elevation)
  • catching up with a friend who wants to stroll/swim/dance (enhancing positive relationships)
As for food - make a list of all the 'healthy' (whatever that means for you) foods that you love and have plenty of them on hand.  Ask yourself what 'less healthy' foods you want to incorporate and make sure you have them in a small dose from time to time (once a week, whatever).

Remind yourself that your family and workplace need you to invest in your own well-being for their benefit.

Set yourself free from the need to excel/win at 'exercise and weight-loss'.  It's not a competition.

Monitor non-weight-loss related benefits - blood sugar, cholesterol levels, strength - treat the lifestyle changes as an interesting and fun experiment you are conducting on yourself.  

Avoid boot-camp-style personal or group training like the plague.  Look for encouragers (they might just be random people you know) with attitudes that support your efforts and your mental heath.

Laugh at yourself when you might otherwise cry.  Being human is a funny old experience - might as well enjoy it while you can.

Edited by somila, 06 September 2018 - 09:51 AM.

#48 Literary Lemur

Posted 06 September 2018 - 10:27 AM

somila there is a lot of wisdom in your post.  

I think we have moved into the trap of treating exercise almost like a punishment and a battle against our body.

I think the hard thing about mental health issues is that exercise can help in so many ways but the worse you are feeling the harder it is to do them.

When  I do exercise it reduces my feelings of anxiety, improves my sleep, gives me more energy, influences my choice of food etc. I think there is flow on effect that is often not recognised. The right amount and kind of exercise can have such a  huge impact - much more than calorie counters would indicate. I think that is a very limited and unhelpful way of seeing exercise.

This thread inspired me to go for an evening stroll last night with my husband and because of this thread I found myself observing how it impacted me. I walked in the darkness and I walked at a comfortable pace. I walked in the company of some-one I love.  We had some really good conversation so I felt like it brought us emotionally closer together. It meant I was not tempted to pop over to the pantry for something soothing. It meant when I was back home I felt more energetic and was more productive and less inclined to eat. I slept well and feel more clear headed.

I think self care to halt weight gain is a good step.

Edited by Literary Lemur, 06 September 2018 - 11:30 AM.

#49 premmie

Posted 06 September 2018 - 10:43 AM

I agree you've created a false dichotomy here.

I find exercise is the only time my mind is still. As in all I can focus on is getting through it. Which actually helps my mental health. For an hour twice a week I don't think about anything.

If you don't love cardio I would start with Pilates or Yoga. Its quiet and not competitive. If mixed gyms are an issue for you, there are plenty of women only groups around. Alternatively find a walking buddy. Focus on chatting rather than the actual exercise. Don't think of it as strenuous or for weight loss. Its me time! It promotes a hit of good brain chemicals, better sleep and good appetite. There is nothing bad about that. If you can find something that suits you, you will be better for it.

Food is harder. Keep it fresh, small changes. No more takeaway. Take out the fizzy drinks (if you drink them). Desserts only 1-2 times a week.

#50 steppy

Posted 06 September 2018 - 11:11 AM

Food is the easiest way to lose weight - you don't even have to exercise. You could try something like LCHF, which helps with hunger issues.

Exercise doesn't really do that much for weight loss, unless you are doing heaps and heaps of it, but it does do a lot for mental health. Are there ways you can exercise without exercising? Movement, rather than exercise. Do you like window shopping, for example? You could give yourself some times that you will spend window shopping. If you love walking by the river or the beach, or in a nearby garden, have a couple of times for that too.

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