Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What I'm doing better now, and Proverbs 24 (170.8)

So I'm 100% better than I was a few weeks ago. 

This I can attribute to 1) lowering my dose of lamotrigene, 2) eliminating added sugar and as much processed food from my diet as possible, 3) eating fruits and vegetables every day, 4) taking vitamins and supplements again.

The medication was a big factor in how I was feeling.  On Monday my p-doc and I decided to keep lamtorigene at the lower dose of 75 mg and add 150 mg of wellbutrin.  I wasn't going to go back on an SSRI, but I had still been feeling some depression and knew I needed a boost.  Even if it only works a year or two (which has been the pattern in the past), well at least I've had that year or two.  And I'll figure out what's next when it stops working.

It is frankly scary how much clearer and stable I feel without so much sugar in my body.  The scary part is being able to see--since I'm on the other side of it--how much sugar affects my brain and my mood when it's a staple of my diet.

The physical cravings for sugar are gone right now; the mental/habitual cravings are not.  I still have thoughts of chocolate at specific times of day. And I often have to catch myself from not putting something in my mouth (like the mint lifesavers at the reception desk or the hot tamales we have at home) without thinking.

When you get rid of processed, all that's left is whole foods.  Thankfully it's fabulous fruit season and I am awash in delicious, low calorie "sugar substitutes" with affordable raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and cantaloupe.  I have 2-3 servings a day.  It helps compensate for the lack of sugar and when I'm craving chocolate, I've been eating berries.  It might be more fruit than I need but for now it's OK.

I've been having one big meal a day--rice, beans/lentils, veggies of some kind, salsa, avocado, cilantro (combined this is an amazing dish)--and then eating fruit and veggies at the other meals.  Most nights I will have a cup of milk before bed.  Kay Shepherd's food plan calls for a serving of milk & a fruit before bed.  I think it helps keep the carb cravings away.

I haven't taken my calcium, fish oil, multi-vitamin, and glucosamine regularly for months. I think mostly I stopped b/c it was just too much effort--a symptom of the depression.  I started again last week, and even added Vit D3 (not enough D3 has been shown to increase depression) and a new multi that includes "super greens" (whatever that is... it seemed to be the best one at the organic grocery store). The calcium and fish oil, especially, have made a noticeable difference in my emotional health in the past.  All of these are more like medicine for me, and not simply optional.

I started a new Bible study/devotional email series with Lysa TerKeurst, where I read a chapter a day of Proverbs and write down one verse that stood out to me.  I've decided to read the chapter associated with the calendar day.  So yesterday was Proverbs 24 and the verses that stood out were 33-34.

"A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest--and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man."

Sounds harsh at first blush, doesn't it?  And I don't think this is a comment on Sabbath rest; that's one of the Big Rules, after all, and we're meant to take a full day off from work every week. 

What this said to me is this:  those nights I come home and feel like the day has sucked the life out of me and all I want to do is fall on the bed and be a vegetable the whole night?  Not a good idea.

The key is "a little."  All those "littles" build up.  Often, I think they're harmless.  I'll just have a little bite (and then end up eating the whole thing).  I'll just rest for an hour before I workout (and then the whole night is gone and my body didn't move at all).  I'll start eating healthy and running again tomorrow (tomorrow is code for never).  I'll sleep an extra 15 minutes this morning (which turns into 30 minutes of hitting the snooze alarm and now I'll have to rush and yell at kids to hurry up and probably be late anyway).

The poverty and scarcity, as I interpreted the Word speaking to me yesterday, equal a poverty of the soul and a scarcity of health.  All those "littles" will add up to poverty of a weak body that cannot bend or squat or move easily or stand with strong posture when I'm 60 years old. A scarcity of mental and physical health. 

I have gone back and forth about just giving up--no longer calling myself a runner, giving into the inevitability of getting older and of having a body that's like my mom's when I reach her age. When the depression has hold, it sounds like the only option.

But those verses stuck in my head all day.  I just could not ignore them.

So yesterday after work, when I felt like collapsing on the couch (which, I think, has mostly become a habit just like many other bad habits), I put on my running clothes & got on the treadmill.  I did 3 miles of mostly (slow) running and walking.  It was not easy.  I am finding that the older I get, it is getting harder and harder to start over.  My hips hurt, my back hurt.  My hips and back have never hurt when I've run. 

What it told me was--I have to STOP STARTING OVER.  I have to KEEP GOING until they put me in the grave.

I have 3 plaques on my office wall that I got at the Disney Princess Half expo. They say:

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty, well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out & loudly proclaiming, "Wow! What a ride."

"I do not run to add days to my life, I run to add life to my days."

"Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did."

Words to live by, and they epitomize how I WANT TO live my life.

Right now, today, thankfully I can't imagine going down the path of entropy and decay.  I have to remember the "littles" add up, whether it's good littles or bad littles.

Today I'm filling with good littles.


Laura N said...

When we got back from Colorado, Mark and I both decided we'd start eating vegetarian. He's serious about taking care of his heart and body. He turns 50 next week! It's a lot easier eating like this when we're doing it together.

Laura N said...

Oh, and duh, my clothes are fitting better. My bra and spanx (spanx does wonders for me...I have the high waisted ones so no muffin top and they tame my saddle bags. I wear them under everything except my skorts) don't feel like medieval torture devices anymore. My size 12 skorts fit better (not perfectly yet, but better). And I just feel better in my skin than I did before, even as recently as a week ago.

Jill said...

Oh wow Laura. I have so many emotions about this post - all of them good.

Don't you love Lysa Terkeurst?! (I can never spell her name right) What study are you doing? That is a great interpretation of that verse - very practical, and right on the money. Kind of like the phrase "a little bit goes a long way" - a little bit of "I don't wanna" becomes a lot of "I haven't in a long time". Thanks for sharing those verses today - I needed to hear them as well.

I've been loading up on fruit lately too (among other things). Like you said, probably more than I need, but it's better than Cheetos (not that I've been eating those. ahem.)

So glad you are feeling better. It's hard to watch someone suffer and not know how to help. Words seem trivial and useless during those times, but words are all I have. So thankful to see you on the upswing! xoxo

Laura N said...

Jill, I signed up for her emails for "no more mama morning meltdowns." Got to it through the Proverbs 31 email she sent on 7/24. I haven't read much of her stuff, other than daily Proverbs 31 emails. But I hear her short devotionals on KLove. And I know she's written a ton of stuff, also on weight loss and sugar. Seems like she struggles with a lot of what I do, but she's figured a lot out & is teaching others to do the same.

Thanks for your supprotive comment today!

Vickie said...

AMEN to all you wrote.

I have always understood why people go off their meds, they start to feel better and then think they don't need them.

Ditto with weight loss/maintenance.

It is the daily habits that determined how we do and who we are and also our family's circumstances.

A word of caution on vegetarian:

If you find yourself eating processed because it is vegetarian (boca burgers come to mind)


if you are eating a whopping huge percentage of carbs in the name of whole foods (beans, rice, lentils, fruit) instead of lots of green veggies


if you are eating a huge percentage of real eggs and dairy (instead of moderation).

then you might consider adding extra lean turkey and chicken back into your mainstream.

I think it is pretty tough to eat vegetarian without having blood sugar high. it can be done, but most people fall into the traps listed above. I know a diabetic who is eating vegetarian and the volume of carbs he is eating is scary.

Laura N said...

Thanks for the comments, Vickie. Very helpful.

Would you consider 1 cup of beans/lentils a day too much? I am trying out 1/2 c at lunch and 1/2 c at dinner. Only rice at lunch, 1/2 c, and no carbs at dinner other than beans and a serving of fruit. I guess I need to go check the carb counts on beans. I haven't done that yet.

Veggies are the biggest portion of my meals (except breakfast--haven't gotten into that routine yet).

I haven't been eating any boca burgers, but could see me eating them occasionally in a time crunch. Very sensitive to sodium in that type of processed (I know you are too). I figure if I'm cutting out sugar why in the world would I blow myself up with water weight from processed foods that aren't sweet?

I'm not eating potatoes of any kind right now. I have a starch at breakfast--Ezekial bread or 1/3 c oat bran, and a serving of fruit and a protein (egg or peanut butter, and there's protein in the bread and oat bran).

I'm still feeling my way through. The food plans will change as I change, I'm sure. Right now my carb level is way down compared to what I was eating, because I was eating so much junk before.

I'm taking it a day at a time right now.

And you probably weren't addressing this to me in particular, but thought I'd address it just in case....I've only gone off meds when they stopped working. It's common for SSRI's to stop working for people after a couple of years, and they can even make depression worse. That's what happened to me the last time I stopp taking wellbutrin. I know the drugs make all the difference; I won't stop taking them when I start feeling better. :)

Sugar, on the other hand... getting thin and feeling great has had a way of making me feel invincible--like one piece of cake won't hurt, which then turns into a series of small bad choices which then turns into "I give up" and I'm back in the sugar. I imagine this is what recovering alcoholics and drug addicts go through, too, when they relapse.

Vickie said...

No, I didn't mean YOU going off meds. I guess I really was thinking about schizophrenics and others who are dealing with side effects and go off but then are not functioning/safe.

Glad to hear you are eating real food. I have seen SO many people say they are vegetarian and then all they eat is processed.

I will look up counts for veggies and post them. I have more time than you do (still in boot and looking for projects).

Beans and lentils and rice in measured amounts are good, spaced evenly in early part of the day.

But protein is what holds you (hunger) between meals. So, if you start to have hunger problems, or grazing problems, you might check protein levels.

I am not actually a big fan (as you can probably tell) of people trying to go vegetarian when they are in the midst of weight loss or early maintenance. As I said, I think it is too easy to eat too many carbs and not get enough protein.

I think I ate vegetarian-ish for a year or two, maybe in my first maintenance, and then thought it was not going to work well long term. I eat a lot of meals vegetarian. But eat (skinless/breast) chicken or turkey at one meal most every day.

If fish was safe to eat on a regular basis, I would eat more of it. But only once a week is what I consider safe.

AND you are exactly right, if you are making great strides from where you were, you don't have to be where I am.

My food has been evolving for 8 years now. I didn't start out where I am now. And I didn't need to start where I am now.

The first steps for me too were getting off processed, eating at meal time, eating portions, getting my butt moving, drinking my water, sleeping regularly.

You might not be nearly as insulin resistant as I am, so you might not have to watch carbs as carefully.

there is info on proportion of carbs on my side bar (I think under plateaus and stalls section).

Vickie said...

I don't eat most of the starches I listed at the bottom of that post, but did the numbers to show progression.

I remember having a woman once tell the class instructor at Curves that she ate a lot of veggies. When he questioned her - the ONLY ones she ate were white potatoes and corn. She never ate green veggies.

Vickie said...

I will just keep chanting this to you, because I chant it to myself all the time (I went to 'parent of a new high school student' meeting last night, so it was top of my brain) -


your food, your exercise, your kids, and work are 100% enough. give yourself time to get your weight off, get firmly into maintenance, and get yourself very centered.

Vickie said...

and it occurs to me that I have the percentages information under stalls/plateaus for a reason. If you are not hungry all the time but only at meal time as you should, having no physical symptoms, and your weight is dropping slow/steady,
THEN the percentages are probably okay for you for now.

When things are not working, and need to be tweaked, that is the time to look at percentages (in my opinion).

And percentages do not have to be figured all the time. Just have to see what your range is for a few days and then you will know how to eat if you get stalled for a long time. And remember, lots of people loose in spurts.

Vickie said...

are weekend going better for you or still a struggle?

Vickie said...

post up with numbers for 6 (I think it was 6) green veggies. I did the math at the bottom of each box to subtract fiber from total carbs for countable carbs. As you can see, there is very little difference between these common greens. All these numbers are from calorie king. If you find I made any mistakes, let me know. As I started my second year, I was still counting everything and SICK of all the math. that is when Frances showed me Kay Sheppard's categories and told me that a green veggie was pretty much a green veggie as long as one kept rotating through them pretty evenly, they all balanced out and no math was needed.