Depression is hard and there are a million things you can “do” to help yourself. You can pray, meditate, help others, change your perspective, declutter, change your diet, exercise, sleep better, the list goes on. In some ways, it can feel empowering to think that you can change your feelings by changing things around you. In other ways, it feels draining and overwhelming to have such a laundry list of things to tackle to “improve yourself.” I already do a fair number of things on this list, although not perfectly and not all the time. I’ve already talked a bit about going the medication route. Obviously I already exercise; I also do some meditation, practice an erratic gratitude list with friends, sleep okay, and eat decently. But that’s not always enough, so I try something else (not unlike the playing around with marathon training plans I’ve been doing to try and find the sweet spot).
One cute example of this is my son’s recent exploration of his inner Banksy. This was scrawled in blue crayon in the hallways upstairs. I have to admit, it was really cute. I scolded him as he’s 6 and should know better than to draw on the wall. I still haven’t cleaned it off, though…
I’m also trying to mix up my running right now so keep myself happy and challenged. I had a couple friends do the Lakefront 50/50–the Chicago 50k/50 mile ultra marathon on the lakefront path. I was jealous admittedly. One of my friends, Mike, had an amazing experience and is planning on running the spring version. It made me want to do the Paleozoic 50k even though I had JUST decided it wasn’t a good idea. Running without a plan is also a weird place mentally, so I’ve been trying to run more with friends and hit the trails more. Yesterday was a great “Trail Tuesday” with my friend Amy (who IS doing the Paleozoic 50k, sigh). I’m also heading out to Waterfall Glen on Saturday for the long run.
The final piece I’m adjusting, which is HUGE, is my diet. I have alot of freinds who are into food as a healing tool, for both physical and emotional issues. I’m not gonna lie, some of this seems really far-fetched to me and there’s alot of pseudo-science (i.e., the paleo diet), but a number of them swear by it and there’s definitely a cottage industry of folks swearing up and down (i.e., blogging) to its benefit. I can’t help but think there might be some truth to it after all. It’s difficult to gauge the scientific veracity of some of this work when there’s such a fundamental difference in thinking between traditional Western medicine and alot of the “alternative” viewpoints. Still, I know that autoimmune issues are on the rise and that people have to drastically change their diet to keep themselves healthy.
I can not, with a straight face, argue that eating insane amounts of sugar and mainlining coffee is helping my emotional well-being, so I look to diet again.
I’ve written before about reading the Racing Weight book to try and knock down some weight and increase speed. I never actually implemented the plan because it seemed complicated in its tracking and I felt overwhelmed (i.e., lazy). However, a friend of mine wanted to work on getting her racing weight down now while there’s a lull in training so she started a Facebook support group and invited folks from our running group. I’ve done various diet challenges before (Paleo and Whole Life Challenge) and definitely find having a group helps. Deanna’s going to follow Pip Taylor’s Athlete’s Fix, which is essentially an elimination diet to deal with athlete’s GI issues and increase performance, etc. for three weeks. This diet cuts out sugar, grains, legumes, and pretty much any processed foods. By clearing out the body for 3 weeks, it allows you to slowly reintroduce foods to check your reaction for sensitivities, tolerance, etc.
I decided to try the diet because when I’ve done other similar elimination-type diets I haven’t systematically reintroduced foods to see how I react. I just end up going whole-back to my former way of eating after a week of half-heartedly. In other words, I have no idea which foods made me feel supposedly better. I say supposedly because I have rarely felt better on these diets. And those who swear that they’re feeling better usually blame the gluten even though there are a number of other things they were cutting out so it’s hard to scientifically/systematically assess.
Anyhow, I’m a fool and decided to go along with the Athlete’s Fix diet because misery loves company? Yesterday was day 2 of it after I spent day 1 eating my weight in roasted Kabocha squash (seriously, people, that stuff is like crack for me. It’s also seasonal, so I can only get it in the fall). While I appreciated the kick in the butt to go back and eat more whole foods, I realized last night that I do really poorly (mentally) with restrictive diets. Like so many women, I don’t have the healthiest relationship with food. When I start labeling foods as “bad” or “not allowed,” i get a little crazy in my head about it. I realized last night that I haven’t felt phenomenal during my former elimination-type diets so I probably don’t have food sensitivities (or, some would argue, I needed to restrict even further) and that perhaps the viewing of food as “bad” was probably worse for me in the long run. I’m going to go back and look at the Racing Weight book and continue tracking my food (and maybe my emotions) to see if I do feel worse or better instead of the Athlete’s Fix. I also plan on really pulling back on the sugar and caffeine. We’ll see if all these things make a difference. Like I said, sometimes it feels exhausting to have to do so many things to be a fully functioning, relatively happy person. I guess it is what it is, though.
One happy thing I forgot to report (I think) was the final tally for my Team in Training fundraising for the Chicago Marathon–$800. Hooray!
Anyhow, hope everyone has a great hump day! I might try and do some hillwork in celebration 🙂