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Re: working.out.blues - what's worked for me

Posted by jrbecker on September 18, 2002, at 10:48:26

In reply to Re: working.out.blues, posted by wsj on September 17, 2002, at 23:10:20

I've always suffered from atypical depression, which is probably the worst kind for trying to keep in shape considering the unbelievable amout of lethargy, food cravings and hypersomnolescence that comes with it. Ironically, though, I've been a long time 'athlete' (varsity sports, long distance running). It was just something I was raised on, and thank God, b/c I'd be all the worse probably without it.

My pdoc though has always stressed the need for exercise as just as equal in therapeutic efficacy as my meds, and I definitely agree. In her opinion, it is usually her most worst-off clients who commit themselves to exercise, since they know how much it can make a diffrence.

Most of the meds I've taken, including most of the SSRIs, atypical ADs, and mood stabilizers, have all had the dual role of helping but also hindering my exercise. More or less, it usually comes down to a benefit of mood lift vs their somnolescent/lethargic side effects. I'm able to recognize that without the mood lift though, I'd never be able to get out the door to begin with though. So in the end, I give more importance to increasing my MOTIVATION to go and exercise, since it's really something I have to be cognizant of all the time since most meds can make you feel so apathetic.

So medication issues aside [even though that's the first issue to be addressed if it's making you overly apathetic/somnolescent], I thought I'd add my own two cents on what's worked for me, since I have always battled periods of a total lack of motivation [they of course, always correlate with my most depressed/stressed days]. I recognize these proceeding tips are fairly common-sensical statements, however, I think they're worthwhile for any novices out there or anybody else that hasn't considered them. So apologies in advance if I come off like a personal trainer:

1) Make a commitment to someone else besides yourself. Recruit a friend who maybe knows about your condition and tell him/her that exercise is essential to your well-being in staying mentally healthy. Let him/her be your watchful observer/motivator/cheerleader/coach, even if he/she is not directly involved in the exercising regiment itself.

2)Plan it out, schedule [on a calendar if neccessary] the times and dates when you're going to go and do your exercise sessions.

3) Know your limitations. Start slowly in adding to an exercise regiment. It' easy to over-exert ourselves, be discouraged or burnout. And you WILL burnout, it's only a matter of time given our periods of highs and lows. Allow yourself to recover and get back into it as soon as you think you can.

4) monopolize on peak energy periods of the day. Like most of us depressive sufferers, I feel pretty tired througout the day, but I tend to get a slight boost of energy in the late afternoon/early evening. I take advantage of this time to go out and get some exercise, knowing it's when I can be the most motivated. Also, it a great way to take the edge off from the stress experienced early in the day. Ideally though, I'd like to be able to get up in the morning and jump-start the day in exercising the first thing in the morning. Most of us will recognize that this isn't possible, especially if you have to rise early for work. If you can do it though, all the more power to you, since it will definitely give you more energy throughout the whole day than exercising at night. On the other hand, if you do exercise in the afternoon/evening [like most people do] it is important to obviously not over-exert yourself if you are exercising since it might contribute to any insomnia you're pre-disposed.

5) MUSIC -- by far, this is the one thing that keeps me in going. If you do solitary exercise activites like run, bike, or workout in a gym, one of the things that keeps me going is having a walkman with me to keep me stimulated. I even have a 'pump up' session before I head out to exercise where I turn the music up, let the adrenalin levels surge a little, and get myself out of any funk I'm feeling at that moment.

6) Try yoga or pilates. As someone who's always done more tradtional things like sports or running, it's totally opened up my perspective on what exercise can do for you. I've been used to feeling exhausted from exertion at the end of most activities, with the relaxation coming later. But with yoga, the relaxation you can tap is totally even more rewarding since it can definitely add to a sense of inner peace, possibly even spirituality.

7) Join a gym. Group participation is the best motivation. Take an aerobics/yoga/spin/cardio class and commit yourself to the routine. In the end, all the motivation you'll need is to show-up.

8) Other tips, Visualization: imagine yourself feeling/looking better or anything else that adds to your motivation, before or during your exercise session. Consume a small amount of caffeine or sugar before you exercise if you're feeling sluggish or un-motivated.

That's what's helped me. And no doubt, exercise gives me more energy, confidence, and helps to combat any somnolescent symptoms of my depression and med therapy.

Good luck.




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