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Old 08-05-2004, 09:09 PM   #1
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Post Fight of my life

I'm only 19 years old, (soon to be 20), but I'm nearly 80 pounds over weight, high cholesterol and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder recently. The past 3 years have been hellish for me, as I am constantly on a diet. I was successful on Weight Watchers, losing 20 lbs, but I gained 50 back and have not been as successful using it since. Nothing has worked. I've tried Dr. Phil, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Slim Fast, my own and currently using "Weight Loss for Dummies". Having a mood disorder makes having a weight loss plan schedule difficult, as some days I'm very eager to exercise and most I can't even get out of bed. My health is at risk, and I reallly want to be successful in this life style change, but there are so many obstacles and so many challenges that i don't know where to begin. If I start out too small I feel like I'm not getting a proper workout, and if I start out too big it's overwhelming and I hurt myself. My boyfriend's heard the same sob story over and over, and my parents are supportive but it's not an easy topic for me to discuss with them. I've tried, but they get frustrated and angry with me because of the numerous diets I've failed before. I have a month and a half before i go back to school, so I'd like to get started on changing my life so that I'm eating healthier and exercising. I am very aware of the health risks I'm at, and I'm ready to start losing weight. Believe me, I've been ready. This is something that I've battled since I was 10. I'm currently in therapy (I have been for 3 and a half years) for issues other than my weight, but I feel that it's time for me to seek support from others who understand my plight. I need help understanding weight loss, the best way, the best time, myths, truths, anything that clear away all the hubbub that I've heard in the media. Please help me. It's becoming literally a fight for my life and for control.
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Old 08-05-2004, 11:18 PM   #2
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Hey there,

You didn't mention whether you have talked to your doctor or to a nutritionist or dietitian about weight loss plans. Given that you have bipolar disorder, that might be a good place to start. It sounds like you have a challenging situation, and professional health care providers can probably come up with good plans for you.

Also see what others have to say on the Dieting with Health Problems thread. If nothing else you'll see that you're not alone, and that others have found ways to succeed.

Good luck! Hang in there!
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Old 08-05-2004, 11:49 PM   #3
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I am not bipolar, but I've had a serious weight problem all my life. I do know that when you have a problem like bipolar disorder that it makes everything else more difficult. I'm glad you are in therapy. Are you taking any medication for your disorder? From what I've read, getting food (or other substance) issues under control can be extremely difficult when the underlying disorder is not under control. So, I hope that is your first priority.

There were a couple of statements that really stuck out at me:

'Nothing has worked. I've tried Dr. Phil, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Slim Fast, my own and currently using "Weight Loss for Dummies"."

I know how frustrating that is. I know that when you've tried so many different things that it just seems more and more hopeless. But, remember that every person who is successful at losing weight and keeping it off has tried many things many times. Finally, something clicks. You just have to keep trying.

"Having a mood disorder makes having a weight loss plan schedule difficult, as some days I'm very eager to exercise and most I can't even get out of bed. My health is at risk, and I reallly want to be successful in this life style change, but there are so many obstacles and so many challenges that i don't know where to begin. If I start out too small I feel like I'm not getting a proper workout, and if I start out too big it's overwhelming and I hurt myself."

Given the first statement, then the bit above, here's my view: Personally, I think that given that you have tried so many things and have yo-yoed around, and given the other issues you are trying to get a handle on, that focusing on healthy living vs. losing weight may be something to do for a while until you feel more stable. Even if you overdo it a bit, even if you don't exercise consistently, just doing reasonable things, eating a reasonably healthy diet, getting in a reasonable amount of activity, is a step in the right direction.

A lot of overweight people -- and I include myself in this without a doubt -- are victims of what's called "all-or-nothing" thinking. It's a form of compulsion. And, I would not be surprised if someone with bipolar disorder is more prone to this than not. For most of my life I had a mindset that said if I couldn't do something perfectly, it wasn't worth the effort to do anything. This is the mentality that tells you that when you have french fries at lunch that you've blown the whole day and that you might as well go ahead and eat what you want until the next morning. This is the mentality that would lead me to create an "ideal" exercise schedule, but if I missed one day or walked 15 minutes instead of 30, that the whole week was a loss and all the steam went out of my committment to exercise.

So, I finally realized it was REALLY important for me to get out of this mindset. I had to keep telling myself that if I ate something I shouldn't, I could not let it affect the rest of my day. If I didn't work out like I had planned, then I would just pick up the next day and do what I could. This was a LOT tougher than it sounds -- I had 40 years of self-conditioning to fight! But, I just kept reminding myself that a little was better than none at all. I didn't have to be perfect to make progress. I had to learn to pat myself on the back for getting back on track at dinner after having birthday cake at the office. When I overate at a party, I worked hard to remind myself how much MORE I would have eaten 3 years ago, and recognize that I made some good choices. I refused to let myself build complex ambitious workout schedules, and just promised myself that I would do what I could, and work on doing more over time. In a way, I think we are way too demanding of ourselves, and are so busy kicking ourselves for being a failure (which, by the way, isn't even true) that we can't see the forest for the trees.

A book that really helped me with these issues is called The Thin Books. It's written by a member of Overeaters Anonymous, and a big theme is defeating that "all or nothing" mindset. It sounds to me as if that's something that might help you.

Your last statement sounds so desperate, so frantic. Try to take a deep breath and realize that no matter what your goals are, you can only get there one step at a time. Even if you take a lot of steps sideways and backwards, just keep moving your feet and you'll get there. It's no fun being in the middle of a struggle like this, and sometimes I think the harder you thrash around, the more entrenched you become. I have one final suggestion ... have you tried yoga? If the idea sounds really weird and foreign to you, don't worry -- it's not about being in perfect shape already and bending into impossible positions. It's a GREAT way to get back in touch with your body in a calm way, to quiet your mind, to learn to breathe again. There are a billion different varieties of yoga, and each teacher has their own style. But, I urge you to seek out classes (not videos, real classes), and try different types and instructors until you find something that clicks. I started going to a class when I weighed about 220, and had the tightest hamstrings on the planet. Yoga is noncompetitive, and nobody cares if you can't do a pose or don't have the stamina that the instructor does. You just do what you can, and keep trying. My teacher says in every class: It's not about flexibility, it's about the breath. When I do yoga I feel so very good. I always come out of class more calm, happier, and physically refreshed. I think it's a great thing for anyone to do, especially if they are struggling with such frustrations. Please give it a try.
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Old 08-06-2004, 12:17 AM   #4
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i'm not bipolar but i did have a breakdown and pretty severe depression a couple of years ago, after having had other slightly midler bouts since my teens so i may have an idea about what it's like. when i finaly got help, because the alternative scared the crap out of me, the doctor told me to go for walks, have a coffee in a cafe. what?!? get out of bed and go for a walk she might as well have told me to climb everest in my pyjamas.
what would have got me out of bed was if someone came and dressed me, brushed my teeth and held my hand walking out the door. so if you can do that by yourself great! on the days when you are out of bed and walking around then that's the moment to strike. get out the door. i can't physically hold your hand but there are a lot of people here, me included, who can do what we can to hold your hand metaphorically. like it has been said below it's not all or nothing. a little goes a long way.
walking, exercise and healthy eating will help your emotionally. it all makes a huge difference.
when you are feeling low come here and get some support, often. get support to do get better and healthy wherever and as often as you need it. focus on your health of mind and body not weight loss, you don't need that extra pressure.

good luck and best wishes
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If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me.
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Old 08-06-2004, 12:21 AM   #5
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Thank you for your reply. I was quite suprised by how quickly some one responded.

I am somewhat on medication. I take one med for anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, and I take the other as a mood stabilizer. I've been in lingo with my meds recently because of a possible misprint on the lable, causing me to feel very sleepy and out of control. I'm working with both my pyschiatrist and pyschologist to get things back in order.

My college offers nightly yoga classes for 10 dollars a month. I've been contemplating yoga but never gave it a try because i always felt so self conscious about going into a room full of people I didn't know. But I will try it. The next year's showing itself to be quite interesting, and something to do for just myself may help keep me in check.

When you discussed the all or nothing mind set, my jaw dropped. I was like "oh my goodness some one else understands". Thats how I do feel a lot of the times, and it's quite overwheleming. I need to learn how to minimize my goals and break them down; I am accostmeed to goingg all out and not giving myself a break.

I'm falling out of my chair from being so tired. Thank you so much for your reply. I hope to see other posts from you. I feel a bit relieved that I've joined the support group.
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Old 08-06-2004, 12:04 PM   #6
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Hey there Fashionista84. You've already been given some great advice and support - I just wanted to add my own two cents, so to speak. A dear relative of mine is bi-polar and I can symphathize with what you are going through.
First things first: work closely with your pyschiatrist and pyschologist to find the therapies that work best for you. As with so much in life, what works for one person, does not work for another. In this arena you must be your own advocate! Finding the right meds/therapies is a challange, but keep trying ... the right ones are out there for you and when you find them they'll make a world of difference. I believe that there is a Depression Board on this site and I'm sure that the wonderful people there will be able to offer you well-informed advice and a shoulder to cry on.

As strange as this may sound I really believe that successful weight loss is about more than just losing the weight *it's more than that *for me anyway, it's become a journey to health - mind, body and spirit. So to take it off, and keep it off, it has got to be a lifestyle change - not just a diet/exercise program. The good thing about that is that if you have a meal, a day, a week, or heck a month, where you don't eat well or you don't exercise right and it doesn't mean you've failed. The trick is to just pick right back up where you left off - and don't beat yourself up about!

As far as practical advice goes: don't be afraid to start slow Change one thing at a time so you're not overwhelmed and so that you don't feel deprived. Drink more water, eat more fruit, eat less junk. Baby steps. As you feel ready, add something else to it. Same with exercise - start slow, you don't have to run a marathon your first day out. Yoga is a great idea and you can try walking or swimming or bike riding or weight training or karate or whatever floats your boat ... increase intensity and duration as time goes on, but don't think that just because you didn't have a heart-pounding, muscle-stretching, sweat-drenched workout that it was a waste of time. Movement is movement and even a very little bit is better than nothing at all. Another reason to start slow with the exercise is that you don't want to burn out on it before you start to reap the rewards. Give it a couple of months - not only will it help you lose weight and build muscle but it will also be beneficial for your depression.

Love yourself, take care of yourself, make yourself and your health a priority and don't forget to "give yourself a break!"
" The mountain cannot come to you but you can go to it." - Johni Pangalila


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