Exercise, nutrition and depression part 2
I want to talk briefly about the only time since I have been out of the military where consistently I felt clear in my head with no fog, had energy all the time and it wasn’t a fight to get out of bed.
It was time to get my ass in gear. I made a commitment to eat healthy and workout more consistently for 5 weeks. If I am going to be serious about what I put in my body I will use the Paleo guidelines to healthy eating. Eating paleo meant no processed food. For protein I kept to top sirloin, chicken, eggs. Carbs I only had red and sweet potatoes, fruit and veggies. My fats where primarily bacon, cashews, almonds and eggs. I decided I would also take alcohol out of the equation. Not drinking alcohol wasn’t hard but taking alcohol out of the equation is huge when dealing with depression. If you are dealing with depression or think you might be, I would suggest that you don’t drink alcohol. I am not a doctor but alcohol is a depressant and will not help you. Taking processed foods out, making healthy choices as to what went into my body and working out 4-6 times a week, I was feeling good. With my success over the five weeks I decided to look at joining the Air Force reserves. I went to the recruiter with a buddy who was thinking about joining. Talking to the recruiter I needed to lose roughly 25 pounds and shave a minute from my mile time. I made the commitment to meet those goals. Best way to keep myself accountable was to sign up for a race. I put more time into my training over the next 3 months then I had the past five years. With the race over I ran my fastest mile I had run since the military and my weight was below the maximum allowable weight. I had accomplished my goals and met the Air Forces standards. I continued to talk to the recruiter about jobs available to me. I’m not going to say I was close to signing but I was getting there until life took me in another direction. I have several brothers and sisters still wearing the uniform and I would stand by them if ever needed.
With the help of my counselors I can see where my mental health was, where it went and where it is today. I can see how my fitness and eating habits directly affected the intensity of my depression. The highs and the lows. Once I reached all my goals I kept eating healthy and working out. During this time, I felt great physically and mentally. My energy levels were always up and my head was clear. It was the best I had felt since I was in the military physically and mentally. While I made my fitness a priority it did not role over into other parts of my life. I was still disengaged from my family, my wife and my friends. Depression makes things hard but I cannot use it as an excuse for other issues in my life as they come up. It would be easy for me to blame depression but that wouldn’t be the truth.
Part three I will talk about how not exercising and eating healthy at a time when I should have, allowed my depression to knock me down and made it difficult to handle a hard time in my life.