Exercising, nutrition and the effect it has on depression Part 1 of 4
Depression sucks and it is something I have been dealing with for several years. I’m going to share my ups and downs over the past several years. Let you in on how exercise and nutrition helped me feel better and how the lack of both made my depression weigh me down more. How at the time I had no idea my mental health was poor due to depression! With the help of counselors and doctors I found out the reason for always being tired, for having no energy and for my head always feeling foggy was due to depression. I can look back now and see I was dealing with depression while in the Air Force. It wasn’t as prevalent then as it has been the past several years. I believe my depression was not as noticeable because I was always in shape during my time in the Air Force. My health and fitness was a priority. I had to be physically prepared to fulfill my duties and responsibilities. During my time in the military I would find myself not wanting to get out of bed, lacking energy and my head would be foggy for days at a time. I would go through this a couple times a year. At the time, I figured I was extremely fatigued and that the symptoms were not related to depression.
After the military, I took a job working in Europe for three years. I absolutely loved living in Europe. I got an opportunity visit several countries but even though I was enjoying life and my stress level was low I was still dealing with the same symptoms. Lack of energy and my head feeling foggy was starting to show up more than a few times a year. During this time being fit was still a priority but it was slowly not becoming one.
With the project finished and living back in Oregon for the first time in 10 years I started to distance myself from family and friends. The signs of depression became more frequent as my training was taking a back seat. Training was no longer a priority of mine and my eating habits got worse. I became inconsistent. I did absolutely no cardio. I might make it to the gym a couple times a week and might not make it in for a couple weeks. When I separated the Air Force I weighed around 200 pounds and I ballooned up to roughly 240. When I did workout, I lifted as heavy as I could and shoveled anything I wanted into my pudgy face. My health had never been poorer. I felt like garbage physically and my head had a continuous fog.
January 2010 while visiting my best friend in South Dakota he suggested I give CrossFit a try. He knew how much I loved working out. We trained together while stationed in Iceland and I can remember some of those workouts vividly to this day. When I got home I found a CrossFit box in Redmond and gave it a try. He was right and I was hooked. CrossFit is what I needed at that point in my life. The accountability aspect of CrossFit made me more consistent and my weight started to drop and I started to feel better. With the weight loss and consistency in the gym my head was feeling less foggy and my attitude was getting better about life. I started looking at my options for opening a CrossFit box. I found a place in Sherwood Oregon and never looked back. My weight was down, I was productive with CrossFit Absolute. I was happy in all facets of my life for a couple of years. But my consistency in the gym and my nutrition started to falter again. I started to disengage from everyone that I cared about. I still wasn’t aware that my desire to not see family or do things with my friends was due to depression. I figured this is who I was. This is who I am.
The next three weeks I will take you further into my struggle with depression covering the highest point in my life to the lowest point and where I am now. If you follow me to the end I will provide you with my thoughts of how exercise and nutrition helps me deal with my depression. I will also provide you with some research to back up my thoughts.