Weighting to Exhale 


I have some thoughts to share tonight just about my life and hopefully some of you out there can relate. I have touched on this topic before but not for awhile.  Weight is always a touchy topic because it relates to body image. 

We are taught these days that women are beautiful at whatever size they are, a size two or a size twenty-two. I think that’s wonderful and I hope that girls can be satisfied with their weight and looks as they grow and become young women. I’m happy to see models in fashion shows in New York and Toronto, who are plus-sized models because the average size for a woman is around size 12 to 16 in North America at least. 

 When I was young (maybe six or eight) I was shamed for being fat. Body image is something that it is engrained in you when you are young. I ate healthy food and only small amounts of junk food. We had a large garden, raspberry bushes, and an apple tree — all organic food. My Mom froze beans and peas, we always ate whole wheat bread, we hardly ever had sugary cereals for breakfast. We biked and walked regularly. But fat has always been something I’ve been afraid of being. It’s a demon I left in childhood only to be met again in my mid to late twenties. It’s too late for me I’ve already developed in my mind a picture of the ideal woman figure. I was never her, even when I played sports and/or worked out regularly. I was always that fat little girl, and in my mind I still am. 

Currently, I think for me body image and fat are something that I’m struggling to reconcile. We all have that number on the scale that we think, we are very overweight if the scale reads that number. We feel that we’ve got a major problem on our hands because the number is too high a weight for our bodies. I have reached that magical number and I am pulling out all stops to get back to a healthy weight. Believe me it’s going to be a lot of work. 

You see, as much as I want women and girls to be satisfied with their bodies, I also want them (myself inclusive) to have bodies that are healthy, whatever size or number on the scale that might be. It’s all fine to say that you are happy being over weight and you love your body; I’m glad if you do. But lately, I don’t feel that way because I’m not fit and I’m not eating right. If I don’t develop some type of plan to deal with my body, fatigued or not, my weight will only increase, and my physical health problems will increase.

Some of my weight issues probably have to do with genes on my Dad’s side due to the fact that many of my relatives put on weight as they get older. But also, having a mental illness and chronic fatigue almost all the time has lead to my weight gain. Mostly, due to weight gained through the side effects of medication — clozapine most recently. I put on roughly ten pounds each time I am on a psychiatric medication for awhile, they usually all cause weight gain. I try to be okay with it. I’m too fatigued to do significant cardio to counteract the weight gain.  But I think part of my problem is not paying attention to what and how much I am eating. 

This means going back to portion control and also not drinking my favourite drink that’s bad for you – Pepsi, especially in copious amounts. It means not ordering burgers, even though my smaller and fitter mother does, and ordering a salad with water not pop. It means trying my hardest to do some type of exercise a day, this will require all my effort. 

I’m trying to do two types of exercise: yoga, just some gentle stretching to keep me limber, and walking for 20 minutes, even though it still feels weird walking without a dog. Sadly, I will feel worn out after 20 minute walks for awhile, that is what seven years of fatigue does to you. It makes it harder and harder to be physically fit. 

The last part of my plan is that I am trying  a few products that have worked for some people I know to lose weight, but they are the kind of products that could work or could not — you never know with diet products. The first is a product that involves drinking veggies, so I receive all of my veggies in my diet; the second product is a product that helps break down fats in your body around meal times; the third product is wraps that help break down fat in your body from the outside  (I don’t know about the wraps but maybe they too will work). I will try these products for three months and if they work they work, if they don’t, it’s no significant financial loss. But I am hoping the products help together with portion control, adding back in some exercise, and getting rid of Pepsi by drinking water and green tea blends. 

If I can lower my weight I can improve the image I have of myself because I’d feel more positive about my body being healthier, especially around my middle. Your stomach is the worst place to have extra fat because that fat is visceral. In addition, I would feel and be healthier because my BMI and waist would be smaller. These are two major indicators of good health, although, they are not one-hundred percent accurate. My limbs would also feel less stiff if I did yoga and my cardiovascular activity even walking would be better then just sitting. And clothes would fit better as well.  I could even drop a size or more and have  a greater of variety of clothes to choose from. I’m a size 14 US right now (sometimes a 12) and not all stores go that high in sizes. 

 I know my weight doesn’t devalue me as a person, it doesn’t define me; weight doesn’t devalue or define anyone. But in my case, I feel I have little control in my life, especially with my health. That is another reason losing weight appeals to me, because it is a small piece of life that I have some control over. I can do little to change my mental health and the fatigue it causes, but I fight it because at somethings I can win. Maybe, I will never be a size 8 again but being a 12 or a 10 that’s in better physical shape then I am now, that is worth the effort, worth the fight.

We can’t control everything about our size or our weight. Woman exist into a variety of shapes and sizes. Weight is often a grave subject to talk about because many woman can’t do anything about it due to health problems such as medication, thyroid issues, having kids, lack of time to exercise, and many other reasons. But there has to be a point where you say I will control what I can and at least change that. Take the initiative to be healthier, no matter how small the change. Make changes you can live with through out your life and keep your body physically healthy. 

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Writing 101 – A Loss Of One’s Self


20140625-224220-81740472.jpgHow would you describe yourself to the people around you? Would you give a physical description, talk about the things you are good at, and describe your internal qualities? What if suddenly, the idea of who you thought yourself was, disappeared and what you were left with was some broken version of yourself, a shadow that you didn’t know and you weren’t sure how you had become the way you were.

That’s how it felt for me when I became very ill at the age of 23 years. It began with some very bad days in the office, days I could barely get through because I just didn’t have the energy. I would leave the gym at the end of the day dragging my feet and barely able to make it home on the bus. Then I began to cry, little things would bother me and I couldn’t concentrate on work just as I used to be able to do. Then something even stranger happened people began to say extremely rude comments to me almost as an after thought. They would tell me whatever they had to tel tell me ‘ Photocopy this for me…” then something very mean. This was particularly the case with certain people. Then I had trouble sleeping, I would lie awake all night, I began to lose weight, and I didn’t feel much like eating.

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What I didn’t understand then, was that this was the beginning of a psychotic episode. To this day my doctors and I don’t know why I had it but I have never quite healed from it. Everything became so bad that I couldn’t work, I had a break down. Then I would sit at home and the thoughts in my head would go round and round and I began to hear more voices not just after comments people made to me but from the Television or Radio, from my dog. When these thoughts became nearly suicidal, I went into hospital at the Royal Alex and it was awful being there and hearing things. But one day my doctor started giving me this anti-psychotic drug called Invega and the voices stopped. What remained after my psychosis had passed was the shell of a person. A person it took me at least 3 years to get back and still even today I realize I will never be the same person I was before my unexplained psychosis.

After the psychosis followed a mini-depression. I could barely read after that and I had so much trouble filling out the application for long-term disability because my writing was very shaky and looked more like a grade 4 student’s writing then someone who had recently gotten their BA in English with a 3.7 average.

I was slow to heal. At first I could only go out for 1/2 hour before returning home exhausted. I still needed to sleep a great deal of the day and I had the sharpest burning pain in my shoulders and neck. I felt entirely lost. The conversation of my friends was too fast for me. I couldn’t go to 3/4 of the events we had planned because I didn’t have the energy. I had gone from 160lbs, a healthy weight for me, to 143 lbs, I weight I hadn’t weighed since I was 15 years old and as skinny as you could get. Soon the effects of the medication set in and my weight sky rocketed to 175 lbs. I was uncomfortable in my new fatter body and I didn’t like it. I did not have the energy to do exercise or barely more than a walk or a Pilates 20 minute DVD.

And to tell you the truth, somethings I have just never recovered from. It is 6 years later and I still have trouble concentrating and paying

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attention. I have days where I can get much done and days where I can’t get anything done. My doctor’s and I are pretty sure I developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome after the Psychosis and I have dealt with that constantly. The other possibility is since we have most likely determined my psychosis occurred because I was so depressed, is that I have chronic fatigue from depression. But most signs point to the syndrome.

In these past years I have seem my friends develop careers, make many new friends, and start families. In many ways I feel left behind, that my path changed course and I don’t know why. And I don’t why what I have won’t heal. For me this is the biggest personal sense of loss I have felt in a long time because it as if somewhere in these past 6 years, I have lost myself, my dreams, my goals, and I’m not sure what the future holds. I just take things days by day because that’s how I can get through it.

On Staying Fit


Physical Fitness

I don’t know about you, but I grew up on a diet of fitness. Maybe you did too? Maybe you played soccer, hockey, rode horses, biked, or just walked a lot with your family. For me, fitness began with dad. Being a pudgy child of a former pudgy child, I knew I never wanted to be this way as an adult. Dad was always taking us biking or walking; he ran or walked to work on his own a 2 mile distance there and back. Dad biked and golfed, encouraged us to be fit people too.

More than that fitness was a decision I made in junior high. Tired of being a little over weight,  a little slower than all  the other kids, I started to push myself in gym class. I played basketball, and even when there was no girls volleyball team in Jr. High I went to every boy’s practice and played with them. Playing volleyball and basketball continued into highschool aided by 45 minute Pilates videos 3 times a week and walking the dog. In university I was crushed that the University I attended did not and would not even try to have a girls volleyball team, despite avid interest from many of the girls I knew. I had started weight lifting in highschool but opted for a leaner look of cardio on the elliptical or treadmill combined with Pilates and other core centered exercises. When university finished I seriously got into weight lifting. Three times a week I worked out on some cardio machine 30-40 minutes and weight lifted one day on my upper body and one day on my lower body alternating. It was a fitness lifestyle I really enjoyed. Not to mention I took the bus walked about 12 blocks every day to and from the bus and walked up every set of staircase I could find while taking the bus. But this was the old me; like with what happened with many things when I had my depressive episode, my fitness changed a lot after I was sick. I did not and do not have the energy to maintain such a fit life style and inside this kills me. But it is something I have come to accept for now – at this point in time I do not have the energy to exercise as much I need to as much I would like.

The most unfortunate effect of this drop in physical activity is the weight gain. While in university I was able to control my weight despite my drinking, now I hardly drink and must carefully watch my calorie intake. I see I dietitian and am most aware of the pounds I have put on due to certain medications that I have to take; weight gain that may increase as I try different medications to see which will work best, to give me more physical energy. Not only do medications cause weight gain with lack of physical energy, but so does lack of energy itself. I cannot go for 2 hour walks or even handle a full work out at the gym even twice a week and this really upsets me. The best I have been able to manage is 10-12 minutes on the elliptical 4-5 days a week, 2 days walk my dog for 30 minutes, and yoga for 20 minutes 2-3 times a week – on a good week. These are all good exercise but not nearly intense enough to decrease my body weight to its former glory. But I should also mention, some people in my extended family tend to be heavier.

My purpose, in telling you this, If I can do this having little physical energy, you who are just stuck on the couch can do something – do anything. At least maintain your body weight. I am very aware of the fact that medications, and increased weight around my middle puts me at risk for heart disease, diabeties, and an increase in cortisol which generally leads to less energy ironically – and you should be aware of this too. Yes, exercise can be really hard – but its really necessary to maintain your body. You may not be like me and crave more intense exercise (despite my inability) but a little thing like sitting up on the couch, going for a walk around the block, doing a 20 minute exercise video, even that can make a difference and decrease your risk for things such as heart disease and even some cancers. Paying attention to you diet and especially portion sizes in your diet is really important. For instance, one cereal bowl full of chips may be a treat, but the whole bag is pushing it, even if you are working out so much that you can burn those calories off. Eat good food – vegetables and fruit, protein, and everything in the right proportions. And even if you cannot be the same weight you were in fourth year university, you will be on your way to a healthier more energetic life. Take care of your body for you and your family.