I was recently hospitalized for about 6 weeks. I checked myself into a hospital for various issues. One being that I was exhauster. I know what you’re thinking. I have a 5, 13 and 18 year old, have a full time job, my kid is basically in every fricken sport you can possibly imagine; so yeah, no kidding you are tired. But I was exhausted up to the point where I felt like I was going to pass out at any point, my heart was racing all the time and I was sweating like I had a big binger the night before. I was taking heavy medication for sleep and anxiety at night. Even though I felt like I was sleeping I never felt rested in the morning. So the rollercoaster was, that on top of the physical symptoms I was also waking up feeling like the day ahead of me was impossible, I was feeling so tired that I did not know how I was going to have any patience for my family, not even to mention utter a word at them. I just wanted to stay in bed and sleep! I know many of these symptoms are that of depression but the tiredness was what I couldn’t handle. At this point I was so desperate for real sleep that I was willing to end it. I kept wondering, “What if I just take all the meds I have in my medicine drawer?”
I spent my 6 weeks in the hospital, they changed my meds and off I went back to reality. Forward about 6 months and I am back exactly where I was before. I wasn’t depressed, because of the treatment I had received in the hospital, I have been off work, they changed my depression meds, but the sleep was horrific. Now I was having a hard time falling asleep, I was waking up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep and waking up early and again couldn’t go back to sleep. I couldn’t even take a nap. As I write this, it reminds me of that book “Go the Fuck to Sleep.” LOL. Before at least I could fall “asleep” and stay asleep. I wasn’t awake all night with my own thoughts, racing through my head.
I finally decided to see my doctor and I was determined not to walk out of his office until I have every referral possible to figure out what was going on with me. Not just with how tired I was feeling, but all my health concerns. I didn’t want to end up back in the hospital! My doctor, whom I also personally know, had a big chat with me. Here is the big ah hah moment: he asked me if I realized how much diet and exercise effect my energy levels. I just want to make this very clear, I am a pretty smart girl, but never had I given it much thought that my diet could affect me this much that it could influence how tired I felt during the day. I mean I know food gives you energy but in my mind, this was not going to solve my tiredness. My doctor actually reduced my meds and made me promise to keep a journal for a week and write down everything I eat, try to eat 3 meals a day and go for a 30 minute walk. This made my heart drop. Asking me to eat is like asking me to run a marathon without training for it. Not just when I am depressed or simply having a busy day, most days I simply don’t eat. And what I mean by that is that some days I may have one meal a day when my husband begs me to eat, but other than that I just don’t eat. I just don’t feel hungry.
In addition I have a very strange relationship with food. I am lucky that I don’t seem to ride the rollercoaster weight problem, but that is probably because I don’t feed my body and what stresses me out is that as I get older and I eventually start to eat I will just put on the weight like there is no tomorrow. I don’t like the taste of a lot of food, especially fruits and some vegetables. The texture puts me off and I gag when I eat certain fruits as soon as it hits my mouth. Most of the time I have these visions in my head of what food would taste like at supper time and I want to cringe. Some days the simple thought of food makes me sick.
During the week I was instructed to keep a diary I happened to listen to the podcast “Rise” by Rachel Hollis. By the way, I love the inspiration this woman gives. Do yourself a favour and go check her out! Links are on my “Favourite Things” page. She was interviewing Kelly LeVeque who wrote the book Body Love. Kelly explained on this podcast how your body processes food. Whether you are eating cake or vegetables, your body processes it the same but there is very different effect it has on your blood sugar level. She further explained that carbs, other than fiber which never turns to fat, that do not get absorbed by your liver, which is stored as fuel, and your muscles, gets stored as fat. Thus, when you look at a food label again, look at the amount of carbs, subtract the fiber, and the remainder of the carbs are absorbed by your bloodstream. So for e.g. cake has a ton of carbs and almost no fiber, so the body stores the carbs it needs in the liver and muscles and the remainder of that cake is fat. The vegetable is almost all fiber so no fat. Because vegetables is almost all fiber, it slowly releases into your blood sugar and therefore does not jack-up your blood sugar level. When your blood sugar is spiked you also have a spike in insulin which in turn makes your crave carbs and it turns into the snowball effect. You feel shaky, your hangry, which in turn makes you irritable, you eat more carbs, your blood sugar is jacked, insulin spikes, you crash and it all starts again.
So all of the above I found interesting, but what I found more interesting was her solution. She designed the Fab Four Smoothie, which provides you with all the nutrients you need, and in return, the energy you need which I was supposedly in lack off. I am not going to rehash the whole book. You need to read it as it gives a lot of further information than I just rehashed and ways to change your lifestyle. What I love about it is that it is not a diet. The smoothie however sounded like a huge solution for me. If the flavour is there, I can have a smoothie for every meal, as for now (and I know it is not a long-term solution to have smoothies for every meal) it helps me put some very healthy and awesome nutrients into my body that I would never have imagined eating. The fab 4 smoothie combines four things: leafy greens, fiber, fat and protein.
I made a commitment to myself to drink one of Kelly’s smoothies every day for a month to see how I would feel. When it comes to my energy levels, it would have to make a significant difference for me to admit it. I didn’t want to make a change to my life that was only going to help me a little bit. I was determined and wanted a significant change. I needed my level of tiredness to lift as I was feeling so desperate to feel better so I could actually enjoy doing things with my family again. This smoothie I was drinking was making me feel AMAZING!!! Literally, I felt like I had more energy, I wasn’t as tired as I always was and my stomach didn’t bloat as it usually did from eating. Two months later and I am still drinking my smoothie every morning and sometimes even at night when I cannot fathom putting food in my mouth.
Drinking these smoothies was not the only thing I have changed. I started working out again, drinking a ton more water than I used to and taking time to take care of myself. These are all blogs for another day.
Here’s the thing; being healthy when you have never been healthy is hard! There is a lot of habits that I had to and still have to break to keep this going. Eventually I have to actually start eating the food that is healthy for me and not drenched in some sort of dressing or sauce to hide the taste. We all have to start somewhere. Eating healthy might not come naturally to me, but this is a choice I get to make every day. God has given me the privilege to have a choice and therefore it is my responsibility to make the right one, not just for me, but for the little girl that watches my every move. Life is all about the choices we make! I might get a lot of negative feedback from this statement, but even depression is a choice. I can decide to take my medication, if needed, or not. I can decide to get out of bed or not. If the depression is kicking my but I can decide to go see a doctor, go to the hospital, see my therapist or not. I am not talking about severe cases of depression. There are places depression can take you where you are not safe, what I am talking about is the process of managing depression before it gets to that point. STOP COMPLAINING!! Get up, take action, however this looks, and change it. You don’t really get to complain unless you are making to choices to try and get better. This has taken me a long time to learn and I have felt sorry for myself a lot! I have mentioned this before, and this statement is such a vital part of me; radical acceptance will set you free! It is only once you accept that you are prone to depression, anxiety, eating issues, etc. that you can stop fighting it. Once you accept that, only then can you decide to change it around!!
The RISE podcast with Kelly Leveque can be listened as this link: https://open.spotify.com/show/7IjK2aH3JBpI7nzqGrN6o0
This blog is not an advertisement for Rachel Hollis or Kelly Leveque and no payment if received for the information provided in this blog.