A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Anne Collins Effect

Well, I'm off to a good start. Five days on a diet and four days exercising. I'm more motivated and my mood is improving. The Anne Collins site is really good. I've started keeping a personal log there of what I'm eating and drinking, keeping track of how many calories I'm ingesting each day. I also write there about the new things I'm discovering and how I'm feeling. I'm inspired by the people at the site. They are proof that AC's diet and exercise advice is sound because they are losing the weight, some over 100 pounds or more. I'm aiming to get down to my pre-psychosis weight. Anne has cautioned me that I might lose no more than 1 pound a week (instead of 2 pounds per week) due to my medications, but I'm still hopeful that I might lose a bit more during the coming year if I stick to the diet and to nearly daily exercise.

Today I exercised for 50 minutes. My exercise goal is to do 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours of exercise per day, but the minimum now is 30 minutes daily. I'm using a stationary bike and an inexpensive stepper (it cost me $50). I use the stepper while holding 5 lb weights exercising my arms and upper body as well as by legs. This is kind of fun to do, swinging my arms this way and that while stepping in rhythm. Today I started by using the stepper and weights for 10 minutes, then I rode on the stationary bike for 30 minutes, varying the resistance and the intensity, and then I finished with another 10 minutes using the stepper and weights. My time for exercising is between 1 PM and 2PM, just before lunch and that seems to be working out.

Anne also recommends eating every 3 hours. That comes to about 3 moderate meals and 2 snacks. My calorie range for losing weight is between 1200 and 1500 calories a day which I seem to be able be do so far without much problem. Anne also stresses repeatedly that one should eat whenever one is hungry. She says that hunger is the main reason why people fall off their diets. The key is in WHAT you eat. Eat fruit and fat free yogurt. Eat whole wheat bread and reduced sugar preserves. Eat vegetables and low to non fat dressings. Eat brown rice and beans. Eat grilled or baked salmon or chicken. Really eating well is not so difficult to learn, you just have to develop a taste for it and habit for going for the low fat/high fiber/low calorie option that is available.

So I am now eating more fruits and vegetables and I like it. I'm eating fresh fruit, canned fruit (but not with heavy syrup), fruit with plain fat free yogurt. I'm eating all those cans of fruit that I bought like a year ago and pushed to the back of the refrigerator--mandarin oranges, pineapple, pears, tropical fruit mixes. With cooked vegetables I'm learning to season with soy sauce or lemon instead of butter. And with raw vegetables like cucumbers I'm again mixing with yogurt, yogurt plain or with a little bit of vinegar, garlic powder, and salt. There are also many fat free and low fat salad dressings. Fruits, vegetables, whole grain bread, potatoes (with again yogurt or salsa or fat free sour cream and NOT butter...), rice, pasta, whole grain cereal, lean meat, fish and low fat or non fat cheeses fill you up and are good for you.

Where was I slipping up before? Getting "frosted" cereals or adding sugar to cereal, using butter on vegetables and english muffins, eating too many peanuts and peanut butter, eating canned soups with too much fat and too large a portion of it, eating tuna salad, drinking 2% milk instead of 1% or skim milk, treating myself to too many Werther's sucking candies, eating frozen pizza, using too much coffee creamer in my tea and coffee (10 calories per teaspoon and I was using tablespoons of it), buying now and then a large cookie at the coffee shop (which calorie wise is probably the size of an entire meal), eating large portions of chicken or tuna, using 2 tablespoons of butter in a tuna noodle mix and eating too much of it, not eating enough fruits and vegetables and not getting exercise.

The truth is my diet was very limited and required little to no cooking, but wasn't so bad. Like I don't eat cake, pies, ice cream. I eat very little red meat, very few eggs. I don't drink soda or eat chips or candy bars. I don't eat fried food. I also haven't been eating much pasta, rice, potatoes, hot cereals though I'm going to change that and eat more of those foods. My idea of a wonderful splurge is to get a large pizza and 12 fried chicken wings, but the only time I remember doing that recently was on my birthday last year. I eat very little cheese, don't use sour cream or cream cheese, but now I'm going to start buying the non fat and low fat version of them. So all in all, I'm very ready to embrace this diet and commit to it. I now pay a lot more attention to what I'm eating and how much of it I'm eating. Because I'm eating every 3 hours, I don't feel deprived. Keeping track of my meals and snacks both offline and online helps to keep me accountable to my diet. Being part of a support group I'm sure will help me to stay focused.

There's so much in my life that I don't have control over: the weather and road conditions, other people, my mental illness, the state of the world, but this is something I can control and with balance. I just needed a little direction and support. I guess I also needed to be ready to change. I think quitting smoking is what really gave me an extra boost this past year to get me to this point. Anne Collins says attitude is very important. Believe you can change, visualize the change, the goal and commit to a program and you will change. It will take time, but it will come to pass. Health and beauty are worth the effort.
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