Food Isn’t the Problem. Our Heart Is.

The Fundamental Five: Fuel

For many of us we associate fuel with what we eat, and we have become a society that is obsessed with the “right” foods, the “right” diet and the “right” way to eat. While there is truth that sugar isn’t the best thing for you it doesn’t make vegetables holy and sugar the devil.  [Please know I’m not discussing people with food allergies, autoimmune disease, etc.] Our culture has demonized food, as a way to control our weight, and our health. Let me be clear eating a diet of quarter pounders with cheese, chocolate chip cookies and doughnuts isn’t good for you and what I’m writing about shouldn’t be an excuse to go off the rails, BUT the food isn’t the problem, our heart is.

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Brunch at The Four Seasons

Is He filling you up or food?

I write this to you knowing that I have the exact same struggles and I have to tell myself this daily. How many of you have a skinny friend who seems to be able to eat cheeseburgers, fries and a cookie, but still is a size zero? I truly believe that the heart and the mind are the source of our struggle with our weight and how we fill about ourselves. We must see fueling our body as doing what is best, to honor what God has given us and instead seeking Him to help us with our desire for food and fulfill our needs, wants and desires.

So then, have your minds ready for action. Keep alert and set your hope completely on the blessing which will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:13 (GNT)

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Are you ready to do battle?

What is fuel?

So if we can understand that fuel is not just about  food, but guarding our mind and changing our mindset about what food is then fuel becomes not just about what we eat, but what we watch, what we read, what we listen to, who influences us and how we feed our mind, body and soul.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things. Philippians 4:8  (BSB)

Let your brain make your decisions not your feelings.

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via GIPHY

The core of who we are and what we believe starts with our brain, not with our feelings. Our feelings are powerful, they should be acknowledged, but they should not determine every decision we make, our mind should. So often our feelings are unreasonable, fleeting and most often regrettable, so why should we trust them to make all of our decisions. In order to make sound decisions, and our life is a series of decisions made every minute of the day, we should guard, and fight for the health of our mind. We should be intentional with everything we ingest, not just our food. For so long we have believed the lie that we can separate what we see, or feel or listen from the decisions that we make.   1 Peter 1:13, Colossians 3:2}

Feed on that which is above and not that which is in The Earth. Col. 3:2 (ABPE)

Fight for your mind, because no one else will.

I say all this to make you aware, to cause you to think, to question what you are watching, reading, listening to. From my perspective the brain of someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, is that we are much more susceptible and we should go to great lengths to protect it, and to give it the best chance of thriving. Don’t we all want to thrive in this life, a life of abundance, no one wants to limp along doing just enough to get by. Not only do we want to leave a legacy for our children, but we want to stand before God at the end of this life, with our head held high, knowing we did everything we could to live our best life, and protecting this body that He gave us.

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.

Proverbs 4:23 (CEV)

The Fundamental Five: Fitness.

Why exercise is a must.

A year ago I was in a complete standstill when it came to my work-out. I just couldn’t get in a rhythm, and nothing was sticking. I’d work-out for several weeks in a row, and then I’d go weeks without working out. On top of all this I was struggling with serious depression. My capacity to do very much was low and my anxiety was high.
In the midst of my third major depressive disorder I knew I had to find some solutions, some ways of living well with anxiety and depression. I knew my faith was priority number one, after seeing all that God had gotten me through over the years, but I needed more. I needed some practical things I could do to change my brain, my mood and my body.

Exercise changes your brain.

I was shocked at the statistics regarding the effects of exercise on our mental health. I was baffled. Why hadn’t someone explained to me the connection between exercise and your brain. Had I known then what I know now I would’ve made fitness a much bigger priority. Not only did exercise improve your mood by producing endorphins, but things like weight lifting decreased your risk for depression, exercise helped alleviate anxiety and for me losing weight helped me feel better which also helped keep my depression at bay. I knew that I had to find a way to make exercise a priority, and a part of my daily life. It was no longer about my weight or appearance, it was about my brain.

 

“There’s good epidemiological data to suggest that active people are less depressed than inactive people. And people who were active and stopped tend to be more depressed than those who maintain or initiate an exercise program,” says James Blumenthal, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Duke University.

THE SOLUTION.

For me at home work-outs allowed me to do all the things I wanted without compromising the things that were important to me. I joined a virtual accountability groups where I got daily support, motivation and recipes/tips. It’s honestly been the best, easiest, and most effective way for me to work-out. I have been working out for 15 months consistently, which has never happened. I love the variety of the workouts, how well laid out and practical the healthy eating is as well as the LONG-TERM approach to getting healthy. Even with my injury I can still incorporate the work-outs between my walks and my swimming.

Exercise may boost a depressed person’s outlook by helping him return to meaningful activity and providing a sense of accomplishment. Then there’s the fact that a person’s responsiveness to stress is moderated by activity. “Exercise may be a way of biologically toughening up the brain so stress has less of a central impact,” Otto says.

MAKING FITNESS A WAY OF LIFE.

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I’d love to help you reach your goals and commit to working out, seeing your depression and anxiety decrease and get in shape along the way. I can help you do this by customizing support, keeping you motivated, accountable, and sharing what is working for me! I truly believe in order to live well with anxiety and depression, exercise is a must. Even if what I do isn’t right for you, I hope you understand the value of making fitness a priority for your overall mental health.

Fellow warrior,

Sara

She is energetic and STRONG, a hard worker. Proverbs 31:17 NLT

Sara’s Coach Website

Interested in changing things up? I’m starting another group on October 29th to help us get ready for the holidays. Wouldn’t it be awesome to feel great for the holidays both mentally and physically? Fill out one of my accountability applications  or Email me I’d love to help you!

The Exercise Effect

Five daily practices to live well with anxiety and depression.

  Awareness is good, but solutions are what we need.

More people are committing suicide every day, and more young adults are on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds than ever before. Awareness is all the buzz, but no real change has come from it. We are being educated on how to identify mental illness, famous people are openly discussing their mental health battles (Mariah Carey, Demi Lovato), doctors and therapists teaching are us about the disease and while all of these things are necessary and good they aren’t affecting real change.

Concrete solutions to mental health lead to concrete change.

One of the reasons I started writing and researching depression and anxiety was because what was out there left me feeling empty and more hopeless. I couldn’t be the only one frustrated with what the world was offering. Nothing I read left me encouraged, in fact most of what I found left me hopeless. Books and articles that say things like “this is your new normal, this is your life.”   Out of this frustration came the passion and drive to find real solutions. Solutions, for how to live every day well whether I’m depressed or not. Even if I never get depression again or I don’t struggle with these issues, we ALL want to live our best life, a life of abundance. So how do we actually do that? How do we make lasting change, and take control of our disease instead of letting it control us.

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More self-help books than you know what to do with……but do they really help and can they be implemented?

 1. Faith

Faith is number one for a reason; because there is no hope without faith. Scrolling through Twitter, watching the news, or spending more than ten minutes on social media you’ll realize that what the world has to offer empty. There are so many people, that are hurting, crying for help, hopeless, and feel lost. There have been seasons where I have been far away from God, sought out other things to either numb the pain or run away from it, and it never works, and in the end, I always came back to my faith. The only way to truly combat the demons that we face is to be grounded in God’s Word. Hope and Laughter was born out of Romans 12:2 “do not be conformed to the pattern of the world but instead be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I loved this verse because there was so much hope that my brain could change, could be renewed and now there is science to prove it.

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Spending time in God’s Word changes the way we think and the way we perceive our life. Couldn’t we all use a change in perspective?

2. Fitness

This one took me awhile to be honest. I never really enjoyed working out and the only time I did was when I was paying someone to hold me accountable. After I had Priscilla that was no longer feasible, not just the financial aspect, but honestly the time. Time was always an issue, finding someone to watch the kids, my husband’s work schedule. It just never seemed to line up. When I finally got in a groove and found what worked for me, it became a habit. A habit that I saw not only changed me physically but changed my attitude and decreased my anxiety. I started researching the benefits of exercise and couldn’t believe how beneficial it was.  Exercise alters your mood by increasing endorphins, helps decrease your anxiety, and decreases your risk for depression. I soon realized that fitness was a must not a maybe.

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If you would’ve asked me even 5 years ago if I would’ve attempted to do a triathlon I would’ve said that’s reserved for real athletes, not me.

How do we make lasting change, and take control of our disease instead of letting it control us? 

 3. Fuel

For the longest time I thought that fuel was only about what you ate. Fueling your body, with healthy foods, would keep your body in tip top shape, but that wasn’t motivation enough for me. At the time I found most healthy foods to be boring, and fueling my body the right way just sounded like a daunting task. Once I realized that Fuel was not just about what you ate, but about what you read, what you watched, what you listened to my perspective changed. These were all things that were fueling your body, mind, soul and spirit. It mattered how you were fueling your body because it affected your mind. The mind was my motivation.

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Fuel isn’t just about what we eat…….but what we read, watch, listen to and fill our hearts and minds with. Adults are just as impressionable as children……

  4. Fellowship

Fellowship may seem like a stretch or for a daunting task if you’re in the throes of depression. Certain seasons fellowship is really hard, but fellowship is much more than just texting friends or scrolling through social media and commenting on someone’s post. Fellowship is about developing real relationships with  real people. People that will meet you where you’re at with what you are able to give.  Face to face conversations. The world says do everything independently, and God says we are one body with many parts, but all the parts are necessary to make the body. We are called to be in community. True success both relationally and mentally require community. There are different levels of community and different seasons of fellowship, either way it is necessary.

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Real community will change your life, your heart, broaden your perspective and force you outside of yourself. How much more do we learn from relationships versus a book. The Bible is a book filled with relationships that are broken, messy and redemptive. Real people with real problems and real redemption.

5. Freedom

Freedom is the one we need most and the one we make the least amount of time for. Proverbs says where there is no vision the people perish. God has put a purpose and a dream in our hearts and we must find time to pursue that. Whatever it is, wherever you are, with what you have. For me my freedom was found in writing. It was an outlet for me that left me renewed after I spent time writing, not depleted. Whatever your passion is  whether cooking, writing code (that’s my husband’s), photography, or anything that leaves you fueled instead of depleted take the time every day to pursue it. You don’t need to cook a gourmet meal for twenty people or develop your own software. It can be as simple as looking through a cookbook, buying a magazine about home decor whatever it is it will renew your mind, replenish your soul and fuel your day. We were created for a purpose and our purpose is more than getting by but living abundantly.

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My happy place. One of the best presents I’ve ever gotten…….A place where I can pursue my passion.

Sara

 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:1

Thwarted Plans

When things don’t go as planned.

So often we make plans, and somehow, we’re surprised when these plans are thwarted. Whether by our own decisions or the result of someone else’s decisions, things don’t go how we thought they would. Either way an unrealized dream or an unexpected change in our path can be very upsetting, sometimes heartbreaking. I have realized that the source of my depression lies in this space. Whether my father committing suicide, and changing the course of my childhood, or the choices I made in my early twenties as a result of so much anger and confusion that led me to drink and drive and put myself and others at risk, to becoming a mom and not immediately falling in love with being a mom and my new baby that I couldn’t wait to meet.

Dreams and Depression.

This last week I was hit with a smaller version of that, something that would forever change things. For the past year I have been working hard to get in shape and attempt my first sprint triathlon. As part of my road to recovery after my third round of depression, my therapist and I had talked about my dreams and things that I wanted to do. Part of what makes a dream a dream, is pursuing something you thought you never could. Competing in a triathlon is definitely one of those.

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How fitness affects our body.

I’ve never been athletic, I’ve never played in sports, but I’ve loved to swim, and after I gave birth to my son I began running. My pregnancy with my daughter was one for the books. It put me through the ringer, and I spent 16 months in physical therapy with limited abilities to work-out. After I finished my PT, I decided working out had to be a priority not just for my physical health, but my mental health. I know that not being active during that time definitely sustained if not worsened my depression. I needed to set a goal and baby step my way there. I spent 9 months working my butt off, getting in shape and making my health a priority. When I finally felt in shape I began running and the first time I ran I had a terrible knee injury and spent weeks with a swollen knee. I brushed it off and visited the chiropractor and thought surely there was a solution and I just needed to baby step my way even in running. I tried running again and the same thing happened, a swollen knee, that left me hurting and day to day activities were painful. Finally, I got up the courage to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon and what he told me was gut wrenching. He said Sara you have the knee of a 62-year-old and you can never run again. You need to change your entire work-out program, you need only engage in low-impact activities, limited squats, and lunges.

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My anger could lead to more depression.

My world was rocked. I haven’t cried that hard, been that angry in a long time. I yelled, I screamed I hit the wall, both literally and figuratively. How could this be? In the past year I have changed my life drastically, put my health as my number one priority, worked hard, and made life long changes. I was devastated. I could see the fear in my husband’s eye, he was scared this would send me back…..back there. You know the lowest of low. Hopelessness. While things weren’t going how I planned, I rejoiced in my external anger. I know that may sound silly, but my anger was a victory. A victory that I was expressing not repressing my emotions.

I could see the fear in my husband’s eye, he was scared this would send me back…..back there.

I was deeply disappointed, things WILL forever change, but I’m still determined to reach my goal, it may not be on my timeline (my 40thbirthday), and yes, it may be different, but I can still fulfill it.  I now begin a new journey of pursuing fitness with an injury and getting to focus on my favorite part nutrition. This mama loves to be in the kitchen. So, while I won’t be competing in this year’s Spa Girl Tri and there will need to be adjustments in my work-out routine, I’m not giving up or throwing in the towel. The road did not end it just took a new turn.

Here’s to seeing where that turn will take me,

Sara

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

 

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

 

My first attempt at a Vlog, (yes that is a word), sharing a little bit about my journey with Hope and Laughter, and the things that I have struggled with whether through faith, writing, fitness, diet, pretty much all of it.

 

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5 Unexpected Lessons from our Detox

When Mark and I set out to do this detox, to say I was skeptical was an understatement. We have done detox’s before and sometimes have been successful and other times we gave up before we finished. The times we were successful, there were some small changes, but nothing really big. The times that we didn’t finish I was so burned out from all the prep, and planning, that I just threw in the towel. There were always parties to go to and with a lot of toddlers running around, a glass of wine was frankly too hard to pass up. I have to say this was different. I bought the Ultimate Reset back in July, and I had just started getting into a work-out routine and this sounded like a great idea. When I got the box in the mail I was more than a little intimidated. That box sat in my pantry for 6 months, until I finally got up the courage to set a date. January 15th. My best friend’s birthday party was on the 13th and I wasn’t about to watch everyone have fun cocktails while I sipped on my water. When I finally made the commitment and completed the detox, I was more than amazed at the things I learned.

  1. I actually like vegetables. I like vegetables, but can get bored with them and struggle to always want to eat them unless they are smothered in salad dressing, or covered in cheese. This reset showed me so many great recipes and fun and new ways to eat and season them that I actually loved.  So many of the recipes I will be using even after the detox is over.
  2. If there is a specific plan I can do it. Mark and I did a 10 day detox just about every January, and one of the reasons we found it so easy was that it told me EXACTLY what to eat and when. When I did Whole 30, while there were recipes and many ideas of what to eat, I still had to come up with a meal plan and figure out what we were having for every meal.  Having a set menu made things much easier and less stressful.
  3. I love wine, but…… Mark and I enjoy having a good glass of wine or a mixed drink. What we discovered through the detox is yeah, one glass of wine isn’t a big deal, BUT for me if I have more than one I tend to make unhealthy eating choices, I’m completely unproductive and I sleep poorly. Mark and I both agree that neither one of us have ever slept as well as we did on this detox. I mean the way I used to sleep before I had kids. (I know many parents have given up on ever sleeping that well again.)
  4. Perfection doesn’t have to take place in order to be successful. Throughout my fitness and health journey I have to come to realize how destructive perfectionism is. Perfectionism sets you up for failure, feeds your insecurities, and puts your focus on the wrong things. Week 3 was probably the hardest week, Mark traveled, I had major PMS and was the most restrictive in terms of the diet. Normally I’d just give up and give in to my cravings, but I wanted to be successful and watching Mark loose so much weight was motivation enough. I was hungrier and instead of beating myself up, I upped my quantities of food, but stuck to the meal plan so I was full, and successful. I had to realize what was going to work for me, not what I was “supposed” to do.
  5. I can do the thing I never thought I could. I know so many people had their doubts about this detox, a gradual shift to a completely vegan diet. If you would’ve told me 3 weeks ago, that I couldn’t do this, I would’ve agreed with you. I’ve tried GF/DF diets before and never lasted. My focus was on all the things I couldn’t eat instead of finding things I could. The biggest reason for my success was the food was great. Sweet Potato bisque with red bell pepper was to die for, and today I ate lentil lime salad for lunch!!!!!! Y’all I chose to eat this, the detox is over, and I chose to eat this. I haven’t had sweets in 22 days. Yes, I had a glass of wine during the Super Bowl, but it was worth it. Being able to say I did this was more than just about doing a detox and getting thin, I proved to myself that I could do something I never thought I could which is almost as exciting as fitting in my skinny jeans.

Sara

Interested in doing a detox?  Email me.

 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. II Timothy 1:7

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The Why

This can’t be happening again? That’s the question I asked myself a year ago when I was diagnosed with depression for the third time. After an almost complete lifestyle change how am I here again? All these questions, lead me here, writing a blog post, putting myself out there, and seeing what happens. The fact that I’m even writing a blog post is laughable enough. I have no professional skill, I’m not a good writer, I’ve never been published, the list goes on.  The one thing I do have is experience and if I don’t share my experiences, everything I learned and am learning, all the tools, encouragement and knowledge I’ve gained over the past 22 years is wasted. 

Struck by lightning, electrocuted, hair standing on end, with my finger still stuck in the socket, pretty much sums it up.  I didn’t see it coming, one day I was driving the car on cruise control, with the top down, my hair blowing and jamming to some Rihanna, the next day, I’m in the backseat, someone else is driving and I have no idea how I get there. Depression, wasn’t supposed to come back, not now, in my mind not ever. I had beat it. Eight years, with no issues, a healthy marriage, financially stable, two healthy children, an abundance of family and friends. It just didn’t make sense. Hadn’t I done all the “right” things to prevent it? The first two times I got depression made sense to me. This one didn’t. There was no big drama in my life, no life changing event, (from my perspective), so why now? 

So this time around was going to be different, I was mad, I was equipped, still depressed, but ready to do battle. I knew what to expect, or so I thought. Things weren’t going how I planned, the tools that had worked before weren’t working anymore, I was actually becoming depressed, about being depressed again. You can see how this could become a vicious cycle. A vicious cycle that could lead me plummeting down a mountain into a ditch I could never get out of. It was hard enough the first two times, but this time seemed even worse. 

 How could someone at 38 years old get her third round of depression, and feel completely hopeless, and utterly dumbfounded. In an age where information is everywhere, resources are abundant, and communication is accessible, why was there nothing out there? Why is all the information about depression discouraging, hopeless and completely out of touch?  Why are the authors of the majority of books about depression being written by those who’ve never experienced it? The list of questions could go on. Basically I found no hope for someone like me. So instead of trying to search for hope, laughter, joy, encouragement and peace, I decided I’d create it for myself, and maybe just maybe, share it with others. 

#hopeandlaughter #anxiety #depression #iamnottheonlyone #thewhy

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