WHAT IS SAVING ME AND OTHERS FROM DEPRESSION AND ADDICTION?

There are many skillful counselors and psychologists in the world who truly are committed to doing great work. My Master’s Degree is in Counseling and I worked as a counselor for a short time and met many who were committed to sincerely helping others. I also attended counseling off and on for 10 years for depression, bereavement, addiction problems, low self-esteem, and trauma. My counselor helped me to change my life in so many ways but I believe the biggest thing he did for me was insisting that I exercise. I was 345 lbs, a pack a day smoker, and miserable. I had failed or dropped out of college 6 times and worked in jobs that I hated.  As I began to exercise, I also began to see that I was feeling better emotionally and clearer mentally. I slowly started to become confident, learn how to cope with adverse life events in a healthy way, and achieve goals in life I had continuously failed at. I responded more mindfully during relational disagreements and learned how to study to educate myself. There is a growing body of research that is showing how exercise can impact our mental and emotional health in positive ways. In one study, depressed people were assigned to three groups. One group was assigned to a traditional counseling group, another a relaxation group, and a third a run at your own pace group. After twelve weeks all groups reported improvements in mood. But three months later, only the running and relaxation groups reported continued improvements in mood and psychological wellbeing. There are many more studies that support this. I support this because I am a living example of neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. I witness many a people a day as well also manage their mental and emotional health with physical exercise. Depression is not a healthy state to be in. It affects the body in so many ways from heart disease and brain disorders to cancers. It is possible to recover from depression if you treat it with appropriate wellness practices like exercise. Seek help if you need it but help yourself with exercise. It is vital to you and those who love you to begin as soon as possible. Please BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!

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My Birthday Gift To You

I turned another year older today. Yesterday I was one age and today I am another. The one thing that I have learned in my over five decades of life is that things can change in an instant. People who loved you may not anymore. People that didn’t may now believe you are the greatest thing since sliced bread. The first 30 years of my life were spent trying to understand why I was dealt the hand I was dealt and why I was cursed with addictions, shame, depression, and poor relationships. I could not figure out why I could not stop what cost me the promise that so many said I was capable of. I was simply lost and did not know what to do. And then I learned my life’s greatest lesson. A friend told me that every decision I had made in my life had put me right where I was. Homelessness, misery, bitterness, and underachieving in every area of life. My decision.  At first when he said this I felt sorry for myself but he cautioned me not too. He said right now you are a slave to your own mind and do not know it. You let life create you and now you have freedom. Freedom to choose a great and happy life. Freedom to create strength, good health, and fulfillment. This is knowledge you may not have had. Once you have the knowledge it is yours to create the life you deserve or continue the same path you are on. I chose to be free and to quit blaming life and to start living it fully. I have met NO ONE who has a smooth life all of the time. Life is hard but how you react to it really matters. Like my age it can change in an instant and you can too. Please be present with how you respond to adverse life events. Be prepared by taking care of your health, finances, and relationships. Be free to be the best you can be. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!

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IS ADDICTION A CHOICE? MAYBE NOT

I was listening to the radio the other day and the sports talk hosts were blasting a football player seeking reinstatement after a suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The player was a former all star who had failed multiple drug tests and had not played football in over three years due to the suspension. The hosts I am sure have never struggled with anything in life and believe that their opinion was right when it comes to addiction and the ability to overcome the struggle many of us face daily. They said it is just a choice. Many of us know that it is more than that. Whether it is a food, drugs, sex, gambling, or another addiction, it is genetic, psychological, environmental, and physical. It is far more than a choice. It is a brain disorder that once it becomes hardwired into us, it is almost impossible to manage without help and treatment. Addiction is so complicated that most researchers cannot fully explain it. But so many people judge it. How we coped with life in puberty, genetics, our home growing up, and many other factors play a role in the choice. Many of us are given a hand genetically that automatically will create an addiction if all of the cards are placed right in our young lives. The brain is such a powerful force that when it becomes hardwired into an addiction, it does not matter whether you are an all star athlete or day laborer. It will overtake you, keep you hostage, and cause you shame, guilt, loss of loved ones, and terrible internal and physical pain. It becomes not a choice but something that we cannot control and wished in every way that we could. Please understand that no one shames, judges, or hates the addiction more than the person going through the struggle. It takes a complete rewiring of the brain, the body, and environments. If you are struggling in addiction and sincerely want to overcome it, seek treatment. It takes some work but you can recover and ultimately live a life that is happy, healthy, and fulfilled. Be resilient and surround yourself with people who understand, love and challenge you. Begin as soon as possible to get healthy in every way you can. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!

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PLEASE GET HELP

If you are struggling in any area of your life, please seek help. If you are having a hard time managing food, drink, drugs, mood, emotions, or are being abused in any way, it is vital to your overall wellbeing to get the help you need. Do not keep trying to solve the problem yourself, hope that it goes away, or that someone else will change. Begin immediately to seek help, get rid of denial, and to study yourself for personal growth. Become the person you were meant to be; a happy, fulfilled, and healthy version of the best you possible. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!

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FOOD CAN BE MAKING YOU SUFFER MORE…IT DID ME

I struggled for years with Major Depressive Disorder, constant mood swings, impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and lack of focus (ADHD). My outlook and relationships suffered, my self-esteem was very low, and life was miserable in ALL areas. I ate fast food on a daily basis, processed sugars and carbohydrates on a “several times daily” basis, and by the time I was in my early thirties I was over 300 pounds and in both physical and emotional pain. The weight I had gained from my food choices helped to create knee and back pain, the confidence of a “scaredy cat” and a dim outlook in life. I also had failed or dropped out of college six times due to my inability to learn and focus. And none if this was caused by what happened as a child or any other exterior source of blame. It was simply what I fed my body and mind.

New Research Shows That Food Affects Brain Function and Mood

“New” research out of Denmark is showing how the food I was consuming played a central role in my mood, physical pain, and the yo-yo I could never seem to unleash myself from. Certain foods, specifically processed sugars and carbohydrates create a response in our gut microbiota and brain that ultimately affect mood and behavior. The research is showing that when we consume foods that are high in processed sugars and unhealthy fats our bodies produce lower amounts of the things we naturally need to stay happy. Our bodies begin to rely on the unhealthy food to produce the “happy stuff” within our bodies, leading to a reliance on food and other sources for comfort and elevated mood. And because it is only a temporary “happy pill” we need to consume more and will still ultimately experience the depressive states that we are trying to avoid. The Denmark research study also shows that the unhealthy food choices lead to inflammation in the body which slows down the production of healthy neurons as we age and LARGELY impacts memory and our ability to learn. ADHD, Major Depressive Disorder, Alzheimer’s and other mental diseases are all affected by the food we eat. NOW WONDER I COULDN’T LEARN, WAS DEPRESSED ALL OF THE TIME, AND COULD NOT CONTROL MY IRRITABILITY AND IMPULSIVENESS!

Time For a New Strategy For Holistic/Integrative Health

I am certainly not trying to be offensive to my friends in the medical community when I say that it is time for some changes in the way we treat mental health disorders. I understand that medication is necessary in some cases but not most. The people that I work with that suffer from depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other mental health diseases do not seem to get better with medication. They may not get worse and now are able to “manage” the disorders with meds but I have seen few that actually become happy, calm, and fully present in daily life. It did not work for me either. What did work for me and many that I work with was changing the food that was put into our bodies, adding exercise, working on outlook and automatic negative world views, and having nonjudgmental but challenging support through the process. Supplementing with b-complex, fish oils, and vitamin d3 also helped as did meditation and daily SINCERE gratitude for life. It is not a pill and takes some work but ultimately will help with much of the suffering we deal with in our mental health because we are producing the “happy stuff” within our bodies ourselves and not relying on exterior, short term, and quick fix sources.

Start Today

The beginning of each day is a chance to start over with a fresh slate. “Yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift and why we call it the present.” Today is your chance to start over with the way you treat your physical and mental health. You can choose to feed yourself healthy foods, exercise, and the way you respond to the events in the day. You can choose to learn and grow, inspire, support, love, and compliment. You can choose to read materials that help you grow, to serve others who struggle, and to become the healthiest you mentally and physically. Beginning today you can choose to BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!

The Fitness For Everyone Else and Build YOUR Healthy Life Programs are evidence based, healthy, and safe lifestyle modification programs designed especially for people who struggle to maintain healthy habits. If you need help with exercise but don’t want to go through misery the Fitness For Everyone Else is the program for you. The Build YOUR Healthy Life Program helps participants learn how to manage food, negative emotion, exercise, and life in a healthier way. Each program has helped hundreds of people make permanent positive health choices. Please join us!
We have gym, home, and online programs for everyone.

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PLEASE BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

It is so important to our health, happiness, and overall functioning to have goals and to strive to better ourselves in every facet of our lives. Whether its’ trying to improve strength levels after age 40, losing weight, or managing your finances; self-improvement is necessary for our growth as humans. Where many people struggle with growth is the need for people close to them to believe in them and the goal they have chosen. I witness and have experienced criticism from family members who give negative feedback when a goal is shared with them. I have also witnessed and have experienced giving up on the goal because of this feedback. I am pleading with you not to make them responsible for your success or failure. While support from others is important, believing in yourself is vital. A lot of people do not believe in you because they do not believe in themselves. They have bought into the words of others who did not believe in them or they simply do not want to put forth the effort to reach a goal. Please believe in yourself!  I will acknowledge that accomplishing things in life is extremely difficult and requires resiliency, focus, and determination. The fulfillment and abilities you gain from the experience will far outweigh the cost. One of those abilities gained is the belief in yourself. Once you realize that you have the abilities to reach goals, what other people say or their belief in you will matter less and less. Your belief in you will matter more and more. Learn from others who have reached the goal you are seeking and do not give energy to the naysayers. When you struggle to make progress in the goal you are seeking, study the people more who have been successful in that goal. And believe in yourself because you can. Begin as soon as possible. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!

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MORE TO HEALTH THAN EXERCISE

I work with many different types of people. Some are athletic and have a history of exercise while others are just beginning. Some eat healthy most of the time and others struggle to manage food and drink with boundaries. There is no question that exercise and what we eat are important to our health but that is just part of being an overall healthy person. There are so many factors that impact our health in a positive or negative way and we do not include these factors enough when addressing our health. And these factors do not matter if you have exercised your whole life or have always eaten in a healthy manner. Here are just a couple of things that deeply impact our health..

Stress

It is so important to manage emotional reaction to stress and the thought processes you have when placed in a stressful situation. You notice I did not say that we should manage stress differently. I read a lot where we should manage stress differently but I like to be more direct and specific. The stress will never go away. From my experience and what I observe of others, there will always be stress no matter who we are. The way we manage our response to stress impacts our overall health in either a positive or negative way. For years I would get upset when stressful situations would arise, trying to control the situation instead of my response to the situation. It did not work well. Learn to manage your stress response for your health. Each healthy practice that we engage in will help to manage our stress response but it begins with intentional mindfulness and self-awareness that the way we are reacting to stress could be healthier.

Optimism

There are so many health benefits to an optimistic view of life. Pessimists tend to have more depression, physical ailments and disabilities, and struggle to work through life’s problems in a healthy manner. There is a direct correlation between depression and many diseases of the body including heart disease and many cancers. The ability to respond in a healthy way to difficult events in life such as a health scare will also be impacted by your outlook. Your overall quality of life and functioning improve with optimism.

“In a study on a population of elderly subjects of both sexes, aged between 65-85 years, Giltay et al. noted that dispositional optimism predicted less probability of mortality in general and of cardiovascular mortality in particular. These data have been confirmed in a subsequent longitudinal study on a population of males aged between 64 – 84 years in which an inverse correlation was reported between dispositional optimism and the risk of cardiovascular death.”

“It has been demonstrated that in the presence of severe pathological conditions, optimistic patients adapt better to stressful situations compared to pessimists, with positive repercussions on their quality of life. For example, in a sample of patients who underwent an aortic-coronary bypass, optimism was significantly and positively associated with quality of life in the six months following the operation [39]. The optimistic patients in fact presented a more rapid clinical improvement during the period of hospitalization and a quicker return to daily routine after discharge from hospital.”

Optimism is not what people traditionally consider positive thinking but rather a true belief system where the individual trusts that there will be a good outcome from events in life. Optimism has even been the key to people living healthy in horrible conditions such as concentration camps or as a prisoner of war. Believe that you have the skills to work through life’s curves and remember that you have worked through things in the past that were difficult.

It is so important to take care of your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. I was told once that our lives are like a table, with those four areas the legs that hold us up. When one of those legs are out of balance, the whole table (our body and mind) is out of balance. Please exercise and stay as strong as you can. Manage your emotional responses to life events by being present with yourself and by management from the inside out. Improve your mental health with the first two, through study of self and by being honest with what you struggle with. Be careful with what you give energy and focus to and check yourself often to make sure you are giving energy to love, success, service, and learning. If you struggle get help like I did. Do it as soon as possible. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!

www.miraclesofphoenixfitness.com