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Prescription: One Bicycle; use three times a week.
When I was thirty-three I was overweight and at just over 250 pounds had developed unseen heart disease. My life pump was weak and plugged with plaque. Once my doctor had figured out what was wrong he gave me two choices. One was for open heart surgery using a medical form of roto-rooter and then pills for the rest of my life, which he predicted would be shorten greatly by my condition or get a bike and start riding.
I took the second suggestion, lost the weight and never looked back. My body healed itself once I gave it a chance with regular exercise and a better diet. Now I am sixty two and still ride three times a week or more. I operate a bike rental shop when I am not with a client as a counsellor. Now cycling and therapy have merged in my blog www.cycle-therapy.ca. I have gotten hundreds of clients cycling over the years as their first step towards physical and mental health. Along with cognitive behavior therapy and sometimes even medications my clients have seen amazing improvements in both their physical and mental health as they have taken control of their personal lives through exercise and diet. Counselling helps and sometimes even meds are needed by without exercise and diet all the counselling and meds in the world would not have helped them.
We live in bodies that have evolved over the last few million years with systems that we have developed to keep us alive so we could get our genes into the next generation. If we were eaten by lions or starved to death our contribution to future generations could be limited. Those who survived passed on their genes to us and made us who we are today. So don’t be in denial, you are an advanced highly evolved animal, so get over it and move on with this knowledge. Your fight or flight mechanism is a fine tuned system that evolved over the eons to keep you alive. Your gene pool could never have predicted modern society which has developed over the last few hundred years. You probably haven’t been chased by a lion for a few days and you also have not had to search for food lately either. But you have been stressed out by your boss, wife, children, traffic and bank lineups which your body interprets no differently than been harassed by lions and your fridge, full of calories, is always waiting only a few steps away. This has resulted in most of us having our systems flooded with the go fast hormones our body creates from stress combined with an endless supply of calories. This unique combination has given us diabetes, obesity, heart disease, arthritis, immune disorders as well as anxiety, depression and sleep disorders.
You can do something about this and it’s never too late. I recommend cycling or power walking for exercise as running is tough unless you are already into it. Start slow and expect it to be uncomfortable until you form the habit and become addicted to it. Your lying cheating body will try to get out of it with sudden aches and pains but ignore this, unless it is chest pains, and get on with it.
When you exercise regularly (anaerobically) you will not only burn off excess calories but also the go fast hormones you created through stress. When you eat what you need versus what you want you will find your tastes will change. Avoid red meats, eat more chicken and fish, and base your food intake around nuts, fruits and vegetables. Once you get these two areas under control you may still need to see a cognitive behavior therapist to help extinguish negative behaviors and thinking. Some may even need to use SSRIs or other prescription drugs but if you do what you can with exercise and diet you may need far less interventions from therapists or doctors. It’s up to you, deal with these issues by handing control over to doctors and therapists or take control over your life and then you may only need them to tweak your new found improvements.
You can do this! I have and hundreds of my clients have. I have watched this process in myself and others for almost thirty years and I plan on doing it for awhile yet.
Riding in the Heat
We are made to ride in the heat. We evolved on the plains of Africa with the ability to run down big game. Those who still hunt this way can run down a deer. These prey animals can have great bursts of speed but we have endurance. While they run away fast, so that the Lion is lost in their dust, humans just trotting behind them and tracking them could eventually catch up to them and make the kill. This could take hours or even days but we humans were designed to just keep on going, eating up the miles before getting to eat up the deer. There are still cultures in Africa and the Americas that pride themselves in being able to run what we would consider ultra marathons. But even in our modern culture of automobiles and skytrains we still are proud of our athletes who can run for miles and look good doing it.
Cyclists have the advantage of an evolutionary body that is built to run and one of the greatest inventions of humankind, the bicycle. This amazing machine in its modern form can give you the endurance training your body really wants as well as making you comfortable and efficient as you fly down the road. The bike takes the stress on your body that you get from running and turns that into motion. Rather than putting pressure on your knees, hips and feet, not to mention your spine, from the impact of running a bike, especially one with shocks and one that is fit right, will let you go for miles where only blocks were possible before. So now a person who is in shape can ride a hundred kilometers while on foot they may be able to do a third of that. With proper gear you can ride year round.
Riding in the heat is not a matter of gear but using your brain. Some people believe in sunscreen, so if that’s your thing slather it on. Personally I think all the chemicals in sunscreen give you cancer and stops your body from making Vitamin D but that is an opinion. But what most people underestimate is the amount of water you need on a long hot ride. Because the sweat is evaporating off you as you ride in the wind you create you may not notice how hard you are sweating until you stop. I personally don’t use a camel back as I have watched numerous friends make themselves sick because they didn’t keep them sterile. I use a water bottle and fill it regularly throughout the ride if I can. If I know that drinkable water will be scarce I pack a few extra water bottles and make sure a full one is waiting for me at the end of the ride. Most of the exhaustion, headaches and nausea people feel from riding in the heat are because of dehydration. Another issue people have is dealing with glare from the road and from the grit that comes from the dust when the landscape dries out from the heat. Sunglasses can really help with this. Of course you are wearing a helmet; just make sure yours has a sun visor on it.
I worked and rode in Cuba for five years and really put this to the test. I never had issues if I planned my ride, ensured my water source and paced myself. Some days there I rode a hundred km but nearly always twenty or more.
So enjoy the weather, use your muscles and your brain and you will do much better riding in the heat.
Cycling in New Westminster and Beyond.
New Westminster is the hub of cycling for all of the lower mainland. Most bike routes go through New West. Surrey, Richmond, Burnaby and Coquitlam all have routes that pass through New West on three major routes, the BC Parkway, the Central Valley Greenway and the Queensborough Loop.
The BC Parkway is the oldest dedicated bike route in the lower Mainland. It connects New West with Burnaby and on into Vancouver. From it you can access the outlying cities of Richmond, Surrey and Coquitlam. It needs an upgrade and better signage but it is a great ride if you are looking for a two hour ride from New West to Central Park in Burnaby and then back. It climbs all the way up to Central Park and then descends all the way into East Vancouver and then links to the downtown area. It parallels the original Sky Train route and was built at the same time for World Fair. Great as it is, it does have some problems, especially around the 22nd street Sky Train Station. When the Alex Fraser Bridge was built Stewardson Way and the Queensborough Bridge were also rebuilt, which improved this bike route but also complicated it. To make matters worse, even though they spent millions on improving this bike route with its new links, which use the tail end of the Queensborough bridge, they failed terribly by providing no or inadequate signage. Most of the maps can help cyclists but without signage most cyclists end up taking the old route which leads either onto 6th avenue or on to the wrong side of Stewardson with the confused and terrified cyclist facing oncoming traffic. Until signage is improved by Translink follow these simple directions. When descending from Burnaby into New West turn down towards the Queensborough bridge just before you get to the 22nd street station. Follow this trail past the dog park and on to the tail end of the Queensborough bridge and then take the first right and descend off the bridge. This will swing you back under the bridge and onto Stewardson heading east and right down to the Quay Boardwalk. Those riding up from New West to Burnaby ride up under the bridge and ride up the ramp to the bridge, then follow the tail end of the bridge towards 22nd street and then up the BC Parkway to Central Park and beyond.
In downtown New West the BC Parkway connects to the Central Valley Greenway right at River Market on the Quay boardwalk. This route then heads north on Columbia right past the Pattullo Bridge (there is your link to Surrey) and into Sapperton where it goes right by the Royal Columbian Hospital. It continues through Hume Park before it follows the Brunette River west passing by Burnaby Lake all the way into Vancouver. This new route was finished a few years ago and is a great way to get into Vancouver, avoiding most of the hills and giving the rider lots of scenery on a dedicated safe bike trail.
The Queensborough Loop is a great twenty kilometer circle ride beginning at Pier Park on the Quay in New West up and over the Queensborough bridge and around the North end of Lulu Island. This is an easy, scenic and safe ride that also links to the BC Parkway into Burnaby or into Richmond via the Westminster Highway. It also sets you up to get to all of the links to Delta and beyond.
Cap’s Bike Rentals is now located right on the Central Valley Greenway at the original Cap’s Bicycle Shop at 434 Columbia and at their new location Cap’s Bike Rentals at River Market located right at the junction of the Central Valley Greenway and the BC Parkway. Cap’s is now working with Fraser River Bike Tours to provide rental bikes and tours for all of these great rides, especially if you want to ride them the first time with a guide. Cap’s Rentals can set you up with a great rental bike and helmet and a Fraser River Bike Tour’s guide can make what seems complicated in words or on a map the first time you ride it a cycling delight.
If you want to try riding any of these trails yourself, you can download all of these cycling maps and more at www.fraserriverbiketours.com. Cap’s and Fraser River Bike Tours is committed to getting you out on a bike exploring the amazing investments our local governments have made to make cycling safer and more fun for you and your family. Find out what you like first by renting and then when you are sold on cycling Cap’s can outfit your entire family with affordable and quality bikes. Use Fraser River Bike Tour’s guides to learn these great rides and relax as a qualified guide, with first aid and detailed information on the local flora and fauna show you not only the trails but all of the scenic sites, the history and wildlife along the way.
For cycling advice and maybe a little motivation check out www.cycle-therapy.ca.
Get out there in the fresh air and sunshine on a great bike on our amazing local cycling trails this summer. Just go for it.
One push away can equal about a thousand push ups. Push away that extra portion of pasta, that heaping bowl of ice cream, the double shot caramel extra cream frapacinno.
Researchers tell us that one hour at the gym burns about 200 to 300 calories, which is about what a low fat meal contains but that extra portion of pasta, the giant bowl of ice cream or your favorite order at the coffee shop can equal two hours at the gym. Your average north American that is obese would have to live in a gym if they continue to eat the way that got them into their situation.
So exercise has its place but you cannot outride your fork. Be reasonable with food and stop trying to find happiness with a spoon. Most of our food intake nowadays is based on trying to satisfy an inner urge that a mountain of food will not placate. Eating what you need versus what you want is the key. The human species has found happiness with a plateful in front of them for eons because for most of our history this was a rare thing. We have evolved with never enough to fill our bellies and deep urge to seek out the fat and the sweet. Now we can keep a fridge filled with enough sweet and fatty food that would in history have fed a small village and some of us weigh the same amount as that small village after forty or fifty years of this runaway caloric train.
Eat smart. Get rid of the empty calories. Eat lean chicken, fish, and pork with moderation. Eat complex natural foods that might require some preparation rather than just scooping papered foods into your mouth. Eat wild or brown rice, ancient grains, beans, nuts and a bowl of oats for breakfast versus the crap that comes in boxes. Fill up on vegetable, beets, broccoli, green beans and cabbage. Enjoy salads when ever you can, without the creamy dressings. Use olive oil to rub on your meats and fish and mix a bit with balsamic vinegar as a dressing for you salad. Back up you diet with fish oils and if you want more specific advice go to a naturopath for detailed information on the vitamins and minerals you may be need.
And don’t forget exercise. Three times a week work out on your bike, run or power walk and be active everyday but remember you cannot outrun or outride your fork or spoon. Keeping calories in and calories out in balance is the key to staying in shape.
So get and keep active and eat smart like your life depends on it because it does.
What is Pain?
Is it felt in your brain or in your finger when you poke it with a pin? Why pain, why not just a feeling of apprehension, why the white fire thrust of agony when a bone breaks? Well pain comes from our distant past when apprehension was the norm and pain would break us out of the norm and demand immediate attention.
Pain is more than physical. It also comes from psychological and spiritual sources, hence the expression a broken mind or a broken spirit. Physical pain, especially when we are in the process of damaging a part of our body is acute, while pain from past injures or from psychological or spiritual past damage is lingering and corrosive.
Most of us know how to deal with the acute and immediate pain. Stop doing what you are doing. If you are poking a stick in your eye, stop doing it. If you fell out of a tree and broke your leg, don’t climb back up in tree at least until you are healed up.
It is the lingering and corrosive pain that we all have trouble with. We are bound to have past injuries that plague us as we age in life. Most of us have broken something in our bodies, just as most of us have at times acquired psychological or spiritual damage along the way. These can flare up with a change of the weather, a turn of phrase or when we are mature enough to start asking the big questions (and be willing to stick around for the answers) like; “What am I doing here?”
Our brain manufactures natural opiates that help us deal with most background pain. A heroin addict, the first time they use the drug, is amazed at the quiet they feel within themselves. It’s almost like the quiet that is so profound when a noisy machine that has been on until you don’t notice any longer is turned off. As they habituate to the drug they stop producing their own opiates and when they stop it takes a few days for their bodies to remember how to make it and that is the agony called withdrawal. Our brains cannot tell the difference between physical, psychological or spiritual pain, if fact anxiety is processed in the same brain area as pain is. We have many strategies in dealing with pain, some work on inflammation while others work on elimination of the feeling of pain. Inflammation is the root of most physical pain, usually as arthritis affects some old injury and seems to be brought to a frenzy by the change of the weather. Applications of heat, cold and anti-inflammatory drugs can help but exercise can also be an effective prophylactic in keeping pain at bay.
Exercise works by burning off the go fast drugs that used to save us from the grizzly bear or by aiding us in catching the rabbit and then when we got away and were dining on raw bunny, we received a large dose of feel good drugs in our brains as a reward. These feel good drugs are our natural opiates and other exotics we create can not only deal with any pain we are feeling but also to set us up for a positive addiction, say for exercise. If we are addictive creatures we should choose our addictions carefully. Good sex, good food and good exercise are all addictive and all will do you wonders in the long run.
Pain is relative. Depressed people feel more pain for the same cause than non depressed people. The same goes for anxiety and fear. We are best to understand pain in context to our lives. It is like dealing with a rattle snake, if your attention is drawn to the rattle end you will get bit in the butt. Causality is an important concept in dealing with pain. Removing the painful stimulus is our prime response or should be. If it is a thorn in your toe remove it, if it is a bad relationship fix it or get out of it, if it is a spiritual hole in the centre of your being, fill it.
When dealing with secondary pain, pain that is now from a scared joint, a scared mind or a scared spirit is a little more tricky as the cause may be long gone. My recommendation is self knowledge, as knowledge is power. Therapy is a god send to help us find the root cause of psychological or spiritual pain. Exercise is a god send to help us stay strong, flexible and limber as we age, all the while dealing with the healed injuries that we have incurred along the way. Combining exercise with therapy can make the difference between a life that is worth living and one that must be endured.
Make good decisions, live a life worth living, become addicted to the good things in life and stay moving with some form of exercise. I cycle, you may walk, run or swim but the important thing is to do something that burns off the bad drugs you make so that you can access the good drugs you could make after exercise. Therapy will help you identify the root causes on your uncomfortable existence and help you deal with issues that have plagued you for decades. Go for it, you can stop growing when you are dead. Growth or decay are our choices so make good ones.
Riding through the pain is a challenge we all face. Some people have more pain than others, while some are more sensitive to pain than others. Pain is a relative and completely subjective term and it only means what it means specifically to an individual. There is no way to relate to another’s pain. My pain is specific to me and may have nothing to do with the actual causes of the pain but is directly related to my experiencing the pain that I do have. If my torn rotator that now has developed tendonitis was identical to your injury, my experience of it would be unique to me. My perspective of pain is completely subjective and unique to me. It has become as individualized as my personality and may have a lot of connections to my personality.
Pain in not experienced in the site of the injury, it is experienced in the brain and projected on to the injury. When the commercial tells you to rub their cream onto the sore spot on your back to directly affect the pain they are making a fundamental misunderstanding of physiology. If there is any benefit, it would be either in your skin absorbing some pain relief ingredient that once in your blood stream affects the part of your brain that is signaling pain or it is drawing blood into that area which can also provide relief to the pain you are feeling in your brain. There is no pain in my shoulder but the nerve does send a signal to my brain to warn me of the injury. Leprosy is so dangerous because it kills the nerve and we have no feeling in our extremities, which lets us damage a toe or finger without knowing it and not knowing leads to poor maintenance, which leads to infection and probably losing that digit.
Some people when they lose a limb, say a leg, still can have pain in their leg, even though it is gone. Phantom pain is a real problem for amputees and it is not just a psychological problem. Your brain is the seat of pain. We have immediate pain from a new injury or residual pain from an old injury. For residual pain, there are two ways to deal with it. You can deal with it by reducing inflammation (aspirin) at the site or increasing circulation (icing it) to the site. Or you can numb the pain centre in your brain with an opiate like drug. Avoiding injury in the first place is highly recommended but that kind of thinking doesn’t usually hold sway until you are older and have hurt yourself a few times to induce learning.
I have five old injury sites that all occurred at the age when I thought I was invulnerable. They all healed within months but as I have aged each has now returned with a vengeance. Each injury site has developed either arthritis or tendonitis or both and each site usually acts out separate from the others. Our brain usually can only focus on the strongest signal and that depends on the stresses, the weather and my daily temperament as to which site is going to get the attention that day. If I focus on that pain it becomes worse.
Riding through the pain is always an issue as my lying cheating body will sometimes try to avoid exercise by amplifying pain in an old injury to get out of what it knows is coming. I have rarely had more pain at the end of a ride that before the ride. Movement increases circulation and helps reduce inflammation and naturally takes the pressure of the affected nerve thus reducing the signal to my brain where I actually experience the pain. I have found that I need less medication, ice and heat if I stay active than when I yield to my lying cheating piece of meat and do not ride because of some pain.
So with pain being such a subjective experience I can only speak to my own situation but after years of riding and working with others to get them riding I have found that no matter what a persons actual experiencing of pain, exercise, specifically cycling can greatly reduce their pain. The beauty of cycling is that it is smooth, puts less stress on the joints and anaerobically burns off some of the stress drugs we make internally that affect our perception of pain.
Stretch first, start slowly and build up to a good burn of at least an hour and don’t shy away from a hill or two. You may need a month or two of easier rides to get into shape to reap the benefits of regular cycling but once you are there you will be amazed at how you can regulate your own pain through exercise versus just killing it with meds. You may need to take a pain killer but you will probably only need a minimum amount versus what you would have to take for the same effect without exercise.
The side effects of cycling versus the side effects of medication are polar opposites. Instead of pages of warning of this complication and that impediment are the direct effects of getting in shape, healing yourself of diabetes, of heart disease, of some arthritic conditions and experiencing less pain and you probably won’t need Viagra to get it up.
So get off the couch, get on your bike, ignore your lying cheating piece of meat and go for a ride and remember, hills are your friends.
Running on Empty; The meditations of a cyclist.
Historically, humankind matched their emptiness on the inside with a lack of almost everything they needed to sustain life on the outside. Unless you were rich and a part of the elite, you lived on the edge of life, waiting for the scourge of disease or a crop failure that would bring on either disease or starvation or both. Your internal emptiness was matched by the awaiting personal apocalypse and there was no discrepancy between the emptiness in your soul and the brutal poverty you existed in. This created institutions like the Catholic Church who offered a meager outlet in mindless liturgies in a language you probably could not understand. You lived in shit, died in shit and spent your conscious hours being feed the same from the elitist clergy who taxed you into oblivion for the sake of your soul. This addiction to the church was based on being empty on the inside and hoping and praying for some tweak of enlightenment from a church that was the model of the blind leading the blind.
The first tsunami that hit the beach of consumerism in the fifties and sixties was the wave that lifted me up and then threw me face down into the crap that made me aware of the emptiness of my soul, my personal experience of running of empty. I turned to psychedelics for enlightenment and hard drugs to dull the pain. I searched the wilderness to find inner peace and found it one day, as a still small voice on the inside, the last place I expected to find it. I seemed to be in the extreme minority for when I would share this with my peers they would look at me with bewilderment and then ask me if I had anymore of that drug left. The Television sets, stereos, automobiles, kitchen appliances and all the other crap we found, that once we had them we couldn’t live without them, alienated me from my culture because I knew intuitively that none of that crap could fill my inner void. I have spent my life examining the spiritual vacuum at my centre, which has never been filled by anything physical. So at times professionally, which I was really quite bad at and for the rest of my life as an amateur enthusiast, I have spend years. months, weeks, hours and minutes spiritually exploring the human condition. That inner longing, that inner emptiness, that spiritual vacuum at the centre of our souls, which has produced the best the humans have ever attempted but also the worst.
In 2013 our youth have moved into a new era. The inner longing that young people should feel is now drowned out by endless video games, where they throw their avatars into mortal combat to kill and maim as many of the enemy as they can before they have to hit reset to start it all over again. These enemies now seem to look a lot like those whom our current government has a beef with and I am sure that hidden watchers guide gamers into covert contests so that they can find the elite. Those who have natural reflexes and hardened souls so that when ready they can step into their new age drone wars to take on the very terrorists that were created by such actions.
I work with such children who have been hardened by their music, their video games and their lifestyles. They are not looking for enlightenment, they are looking for anything that will fill their brains with distractions so that no even a whisper from their inner lacking will get through. Like a giant trout that takes a fly off the water’s surface with a smallest of gulps before returning into the depths their consciousness of their inner selves is only made manifest by the disturbance on the surface and if a tiny splash does occur, they quickly self medicate with E, Special K, Crystal Meth or some other designer drug of the week created to specifically distract them from any form of self understanding or inner enlightenment.
This is not to say that they cannot be reached. I returned from retirement to face this challenge head on. A careful word here, an insightful statement there or maybe a metaphor at just the right moment and light can sometimes flood into their inner being. Sure it may cause an initial discomfort, it sure did with me when it first happened, but I believe that just like in the metaphor of pregnancy, it only take one microscopic sperm to fertilize an egg, which will eventually lead to a human with full potential. So I am not being pessimistic but realistic. I don’t expect miracles but I do expect that if I am faithful to my belief that being there at the right time and place with the right word is all that is expected of me and just meeting their basic needs for the rest of the time will take up the other 99.9%. Nature abhors a vacuum and spirit will always rush into the gap when given the slightest chance.
I had a great ride yesterday which gave me an hour or so of meditation time to conjure up the above.
I am a die hard outdoor cyclist. I have all the gear to ride day or night, rain or shine, in the heat or in the cold. But I have a confession to make. I recently purchased a stationary bike for my partner and I have enjoyed riding it. I have always considered sitting on a tractor seat, pedaling and going nowhere, inside where the air is stale almost a sin. But for an early Christmas present for my partner, since her daughter moved out and on to her own, taking with her her stationary bike, I decided that riding indoors on those wet and cold days or nights when I would head out and she would stay behind would be a good investment in her health. If I got her a good one, one that simulated outdoor cycling, it would be a good compromise I told myself.
So I started to research the issue. I viewed endless Craig’s list ads of New Year’s resolutions gone bad and found an endless supply of giant machines, with computers, even TVs to distract the rider, with seats that look like they should be for the giant butts for overweight farmer’s tractors. What amazed me was that these machines, like the ones you sadly find in most gyms, were nothing like a real cycling experience and cost a huge amount of money even though they were used. The new ones were even more. I was trying to replicate the outdoor cycling experience that we both love so I continued searching for a piece of equipment that would be more suitable to what I had in mind.
Finally I came across some manufactures who were trying to make such equipment. I finally settled for a Whirly Cycle DX C81. This was a good choice as I figured that maybe if I found one that was very adjustable I could use it in a pinch. I am six foot and she is five foot six, I ride a 20” frame and she rides 15” frame so our new stationary cycle had to be very adjustable and it is.
So lately when I get home after a long day and it is dark, cold and wet I now get on the stationary cycle and go for a forty five minute (minimum) ride before dinner. I am dealing with the quilt, for at first I felt like I was cheating on my Titanium custom built beauty, but then after a while I rationalized that I was training for my outdoor bike so that when I do get out for a ride on her I am a better rider because of it. Justification by rationalization has always been a strength of mine.
So now on those days when I am beat and it is wet, cold and dark out there I get on my Whirly Cycle, turn on the TV and put in an hour or so. My Ti sits against the wall without jealousy as I train on the Whirly to be ready for her when we get out for a real ride.
Season Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) is more common the further you get from the equator either north or south. I have worked with many clients who suffer from S.A.D. and have found a number of strategies effective. A S.A.D. lamp is a good start. Get a good one that has a full spectrum of light and big enough that you can sit in front of it and read the morning paper. Although reading an average paper can be depressing in itself. You should spend twenty minutes in front of it with it just above eye level pointing down on you. Then it won’t blind you and you can use it to illuminate what you choose to read.
The next strategy is to regulate your sleep. Most people with S.A.D. also suffer from sleep disorders. Their circadian rhythm is out of whack and the judicial use of melatonin will help them get back into a natural sleep pattern that works for them. The trick with melatonin is to take it at the same time each night about an hour before you go to bed. You should go to bed and rise at the same time each day and when you have a few good nights of normal sleep stop the melatonin. Eight hours works best for most people but this is up to you. Some people get by fine with six but until you know what works best for you try for eight.
Diet is the next thing to deal with. Eat lots of greens, olive oil, lots of salmon, sardines, and herring and lean chicken. Start your day with a large bowl of oat meal with walnuts, currents and almonds for breakfast. Avoid wheat of any kind, fast foods, corn syrup, processed foods and sugar. If you need some sugar for your sweet tooth use a raw cane sugar or honey. Take supplements like, wild salmon oil, Vitamin D, B3 (no flush niacin) and C. Avoid excess alcohol (one drink a day is good for you, less is more with alcohol.
The last strategy is anaerobic exercise every second day. Start out at a minimum of twenty minutes, which will seem like a life time when you first start. Build this up over a few months to a minimum of an hour and then keep it at an hour or more for the long term. By anaerobic I mean exercising at a rate that if you were working out with someone you would not have the extra wind to have a conversation. It drives me crazy when I work at a gym and two people on those giant exercise bikes that have seats like a tractor are busy talking away and pedaling at a cadence of about thirty revolutions a minute. If on a bike keep your cadence to eighty five a minute up hills, on the flat and down hills. Use your gears to keep it as close to that as possible. If power walking keep up a pace that would be easier if you broke into a slow run and don’t forget to use your arms.
We get stressed out in our daily life. Our flight or fight mechanism was designed to experience stress, a threat or a promise of a meal, and then to react to it. Since we have been domesticated we just suck it up when the boss, the wife, the husband, the cop or whoever stands up to us and says no or wait or go back. The (nor) epinephrine, (nor) adrenaline and like compounds that are excreted by our adrenal and other glands fill our blood with go fast compounds that can cause anxiety, depression and sleep disorders if they are left floating around in our bloodstream. Eventually this can lead to a chronic cortisol response that sooner or later can lead to heart problems even arthritis. So burn it off with anaerobic exercise for at least twenty minutes and then when it’s gone your brain will reward with you an endorphin rush. It is your body saying, “Good boy” or “Good girl”.
S.A.D. can be profoundly affected by anaerobic exercise every second day that when compounded with a S.A.D. lamp, a good diet and the correct use of melatonin can turn a person’s life around without the use of SSRIs or expensive therapy. Some people may need all of the above but if exercise, diet, melatonin and a good S.A.D. lamp are used first I can almost guarantee that if an anti depression med or therapy is needed it will be to only tweak their mood not jump starting them from a stalled position.
So don’t be S.A.D., you can get some control over this syndrome if you take the initiative.