By Rick Qualls
I was shocked when I read the doctor’s notes about my check up older obese white male. I did not realize my weight had gotten that far out of control. In my mind, I see myself as a bit overweight but not obese.
Like many other bipolar patients, I struggle with weight. A number of my medications have the side effect of weight gain. Other side effects include a slowing of cognitive function and speech. It is no wonder my metabolism is slowed.
Like many, I have a lack of motivation to exercise. One bipolar patient describes it as a vicious cycle. There are things we can do to get over depression (including exercise). But this requires motivation. Depression takes away motivation and keeps us from doing things to improve our health. It is a downward spiral.
Exercise is missing in my self-care, perhaps yours, too. Here are some things I have learned from other patients.
Walking a dog regularly forces us to walk. It pushes us out of the house on a regular basis.
A little exercising in place, such as jogging, can get you started to exercise. Even doing a little bit stirs the cardio system and may give the motivation to walk or exercise outdoors.
I once jumped rope inside when the weather was too bad to jog. It was easy to begin for a few jumps and then I allowed myself to quit if I needed or to continue if I felt like it.
Many people use small acts to begin a new habit. Set a time limit of 10 minutes in the gym and give yourself permission to quit if you feel you can’t go on. Probably after the effort to do 10 minutes, you will discover the motivation to continue a full workout.
If you are fortunate to be able to hold a full-time job, coming home leaves you with the tiredness from work and the lack of motivation caused by depression. It is a double hit to motivation.
Having a workout friend can help with external motivation. It is hard to say no to someone you have agreed to exercise with. This lack of motivation can be positive. You may not have the energy to say no to your exercise partner.
Some people find that exercise is as good as an antidepressant. Others find that exercise does not lighten their mood.
What are some exercises people have found helpful? Jogging, swimming, biking, and gym workouts that include weightlifting. Loud music may help with motivation. (My music tastes run into the line of light jazz. Light jazz does not motivate exercising! )
In the Bible we are reminded to take care of our bodies because it is a temple for God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
I’ve made my start in an exercise habit. In a shed behind our house is an old elliptical machine. I have started using it in the morning. Maybe this will be the beginning of a program for me.
Good luck with yours, too.