Seeing a Therapist is the Best Thing and Tips for Blue Monday

Recently I started seeing a therapist after a recommendation from my doctor, who is a naturopath.  For the last three years I have been struggling with ever more complicated and painful gut issues, as well as body pain.  I had succumbed to elimination diets, gut healing diets, you name it and while they worked short term, they never worked for long regardless of how strict I adhered.  After numerous blood, stool and you name it tests,  I mentioned my navel was distended to my doctor – she thought a hernia may be the problem and surgery a solution.  This is when I admitted that I was suffering with anxiety and panic attacks – that there was no way I could undergo surgery of any kind.  She recommended a talk to the practice’s therapist.  Within two sessions I was able to start eating all of the wonderful foods that had been giving me pain.  Those two sessions, and many more, have included hours of crying, coming to terms with my past and learning how to cope in the present.  So when I was contacted with an amazing opportunity to ask some questions of Dr. Gary Foster, Chief Scientific Officer at Weight Watchers about how to beat Blue Monday – I jumped at the opportunity.

Many of us have fallen victim to the wrath of winter and already have let our cold weather blues bust our goals for the New Year. The first ever Blue Monday – January 24, 2005 – was established as a marketing idea for a travel company to boost sales during the winter. Psychologist Cliff Arnall produced a formula based on factors such as weather conditions, debt level, time since Christmas, time since giving up on our New Year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action. Some argue that there’s no such thing, but there’s no doubt that this is a tough time of year and –  this year’s Blue Monday –  January 26 – is a great time to talk about the things that get us down and how to get back on track.

If you are among the millions who started 2015 with a goal to be healthier, Dr. Gary Foster, Chief Scientific Officer at Weight Watchers, will be available to help you beat your cold weather blues, so you can achieve your winter goals. Dr. Foster will discuss:

  • How your mood affects your commitment to winter goals
  • The reasons why your brain gravitates towards food for comfort
  • Tips to keep you on track for your winter goals

About Dr. Gary Foster, Chief Scientific Officer at Weight Watchers
Dr. Foster is a psychologist, obesity investigator and behavior change expert with more than 160 scientific publications and three books on the etiology and treatment of obesity to his name. Dr. Foster’s research interests include the prevention, behavioral determinants, treatments, and effects of obesity in adults and children. He was previously the Director of the Center of Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Philadelphia and served as a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. In his role as Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Foster oversees Weight Watchers science-based program, all clinical research initiatives, and continued program advances.

Not all of my questions were chosen to be answered but have a look at a few that Dr. Foster tackled:



I Weigh Less on the Moon, So That’s Something

Since my big freak out a few weeks ago my partner has removed the scales from the bathroom and been teaching me to chant my new mantra “I am on my way to getting into the shape I want to be in.” Since I started this journey, fitness reboot, or reconnection to movement – whatever I am calling it instead of working out/dieting/losing weight – I have been to the gym to workout 2 times, been to the gym for a yoga class 1 time and hit our apartment’s fitness center 2 times.  It has been a little colder than I like which keeps me from walking the 2-3 miles to the local grocery stores for shopping though I did manage taking the boy to camp for the past two weeks via stroller.  I thought maybe I had missed a few days but then I remembered my partner tried to take him to camp but he came running in to bounce on my sleeping body and begged me to walk him there – I may have missed one morning but I was too tired to register it.

I give you alien germs!

I give you alien germs!

I have also made sure to take some indoor walking excursions to places like Target – its basically a giant indoor track, if you can avoid spending money on tidbits.  I even dodged buying a “My Size Elsa” for the little gal, she wasn’t even with us I just thought we could pick it up for her and blow her three year old mind when she saw it.  Amazon lists the same one for $249 and Target had it for $59 – seemed like a bargain! I was vetoed. My other big walking adventure is to OMSI.  The kids love it there and I get a chance to walk around, its a small walk from the streetcar to the museum and then walking around exhibits, etc.  Today I even hopped on the scale that measures weight on different planets – I really like my weight on the moon.  Sharing walking adventures and trips to the museum have made this winter break fun and educational.  There is nothing more important that I can show my children than that I value movement, education and eating healthy.

I find these last few days I have been craving proteins like a brain starved zombie – I just can’t get enough of anything with tofu – especially these lemongrass and ginger tofu wings from a local vegan place – broke down for takeout only once, and hey – that was last year.  On the other nights I just pine for them, but I keep my distance, attempting to cook at home.

The best part is that my digestive tract is doing better.  I have no idea what was wrong, I had everything tested from all ends of me and everything came up a dead end.  My naturopath thought I may have a hernia based on the distended belly button, but it seems the ultrasound came up with gallstones (again) and my little pancreatic cyst.  I’ve been taking GABA for anxiety (and I say an active therapist) and it seems to work, Vitamin D for a variety of things, b12, and chanca piedra again for the stones.  It was also recommended to make a castor oil warm compress when my stomach hurts.  After 2 weeks of the regiment, and of course the almost 2 years of eating no garlic, gluten, onions, chocolate and limited nuts – I finally can eat regular old food again.  Though garlic seems to give me that “I just inhaled menthol” feeling slightly so I have been trying to avoid it.  But chocolate is back, so is gluten and no problems so far – to be safe I am limiting my intakes to one meal a day. I just made some Penzey’s Cocoa Hot Cocoa for me and the little ones with coconut “whip” cream.  It was yummy.

I received the gift of 8 new Life Factory 22 oz water bottles I fill them daily with cucumber slices and lemon wedges, or orange slices and leave them in the fridge.  My goal is to drink half of my body weight in fluid ounces daily – which is what the average person needs to stay hydrated – so far I get pretty close to that.  I never would have bought these bottles myself which is sad because they are helping me to drink more water which is key in the long term to health.

What kind of other things can facilitate healthy living, things that may seem extravagant (like 8 new water bottles), simple (like parking farther from your destination), or something I just haven’t thought of yet…hmmmmmm??

Emily Can B Fit: Deed Develops into Habit

Last night was a rough one: between my children being waking sick and myself being blue about the journey ahead of me to get back to where I once was, I couldn’t sleep. My partner arrived home early from his nightshift and immediately set about building me a fort-nest.
The fort-nest is my way to find peace and sanctuary when a hug isn’t enough. It takes the kitchen table, several blankets (with a chair atop the whole mess for support) and every available pillow to construct – which my husband did without being asked. Crawling inside fort-nest is like crawling back into the womb. There is something quiet and calming, even within my own noisy city apartment. Of course, it is not a complete fortress of solitude and soon my peaceful retreat was pierced by the meek noises of an ill three year old, but I find fort-nest is made better by nursing, the release of oxytocin helps magnify the calming effect.
After three hours of sleep I was awoken by my another child who preferred I walk him to camp, a regular feeling of his and actually a blessing in disguise. His personal desire for my presence on the morning walk forces me to get up for a morning walk (this could be made more manageable if the other ones let me sleep – this morning he shouted “wake up mom!” while we were crossing the street, I can’t be sure that I wasn’t dozing while walking).  Deeds become habits and the same thing kept me feeling healthy while I was completing my M.ed, I walked two and a half miles to and from campus daily in the sweltering Baltimore heat.

Blue Lotus Chai

Blue Lotus Chai

Arriving home I decided to make my Super Quick Vegan Dal for breakfast and eat half of a gluten-free ginger coconut muffin. I am trying to eat fitter by eating half of what I normally do, with the knowledge that if I want more I can have.  After years of battling eating disorders I have found that my sense of satiation as well as hunger is not reliable. Half a muffin was actually enough and I finished it all off with my new favorite local made, chai tea – it’s good plain (which is what is healthiest) but it is fantastic with rock sugar and vanilla flax milk.

Next were basic chores around the apartment and making salt dough for the little tyke.  This is the children’s favorite and keeps them creatively occupied for hours.  I even took a nap.  Awaking feeling…well, rested somewhat, I made a Super Quick Vegan Mock Ham Salad and scooped it atop two pieces of my favorite local gluten-free bread, open faced. Open-faced is my trick for eating slower and visually being more full – it looks like more sandwich.

The day started to wind down as we headed to pick E up from camp and drop the little one off for a gym class. Another great chance to walk with the family.  I love living in Portland, everything is easily accessible via walking or biking – it was one of the reasons I moved here and I am finally taking advantage of this.

My nightcap? A 7 pm yoga class only 700 feet from my front door at the local health club. Looks like my fitness is on the right track!