I am a thin girl. As a teen I had many insecurities about being thin, only because I was approached daily with the comment “You are SO skinny!” in a disapproving tone. I believe (now) that God gifted me with the ability to exercise a little, eat fairly healthy without denying my sweet-tooth, and still have a thin, somewhat muscular bod. It’s great for business!
I have always been active, though, dancing from the age of 3 and teaching Pilates for over a decade. Therefor, my core is strong and I know how to use my body in an efficient manner. For example, as I sit here writing this post, I am:
- sitting up straight (I imagine a string pulling from the top of my head,)
- dropping my shoulder blades down (engaging my lat muscles) (or think ‘armpits to the hips’),
- gently pulling my belly back,
- and remembering to breath
Sure, I have slouching moments. Because I have been trained to sit and stand properly from the time I could walk, slouching becomes uncomfortable if I stay for long periods of time.
The Grass Isn’t Always Greener…
I also have clinical depression. The kind that can’t be explained by circumstances. The kind that can show up when everything should be awesome.
I was diagnosed at the age of 34. I had debilitating anxiety as a teen and in my 20’s. Anxiety is know to turn into depression.  My psychiatrist put me on 2 medications, but also asked if I was exercising.
I am a Pilates instructor. Taking one look at my body (I say this with humility) and knowing that I teach Pilates, you are not alone if you think I work out all of the time.
But I was not working out.
The catch-22 of depression is that even though exercise has been shown to release the same feel good chemicals that medications synthetically create (nuerotransmitters and endorphins) , the depressed person doesn’t feel like getting up to even get dressed let alone move their body enough to release these feel good chemicals.
If you have never experienced clinical depression, it is not easy to understand. My best description is that it feels like moving through molasses. Brushing your hair is even a chore. It’s not the type of thing you can just snap out of. It is a bizzar disease.
On the Other Side
After about a month of taking my medication, in addition to taking 2,000 mg of Omega Fish Oil and a multivitamin with a high B vitamin content, I had enough energy to get my body moving again.
I started with walking in the morning. Between my kids needing fresh air (my kids are adopted, by the way) and my dog’s needing a walk, it became a routine. We would walk in the morning when the sun is in it’s most awesome position of the day. With the combination of
- getting my heart pumping (cardio),
- taking care of other living beings (purpose),
- sunlight (which has been proven to increase energy levels),
- and God (spirituality),
my depression began to lift and I began to feel like a real person again. I began to feel happiness and enjoy the company of people, feelings that were foreign to me.
Along with the above reasons for the initial lift in my depression, I also had the support of my husband, mom and dad in addition to counseling (faith based), and freeing myself from toxic people in my life. I also ate a more nutritious diet, started sleeping better (with the help of melatonin), and began working out with my clients.
I am 37 now. My depression is under control. I have seasons of melancholy and seasons of high functioning. What the antidepressants seem to do is keep me from falling deep into debilitating depression again, allowing my list of other supports to work.
I notice that those seasons of melancholy show up when I stop getting my cardio. I am currently in the process of getting back into a walking routine, but being on the verge of a hot Vegas summer, walking outdoors is difficult to stick with. I swam the other day. That is an amazing workout! Today I glided on my Gazelle at my studio. Swimming wins between the two.
Cardiovascular activity is CRUCIAL whether you are depressed, happy, skinny, overweight, male or female. In my next post I will give you a list of ways to incorporate cardio into your daily routine.
Here’s 1: Park far away from the entrance of where ever you are going (always thought it was funny when people would wait for the closest parking spot, in the gym parking lot!!), unless it is a safety concern.
As a side note to parking lots, always be aware of your surroundings in the parking lot, keeping your head high (not on your phone). This will also help you keep proper posture!
Thank You so much for taking the time to get to know me! I look forward to many more posts that I hope will be inspiring and helpful! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, or comment on this post.
Happy cardio hunting!
Alison Marsh, owner of AM Pilates & Posture
For more information on depression and anxiety, go to www.adaa.org
For more information on cardiovascular health, go to www.world-heart-federation.org