The Weight Gain – What to do for bipolars
As frustrated as one becomes with the extra weight, stopping the medication is not the answer. Each time you stop taking these drugs
your body builds a type of immunity, and the next time (or the time after that) they eventually become less efficient and possibly stop working for you at all.
The best answer of course is prevention as mentioned last time. When you are aware of the propensity of the drugs for causing weight gain you can take immediate steps to prevent it by either reducing your food intake a bit or increasing your exercise or a combination of the two.
The approach is basic. Increase exercise and decrease food (calories). No charts, calorie counters, involved menus or measuring foods are required.
Learn the art of substitution. Low-fat foods are better for you, and as you decrease the fat you will be able to eat more healthy fruits, vegetables and low calorie snacks. I was amazed at the number of food I was able to substitute…from whole milk, to 2%, to 1% and now to skim milk, without losing any of the nutritional value or flavor. Low fat margarine eventually replaced butter. I learned there was virtually no difference between low fat and regular cheese. I reduced red meat to two to three times a week, choosing less fat chicken, turkey and fish instead. I ate everything I had eaten before except for the most part I avoided highly sugared empty valued snacks, candy, potato chips and the like. I learned to enjoy diet soda, and am unable to drink the heavily syruped ones even yet). I even ate occasionally at the fast food restaurants (french fries and all), but mostly chose a chinese buffet where I could make my own choices when I ate out. I did a lot of reading about nutrition to learn from which foods I could gain the best fuel for my body.
Reducing the amount I ate helped as well. I love salad and most every night make a large one to have with my meal. I find it very satisfying to crunch and chew my way through salad and am content with smaller portions of hot foods.
Basically, that’s it – the diet in a nutshell. Read labels, learn to make your own substitutions, rely on fruits and vegetables for snacks and eat healthy. There really isn’t one of us who doesn’t know which foods would be classified as “not healthy” or “empty calorie” foods.
When the doctor mentioned the word exercise to me I thought “oh yah, right…here it comes” There was no way I was getting down on the floor making an a** of myself trying to do sit ups or touch my toes.
I was totally shocked when he told me all he wanted me to do was a few short stretching exercises, then walk. In the beginning he was not concerned with speed or distance…and assigned a recreation therapist to take me out each day for a walk. The first day I made it about 200 yards I think, was breathing heavy and it was all I could do to get back to the hospital. On the second and subsequent days, I went a bit farther, and soon noticed I was able to get there and back without becoming winded. In time I was walking around the perimeter of the hospital, then on the grounds. About this time I began to notice I was enjoying the walks and the fresh air. I had already lost close to twenty pounds and was feeling good about myself.
That is the exercise. Oh, there are others…but walking is the ultimate, requires no special clothing, costs nothing and can be done at any time.
On my return from the hospital I kept the principles I had learned in practice and went on to lose many more pounds.
There are many weight loss programs out there. Do NOT be taken in. A Bipolar on medication must not participate in any sort of fad diet or take ANY kind of diet medication without his/her doctor’s knowledge and permission. This is IMPORTANT and can not be emphasized enough.
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