Schizophrenia Recovery Strategies: Fitness and Nutrition Tips

  • In the spirit of helping people:

     

    I want to revisit the topics of fitness and nutrition this holiday season.

     

    This first part of the two-part series will focus on how a person can eat well to live well.

     

    It might seem unlikely yet until I was 29 I was 20 lbs overweight after I received the diagnosis.  Every week I would dive into a tub of Vanilla Almond Bark ice cream.  I packed on the pounds indulging in the I Hate My Diagnosis Diet.

     

    At 29, I lost the weight, gained pounds back when I turned 40, and have lost the weight again because I committed to strength training every week.

     

    I'm not a certified nutritionist or fitness instructor.  I'm someone who figured out on her own what I needed to do, booted my ass to do it, and changed my tactics along the way as time went by.

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    Now: I realize Zyprexa and most of these drugs cause a person to have an appetite.

     

    Yet though I'm not certified or licensed, I'm convinced you can be fit and healthy regardless of whether you're skinny or carry a few extra pounds.  One hundred pounds overweight is another story.  Losing just 10 lbs can have benefits in my estimation.

     

    People can and do lose weight while taking these drugs.  It might be harder to do this for a lot of people so I want to reiterate that dropping down to a size 4 if you're a woman isn't the goal.

     

    The goal is to be fit and active and you can accomplish this without a grueling or fanatical exercise regime or drastic diet.

     

    I suggest a livable option not a restrictive option.  It's what I title a 4-Point Eating Plan and it goes like this:

     

    1.  Eat a variety of different food.

     

    2.  Refrain from eating too much of one food type, like fat, sugar or dairy.

     

    3.  Eat mostly plant-based foods.

     

    4.  Only eat real food.  (Not processed or chemical-laden food.)

     

    I recommend the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mediterranean Diet

     

    It's the only kind of "diet" I would recommend because it's actually an eating plan you execute in tandem with a healthy lifestyle of shared meals or meals alone at a table.  Not food scarfed down in the front seat of a car or mindlessly snacked on while watching TV.

     

    This eating plan focuses on grains, fruits and vegetables, and fish and occasionally chicken or turkey and rarely meat.  I can vouch for its benefits as I don't eat meat, rarely eat chicken and eat mostly seafood and fruits and vegetables.

     

    I go farther in that I think the only grains a person needs to eat are whole grains.  Pamela Peeke, M.D., M.P.H, FACP in her book Body for Life for Women recommends only two or three servings max of whole grains a day, especially if a woman is over 40. 

     

    Have this amount no later than your mid afternoon snack.  A portion or serving of whole grains is one you can fit in your palm, or half the size of a tennis ball.

     

    Whole grains contain fiber and eating foods high in fiber enables you to feel fuller longer.  A Tuft University survey revealed that adding an extra 14 grams of fiber to your diet each day leads you to eat 10 percent fewer calories a day, a reduction that could lead to removal of weight.

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    Each of us should make things as convenient as possible.  If you have no time to cook, nix processed food in packages.  Boil two frozen packages of different vegetables and call it a meal.  Prep time: 10 minutes or less.

     

    As does Pamela Peeke, I recommend eating nutritious food 80 percent of the time.  That's right.  One hundred percent isn't the goal.  Perfection isn't the goal.  A sustainable eating plan is the goal and eating well 80 percent of the time is livable and healthful.

     

    Along with Body for Life for Women, I recommend Martina Navratilova's book Shape Your Self.  For guys, there's the original Body for Life and I recommend for everyone another good book: Transformation.  Bill Phillips wrote these two books.

     

    I'm not kidding when I tell you the goal isn't be as skinny as Bethenny Frankel.  The goal isn't to have a body like Madonna or Kate Moss either. 

     

    The goal, as always, is to take joy and satisfaction in your life as it is right now, not as you hoped it would be or fantasize about in the future.  The goal is to accept where you're at even if your life is imperfect or not the one you planned.

     

    From this acceptance, you can take action to change your life for the better right now.  Like I said adopting a restrictive diet or pining for some impossible ideal weight is impractical and futile and could be dangerous.

     

    Quick fixes and short term "solutions" rarely work out for decades.

     

    I have consistently executed my 4-Point Eating Plan for the last 5 years and will continue to refine it as I move forward.  I'm living proof that the 80 percent rule for eating nutritious food works.  Today I had a mini-cupcake.  Every so often I have high-fiber cereal for dinner.  Budgeting in 20 percent keeps you from feeling deprived or discouraged.

     

    I will talk next week about how to execute a fitness routine that is guaranteed to shed pounds.  You'll get fitter, have more energy, boost your mood and be well on your way to having a good life.

     

Published On: December 06, 2013