Fight depression with a healthy diet and exercise

Fight depression with a healthy diet and exercise

Dolly lives in Kitchener , Ont. She shares how she changed her lifestyle and helped battle depression.

In 1998, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I coped by "eating my feelings."

After a six-and-half-year struggle, I lost my husband to cancer in October 2004. Add to that other stressors in my life -- and before I knew it, I was 100 pounds overweight.

One day, I realized that I could hardly mow the lawn because my knees were killing me, and I had difficulty even doing everyday chores. My blood pressure was also up, according to my doctor. I also started worrying about how all this was affecting my children. I knew it was time to make some changes in my health.

I tried walking with a friend but had a hard time because my knees were killing me, and I was in a lot of pain. An orthopaedic surgeon suggested I might need knee surgery and gave me a cortisone shot. It helped to decrease the pain but only temporarily.

Then a couple of my friends (one a physiotherapist, Cathy McNorgan) introduced me to urban poling -- walking with a pole in each hand. It felt awkward at first, and I didn't quite get the rhythm. But my friends encouraged me to keep at it. I started poling three times a week for 20- to 30- minute sessions and gradually increased my workouts to an hour.

Now after a year and half, I'm able to walk with my poles for two hours. When I was heavy, I loved the poles because they took a lot of pressure off my knees! I also get endorphin highs from my exercise sessions and this carries me for the rest of the day.

At about the same time, I joined Weight Watchers and started following their program which included recording my food intake on a daily basis. This has been the key to me sticking to my diet. I found that it really helps when you attend their weekly meetings. It keeps you accountable to the group. You don't feel like you're alone, and they encourage you to not give up if you fall off the wagon. You realize everyone is struggling. I found a partner in the group, and we supported each other.

Instead of socializing with my friends with food, I started scheduling exercise sessions with them. We love it. Urban poling and eating well have been the best thing for my mental health. It helped me with my depression.

Instead of being an emotional eater, I am now focused on my health through exercise and nutrition. I am in a good place right now, and my emotions are in check. I still have bad days, but I have to just wake up the next day and decide that yesterday is yesterday: I can only affect today.

To celebrate my achievements, I went on a fantastic holiday with two friends. We went to Sedona in Arizona and the Grand Canyon -- and enjoyed long hikes using our poles!

My children are very proud of me. They have not only accepted my new lifestyle but have been supportive. I am at my goal weight right now and have lost 100 pounds! My knees are 100 per cent fantastic -- and I have no pain.

My journey is not over. It will be a lifelong commitment to watch my intake and ensure that I continue to work out.

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