Sometimes it's more about what is causing us to eat more versus what we're eating that's causing us to gain more. Depression is a serious component to the many of people struggling with their weight. Whether the depression is associated with anxiety, postpartum or stress--depression may be the leading cause to the scale creeping up and your pants leaving indents on your skin.
Depression and Weight Gain
When you're not feeling your best there are usually two roads to take. Loss of appetite being one path and the other is eating every edible content in your house.
When I'm feeling crappy about myself I will barely get out of my jogging pants yet alone brush my hair. When this mood happens I go to comfort food and just spend the
days day fun eating to cheer myself up, but the opposite usually happens because then I feel bloated and fat. I now feel even more worst about myself and begin to eat more "what's the point I'm already fat and ugly…where are the chips…"
That vicious cycle will continue on to the next day and the next day, the next day and so forth. Until you find yourself 10-15 pounds heavier! "Whaaaaaa? How'd I gain 15 pounds so fast?"
This is when the depression will get much worst. You don't want to get dressed because you fear none of your clothes will fit you causing you anxiety for the unknown. You don't want to brush your hair or put make up on (shave your beard for the dudes) because what's the point since you're in hiding anyway.
You continue to eat because you're feeling down in the dumps about your weight gain and when you're dressed all frumpy your motivation to count calories is gone anyhow.
A few weeks have past with this cycle and you force yourself onto the scale to see numbers you'd never thought you would see. What's even more is that you thought things weren't so bad because you're still fitting into your jogging pants (the ones with the stretchable elastic). This is one of the reasons why I will not wear jogging pants when depressed and force myself to wear my tighter clothes--keeps me in check when I'm over-indulging. I've been a victim of depression/jogging pants causing crazy weight gain myself.
The Diet starts Tomorrow
Now that you're seeing what depression and overeating has done to your waistline you're determined to stop the pounds from inclining anymore and get them to start declining. So the diet starts tomorrow is the tune you're whistling to bed.
Tomorrow is Now Today
You wake up and step on the scale with yesterdays awful number staring back at you motivating you to make a change, but the thing is…you're still feeling down in the dumps. The mirror image looking back at you is showing you a puffy, bloated, and an unkempt mess. Not the best weight loss motivator. You're fumbling around your bedroom closet trying to find your favorite pair of fat jeans (jeans to wear when your weight fluctuates on the upper spectrum and they compliment extra weight gain) to discover those jeans are too snug! Now you have nothing to wear and have succumbed to those elastic jogging's with the "what's the point?" cry releasing itself.
Your mind is finding so many reasons to not take care of yourself the way you need to. Giving you excuse after excuse of reasons why you shouldn't take care of yourself.
- What's the point in brushing my hair when I'm a fat slob
- What's the point in putting on make up (shaving my beard) when I'm ugly anyway
- What's the point in getting dressed when nothing fits my fat behind
- Might as well go eat since I'll never lose this weight
- Nobody likes me because I'm fat
- I'm fat because nobody likes me
- I can't go to the gym to exercise because nothing fits my big butt
- I don't want people to see my jiggly fat jiggling so there's no way I'm stepping into a gym
Can Postpartum Depression Cause Weight Gain
Many people that haven't been pregnant before seem to think that once the baby is born the weight gain should stop and the mothers should get back into their old body shapes. Gimme a break.
I've been pregnant three times and the third was born in 2015 so everything is very fresh in my mind. I gained weight differently with each pregnancy but this third one really threw me a curve ball. The average weight gain during pregnancy is 25 to 35 pounds more or less depending if you're underweight or overweight prior to becoming pregnant.
I had some complications during this pregnancy that relied on being easier on my body i.e., no exercise. I was too afraid to be too active in fear of harming the pregnancy. The weight piled on. I ended up gaining more weight than I wanted and what's even worst is that when I left the hospital only 12 pounds were gone out of the 40 I'd gained.
POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION AND WEIGHT GAIN
I was asking every pregnancy forum I was apart of saying "how can I only lose 12 pounds when my baby weighed 7 pounds plus the weight of the placenta, extra blood volume and water weight is gone?" Since I wasn't breast feeding (I wanted to but things didn't work out...leaving that to myself) and didn't have the weight of the milk in my boobs I was confused by the weight that lingered on.
I guess I wasn't going to be one of those moms that walk out wearing their pre-pregnancy clothes (curse them...kidding 🙂 )
POSTPARTUM and the MIRROR
Now we are all home from the hospital with the new baby I sneak off to look at myself in the mirror. I took off my clothes still wearing the sexy hospital cloth underwear and looked at my body.
Where did those love handles come from?????? Apparently, when your belly is stretched to the max with the baby inside, your sides are stretched too and when there is no longer a baby inside those stretched out sides become flabby love handles. I stupidly assumed that just my mid-section was going to be affected. (I somehow blocked the outcome of my first two pregnancies out and forgot you gain weight everywhere).
I was staring at a very squishy looking body that had always been skinny. This is not me! I cried. Who is this flabby looking woman?
I was suppose to be enjoying my new baby but instead I was depressed about what the pregnancy did to my body and I did nothing but cry.
The weeks went on and the weight slowlyyyyyyy went down. I was approaching 3 months postpartum and was only down 4 more pounds since the day I left the hospital. I still looked 5 months pregnant. My uterus just didn't look like it was shrinking to its old size.
I cried. I cried. I cried. All day and everyday. I stared at my wedding photos, I stared at photos of myself at my most happiest times. Day dreaming about the figure I once had. I ignored phone calls from my friends wanting to meet the new baby and see me since I was a recluse for the entire pregnancy so the fear of them seeing this new slob looking version of myself when they used to tease me about being too skinny prior to becoming pregnant was taking its toll on me.
How can I face anyone looking like this?
I didn't leave my house except to go to the grocery store that was out of the way where I knew I wouldn't run into anyone I knew.
At my postpartum check up with my gynecologist he told me I was suffering from postpartum depression when I told him I was getting a lot of panic attacks and I was crying a lot (because of being fat), so he prescribed me some anti-depressants that did only one thing for me. Caused me to gain more weight and made it even harder to lose the weight. I was at my lowest point. I was enjoying the special moments with my new baby but I wouldn't allow anyone to take a photo of me holding her because I was ugly. Now I have a photo album with everyone in my family holding her and just a tiny photo of me at the hospital holding her. 🙁
Now it's the time to get back on birth control and my doctor has this new birth control he thinks I may like (not giving names) and can you guess what it caused me? To gain weight. What the $#&^!!!!
Am I being punished? I can't catch a break!!!
The depression got worst. I was fighting with my husband all the time because we were both sleep deprived with three kids one needing feedings throughout the night and I wasn't feeling so sexy so my husband began feeling ignored. Poor thing...I would sarcastically say to him. When what I felt like screaming was "You didn't have to go through any changes to have these babies and just participated in the fun part of creating them..."How could I give him that sexy attention looking the way I did. All he kept saying was "you're still beautiful...you just had a baby" but I didn't care I didn't want him seeing me this way! So he began getting angry at me and that made me even sadder.
Yes, I know. That is pretty unfair of me considering it wasn't his fault that he couldn't experience his body changing into this big beach ball where red squiggly marks begin to form and your back hurting, feet swelling all the while anticipating that day of excruciating pain. If he could he would switch places with me. 😉 Leaving that one alone.
I was clearly being irrational and resentful. I was depressed and just wanted to feel like myself and look like myself again. With the combination of only losing 12 pounds after the delivery and gaining weight from the anti-depressants/birth control I now weighed 5 pounds MORE than I did the day I went in to give birth.
TIME TO MAKE A CHANGE
I pulled out my exercising equipment that was bought from garage sales so they weren't the best but the only alternative for me seeing as how it was too hard for me to go outside to work out with too very young kids (the other was in school) and too embarrassed to be seen at the gym.
I kept trying to get out of my head with the negative thoughts and started telling myself "The person that can make things better is yourself" and I hopped onto my exercising bike. I biked and biked until I couldn't bike any longer with the angry adrenaline rushing through my body. I was angry exercising if you want to give it a name.
- I was angry about the weight I gained
- I was angry that my husband wasn't being as supportive as I wanted him to be.
- I was angry that moms that had their babies after me were already posting photos showing off the post baby body wearing bathing suits
I was angry and using the anger to give me the energy, motivation and determination to fit into all of my pre-pregnancy clothes. I had cut out the carbohydrates. I reduced my calories. I never touched soda. I was becoming a weight loss freak.
The weight began to melt off of me so fast that my mental health began to feel much better. The energy was coming back to my body without negative thoughts being the main fuel source. I couldn't believe how everything finally began to be going my way.
I was playing with my babies more and being more sociable and attentive to my husband. The thought of sabotaging this new elated feeling I was experiencing with something as bad as [insert your favorite junk food] that would only make me happy for the duration of the time it takes to chew and swallow it was not worth losing the happiness I was achieving.
I quickly lost 30 pounds in 8 weeks. I know what you're thinking, "That is too much weight in a short period of time," but you have to remember that my body was desperately trying to hold onto pregnancy weight that should have been long gone, I stopped the anti-depressants that caused some weight gain my body was working the way it should--depression can do crazy things and hormones combined effect your weight.
*Don't stop taking anti-depressants until you speak to your Doctor. I went to my Doctor first.
My body was finally coming back to normal at 6 months postpartum.
The last 10-15 pounds took a bit more hard work. Like it always does. So I just kept doing what I was doing and let my new found patience and determination do the rest of the work. It was a lot easier on my mental health to lose 10-15 pounds than it is to lose 40+ pounds. 10-15 pounds heavier than my pre-pregnacy former self wasn't that much noticeable because I could fit into my old clothes again.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the day that I could officially wear my pre-pregnacy clothes.
If you ever want to see what a person looks like jumping around their room doing ice skating triple jumps and hugging every person that walked by them and kissing their cats singing "I did it!!!!!!" Then just tell them to shed 30+ pounds and go into their closet looking for old clothes that they thought they would never be able to wear again and can finally wear them. I was basically doing "The Carlton Dance" all week long. Every time I put on another pair of "you'll never fit me again" skinny jeans.
I'm not Shallow
I don't want you readers to be thinking "She must be extremely shallow to think happiness is centered around being skinny and that you can't still be happy being bigger."
It's not that skinny is the tool to feeling happier that I'm trying to say because I've seen heavy people that have so much self-esteem and love the way they feel and look. I envy them.
What I'm trying to say is that I wanted to feel like MYSELF AGAIN. My body wasn't used to all the extra weight which put its toll on my back causing me serious pain when lifting my baby in and out of her crib. I didn't recognize my face because it was larger and puffier and my cheekbones were buried. I just wanted to feel and look like myself again. I didn't aspire to be a swimsuit model or make the cover of vogue I just wanted to wear my old clothes again and have the energy to be the best mom I knew I could be. When I'm heavier and feeling tired all the time the kids don't get the best of me. I wanted to be happy and energetic.
No two people are alike. You're allowed to want a skinny physique without feeling like you're shallow and you're allowed to want to be bigger and beautiful at a heavier weight if that's where you feel most happy and more like yourself. I know where I need to be in order to feel good about myself and where my personality is at its best.
How to Fight Depression Without Medication and Lose weight
- Redirecting your inner feelings as fuel for exercise - doing something that you know will only improve your health will raise serotonin levels ans it doesn't have to be strenuous exercise. Swimming your body around in the pool pretending your Ariel from the "Little Mermaid" (It was a childhood favorite of mine don't laugh at me ha!) instead of Michael Phelps is still exercise even if you're having fun. Just be careful about after you get out of the pool. I always feel hungry after swimming so have a healthy snack prepared beforehand.
- Go hiking - being outside alone with nature and not a crowded shopping mall will improve your mood dramatically. Having your face exposed to natural light and all that sunshine while listening to birds chirp is a great stress reliever. I have never seen a person look angry while taking a stroll through a park.
- Change your diet - The first week of cutting carbs I lost so much water weight and having all that initial bloat gone motivated me to continue on. Reducing calories is great but a combination of reducing carbs and calories will be even greater. I did a 1500 cal/50-100 carb combination. Find what is best for you and work it.
- Do Something Out of Your Comfort Zone - I did an obstacle course/marathon with my sister and it felt great. Of course during the marathon I thought I was going to die because I forgot I wasn't used to using much muscle since having a baby. That day motivated me to continue raising the bar and getting my body back into shape that is a shape that's not round.
I still struggle with anxiety from time to time and find myself slipping into a depressed mode once in a while but I can deal with it more knowing that I know how to beat depression and know how to lose weight fast (healthy fast way) when I find myself in a mental funk.
It's very hard to start that engine to losing weight and to tell depression to take a hike. I know. It needs to be done when you're ready and not because somebody told you to "lose weight" or "the depression is all in your head you just need fresh air..."
You're the only one in charge of you. It took 6 months after having my baby to get out of my head and begin making a change for the better. The struggle is real and unless someone else has been there that you can relate with you will feel alone and isolated in your negative thoughts.
For me that day I put on all of my old clothes 89.99% of the weight of the depression I was carrying on my shoulders (figuratively speaking...not fat weight) lifting and I felt light as a feather. I still had 10-15 pounds left to lose but I felt I was making progress and it gave me great motivation. I wanted to continue feeling that way I did that morning in my bedroom closet. I didn't want my depression to come back and knock me back onto my couch to cry and hide from all the fun everyone else was having outside my home.
The remaining 10.01% was apart of my continuing daily struggle. You can't expect to be happy everyday but I'll take the 10.01% over the 100% any day. I love being happy and my kids love seeing their mom happy.
Now when your ready and you feel like today's the day to make that change to being at 10.01% depressed is the day you'll succeed. It can only happen when you're willing to make it happen.
If you have any questions or just want to share something that will help another reader out please feel free to leave a comment. I love reading individual stories.
If you need more guidance into diet that help you to lose weight then check out these articles, Low carb vs low calorie , How many carbs to lose weight and The Day Off Diet: Reason You Stopped Losing Weight just to name a few.
UPDATE: I've just published my first ebook on Amazon titled From Skinny Girl to the Mom Bod: How to Transition Without Depression and I'm so proud of it. It's a 'short reads' about 34 pages but I share my true life story of my battle with postpartum depression and panic attacks with three pregnancies. There are some embarrassing moments shared, but I wanted to share them to help other ladies know that they're not alone.
I wrote the 'book' in hopes of shedding some extra light on what really happens after you give birth, bodily changes that can effect a mothers mental health.
People, doctors especially, always assume that postpartum depression is associated with difficulties bonding with a new baby, but my postpartum stemmed from the realization of what the pregnancies did to my body. A woman always wants to feel beautiful. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you. 🙂