January 11, 2013

Fit Friday: Seasonal Affective Disorder

First of all... I am a NaBloPoMo failure. I really love the concept of having preset topics to write about for an entire month; however, I also hated it. I kind of felt like I was forcing myself to write about things that maybe I didn't have the most passion for not to mention, I simply lack the time to post every day. I do appreciate the topic of the month though: Energy. I'm going to talk a little bit about that today.

Skating after 17 yrs. Ouch.
Skating on our pond
Winter in Minnesota is both awesome and awful all at the same time. I love it because I get to wear cozy sweaters, cute jeans and get all bundled up by the fireplace. I love skating, skiing and have a 4 year old who loves nothing more than to play in the snow. I also hate it because around mid-January, I get the blues. There is an actual disorder for it- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and I get bombarded by it every year without fail. These are the symptoms:


  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of energy
  • Heavy, "leaden" feeling in the arms or legs
  • Social withdrawal
  • Oversleeping
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating
No matter how hard I try to tell myself that it's not happening, it always does. I get most of these symptoms to varying degrees. It sucks. Not just for me, but for everyone around me who has to deal with me acting this way. It doesn't take much to knock me off my game so friends and family... you have been warned. I rarely realize the effect of my words and actions until I look at the aftermath and have to clean it all up.

Warm, Cozy Sweaters
There are ways to combat it. Meds. Exercise. Winter vacations. I won't do meds other than your typical vitamins, I exercise, but it usually does not suffice and winter vacations have just never ended up on our agenda. Rag on me all you like, but I combat it by doing about 10 sessions in a tanning booth over about a 3 week period. Now, I'm not a year round tanner, so I feel like I can get away with it even just for a short time. Frankly, it is wonderful. It is warm, relaxing (albeit slightly claustrophobic) and it gives me just the slightest healthy glow to my winter white pale skin.





Cozy blankets & kids
My 7 & 10K training has also helped significantly this year. Instead of turning to the carbs as I normally would, I have been jumping on the treadmill to punch out my training. I am using Active.com's 5K to 10K training app and it is a fantastic challenge that has really brought me to the next level. I hate that I have to be on a treadmill, but hey, it's MN. My options are limited and I am definitely not a cold weather runner. I think it has been good for me to have a fitness goal during this time of year- it helps to keep me focused. My most recent accomplishment is running 4.2 miles in 45 minutes (which included a 5 minute walking warmup and 5 minute cool down)- my goal for the 7K (4.4 miles) is 45 minutes so I still have some work to do. I really do think this training app will help to get me there. Running really helps me work out my frustrations not to mention helps me gain clarity and focus. I have to be focused when I am running otherwise my form gets lazy and I get side cramps. No thank you. When I am running, it is just me and the road (or on the treadmill, the road in my imagination). Nothing else matters. Nothing else exists. Just the end goal. Get there. Get there fast. It is awesome.

Nothing is fool proof in battling my SAD. I can do all of these things and still wind up not coming out of the fog until springtime arrives. I don't want SAD to seem like an excuse for my erratic behavior, but more like an explanation. It helps me understand too how I can be on top of the world and then so quickly bottom out. I will continue to try and recognize when SAD is about to get the best of me, but if one of those moments is missed, I guess I will just have to do my best to pick up the pieces.


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