A few weeks ago during one of our Seek Him Saturday calls, one of our members brought up the topic of depression.
To my surprise, more than 60% of the women on the call also struggled with depression. Since then, I’ve been hearing story after story about the ‘dark cloud’ that seems to permeate every single area of some women’s lives–including their weight loss.
Whether you suffer from bouts of depression or full-blown paralysis where you’re not able to get out of bed, you already know that it impacts your weight.
They are so intertwined because the part of the brain responsible for emotion–the limbic system–also controls appetite so what affects one will usually affect the other.
It’s difficult enough losing weight, but now attempt to do it when you have no will, desire, or motivation.
I’m no doctor or psychiatrist, but I will share a number of prescriptions that come from working with hundreds of women over the years. Try one or more and be sure to give yourself lots of grace and patience.
Tips for Weight Management and Depression
Recognize that some days will be better than others. Maximize the great days by focusing on eating nutritious foods and moving your body, and pray through the challenging days. Not every day will be great. If you have that expectation then you’ll always be disappointed, which can further your depression. Pray for wisdom. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you when you need to push through; and, make time for exercise and when you need to rest.
Although exercise and healthy eating might be the last things that you want to do, recognize that they will help both your depression and your weight. Even going for a walk and getting some fresh air will help to lift your spirit. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which interact with receptors in your brain to make you feel better. They act as an analgesic which diminishes the perception of pain.
Turn your worries and fears into prayers. I’ve heard it said that “if you can worry, then you can pray.” It’s the same process of repeating a thought over and over in your mind. As you experience anxiety, worry, or feeling blue, turn those feelings into prayers and let God know that you need Him in whatever you’re worried about.
Seek professional help if necessary. Many people believe that Christians should not be depressed. That’s like saying, ‘Christians should not get cancer.’ Whether or not you think we should or should not, WE DO! Knowing something is ‘off’ in your mind needs just as much attention as knowing something is ‘off’ in your body, so seek treatment if your depression is affecting your daily activities.
Live in gratitude. It’s had to find something to be grateful for when everything is tainted with a dark cloud. The Bible says Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Turn each day over to the Lord and ask Him to order your day. We’re constantly trying to fix ourselves and doing things that God has not called us to do. This can cause a lot of stress, anxiety, and frustration. Before you start each day, ask God what He wants you to focus on. Pray for strength for the day and eat healthily; make good decisions and be in His will. “You will make known to me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Psalm 16:11
Find other ways to feel better instead of turning to food. Here’s the vicious cycle: You feel depressed so your body craves sugary and fatty foods to make you feel better; you temporarily feel better, then quickly feel worse so you feel more depressed and the cycle continues. Choose foods that will boost your mood instead. Choose foods such as dark chocolate, nuts, seeds, avocados and apples to name a few.
Go deeper. Don’t focus on trying to make yourself feel better. Depression is a symptom of a deeper cause be it physiological, behavioral, psychological, nutritional, or spiritual. Get to the root of your depression instead of focusing on the symptoms.
Connect with others. There is a real enemy out there and his assignment is to steal, kill, and destroy. He knows that when he can isolate you alone with your thoughts, he will win. This applies to both depression and overeating. Create a proactive plan and let friends and family know that if they have not heard from you in a while to contact you. Ask them to pray for you and tell them what you will need from them to help you through those difficult times.
Establish a routine. Depression can take away structure from your life. Establishing a routine can provide much-needed structure, which can help you feel safe and in control. Be sure to include morning prayer, listening to motivational music, and walks in your routine.
If you struggle with depression, share some strategies that you use to help you cope.
Note: This post is in no way intended to treat depression. It’s to help women whose depression is getting in the way of their weight loss progress. If you’re battling depression or experiencing suicidal thoughts please seek professional care.
P.S. if you are tired of circling the same mountain over and over and want a Christ-centered approach to lasting weight loss without feeling guilty, deprived, or overwhelmed, be sure to sign up for our video course program right away at cathymorenzie.com