Carla had struggled with depression and a steady weight gain for five years, until she turned around her mood and waistline in a blink-of-an-eye "aha" moment.
After trying to get a grip on her life for several years, she went to a psychiatrist, who let her vent about frustrations and lack of energy. The doctor listened while Carla whined about her weight and how the sizzle had drained out of her love life. They both agreed that there didn't appear to be any major issues to explain the general funk. The psychiatrist suggested that Carla make some changes in her diet and lifestyle, maybe do some volunteer work, join the gym, talk to a dietitian. They brainstormed several options. Then, if all else failed, she'd prescribe a mild antidepressant.
That's how Carla ended up in my office. I was one of her homework assignmentssee a dietitian, when that flopswhich, of course, she assumed it wouldthen go back to the psychiatrist for medication. But, like so many best-laid plans, Carla's life was about to take a 180-degree turn.
A brief review of what she was eating made it crystal clear why she felt so bad and had gained 20 pounds. I concluded, "You're eating junk. No wonder you feel like junk." Carla looked me straight in the eye and I could tell a light had gone on in her mind.
"It was one of those 'aha' moments for me. The statement was so simple, yet it really hit home," says Carla. "I realized that since the baby was born, I'd fallen into this time mantra, telling myself over and over again that I didn't have enough time to work out, plan elaborate dinners or even bother with my weight or my looks. I was in the habit of grabbing quick-fix foods, like granola bars, chips or bean bur-ritos from a taco stand on my way to work. I still made dinner most nights, but I'd cut corners there, too. I was addicted to Marie Callender's frozen entrees and more than once the family ate boxed mac and cheese for dinner. Yet I told myself I was eating pretty good. Hey, my eating habits were no worse than anyone else's! I knew my food choices had contributed to the weight gain, but it never dawned on me that my slow but steady diet demise paralleled my slide into fatigue and depression."
Carla is not alone. In fact, odds are you probably are just like her. Only one in every 100 people in this country meet even minimum standards of a balanced diet. I'm not talking optimal here. Just minimum!
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed a questionnaire to assess people's eating habits. It's called the Healthy Eating Index and it divides the diet into 10 categories, such as the amount of bad fat you eat, the number of servings of fruits and the amount of vegetables in the diet. A diet is ranked from 0 to 10 in each category. Eat the optimal amount of fruits, for example, and you'll score a ten in that category. Score perfectly in all 10 categories and you get 100%.
Few people come close to a passing grade on the Healthy Eating Index. Americans consistently average a score of 52 on the scale of 0 to 100. In other words, we flunk eating. If our kids came home with a score like that on a math test, we'd ground them and hire tutors. Yet most people when asked how they rate their eating habits, answer that they think they do "Not great, but pretty well." Virtually all of them are delusional!Have You Lost That Lovin' Feeling?
As our eating habits took a nosedive in the past few decades, the rates of depression skyrocketed.
Today, depression is a leading cause of disability, second only to high blood pressure. Almost 15 million Americans are battling serious depression. Another 3.3 million hide under the sad umbrella most of the time. About 7 out of 10 Americans are overweight, which increases their risk for depression. (As people lose weight, their mood improves.) Not only does depression undermine a person's enjoyment of life, but it increases the risk fourfold for other health problems, such as heart disease. It also is the fast track to Frumpville, since 7 out of 10 people battling the blues say they lost their mojo somewhere down the road. In short, you can't get to sexy if you are chained to the blues wagon.
Most people turn to medication first to solve the problem. Antidepressants like Prozac are prescribed more often than any other pill besides the birth control pill. I am not saying thereisn't a place for medication when you're trying to "fix" depression, but drugs are not the Holy Grail of treatment, either. For one thing, up to 40% of people don't respond to these medications and even those who do, report the drugs don't erase the problem. Meds might make some people feel closer to normal or at least help them blunt the pain. But those drugs also can destroy sex drive, cloud thinking and kick self-confidence in the butt, which then undermines mood, leading to an even lower sex drive. Medication also comes with a few other nasty side effects, including fatigue, weight gain (up to 9 pounds a month!) and impotence. I'm not sure what is worsethe bad mood or the side effects from the drugs to treat it!A Mood Makeover
Luckily, Carla's psychiatrist felt it was worth her trying some life changes before she started popping pills. It worked. Once Carla fueled her body with the foods it needed to run well, her weight started dropping, while her mood improved.
Like Carla, you can reclaim and sustain hope, joy, an upbeat attitude and a confident spirit by making a few simple adjustments to how you treat your body and your life
with not one single side effect other than improved energy, lower disease risk, a slimmer waistline and a return of that mojo!
Let's get this straight right now. This is important, so listen up. You were not designed to be tired, depressed or overweight. It is not one of our basic survival skills. None of those modern-day problems would have served our ancient ancestors well on the savannah a million years ago. Our species survived because our ancestors were mentally and physically strong. A tired, grumpy, fat caveman would not have outrun a saber-toothed tiger, or would have been left behind when the tribe moved on. (Who's got time to give Ukluk a pep talk when the Ice Age is coming?) Depression and obesity are results of civilization, not genes. They are not "normal." They are not instinct, destiny or inevitable.
You also were not designed to eat Pop-Tarts, Cheez Whiz, white bread, potato chips or soft drinks. In fact, most of the more than 30,000 items at your local grocery store never crossed the lips of any of our ancient ancestors, dating back millions of years. The Pilgrims would not recognize our modern excuse for food, either. Even a Civil War soldier would be amazed at what we are putting in our mouths. In short, our eating habits have changed astronomically in the past 100 years, yet we are genetically identical to our ancient ancestors who evolved and thrived for eons on diets composed of fruits, vegetables, root plants, wild grass seed, wild game, seafood, nuts and a bit of honey.
Processed foodsmade with refined grains, added sugars, fat, salt, additives, colorants, stabilizers, preservatives and moreare as alien to your body as breathing carbon monoxide. Put junk into your body and guess what? You get fat, tired, obstinate, depressed, forgetful and cranky. And you end up with a team of physicians doing damage control.
That's what had happened to Carla. The general malaise that had taken over her life crept up slowly and steadily as she turned her back on the foods that sustain a happy, vibrant, sexy life. Instead, she wolfed down processed junk. Eat junk and you will feel, look and act like junk.
Butand here's the great part!eat well and, I promise, like Carla, it will turn your life around. You'll be happier, leaner, more energetic, and you will feel sexier!!! The better you eat, the healthier and more vibrant you are. The healthier you are, the sexier you feel.
Carla followed the diet advice I gave her that day. She slowly adopted the six rules from the S-Ex-Y Diet (the Sensual Extraordinary You
Diet) and within six weeks, she had dropped 12 of the 20 pounds she wanted to lose, had canceled the follow-up appointment with the doctor ("Who needs drugs when you can feel this good with food?") and even her coworkers noticed her newfound energy.