DEPRESSION, ANXIETY & FITNESS

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In the summer of 2015, World Health Edmonton member and associate publisher of Edmonton’s Child Magazine Chris Reeve noticed something was off.

“I was having trouble sleeping, and was being consumed with concern about things that I hadn’t previously,” explains Chris. “I had always been an anxious person, but this was different.”

Chris references one afternoon when she was leaving her kids at summer camp.

“There was a ledge sticking out from the wall at the community hall,” explains Chris. “I sat at the door and actually pictured my son, who was bouncing a ball towards it, running into it and hurting himself very badly.”

For the two hours that Chris was gone, she couldn’t get the image out of her head.

“I just kept thinking, I’m going to be half way across the city in a meeting and they are going to call me, but I won’t get there fast enough,” she remembers. “It was awful.”

The small things had become the big things and Chris found herself overwhelmed and up throughout the night worrying relentlessly about things that would likely never happen.

“It was making me cranky all day and keeping me from being the mom I wanted to be,” says Chris. “I finally went to the doctor for my regular check up and decided to mention how I was feeling.”

Chris’s doctor decided to put her in touch with a psychologist.

“I left wondering if this type of thing happens to other people, so I talked to a few moms I know,” says Chris. “Many had either been through something similar or knew people who had. I felt better but didn’t really know where to start while I waited for my appointment.”

In the meantime, Chris was invited to take part in Fresh Fit Foods’ 21 Day Challenge involving various members of the Edmonton media. The challenge involved eating healthy meals from Fresh Fit Foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner and working out 3-5 times a week at World Health. She eagerly accepted, and in order to fully embrace the rules of the challenge she weaned herself off of coffee in the two weeks prior to her start date.

“I can tell you this,” says Chris. “I was looking for weight loss and maybe some toning, but I did not expect my parenting and my emotions to be so affected by the challenge.”

Chris on the final day of her 21 Day Challenge

Chris on the final day of her 21 Day Challenge

Chris learned a lot during her three weeks on the 21 day challenge, including the upside of ditching her pot-a-day coffee habit.

“Without the coffee contributing to the anxiety, adding on the endorphin producing workouts and having that hour to myself almost every day- it was life changing,” explains Chris. “I am absolutely certain the healthy eating contributed as well. Suddenly I was eating protein at every meal and boat loads of fruits and veggies! I’m not a doctor and I’m no scientist but I tell you- I changed.”

The wrap up of the Fresh Fit Foods 21 Day Challenge coincided with Chris’s psychologist appointment.

“I went in and told him I had considered cancelling because I felt a million times better,” she explains. “We talked about what I was doing and he said that would have been exactly what he would have suggested I try first before medication.”

Chris was still diagnosed with depression and anxiety, but her doctor agreed that using fitness and proper nutrition to manage it would work for her for the time being.

“I felt better, looked better and was a better mom,” says Chris. “I knew I had to keep going on this path.”

Chris is blown away by the internal transformation she has experienced, but doesn’t discredit that she is still human.

“Do I still have anxiety sometimes? Absolutely! But when it’s something completely outside of my control it doesn’t consume me. I can breathe, put it aside and refocus myself,” she explains. “Do I sometimes still lose my cool on my kids? Heck yeah I do, but not half as often.”

Chris had never considered that amping up her exercise, eating right or cutting out coffee could be the answer for her.

“I’m sharing my story because it’s nice to know you’re not alone,” says Chris. “And maybe somewhere out there there is someone like me who doesn’t know where to start to try and feel better.”

For more information on mental health and where to get help, visit http://www.health.alberta.ca/health-info/AMH-Mental-Health.html

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