The Return of the ADHD Review

I came across a podcast I just had to listen to because it was about the relationship between exercise and the brain, exercise as treatment for ADHD.  I have had an ongoing series in this blog about wellness and the struggle to maintain fitness and I try to throw in there from time to time how my mental health is affected.

Justine Ruotolo talks with Dr John Ratey about exercise and how it improves the Neuroplasticity  of our minds.  Justine and Dr. Ratey talk about rigorous exercise of the body as well as meditation (exercise of the mind) and how our brain is similar to a muscle.  Activities such as dance, martial arts, gymnastics, soccer… exercise that requires constant change of position, all help with brain health.  Dr. Ratey starts by talking about a patient he had in 1981 who had been a marathon runner.  The runner suffered an injury and subsequent depression, and began exhibiting signs of ADD.  His whole life he had essentially been self medicating with exercise.  They also talk about exercise to manage behavior in children by activating their brains instead of putting them on time out.  Exercise is great for all ages and for many disorders or dysfunctions, exercise could help with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

 

Treating with exercise is what I want to do. Exercise increases receptors of dopamine and norepinephrine, and is good for all of us, not just for treating mental of physical illness but for applying our brain and body the way they are designed to be used.  Too easily we get sucked into other dopamine triggers like video games, alcohol, etc., which can damage our brains instead of strengthen them.  Exercise is great for treating aggression, depression, self discipline, self respect, as well as developing our neuroplasticity.

If you want to listen to the podcast, you can find it here.  For more about Justine Ruotolo, click here.

Recommended reading related to this topic:

Spark

 

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Wellness Wagon: week 31

31 weeks cigarette free.  Starting to slim down again, and I’ve cut back on junk food and alcohol.  Let’s see if I can’t get to my goals before the Wellness Wagon one year mark!

  • Drop weight down to 180 from 216
  • Register for tough mudder and 10k
  • Continue to be cigarette free
  • Develop a more consistent dietary plan

I have until June to get it together! My biggest obstacle is my own attitude.  I have had a lot of “I can’t” going on, and i haven’t had the energy or motivation get more exercise and make better food.

Wellness Wagon: week 27

I want to start with an apology.  I’ve always had the mentality that you’re only hurting yourself when you stop taking care of yourself.  But honestly, why start a blog and make promises to your readers if you’re not going to stick to your guns and set a good example.  The simple answer is that my blog is honest. It’s real.  I am not perfect and I’m going to slip up.  That’s still no excuse for letting it happen, and it’s time pick pick ourselves back up and shake this grief and self loathing.

This week I began the climb back on the wagon. I ran a mile Friday morning and felt pretty good, so next week I want to hit the ground running.  I have started thinking about the races I want to get into.  I want to try to get into a 10 mile or half marathon by the end of 2017.  Tough Mudder.
Without regular exercise, the only dopamine triggers I have are food and alcohol. My intake of junk food this time of year is extremely unhealthy.  As my body gets heavier and my organs are abused, i go into a depression.  I get down on myself about my choices, but when the opportunity comes to be active, I can’t push myself to do the right thing.  Then I feel bad about that! The cycle continues until I snap or when my breathing becomes difficult and my pants don’t fit anymore.  That is where I am now. It is hard to breath.  I don’t sleep well. I feel like crap about myself.  If this sounds familiar, that’s because this happens to many, many people this time of year.  We let ourselves down when we let ourselves go.  It’s time to push past that.  

I am still kind of down about everything so I don’t really know what else to say at this point, but just know that I am trying to claw my way out of the hole I’ve dug and maybe next week’s post will have a lighter note.

Wellness Wagon: week 19 and the routine 

Anyone who has ADHD knows routine is crucial to success.  I’m no different. here’s mine:

Monday: wake up at 4am. decide I need another 90 minutes of sleep more than I need exercise. spend the rest of the day feeling depressed and guilty that i’m not pursuing the lifestyle I want.

Tuesday: not a run  day.  think about exercising anyway, decide against it because life is exhausting enough.

Wednesday: finally run before work. feel better about myself.

Thursday: re-stablish  self loathing and hope I have the descipline to run again hy the end of the day.  I don’t, but I drink enough to not  care. 

Friday: last day of work, start to plan a long run for the weekend. feel pretty good about it.

The weekend: 50:50 chance I’ll run as planned. one more week under my belt…

This is my life.  I post regularly about going weeks without cigarettes and staying healthy, but don’t think for a minute that it’s not a struggle.  the key is knowing that  I’m making more good choices than bad.  

I am sick again. so there’s that.  It’s just a cold. 19 weeks cigarette free, and still kept off about half the weight I’ve lost this year. I tried running Sunday but I was so wiped out from being  sick that I only made it about about 1.5 miles. but that’s still better than sitting on my ass, right?

Still steady at ~ 200lbs.  feeling somewhat pessimistic at the moment. however a fellow quitter broke this week and started smoking again, and I remained on the path of the non smoker.  a proud moment for me.

That’s all for this week.

Wellness Wagon : Week 18 – 10K

Week 18. The Sycamore Pumpkin Run 10k. Sometimes it looks like that I’m really starting to step up my game. Actually, I ran a race. All that means is I ran that race. I hardly trained for it, and it was a real wake up call.

I fully support taking medication to treat ADHD. For me it just wasn’t the way. Its important to know however, that while you are not putting any chemicals into your body by using exercise and nutrition to treat your ADHD, you still put yourself through a lot of stress. Its very difficult to figure out a set time of day several days a week to exercise. For me, the commute to and from work means that I have to run in the morning. That means getting up at about 4 o’clock in the morning, going for a run, getting ready for work, working all day, then getting home at 6 p.m. and maybe having enough energy to make dinner before I crash. Sure, as I exercise more I’ll have more energy and I’ll be able to do more at the end of my day when I get home; but that hasn’t happened yet. So I’m faced  with a daily dilemma of having to decide whether not to get another hour sleep or get off my butt and go for a run before work.

One thing that I’ve recognized is that while it’s definitely a struggle to try to do the same kind of exercise several days a week at the same time of day its a little easier if you change a few things. For example, I prefer to run, however it’s easier to put a cardio routine into my afternoon one day instead of running that morning. I can do cardio at home in my living room where I don’t have to worry about who’s watching my kids. Plus, they have the opportunity to see me exercising and it motivates them. It inspires them  to do the same and they turn it into a lot of fun. So there’s that.

So here we are Week 18 and I ran a 10k. I thought for sure that this race would be tough, and it was; however apparently I’ve done enough training to achieve more than I thought I was capable of. My goal was to run the 10k in 78 minutes. My finish time was 64 minutes, and that’s after I was able to get my phone out of my armband to stop the timer. There’s nothing quite like that “next day soreness” after a hard run or a hard work out to remind you that you still have a long way to go. I do still have a long way to go. It will not be easy, however I know now that even though it’s been difficult to stay on task over the last few weeks, the fact that I’ve kept trying got me to where  I am now;  and the fact that I’m going to keep trying is what’s going to get me to my next milestone. So for anybody who is reading this and is inspired to exercise; even if you don’t have ADHD, even if you just want to live a healthier life; understand that it’s going to be hard and you may not feel results but every once in awhile if you throw something into your routine like a race or a challenge or a competition to gauge your progress you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.

Wellness Wagon: Week 17

17 weeks and the srruggle continues. I’m pretty much back to eating whatever I want, just so long as I don’t get out of hand.  Carbs and candy are back on the menu! 

17 weeks cigarette free and I still have an occasional longing, but I’m sticking to my guns.

I’m still holding steady at 198 lbs. I have a 10k race next Sunday which I’m sure will be a nice wake up call. I have no doubt that I’ll finish. I’m still making progress.

I have a couple health food cook books I want to start finding favorite recipes in; I try to share what I like on here.

Wellness Wagon: Week 16.5?

Holy Crap where did that week disappear to?!  I’m well into week 17 now.  I have had an immensely busy month and the time is starting to get away from me!  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, except my energy disappears faster than I like, and I’m finding myself constantly giving in to rest and relaxation to cope with stress and anxiety, instead of Exercise.  Many of you probably think that is a good thing, but remember what this blog is about: ADHD.  I run to get in shape, yes; and to manage stress and anxiety.  However, ultimately, it is to manage my ADHD by providing exercise-induced hormones and endorphins, which help manage dopamine release, which in turn allows my mind to stay focused without seeking out additional stimulation.

so that was a mouthful.  Simply put, if I don’t run, my ADHD symptoms are unchecked.  I then backslide into junk food and video games. I did run last night, and today I decided to change it up a bit by trying the workout below.

 

 

 

 

I found it to be pretty fun, and the constant changing of exercises kept me interested.  The only downside is that I’m still a fairly big man, and I still have back issues from a rollover accident a few years ago in which I fractured my spine.  so some of the exercises I had to modify to avoid harmful stress on my back.  Some of the stretches in her cool down were clearly for expert level yoga instructors, but again, I was easily able to improvise and stretch a little differently.  So eventually I will try it again.

so, back into the usual routine of this blog.  more than 16 weeks cigarette free.  I’ve put on a few pounds, because I haven’t held myself accountable for maintaining a healthy lifestyle for the past week and a half, and prior to that I had been sick.  No matter the excuses, I’m back on the wagon and moving forward, with a goal of beeing below 180lbs by 2017.  right now I’m at around 198.

wish me luck.