The “Pros” About Probiotics

Does S.A.D. cause your system to become out of whack or are you prone to weight gain?

In the previous post, I talked about my battle with carbs.

Thankfully I have been sick for the last few days, and my eating has tapered off again. Also a fluctuation in female hormones may be making it easier, in addition to the fact that I finished off the entire large container of Italian Pizzelles that my mom gave me at Christmas, and I do not have too many more things around here that I am tempted by. 😉  Sometimes you have to count the little blessings, right?

I want to share a blog post from my other blog that is not necessarily related to Seasonal Affective Disorder. However, I do feel that it is pertinent due to the fact that S.A.D. can cause weight gain, and probiotics can be useful in minimizing weight gain. As mentioned previously, I have lost 20 pounds through portion control and probiotics, so it is definitely something I would recommend that you check into.

Product Review: VSL#3 Probiotics Provide Positive Results for Digestive Systems in Distress

Taking Vitamin D supplements may be helpful to those who suffer from winter blues or S.A.D., and some probiotics even contain Vitamin D. So there are plenty of reasons why probiotics can be helpful to various individuals.

I do feel that at least some of my weight gain has been due to my S.A.D., so the use of probiotics has become a crucial part of my own weight loss routine.

Often ignored, probiotics may be the key to successful weight loss, even for those that suffer from S.A.D.

The Carb Conundrum

Carbs are the enemy...

I have been experiencing this problem. Let’s call it my carb conundrum. I guess it is to be expected with Seasonal Affective Disorder, but as of late, I have been feeling the urge to eat more sweets, like cookies, and salty items, like chips.

Normally I am not too tempted by these items, and over the last few months, I have actually lost 20 pounds through portion control. So needless to say, this sudden hankering for less-than-healthy food items is more than a little distressing. Surprisingly, I made it through the holiday season without the gaining that I expected to occur, and was so disinterested in food (not to mention, tired and overwhelmed) that I never even made any holiday treats. Maybe it was due to the extra junk food leftover from the holidays or getting used to the concept of eating more or an over-inflated confidence in my ability to lose weight whenever I desire, but now that the holidays are over, my eating troubles are just beginning.

I know that carbohydrate cravings are symptomatic of S.A.D., in addition to the corresponding weight gain that often accompanies these cravings. Many of my cravings occur when I am most tired or frustrated, and often in the afternoon when I hit a wall and need a sudden pick-me-up. But rather than cutting off my meals, I feel the need for a dessert to top it off, and I have been a lot more hungry than I was previously. Add into the equation the recent onset of worse winter weather, and it does not make for a good combination. Writing an article on Great American Pie Month, which involved lots of emphasis on fabulous pies and quiches, sure did not help either.

I am not often successful, but one way that I try to control these cravings is by not having the source of temptation available. I got a sample of an item that I wanted, and I gave it to my husband instead. I way overdid eating a box of candy that I bought recently, so I will be refraining from buying anymore of that. If I want an afternoon snack, I stick with a hot drink or some dry oatmeal, which is a carb, but is healthier, and a good source of fiber. Thankfully, I normally avoid eating too many chips or bread with dinner, and have not been interested in chocolates that have been sitting around for a while.

That being said, I need winter to be over sooner rather than later, lest I undo all of the improvement that I achieved over the last few months. I also need to get to working out on my lonely exercise bike, as that can help to undo damage caused by carbs.

How do you fight your carb cravings? Or are you lucky enough to avoid them altogether?  Do you feel differently from one year to the next? Please share your own tips and experience with this S.A.D.-induced carb conundrum.

Put the carbs down and back away...

Welcome to the SADdest Day of the Year

Today is a “special” day.

Today, January 16, 2012 is considered the saddest day of the year. According to British researcher Cliff Arnall, the third Monday in January is quite possibly the worst day of the year, and is otherwise known as “Blue Monday.”

This date was not arbitrarily chosen; rather, it is based on an equation. The equation takes into account the following factors: the time since Christmas (post-holiday blues), debt accrued over the holidays (did you get those credit card bills yet?), time since failing to keep your New Year’s resolutions (oh, did you forget about that already?), low motivational levels (feeling sluggish and not wanting to do anything), the feeling of a need to take action (it’s a new year, and we just had some time off– shouldn’t we feel more motivated?), and of course, the weather (can you say cold, dark, and days too short?). This complex calculation has been used to choose today as the most depressing day of 2012.

Though some may question the legitimacy of choosing one day to act as the saddest day of the year, something that can vary so greatly by person, nevertheless the concept in and of itself is very interesting, and from a logic point of view, it does seem to make sense. January brings the end of the brightness and busyness of the holiday season; a return to normal life, which includes school and work; days are still short; credit card bills start pouring in, forcing us to come to grips with our holiday spend-a-thon; our New Year’s resolution was not as easy to keep the second, third, fourth, etc. day into the year, and though we feel the need to at least try, we may come to the grim realization that it is just not worth it or just not possible. Is it any wonder that anyone can get depressed at this time of the year?!

For those of us who are seasonally affected, we can take some solace in another day that has already passed last month– the winter equinox. Though it would seem like a sad day to have the start of winter, it can actually be considered a good thing, as it marks the start of longer days. It may take a while to get to the long days that we love and that are like medicine to our souls, but we have the hope of what is to come.

Contrary to what Dan Kruger, an evolutionary psychologist, has described as a time that “there isn’t so much to look forward to,” we know that we have the prospect of spring and longer, sunnier days to look forward to. We are already on our way.

Try not to be too affected by this saddest day of the year. If you need something to cheer you up, remember that not all Blue Mondays are bad, like this classic 80’s tune “Blue Monday” by New Order.

Here's something to ponder: Do even pets get sad on the saddest day of the year?

Is Winter a Risk that You would Rather not Take?

Winter can leave you stumbling in the dark when it comes to financial decisions. Here's why...

Seasonal Affective Disorder can influence you in ways that you may not even consider. I remember reading that unemployment rates are high amongst those who suffer from S.A.D. due to their inability to perform according to normal standards during winter.

Apparently not only can the seasons affect your mood, but also your tolerance for risk. Read below for more information:

This is Your Portfolio on Winter: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Risk Aversion in Financial Decision Making

The study seems to indicate that those affected with S.A.D. are more concerned about financial risk during fall and winter, but more open to potential risk during spring and summer. I am no doctor, but I can understand these findings for at least a couple of reasons.

First of all, being that S.A.D. is a form of depression, during low-light months our outlook on life is diminished. We may become not only more down, but also more pessimistic. Likewise, during the better time of the year, we may feel more bright and sunny with a better outlook on life and a renewed sense of optimism.

Another reason that these findings may make sense is due to the nesting instinct that affects many people during cooler, darker days, whether they happen to be affected by S.A.D. or not. We instinctively desire to build up our resources during cold weather, and in doing so, derive some comfort that helps us to make it through the tough seasons. The concept of the market with its ups-and-downs may prove to be unbearable to someone who is trying to hold onto everything they have as a matter of survival.

The jury is still out as to whether you are wiser to be making serious financial or portfolio decisions during winter or summer. Decisions made in winter can be too safe to prove worthwhile; decisions made in summer may be too reckless to achieve your ultimate goals. Especially when it comes to finances, it is preferable to determine your course of action whenever you personally feel the most in balance. Or another option is to weigh your feelings on the issue throughout the various seasons to gather a general consensus of which direction you should go.

Balancing your portfolio may be a task best left to when you are feeling balanced.

My Own Personal Rules of S.A.D. Survival II

Well, I made it through the holiday season, and I am assuming that you did, too, if you are now reading this. It was a good stretch, and I had plenty of down time to get caught up on some writing and other things around the house. That has continued into this week, as it is has been extremely slow, but I am not complaining! It’s nice to have time to breathe and do some duties that normally get thrown by the wayside.

Part of my productivity and inspiration has stemmed from the decent weather that we have had thus far. The snow blower has remained in the garage, and we have barely had any snow to even speak of. Today was up to almost 50 degrees with full sun all day. We have been very blessed, to say the least. May it continue!

What is in your S.A.D. survival guide? I'm sharing what's in mine...

In one of my last blog posts, I talked about having some personal rules of S.A.D. survival. Well, good news, because I have the second installment of the post that was featured on The Crazy Rambler:

Guest Post II by “My Life as a Zombie” Dealing With S.A.D.

If you live someplace that Seasonal Affective Disorder is common, you know that you will deal with it on an annual basis, so it is wise to develop your own “S.A.D. Survival Guide,” whether formally or informally.

I want to thank The Crazy Rambler again for allowing me to take up some valuable space on her blog. I hope that you will check out her blog, which is much more advanced and versatile than this one.

In other news, this has nothing to do with S.A.D., but since zombies are an interest of mine, I thought it would be interesting to pass along this scientific news story about bees exhibiting zombie-like behavior:

Discovery.com– FLY PARASITE TURNS HONEY BEES INTO ‘ZOMBIES’

Maybe these zombie bees were exhibiting signs of S.A.D. by gravitating towards light and walking around in circles. That description does not sound all that different from me during winter. 😉 Talk about killer bees…

Enjoy the upcoming weekend!

"Zombee"? This news story suggests that the concept may be more real than we think. Photo credit: ShirtShovel.com