I spent some time toodling around YouTube and found this Stephen Ilardi TEDx talk to be worth the time.
While I had heard much of the information in this talk elsewhere in my studies what I hadn't heard was such a strong argument for the effectiveness of lifestyle changes on depression. Ilardi's description of our ancient evolutionary adaptations and the immense lifestyle changes resulting from the industrial revolution made so much sense to me. Being a "sensitive" person and struggling with mental health issues, I find myself thinking quite often that I just don't belong in this day and age. Maybe it isn't so crazy to feel that way when our bodies truly are adapted for a totally different lifestyle!
If you watch the video you'll find an interesting picture of a white rat in Ilardi's slides as he discusses exercise. This point in the talk triggered many memories for me. Having been overweight for the majority of my life (I started feeling fat in 4th grade and dieting by middle school) I've had my fair share of experience with treadmills, boot camps, yo-yo dieting, and guilt-trips. Having Ilardi firmly state that exercise is not natural (aboriginal cultures don't exercise, they simply live) made me feel better about not having a gym membership and my preferences for walking, hiking, jogging, hard work, and yoga. His talk also made me realize the skewed relationship I have with diet and exercise.
For many years I've been encouraged to lose weight and eat differently for mostly cosmetic reasons. While I would occasionally get the message that my health would benefit the overwhelming conclusion was that exercise and dieting was to lose weight and change myself and not related to personal wellness. I still struggle with this programming and the horrible self-esteem it has generated but I hope to grow away from those misguided ideals. I've found that not only does improving my health for aesthetic purposes not work but focusing on my wellness is more beneficial and effective. It's so much easier to get out for a jog when I tell myself that I'll feel better rather than putting myself down and pushing through a punitive exercise! Maybe I haven't been so off-base most of my life, maybe I've just been lost in translation.
I plan to read Ilardi's book soon. I'm sure I had come across it before in the library but was turned off by the title, "The Depression Cure." After seeing Ilardi's talk on YouTube, I think I'll now give it a good once over :)