Depression Vs Anxiety

Hello everyone and welcome back to the blog. Today’s topic is a ‘light’ discussion on the subtle difference between depression and anxiety. I’ll throw the obligatory “I’m neither a doctor nor a psychiatrist” rant here. Please, if you feel any major symptoms (suicidal thoughts, self harm or harm to others) talk to someone licensed in your area.

To solve a problem, we must first identify all the variables, and come to an accurate conclusion. Only then, can we take a course of action that will lead to a desired result. To take the gym as an example, I can’t train a vegan and a carnivore the same; their bodies both have strengths and weaknesses in the recovery realm, and will respond to different work volumes differently. I would need to gain a deep understanding of exactly what they’re putting into their body and when, so that I can tailor a personalized program for each to get the maximum results, or risk injury and illness.

Depression and anxiety are much the same. They often have the same symptoms and thoughts surrounding them, but understanding the key difference between the two is the difference between actual healing and medicating a problem with more and more coping mechanisms.

The key difference is time: “Depression is the fear that yesterday will be tomorrow. Anxiety is the fear of tomorrow.” I heard this in an interview with Paul Chek, someone that grows more impressive the more time I spend studying his material. It especially rang true for me, as I’ve been through years of therapy, talking about different ways I can communicate with others to help better my social life and deal with crippling fears around work. But, as I stated, my issue of depression had nothing to do with the moment. It had to do with my ‘yesterday;’ my childhood traumas not being dealt with.

Think of it this way. If you imagine your mind as a garden, your mental health can be measured by the amount of weeds you allow to exist. With depression, my original therapist attempted to give me the sharpest scissors and best searching tools ever to cut back the weeds, but failed to teach me how to get at the weeds from the root, forever allowing the issues to come back over and over.

At the time, my garden was overrun with weeds, so the short term success of clearing out the bulk was awesome. But, without dealing with the root of the issue, they came back stronger yet, leaving me worse in the long run.

To continue the garden analogy, anxiety is the fear of weeds ruining the garden whether there are/were weeds or not. This fear of perfection, or not being enough leads to sometimes crippling dread of tomorrow that leaves people exhausted from preparing for an uncertain future. Having this run in my family (skipped me fortunately), I know that most of this stems from having felt a lack of control over a situation at some critical point in the past. But while the fear of yesterday was massively prevalent in depression, this is only to a small degree with anxiety. The truth of life is this: even if we were to be able to control every variable (which if you ask me would be really boring), there are things in life beyond our ability to even comprehend, let alone control.

Plus, I don’t know about you, but so many things that ended up been a blessing in my life happened when I wasn’t trying at all. Like Tony Robbins says: “Life happens for you, not to you.” When we control life, we resist life’s greatest gift which is excitement!

Now, I’ll attempt to leave you with some practical action steps for each of these. Depression being the fear of yesterday happening again tomorrow, we’re looking at modalities that deal with the issues ‘rooted’ in our past. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) has a wealth of scientific evidence behind it, and can alleviate the physical sensations from a traumatic memory. Remember, we feel things first, and then it goes to the brain to be processed, and then sent back to the body for an action.

Another is Somatic Trauma Release (STR), sometimes called resolution, or even somatic experiencing. If you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘the issues are in the tissues,’ STR stimulates the tissues in specific ways to ‘shake out’ the memories from the somatic systems of the body. It sounds outlandish, but I can say from personal experience that just 5 sessions of this was more powerful than two years of talk therapy combined.

With anxiety, we’re dealing with the fear and dread of tomorrow’s possibilities. For this, I’ll first say that fear is an acronym: false evidence appearing real. Often, when we really analyze the fears of people with anxiety, we find that there is really no evidence or validity to their fears (Note: if there is evidence, this is a depression case appearing with symptoms of anxiety, and still stems from past trauma). These fears have a lot of sources, but I find that the most prevalent one is some form of chemical imbalance in the forms of stress; too much caffeine, shot adrenals, even mild food allergies will put our bodies into a mild but strong enough sense of fight or flight to think that a tiger will jump out at any second when we’re simply sitting at our desk.

Fear setting is the first modality I’d recommend for an anxiety case. Briefly, fear setting is a way to hedge against your biggest fears in an attempt to define and constrain them. Often these fears are so vague in our mind that they range from zero harm to death. But, we can’t take that risk, and we control like death is around the corner anyways.) You can search Tim Ferriss Fear Setting to read his blog, or watch his TED talk on the matter to learn more.)

There are many modalities out there, but the lowest hanging fruit I’ve found in my research seems to be caffeine and a lack of deep sleep. To continue my overused tiger analogy, our nervous system is designed to always have a low level look out for danger, and if one actually presents itself, the adrenal glands produce a whole host of hormones to ramp up our potential to either fight the tiger or run the heck away. Caffeine is a molecule that skips all the sensors, and goes right to the adrenal glands to ask for low doses of the same hormones. But, just like sensitivity to things like lactose and gluten vary from person to person, caffeine sensitivity varies from individual to individual. If our levels of these adrenal hormones go up enough, the resulting fight or flight response kicks in. But our brain gets confused; we’re reacting like there’s a tiger, but there’s no tiger. So where is it? I have to look out for it until I find it, or pass out from exhaustion from looking.

(Side note: most of us can benefit from at the least reducing our caffeine intake. You might find that any trouble sleeping, random fatigue or that “2pm crash,” or even irritability will at the least decrease. For people with anxiety, cutting caffeine can be a wealth of relief)

To wrap up this heavier than intended post, depression and anxiety are not mutually exclusive. A bit of depression includes anxiety of the past happening tomorrow, making it much more real because the past DID happen. But one key question to answer is this: Is my fear that I’m attempting to control for the same every time? Or is it a sort of looming fear of an eventual bad that has not real definition? For me, it was the same every time; of feeling like I’d never be enough. It came in different forms, sure. But at the root of the weed, it was my sense of self worth. Yes, I did have anxiety about the next day and still not being enough, but my healing required digging out the weed from the root, not trimming it back.

 

That’s it for today. I hope this information was helpful to you all. As always, have a happy and healthy rest of your day, and I’ll talk to you next time

 

-Omid

Trouble Losing Weight? Diet and Exercise might not be the answer!

I’m about to say something controversial: diet and exercise are not the most important parts of losing weight. Yup, that’s right. A personal trainer saying that there are more important things involved that the very reason people hire me.

Before you run off and hire someone else, let me first use a quick analogy to make my point. When we think of our home, we often think of the color of the walls, what kind of curtains we want to use, hardwood vs carpet, etc. But to me, all that is useless if the house is built on an unstable foundation. It might look great for a while, but cracks will start to appear, and pretty soon the whole house is worthless because the roof is starting to collapse. Time to demolish and start again.

To be clear, diet and exercise ARE important. But just like the house, diet and exercise are not the foundations of health and sustained weight loss. So where do diet and exercise rank in terms of importance? Here’s the whole list.

Kettlebell Front Squat

#5 – Exercise

Without going too deep into the science, weight loss all comes down to calories. The current model is CICO (calories-in, and calories-out), where if we burn more calories than we take in, we lose weight. When it comes to calories-out, there’s two big parts.

Part 1 is what we call our basic metabolic rate. Think about BMR as the calories the body would use even if we were in a coma. The challenge is, according to the US department of Agriculture, the daily recommendation for calorie intake is anywhere from 2,000 to 2,600 calories. So, to make up the difference between BMR and what we eat on a daily basis, exercise and movement is needed to drive up the number of calories burned.  

Easy example: 2,200 calories in from food, BMR of 1,100. I’ve got 1,100 calories left to ‘burn’ through exercise, or the leftover calories will be stored as fat.

#4 – Nutrition

Shrimp and Grapefruit

Following the same logic as above, nutrition is the calories-in portion of our equation. If we eat more calories than we burn through BMR and exercise, the body stores the extra calories for future use. Great news if it’s 500+ years ago when we would sometimes have to go days without eating. Bad news when our refrigerators are stocked, and the nearest grocery store or restaurant is only a few blocks away.

So, to balance that equation, take in less calories through food. If we keep the same BMR from above at 1,100, but only take in 1,700 calories through food, I’d only have to ‘burn’ 600 extra calories through movement to maintain weight.

 

And this is where most people stop. Eat less, move more, making calories-in less than calories-out, and we lose weight. Right? Well, for some people. The next three points are where things get tricky and quite frankly frustrating to think about. Because the next three points are where I find most people fail to lose the weight they want. Before I list them, I need to make one point clear, and that’s about what we’re made of.

You are the product of 37 trillion cells coming together to make up one big body. What’s even cooler is that those cells don’t stay the same through your life. Just like we need to replace batteries in our electronics, when a cell has burned as many calories as it can, it gets replaced by a new cell.

The problem is lifestyle gets in the way of that replication process. And that’s where our next 3 factors come in.

 

#3 – Sleep

Omid Sleeping

It makes sense that WHAT we eat is just as important as how much we eat. If we want a healthy body, we need to eat things that will support building better cells. Veggies and good quality fats are imperative to that process just as protein is vital for building muscle cells. But it’s when our head hits the pillow that the process of healing and rebuilding cells takes place.

The vast majority of human beings need anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but it’s more than the amount of time between the sheets. Sleep is more about the quality of recovery we get. Think about it this way: we all know that stress is bad for us. Cortisol is what we call a catabolic hormone; a hormone that breaks things down. Sleep produces what we call anabolic hormones; hormones that are coupled with rebuilding processes. If we don’t sleep enough, or worse off, we’re still stressed from bad food and too much screen time, the body never gets rid of enough cortisol, and the cells don’t grow back right.

Let me be clear on this point. Sleep is critical for the cells to replicate well. If we don’t sleep well or enough, the cells that grow are not as strong as the previous cells. Those new cells now are less capable of burning calories efficiently, and therefore we’re handicapping the calories-out part of the equation. I can’t stress this enough, so I’ll say it again: Sleep trumps exercise!

#2 – Hydration

Water Glass

Ever heard the expression ‘burning calories?’ Well, to burn something is to take it through a chemical reaction. Every single cell inside your body is electro-chemical, and water is the number one thing those cells need to maintain every single function. Think about it this way: the body can survive up to ten days without food, but only 2-3 days without water.

You can eat the best diet in the world, but the cells in the gut need water to properly break down the food. You can do the best weight based workout ever, and sleep 9 hours, but the cells need water to get rid of all the waste from the muscles breaking down. You can even meditate for an hour every day, but without water, the adrenals get stressed out and produce cortisol at alarming rates.

The number one challenge to water is this: getting too little water (dehydration) and getting too much water (hyponatremia) both feel the same! It’s all about getting the amount of water you take in to balance your sodium levels. The rule of thumb is this: 0.5oz of water per pound of body weight. But keep in mind, everyone is different, and that fluctuates depending on your diet and activity level.

#1 – Respiration

Lungs

Everyone breathes. Period. The body can go a few days without water, but if you stopped breathing, you’d be brain damaged within only 4 minutes, and dead within 10. Yet with little exception, everyone fails to breathe WELL. This point is massively important because every cell in the body respires just as we do. When a cell takes a breath, it brings in fresh resources and calories to do a job, and then excretes the waste products left over. (Fun fact, when we talk about burning calories, the biggest waste product is carbon dioxide that leaves us via the lungs. That’s right, if you want to lose weight, breathe more!)

I want you to think about your breath as the accelerator pedal in the car, and the respiration of the cells as the speed (mph). When you want to get up to a faster speed, you apply more acceleration by pushing down on the pedal. But once you get to the desired speed, you can’t just stop applying the accelerator; otherwise the car will slow down bit by bit. Cell respiration is your speedometer, and the frequency of your breath is the gas pedal. When we breathe poorly, it’s like starving the engine of gas, so the whole thing slows down. Every cell in the body respires less, and a whole host of things gets produced less effectively: hormones, neurotransmitters, ATP, carbon dioxide, and even calories don’t get burned at the same rate!

You can have the best diet and exercise regiment ever created, but if you’re not breathing well outside of sessions, the body is slowly going through asphyxiation from the inside out. The good news is that just like that gas pedal, you don’t need to deep breathe every second of every day. About once an hour, stand up and take a few full breathes to keep the ‘speed’ of the cells up.

The last thing I want to mention about the respiratory system is that because oxygen is the highest priority to our survival (remember, dead in 10 minutes without it), it is thus intertwined with a ton of other systems we have. I could write a book on that topic alone, so for the purpose of this post I’ll be brief and only list a few examples:

            The Muscular System: Take a big breath in, and notice what shape your body takes, or what movements happen. Then breathe out, and I mean ALL the way out. Every ounce of air out, and see what shape your body takes. It’s more than just the diaphragm, but the whole muscular system moves with the breath.

            The Digestive System: When we take a full breath, the diaphragm pushes down on the digestive system, moving around the internal organs almost like a massage. This helps squeeze and push not only food through the system, but helps stimulate the secretion of digestive enzymes to help break down the food.

            The Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS): This is the branch of the nervous system coupled with rest and digestion. Without going into too much detail, think of the difference in how you breathe when you’re truly relaxed, vs. how you breathe during sympathetic nervous system arousal (running away from a tiger).

            The Immune System: Oxygen manipulation is one of the primary ways the immune system combats foreign invaders. New research and treatments are now looking into the effects of using ozone as therapy for cancers and even joint pain!

 

house of cards

I’d like to start to close out this post by expanding on the house analogy from before. The foundation of our house, as said before, is respiration, water, and sleep. Those create a stable floor that we can then build our walls of diet and exercise on. But the challenge isn’t that the foundation starts cracked. It’s that when we start to see results from starting slow and learning the basics, we tend to skip over some of our foundational habits. Getting to the gym is more important than sleep. Lifting a heavier weight is more important than breathing properly. Pretty soon our foundation is getting corroded from bad habits, and the value of our house is dropping little by little.

What’s worse, and I say this from years of experience as a coach, is that people are all too quick to make up excuses for foundation problems. “I’m just old, that’s why my back hurts,” instead of realizing that respiration is one of the prime movers of the spine. Or, “I’m just stressed because my boss yelled at me,” instead of realizing too little water stresses out the adrenal glands.

If you ever find yourself in a state of sub-optimal health, start with the foundation of your house first. Or, if you haven’t the faintest idea on how to fix the issue, hire someone like me to train not just your muscles, but the whole body from the inside out. Because remember, you are 37 trillion cells, and every one of them need training to stay healthy.

Butcher Box and the Grass-Fed Revolution

As a consumer, it’s easy to be overwhelmed when it comes to labels on our food. Personally, I’ve invested many hundreds of hours into learning all the different buzz words, and even I have trouble when actually standing in the super market trying to pick up a good cut of meat. Grain free, grass fed, no hormones added, vegetarian fed, USDA organic, free range, cage-free, omega-3 fortified? What does all that even mean?

Grass-fed vs conventional factory meat:

When a cow is force fed corn and other grains, inflammation runs rampant through their bodies. Their immune systems are compromised, which the farmers must combat with high levels of antibiotics, and their natural hormone levels decrease, which means hormone boosters to keep the cow healthy.

What does that mean to us as the consumer? Well, when we eat the meat from a factory cow, we’re consuming all the added antibiotics, hormones, and inflammation. You may not notice the effects from one amazing steak, but over time this leads to weight gain, digestion issues, and faulty hormone levels. (Even the World Health Organization now confirms this can also lead to an increased risk of cancer).

But because grass-fed cows are not treated with any added antibiotics or hormones, and are raised as much ‘happier’ cows, we as consumers suffer much less from these negative health effects. In fact, compared to their factory raised cousins, meat from grass-fed cows has less bad fats, more antioxidants, and 2-5x the levels of omega-3’s (the heart healthy omega). Grass-fed beef can even have up to twice the levels of CLA, which can help with muscle growth, reduced risk of heart disease, and lower the risk of cancer.

Up till recently, the only way to ensure the quality of your beef, a consumer would have to carve precious time out of their schedule to go to a farmer’s market, and make friends with their local farmers. Or worse, spend a small fortune on premium cuts of grass-fed beef, sometimes costing three times the factory equivalent.

Enter Mike Salguero’s startup Butcher Box. After a monumental Kickstarter campaign, Butcher Box is now offering free shipping on a box of hand picked, fully grass-fed beef right to your door on a monthly basis. Each Butcher Box will contain 15-20 meals worth of hand picked beef from the highest quality available each month. Mike and his team also help consumers by including delicious recipes to make cooking easy and hassle free. Each box is also packaged with a calculated amount of dry ice to ensure maximum freshness, even if it sits at your door for up to 24 hours.  

That’s right. No guess work. No reading endless food labels. No having to make best friends with the farmer. No insane price hikes. Easy, convenient, healthy, delicious grass-fed beef direct to us, the consumer.