On Sundays, I will answer some readers' questions in a post. If you have a question that you would like me to answer here on the blog, just send me an e-mail with the subject "Q&A", and I may include them in a future Q&A post. They don't have to be about weight loss or running--anything is game! (Remember, I'm not a doctor or dietician, or any sort of medical professional--I can only answer questions from my own experience).
Q. My question is I know you have talked about your depression growing up and anxiety. I am prone to it because everyone in my family suffers from it at one point. Since gaining all this weight I have become more and more depressed. As you began to lose weight did you notice that your stretches of depression or anxiety became less frequent or do you still suffer quite frequently from the symptoms?
A. This is a great question! I have had clinical depression since I was about 11 years old. Despite what some people think, the depression isn't "caused by" something in my life, and I cannot "snap out of it". I don't have any "reasons" for the depression. I truly believe it is some sort of physiological thing going on in my brain. I have taken antidepressants for a long time, and it is the only thing that helps me to feel normal on a daily basis.
That said, the severity of my depression does go hand-in-hand with my weight. At my heaviest, I was the most depressed--probably because of the chemical issue going on in my brain, but also probably because I was unhappy with my life and how my weight affected my life. As I lost the weight, I felt happier with how I looked and how I felt, and I started doing more things on a daily basis--which lessened the severity of the depression. Sometimes I feel so good for so long that I feel like I could stop taking the medication (but I've tried that in the past and it didn't work).
Despite the weight loss, I still have periods where I feel very depressed. I know that it is only temporary, so I just have to stick it out. With the exception of Jerry, my family and friends don't really understand it, and it's hard when they get frustrated with me for my mood. The only real constant about the depression is that I have good days and bad days; and when I'm having a bad day, I just have to remind myself that it will get better. I just have to ride it out until then. But for the most part, I'm a happy person and I'm thrilled with the changes I've made in my life over the past couple of years. I have MANY more good days than bad now, where before the weight loss, it was the opposite :)
Q. My question is, did you ever get to a point that you considered a surgery like gastric bypass or the lap-band to help the process of losing weight? If so, what changed your mind against it?
A. I actually never considered a weight loss surgery. I knew that I was obese because of the amount I was eating and that I was eating for emotional reasons. I knew it was possible for me to cut back on what I was eating and the weight would fall off. Also, the doctors and gastric bypass patients will tell you that you have to change your lifestyle even though you have the surgery; so I didn't understand what the point of the surgery was, if I was going to have to make the healthy changes anyway.
As you all know, I love my junk food... and I wasn't willing to part with it forever. I didn't want to wind up sick every time I ate too much fat; I didn't want to cut my carbs drastically; I didn't want to feel full from a few bites of food! I wanted to just eat like a normal person. So I chose to do it on my own.
I'm not trying to say anything bad about people who choose to go the surgical route for weight loss--it just wasn't for me. I did what I felt was best for ME, and me alone.
Q. When you use the body fat percentage monitor how accurate do you find it? For example I tend to get on the scale 2-3 times in the morning. I want the same number twice. I use to have a digital scale that weighed differently back to back. It annoyed me. Old habits are hard to break, so I get on my current scale at least twice. Three times if the first 2 numbers were different. The fat monitor seems to have a hard time giving me two matching numbers.
|Omron Body Fat Monitor|
A. I can completely understand your concern here! I have a scale that is extremely old, but I refuse to get a new one because this one gives me the same reading over and over. I could weigh myself ten times in a row, and I get the same exact number EVERY.TIME.
The body fat monitor is different, however. While a scale should give you the same reading over and over in a row (there aren't any variables as to how heavy you are in a given moment), the body fat percentage is different. It's much harder to measure body fat percentage, because it has to take into account different variables such as lean tissue (muscles, bones, ligaments, etc) and water that your body is carrying. Figuring out all that information with a little hand-held monitor isn't going to be an exact science (like body weight is).
So your readings on the body fat monitor will probably vary a little (by up to 1%) if you take different readings back-to-back. Which is why I only measure my body fat once a week, and I look for the overall trend. Is it going up week after week, or down? Don't worry too much about what the number is, just try and see what the overall trend is.
And now a question for all of you...
Q. What is your favorite way to spend a summer evening?
I love to sit on the back deck with Jerry, with a cold beer, while we watch the kids play outside. Jerry and I get to relax and talk without distractions, and something about the air in the summer evening makes me feel so happy and content!