March 04, 2012

Reader Questions & Answers #3

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. 

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. 

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. 

Omron Body Fat  Monitor
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!


  1. Ahhh... summer...Spring isn't that far off! I like to make a fire in my fire pit and sit out on my back patio (possibly with a glass of wine) with my husband. And then the mosquitoes come out...

  2. Thanks for the Q and A's and for being so open! Anxiety and depression run in my family. I struggle mostly with the anxiety part. It's amazing how much better I do when I'm exercising!
    I've been wanting to get a fat monitor. I loved reading what you thought of it.
    Summer nights, I love sitting in the cul-d-sac with the other parents visiting while all the kids run around having a blast! Sometimes we throw in bonfires or water wars! Everyone included!

  3. Hi katie I love to do the same, maybe throw some hotdogs on the grill with some sweet tea and corn on the cob. I like to hang clothes outside on the clothes line to in summer and spring, I love the smell.

  4. I love going for a walk after dinner with my husband and boys. Then once we put the boys to bed, relaxing with my husband out on the deck talking about our day- me with a glass of wine and him with a beer. Maybe playing some cards. Geeze. Now I cant wait for summer to get here!

  5. I love to have picnics in the park and run and play with my son.

  6. Thanks for your honest answers Katie.
    Summer evenings @ home - sitting on the screen porch, playing cribbage and having a beer.
    Summer evenings @ the cabin - 5pm-cocktail hour, 6pm-dinner and 7pm-campfire and cards with my husband and neighbors. Sometimes we take a walk to listen to sounds of the northwoods at night!

  7. I love your summer evenings at home answer!! it reminds me of my family, we just sit around and talk with Coronas and lime :) It's wonderful. I really miss summer right now!

  8. I like your new Q&A feature on Sundays - great idea!

    I like to spend summer evenings on our boat. on a beautiful local lake here in upstate NY. :)

    I also like to take a "family walk" around the neighborhood or go for soft ice cream.

  9. My favorite summer evening would be around a fire, whether camping, on a beer patio, or at someone's place, with a beer and olives in my hand and good friends surrounding me!

  10. Oh how I want Summer to be here. I love hanging outside watching my kids play and just enjoying the late sunsets. Or we cuddle up as a family and watch movies or play games. I love Summer.

  11. chrissy792March 05, 2012

    My favorite way to spend a Summer evening is going on a long bike ride with my daughter! My boys still don't know how to ride their bikes and my daughter learned the beginning of last Summer! I love going on long bike rides with her on Summer nights because it gives us a chance to talk with no distractions!

  12. Thank you so much for being so open and honest. Can't wait for summer!

  13. Your happy spot on a summer evening sounds simply idealic. I'm so ready for warmer weather--supposed to be 70 tomorrow here in Nebraska before returning to the 40's. I'm sure as Hell gonna enjoy the weather tomorrow, even though I'm coming down with a cold today!
    I did consider weight loss surgery, even went to an informational meeting about it back in January of 2006. My daughter-in-law (she wasn't married to my son yet, they got married the following August), had the surgery in the spring of 2006. She had some serious coplications and was in intensive care after the surgery for several days, but did go on to lose 75 pounds pretty fast. She was obese for the wedding in August, but she looked much better. Then she just quit trying and regained all the weight. She never talks about--refuses to. But she somehow expanded her stomach obviously--because it is huge again--or was. She started Weight Watchers last Fall, and has lot almost 60 pounds. She carries most of her weight in her stomach--her bottom half is actually quite small, so you know that apple body shape is particularly dangerous. I'm glad she's trying again!

    My insurance refused to pay for anything having to do with weight, skin removal....anything at all! NICE! But now I'm glad I didn't have the surgery, even though it took me another almost 4 years before I started trying to lose the weight on my own. I remember being very excited about the prospect of maybe losing some of the weight after attending the informational meeting on lap band surgery (my d-i-l, who attended the meeting with me, eventually had to get gastric bypass, her insurance wouldn't cover lap band--too experimental they said), it was as if I felt like the surgery would force me to lose weight. And it would have initially, but in the long term? I probably would have re-gained too, and it definitely would not have been worth all the pain, expense and permanent changes to my innards. All I needed was the determination to do it, and now I'm so glad I didn't have the surgery. Like you say, it messes up your whole digestive system, and in the end, it is still only a tool to weight loss. It doesn't guarantee success as evidenced by my d-i-l. I found my tool to weight loss--determination and reading your blog!

    1. I had the lap band and it has ruined my life in a way. I cannot go out to eat with my family without having to go and throw up. Its awful! It usually takes me an hour to eat a small plate of food which gets cold in the process. I did lose 75 pounds but still have 75 to go and I have been stuck at this weight for 2 years. So yea, you have to cut out junk in massive quantities no matter if I had it to do over again, I would probably just try to make healthy changes on my own. Now I am gonna have to make those changes anyway if I want to lose the rest of this weight. I just feel like I want to share with everyone the disadvantages of weight loss surgery.

    2. I REALLY appreciate your honesty, pampam! Most of the people I know who have had the surgery have said the same thing. Good luck with the rest of your journey!

  14. Hi Katie, this was a great blog entry! I was wondering, did anti-depressants make you gain weight at all? That was my experience, and it was hard to get the weight off afterwards. I'm just wondering if others have the same issue with anti-depressants and weight gain. Thanks!

  15. Sitting or laying outside on the grass watching the sunset while the children do their thing in eyeshot! There might have been beer once, since I can't have that cider will do :)

  16. I really love the Q&A sessions, your honesty is such a credit to you.

    My favourite summer evening would be very similar. Sitting on the back porch with Paul, having a BBQ dinner, and looking out onto our 1/2 acre paddock with the sheep, chickens, roosters & chicks doing their thing. & our cat D'Arcy would be nearby too :)

  17. I too enjoy your Q&As, thanks for sharing! I also love your product reviews and recommendations. I've been thinking about getting a body fat monitor for a while, and tonight I went ahead and ordered one.

    I love sitting out on the swing my dad made and getting cozy with a good book. Of course, insect repellent or citronella candles are a must to keep those mosquitoes at bay. So glad it's almost spring!


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