Obese and Depressed Was Not My Purpose

Before and after weight loss and depressionHave you ever found yourself waking up each morning with a feeling of depression and defeat? Have you experienced times where you felt your health habits were out of your control, that you were a slave to your appetite? I found myself in that position, at some level, for more than two decades.

On the left side of this picture you see a guy who was spiraling into depression and dealing with increasing health issues with each passing week. On the right side you see a guy who took control of his health and now takes on each day (well, most days – ha) with optimism and positive expectation instead of dread.

Being overweight has plenty of physical challenges but it also has many mental and emotional challenges. For me, the mental side of things was significant. I didn’t even realize how bad it was until I started to lose weight, exercise and get healthier. I thought the way I was feeling was just the way it was.

Studies have shown that obese people are about 25% more likely to experience a mood disorder like depression compared with those who are not obese. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys reported that 43% of adults with depression were obese, and adults with depression were more likely to be obese than adults without depression.

Because of the depression and lack of motivation it wasn’t easy to go to the gym. It wasn’t easy passing by Taco Bell and the convenience store on the way to and from the office to pick up my favorite comfort food. But, the more I said ‘NO’ to staying in bed and eating the wrong things and started saying ‘YES’ to the gym and better food choices the more the depression lifted and the more motivation I had.

Five Things That Got the Ball Rolling

  1. Community – I joined a health challenge that was organized by one of our local hospitals. This 12 week challenge required weekly weigh ins and connected participants through social media. Because of the community, encouragement and accountability it was much easier to start my health journey.
  2. Goals – In the beginning I didn’t set realistic goals and because of that I was easily and regularly discouraged. But, when I changed my mindset from a “quick-overnight-weight-loss” view to a “entire-long-term-lifetime” view it allowed me to start setting more realistic and achievable goals.
  3. Education –  I found blogs, books, podcasts and YouTube channels that taught me about exercise and diet. With everything I was learning I tried to keep an open mind and discover the approach that worked for me.
  4. Food – Understanding the impact that specific types of foods had on my health, specifically my emotional health. I realized that there were foods impacting my emotions as much as physical body.
  5. Supplements – I experienced there were supplements that helped me mentally and physically. Over the course of time I tried several different supplements and discovered the best ones that helped me achieve my goals.

Three Ways Exercise Helps Your Depression

The Mayo Clinic reports the following ways that exercise helps.

  1. Releases feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids)
  2. Reduces immune system chemicals that can worsen depression
  3. Increases body temperature, which may have calming effects

Make The Right Decision TODAY!

Overcoming poor health begins with making the decision to change today and then making that decision again the next day and the next day and the next. I love what Tim Bauer, or as he’s known by his fans, Tinier Tim says when talking about his incredible weight loss. Tim says, “I didn’t lose 225 pounds, I lost 1 pound 225 times.”

As you make the decision to exercise each day you’ll feel better emotionally. When you make the decision to eat right, even it’s just a little bit each day, you’ll feel better emotionally. Don’t believe the lie that exercise and diet don’t affect how you feel mentally.

You Determine the Results

You have what it takes to exercise tomorrow. You can choose to eat healthy and not let the cravings control you. Make the decision today that you will start, you will take steps forward. And then make the decision that even if you stumble and fall off the wagon you will get back up and start moving forward again.

If you have questions or just need someone to encourage you, I’m here for you!

Where My Food Journey Began

Before I tell you what has worked for me let me give you my perspective when it comes to any approach to diet. What I’ve learned is that it’s easy to become dogmatic, start judging others on multiple levels based on their way of eating and in some cases alienating and sacrificing relationships because of the way you eat or don’t eat. So, I’m sharing what has worked for me and thousands of others and what my body responds to in a very positive way.

Dazed By Diets

On an off throughout my life I have done what all good overweight American’s do – I dieted. I tried dozens; low calorie, low fat, small meals 6-8 times a day, the Lemonade diet, the cabbage soup diet and the list goes on – you know what I’m talking about. With all of the dieting I had done I felt like I had a pretty good handle on how I needed to be eating. But when I got serious about my health in 2013 I started to explore, read and study even more because I  I realized that when I ate certain types of food like grains and sugar I felt tired, sluggish and had “brain fog”.

Paleo Got Me Going

Because there were a number of foods that impacted me in a negative way I wanted to find out if there were others that I hadn’t tried that may help me. One Google search led to a blog that led to a podcast that led to a book that led to YouTube that led to…you get the picture. Where I landed initially was with a Paleo diet and I stayed there for about a year and half. If you aren’t familiar with Paleo there are hundreds of sites but a few of my favorites are; Mark’s Daily Apple, Robb Wolf, Primal Potential, and Abel James.

Keto Keeps Me Going

After a year and half of experiencing some good success with Paleo I came across the Ketogenic Diet or as a lot of people refer to it, the Keto Diet. As a quick side note; I hate to use the word diet in relation to Paleo or Keto because both are really a lifestyle. I say lifestyle because it’s a way of eating that you are committing to for the long term, not just a few months or a year to lose some weight. You are committing to these approaches because they are best for your long-term health.

I’m not going to go deep into the ketogenic diet/lifestyle in this post (plenty will come) but here’s the quick definition to give you an idea. A ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate, moderate protein and high fat based nutritional plan. When you are following this plan you are training your metabolism to run off of fatty acids or another term that is often used is ketones. In this state your body becomes fat adapted and is running off of fatty acids/ketones instead of carbohydrates being your main fuel source. If you’d like to dive a little deeper right now, a couple of my favorite sites for ketogenic learning are Dr. Jockers and Keto Talk. And one of my favorite videos that help explain what keto means is right here.