Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weigh-in no. 22 & reflections on what it means to be human

Right.  Back on form this week.  YAY!

Out of the goals I posted for the week, I achieved all of them except one:
  • to buy a new scale - done on Thursday
  • to plan & cook proper meals (instead of eating cereal for dinner) - it was an effort, but we did it
  • to allow myself to get frustrated & vent, but in the end, to get some writing (even if it's just a little bit) done every day and not let it defeat me - I ended up having a pretty productive week writing-wise and my supervisor is happy with what I've done
  • to go to the gym at least twice this week - didn't happen, but I'm ok with that.  I got a lot of writing done as a temporary substitute.
  • to talk to my friends and make connections that combat withdrawal - I talked to three friends back home this past week and have plans for more calls this coming week
  • to appreciate the movement toward spring with the slowly lengthening days and imminent arrival of flowers and birdsong - although it's been pretty cold the last week, it's been mostly clear and having the sun higher in the sky changes the light somehow (it's less 'watery'?) and that has been really niceAnd the birds are singing, the sky has been blue, and my crocus, daffodils and tulips are pushing themselves through the soil to meet the oncoming spring.

I've finished my second week on anti-depressants and I feel mostly normal again.  Naturally, I've been thinking about it quite a bit and trying to determine the causes, other routes I can take, how it relates to my weight (since it seems a lot of overweight people have issues with depression and/or anxiety), and the future maintenance of it.  Therapy is not out of the question, but at the moment and having had it several times in the past, I'm not convinced that's the best route right now although as I get further into this process, I think it'll need to be done.  A friend and I were talking about the medication issue earlier this week and she said something to the effect of, “I have to take medication to help my body produce insulin sufficiently.  I need to take it every day for the rest of my life.  That’s just the way it is for me.  So why is there a stigma about taking medication to help your brain produce seratonin (or whatever it is that keeps you mentally healthy)?  It’s the same thing.”

I think she was totally right.  I am more myself now than I was in the dark days.  And just like if I had a deficiency in my ability to produce insulin or cortisone, I'd need to take medication for me to be myself and healthy.  So if I am able to maintain with temporary 'top-ups' of medication, that's fine, but if it's better for me to stay on it all the time, I'm more open to that now than I was.  (And as for insurance goes, all I can say is thank God I live in the UK, where healthcare & prescriptions are free - otherwise, this all would be a much bigger deal and cause even more emotional strain trying to figure out how to pay for it.  Folks who advocate against socialized medicine must have never experienced its beauty.  But that's another topic for another day.)

So, the world is brighter, spring is coming, I have been able to be productive, my supervisor is happy with my work, I have more energy and I'm not feeling so overwhelmed and incapable.  Life is good for me again.

However, this week has been hard for many around me and I'm once again struck by the triumphs and tragedies, the messiness of life.  A friend's sister-in-law who had been struggling with depression and PTSD from a horrific childbirth experience decided to put an end to her life and misery, leaving behind 3 kids, a husband and other family members and friends grieving the loss.  Another friend has decided to start training for her first triathlon and is wondering what she signed up for (although I know she's gonna rock it).  Another friend's 3 year old girl who has been struggling with a form of cancer suffered a possible stroke sometime while she was having extensive surgery or in the aftermath, so they're waiting and watching to see how her little body is going to recover and heal itself.  And another couple of close friends welcomed their little girl into the world this weekend, beautifully named Hazel Wren, and are full of anticipation and joy for their life ahead together as a newly expanded family.

And so I pause, light a candle, and reflect with awareness on how precious life is and how I can be present to those around me who are full of joy, sorrow and watchfully cautious hope.

Peace be with you.

Life is an endless spectrum between the sacred and profane, the deeply meaningful and the absurd, the silly and the serious, birth and death, sickness and health, feast and famine.  It's all part of our experience.  And all are a necessary part of what it means to be human.

As such, I guess it's time for weigh-in.  Oh, the irony.

I got a new scale and I have to say it kicks serious butt.  The whole 'body analyzer' function on my old scale never worked and I always chalked it up to the fact that I weighed too much for it to register the values properly.  Now that it has died, I'm wondering whether or not it was always malfunctioning.  Oh well.  I have a new scale and I love it.  (Would I love it as much if it had registered that I had gained?  Hmm....maybe....)  Here's what it said this morning:

Weigh-in no. 22 (-4.8 lbs)

Allow me to interpret:

Picture on the left:

Body Fat percentage: 67.2%
This is helpful so that I can measure if I'm losing muscle mass or fat as I lose weight.  The average body fat percentage for a woman in her 30s should be between 22-32%.

Body Water percentage: 35.7%
This is helpful so that I can measure my hydration.  It's supposed to be between around 50% for a woman in her 30s, so I need to be drinking more water.

Weight:  288.8 lbs (-4.8 lbs)

Picture on the right:

Muscle Mass: 34.2%
The average for an adult woman is around 30-40%.  But muscle mass may decrease by nearly 50% between the ages of 20-90, so if you don't do anything to replace that loss, you're losing muscle and increasing fat.  So if you're losing weight, keeping track of your muscle mass and making sure it's going up or staying the same ensures your losing fat instead of muscle.   Plus, each kilogram of muscle gained burns 110 calories when the body is at rest, so... (plus there's an "athlete mode" on this scale in the event you have a higher muscle mass)

Body Mass Index (BMI): 45.4
Another BMI graph I use (on says my BMI is 45.23.  I may stick with what I've been doing, but it's good to have another outlet for information.

Base Metabolic Rate (BMR): 2065 calories
This is helpful because it is an estimation of the energy expended by my body at rest (so if I sleep or just sit on the couch all day) through heartbeats, respiration, and maintenance of body temperature to maintain normal body functions.  If I exercise or even move around, it's more.  So as long as I eat less than 2065 calories per day, I will lose weight.  That's good to know.  If you don't know your BMR and you want to figure it out, go here and it'll tell you how to calculate it.

So that's my new scale.  Don't worry, I won't bore you with all of these figures every week.  I'll just stick with the weight in pounds for the weigh-ins, and if there are significant changes to any of the others, I'll let you know.  But I'm excited because I feel like it gives me a more accurate picture than just "weight" which can be helpful but a bit black and white.

Here's to a meaningful week ahead, as I continue to strive for balance, awareness, presence and health.  If you're joining me (as many have told me they are), I wish for you the same.  Please leave comments and let's support each other!  And if you're struggling, hang in there.  Spring is coming.

Questions for comments:  How are you?  How have you reflected on life this week?  Is there anything I can do to be more present for you and your struggles and questions on this blog?



  1. I am speechless. I decided to read your blog during the few moments of quiet that I have today with all three kids in the bed and it was just what I needed. I have struggled all of my life with my weight, and now that I have just given birth for the third time, I realize that my body will never be the same again and I need to be okay with that. However, I need to be healthy and exercise and eat right for me to be a good mother, wife, friend, and self. Reading this today and helped me make one step closer to wanting that for me.
    I too take medicine to keep me balanced. It has taken me a long time to realize that if I need this for the rest of my life, then that is okay. I am glad to see that you are beginning to see it that way too.
    Thank you for being so brave to let us into your world and for making me know that I am not alone in the struggles that I have. Peace and blessings my friend.

  2. Wow that's a great loss. Congrats!

  3. Great job on the 4 lb weight loss. And YAY for new scale and medication... both will make life much better! :-)

  4. I just shared your blog with a friend whom I think will greatly benefit from your wisdom and tenacity, Jayme! And I'm so excited for our new little friend, Hazel. I haven't met her yet, but I'll give her a hug from you when I do. Allison S.

  5. Alison, thanks for sharing! and yeah, please do give Hazel a squeeze from me when you see her!!