This one question changed my life

No it wasn't "yinz want tickets to the Super Bowl?" or "yinz want fries with 'dat?" 

Still waiting for the Super Bowl tickets.

I was 29 years old, and had been battling depression on and off for years, though I'd not been formally diagnosed at that point. I managed to get out of bed every day, and take a shower and brush my teeth. I didn't function at a high level, but I showed up for life. I had periods of melancholy that sometimes lasted for two weeks; sometimes for two months. All along though, I kept showing up and doing the bare minimum.


But I struggled to maintain any type of focus. At the age of 29, I'd started and left two different graduate programs in two different fields. I told myself that the reasons were external - life was getting in the way, I wasn't a good enough writer, I didn't like New Mexico (my second graduate program), yada, yada, yada. 

You tell yourself a lot of things when you're depressed.

I was, and still am, a victim of analysis paralysis, especially when I'm depressed - I will analyze something to the bones and take no action, and I will do it all day long and all decade long. Finally, while I was working with a trusted therapist, she asked me directly if I would consider taking medication for my depression. No, I said. I'm managing. 

"And how's that working for you?"

It wasn't a complicated question. I hemmed and hawed. "I'm managing," I said, again. 

"And how is that working for you?"

"It's not." 

The words came out of my mouth before I had a chance to filter them. I tried to back track but there was no point. I'd answered the question honestly. I was closing in on 30 years old and doing none of the things I wanted to be doing in my life or with my life. I had to admit that my approach wasn't working. 

And that opened the door for me to make the change I needed. In the case of treating my depression, it meant trying medication, which was a difficult process in and of itself. You try one, and four weeks later find it's not working, so you try another. Eventually I found the right one, and I believe for me, the medication helped get me to a better, more focused place.* Within six months, I'd quit my job, moved from Pennsylvania to Boston, and within a year, I'd enrolled in a graduate program that was the right fit for me. And I finished it.

This question has come up again in part of my training for my Precision Nutrition Certification, because it's so valuable. I couldn't answer this question from an intellectual perspective. I couldn't talk about what I think. I had to say what was actually happening. 

So my proposal for you today is to ask this question of yourself about an area that you're thinking about changing in your life. 

You've gone paleo.

How's that working for you?

You're on a juice cleanse.

How's that working for you?

For me this question highlighted what wasn't working for me. But it might also highlight what IS working for you.

I started eliminating screen time for two hours leading up to bed. 

How's that working for you?

Great! I find that I'm falling asleep faster than I did before that.

Maybe it's good. Maybe it's not. But either way, the question is worth asking, whether it's about nutrition, or fitness, or some other aspect of your life. 

*I could write an entire post on my battle with depression, and I know so many others who could as well. Medication works for some, not for others. My main point here is that I made the change I needed for me.