So I can’t hide it any longer. Here’s one of the incidents that inspired me to lose weight and later tell my story. Of course, I never thought I’d be sharing this stuff in public. But here we go – a whole new thing has occurred in my life – I have chosen to try that whole radical self-acceptance concept, and I’m digging it – which means that I am willing to share my secret weight loss stuff to help you, my very favorite reader, out – and also willing and able to ignore the negative stuff that comes with it when the trolls get a hold of the link. But that’s another post for another day! So anyway, on with the show.
The Day I Lost My Neck: A Painfully True Story of Self-Realization
There was a time that my face appeared to be attached to my shoulders – I was seriously neck-impaired. One evening in 2009, I was sitting in my living room having coffee with my friend Lori, when I admitted something that I hadn’t yet been able to say out loud up to that point.
“Lori,” I said. “I no longer have a neck. I can’t believe I’m this fat! I used to have a NECK!”
Being the good friend she was, Lori insisted she could see something that resembled a neck – but the truth was that she was just being nice. I had no neck.
But that moment was significant – it marked a period of serious personal growth in my life – and within two years of that day, I had completely changed my relationship with food and with my body – and dropped 100 pounds in the process.
Good old Timehop helped me remember this stuff actually – see what it stuck in my face the other day? Ha, I kid! I love these kinds of before and after weight loss photos – they really help my motivation to stay on track! (But, see how I had no neck on that left pic? Yikes! No wonder I could barely breathe.)
I wrote this book because I truly believe in paying it forward and in helping others who could use some real, solid advice from someone who has been where they are, rather than some random fitness guru who has never experienced the life of an overweight or obese person.
My genuine hope is that it helps everyone who reads it to find a new perspective and to allow her (or his) true self to emerge through the physical baggage she (or he) is carrying today. That’s how it worked for me, once I figured out the really important “little things” I was missing – and I’m sharing them all with you in this book.
Today, almost everyone that struggles with their weight understands the toll it can take on your health, as well as your emotional state. The struggle to maintain a healthy body weight has become even more difficult for millions of people at risk for sleep apnea due to being overweight.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an all too common condition where a person periodically stops breathing while they are asleep, which has serious health implications. It is no coincidence that many people who are overweight also snore. Nor is it coincidental that a high percentage of these people suffer from OSA. It is estimated that 60 percent of people who snore actually have sleep apnea.
Snoring is usually caused by the relaxation of the throat muscles during sleep. This leads to tissue in the throat blocking the airway when you lay down. Although a little narrowing of the airway is normal, when it becomes severe, it leads to a much greater collapse of the airway behind the tongue. This is what causes snoring. When the collapse is complete it causes apnea, which means “without breath.”
When these apneic events happen and the person stops breathing (often hundreds of times a night for as long as a minute each time), they wake from the restorative REM sleep, and the cycle starts all over again. It is not uncommon to have brain fog, memory loss, or fall asleep during the day. Things only get worse from there as OSA is closely linked to potential development of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes, as well as other life-threatening conditions.
Being overweight saps your energy, and having OSA on top of that means that the lack of a good night’s sleep can make it even worse. There are numerous studies showing that sleep deprivation has been shown to lower the body’s hunger-dampening protein known as Leptin.
OSA and a high fat diet both slow our body’s metabolism, lower insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, as well as raise blood pressure. So, these challenges can work to create a cycle that leads to greater weight gain. This low energy state of OSA makes it hard to keep up with an exercise regimen. The natural depression that can come from being overweight and through OSA just makes motivating yourself that much harder.
The link between OSA and weight is the gift that keeps on giving as scientists now have supporting evidence that even people within healthy weight parameters but suffer from OSA are at a high risk of weight gain. This is a good wakeup call (pun intended) for all of us whether we have OSA or not, and whether or not we are struggling with being overweight. The good news is that spreading this knowledge will help all of us stick to eating healthier and exercising regularly to avoid, or help reverse, the symptoms of OSA.
There are millions of people that are walking around with this condition that remain undiagnosed. Consequently, it is imperative to discuss symptoms like sleeplessness and snoring with your physician to determine the proper course of action. If you have sleep apnea, you may be a candidate for Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) therapy.
Considered by the medical community as the most effective means of counteracting sleep apnea, CPAP therapy requires the user to wear a mask and a machine continuously. This equipment gently delivers air during the night to keep your airway open. The goal is to get your weight and the sleep apnea under control so that you can enjoy life as a healthy, well-rested person.
Bio: Melissa Howe is a freelance writer with more than two decades writing about health and health technology. Having focused most of her writing career on sleep apnea and its health related conditions, she is a regular contributing writer for The CPAP Shop.
I don’t know about you, but my life gets pretty busy sometimes. I’m not complaining, mind you, but I’ve got three beautiful kids, a wonderful husband, a career, pets…a home…jobs…friends…well, we all play plenty of roles in life.
Since I find myself so busy sometimes, I don’t get a lot of “quiet time,” as I’m sure you might imagine. And since I’m the sort of person who kind of needs a little quiet time each day, I often find that time by staying up late into the night, well after the family has gone to bed.
Some nights, I’m working. Other nights, I’m watching a favorite show on DVR–just so I can watch from beginning to end without interruption. Sometimes, I just don’t do anything at all. It’s all about having time to just breathe and be quiet.
So, that’s great, right?
Yeah, except that, in the process of trying to fulfill my need for quiet time, I’m cheating myself of something else that could potentially have a very serious impact on my happiness.
Because, of course, even though I stay up till the wee hours of the morning–I’m also a mom. And moms? They don’t get to sleep in.
So, what’s the big deal about sleep?
Well, besides the fact that lack of sleep can have serious consequences on your health–like increasing your risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cancer–lack of sleep has been proven to have a profoundly negative effect on your mood and overall level of happiness.
Studies suggest that even adding one hour of sleep to your nightly schedule could improve your happiness quotient more significantly than a $60,000 annual raise–and that one of the top two reasons people find themselves in a bad mood at work was a poor night’s sleep.
And, according to the National Sleep Foundation, companies lose around $35 billion every year in loss of productivity, sick leave, medical expenses, and property and environmental damage–all thanks to their employees’ sleep deprivation. And the consequences some people face are even worse.
So what does all this mean?
Well, for me, it means I’ve got a conundrum here. I need quiet time, and I need to sleep. Yet, I have kids and a happily busy schedule during my waking hours. So this means that I need to figure out a way to get more sleep and still find time for myself.
It’s no surprise that sleep is critical to your mental and physical well-being. Sleep isn’t just a time to let your brain relax, but it allows your body to regenerate.
During sleep, your muscles repair themselves, your white blood cells can reproduce, and even circulation improves given a consistent heartbeat and gravity working to its advantage. However, studies have shown that weight gain can be a dominating factor in sleep loss, as it pertains to sleep apnea.
There are many people who notice themselves gaining weight and actively seek ways to lose it. They may exercise, they may restrict greasy and fast foods from their diet, they may do everything you’re supposed to do and still gain weight.
This can be an extremely frustrating and humiliating experience, leading people to question, “What’s wrong with me?” While hormones and genes can also be a factor in weight gain, sleep is another contributing factor.
Our daily lives are filled with appointments and activities from the minute we wake up, to the minute we go to bed.
The first thing people tend to sacrifice is sleep. For many people, it’s hard enough to manage a job, relationships, children, or work/hobbies in their day-to-day life.
As a result, it’s time-costly just to work out for a few hours. Unfortunately, juggling all these activities around can lead to serious weight gain, making this especially unfortunate for people seeking to lose weight.
When the body does not get enough sleep, two hormones in particular are affected by severe shifts production: ghrelin and leptin.
Leptin has a habit of informing the body when its appetite has been sated; when you don’t want to eat anymore—Thanksgiving flashback. Ghrelin on the other hand balances the leptin hormone, informing the body when it needs to eat.
When the body hasn’t had enough sleep, leptin levels drop and ghrelin levels rise. Already this is sounding like a recipe for disaster.
Furthermore, when the body does not have sufficient time to sleep, all of its processes slow down. This not only affects muscle building, which is of course imperative when working out, but is also heavily critical when it comes to digestion and metabolism.
With these two functions slowing down, and appetites rising, the added intake of food is going to become fat. The body will be working so hard to stay awake and rejuvenate itself during the day, that burning fat and calories won’t come easily.
Several studies have proven that maintaining a healthy diet and consistent exercise will improve your physical condition, but this is only if you are getting enough sleep.
For instance, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine recently conducted a study over the course of 6 months. The study had half the participants engage in regular exercise, and the other half dedicated to a healthy diet.
The participants were able to record if they had any problems sleeping. The ones that did, did not lose as much weight as the participants who were on the exact same routine as their cohorts.
Bottom Line: If you want to lose weight, get better sleep!
Kim Bureros is the current Copywriter for SleepDisorders.com. She thoroughly enjoys writing, reading, kayaking, and volleyball. She also firmly believes that, “Building relationships is the key to success.”
As I have gone through the journey to create my best life, there were a few bumps and bruises along the way, such as the time I found out I had sleep apnea due in part to the extra weight I was carrying around at the time. The following is a post I wrote back in 2006 regarding the way I felt about myself and my life. So much has changed since then!
I am 31 years old. I have two beautiful children and a wonderful husband. We aren’t rich, but we manage to get by and even have a few luxuries.
I feel like I have “it all”, so to speak. I can’t really complain too much. Of course, there are things that I want, but most of those, I could give to myself if I just got off my butt (literally and figuratively) and worked hard.
I want to be a successful writer. I could be if I worked hard at it. I want to be healthy so I can live to take care of my kids. I could be if I worked hard at it. What else? Not much, really. I’m very satisfied with most of my life. So what is stopping me from achieving those two not-so-tiny goals?
Pure laziness, pure exhaustion, plain and simple. I know what to do, and I even know how to do it—but I am constantly exhausted. I barely have the energy to do what I have to in order to take care of my family.
So, Wednesday, I had a minor procedure to remove an errant IUD. That might help a little. Then, yesterday, I went to the doctor to find out that not only do I have high blood pressure, but I also probably have sleep apnea—which could be causing my exhaustion.
Hmm, imagine. So I have to go and get a sleep study done, and will most likely be expected to sleep from now on with a machine on my face. Okay, I pretty much already knew I had sleep apnea but had no idea it could be causing so many of my other problems.
So I am going to look at this as a good thing. Perhaps I will gain the energy I need to meet my goals and to be a better mom and wife. To be a better me. Sounds perfect.
Well, here’s the bottom line. I am learning (the hard and painful way) that if I don’t take care of ME, I won’t be around much longer to take care of anyone else. So I am committing to that, today, right now as I’m typing this.
I will start taking care of ME. I will work to get healthy so that I can accomplish my goals and dreams. If I don’t do it, no one else will do it for me. It’s time that I take a stand for myself, and do something to improve the quality of MY life, and in so doing, the lives of my family. Okay, I’ll get off the soapbox now.