Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Shift Work Disorder (SWSD) sabotages not only sleep but weight loss too

In this blog on how I lost 100 pounds (without drugs or gastric bypass bariatric surgery), I explore many ways to lose weight and also many links to obesity. From anxiety to Covid 19 and low self-esteem to antidepressants (especially SSRI) there's a lot that goes into it. One link that may surprise you is SWSD or Shift Work Disorder. 

My husband has worked nights (third shift) or afternoon-late evening (second shift) all of our 35 years of marriage. That nocturnal schedule alone messes with biorhythms and causes Shift Work Disorder. But then factor in this swing shift he's (we've) been on for the last five years and SWSD symptoms are off the charts. And add to that,  it's a 12 hour (not traditional 8 hour) night, 5 pm to 5 am.  

How does swing shift cause SWSD? Swing shift means 2 days on, 3 off and 2 on 3 off, 2 on, etc. The schedule rotates or swings back and forth each week with him having Monday off one week and working the next, for example. And he has worked every Saturday for 5 years, either till 5 am (having to sleep a good part of Saturday) or going in at 5 pm and having to sleep most of the day to gear up for the 12 hour night. 

It's hard enough trying to sleep days when humans are diurnal. But sleep disorder really ramp up when, on days off he tries to follow a normal day schedule. We end up staying up late at night because he can't fall asleep at a normal time and has to swing back to nights in a day or two anyway. I'm dealing with shift work sleep disorder too because I stay up with him (so we can actually see each other and do things together) but then work during the day. And I have other sleep disorder issues: arthritis, sleep paralysis, OSA or obstructive sleep apnea and a form of PTSD (traumatic stress disorder) that manifests in sleep disrupted by on-going nightmares. 

To say that our lifestyle is all kinds of dysfunctional is an understatement. Besides insomnia and lack of sleep, disturbed biorhythms cause relationship problems, mood disorders, depression, lack of intimacy, anxiety, stress and anger management. Social life is non-existent. We can't get involved with group activities, kids functions or even go to church regularly. It magnifies all health issues. Even eating habits are affected from eating late at night or at weird times. I've developed digestive problems which my physician is treating as an ulcer. I even suspect that our crazy schedules impacted my later pregnancies and were in part responsible for my two stillbirths. 

Trying to lose weight is super challenging because we literally can't follow the rules on eating such as not after 6 pm. That's when husband has to be awake! He eats breakfast at 3:30 pm, lunch around 10 pm and dinner whenever or never. Also, the weight loss rule about not eating one big meal doesn't work because he doesn't have time to eat several small meals. 

And then there's the comfort eating from being lonely and on opposite schedules from most everyone else. And we're always behind the 8-ball trying to stay awake when the world is asleep and asleep when the world is awake. And exercise is challenging on the night shift.  It's no wonder people with SWSD tend to have more trouble with obesity.  

And this doesn't even begin to address the unfair playing field of nocturnal (second and third shift) vs. diurnal workers. Diurnals sometimes have a hard time understanding why a nocturnal sleeps "so late" in the day. Some preen that they are "early risers" (meaning they get up at 5 am). That's impossible for nocturnals who are just getting out of work. They can't understand why we're "so lazy." But I'd like to see how raring to go they are after having to get up at midnight, go for 18 hours and then flip-flop to 5 am every few days. 

Diurnals also think nothing of making racket during a nocturnals sleep day. Yet if we started up a chainsaw at 2 am, it would be a different story. Anyone who thinks I'm paranoid has obviously never had to live this kind of life. Or they'd see that world completely disregards the third shifter. That's why suicide rates are 25 to 50 % higher. Sad but true. 

We'd love nothing more than to be able to live a more normal life. It's taken its toll. But job opportunities in many industries are almost all second and third shift and a scary lot of them are 12 hour swing shift schedules. 

So this post got a lot bigger than just weight loss and shift work disorder. But that's what I'm finding on this path, how interconnected the aspects of our lives are. To understand health, I'm de-compartmentalizing. Instead of boxing things into a small screen I'm looking at the big picture and the more I do that the more I see how big it is. 

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more on how I lost 100 pounds and a lot of other baggage. 

Friday, July 29, 2022

How I boost confidence to lose weight by flipping the script

 Hello again, your friendly neighborhood weight loss coach back with another installment on how I lost 100 pounds and how you can lose weight too if you need to. In my last post, we looked at how weight loss boosts confidence and confidence helps lose weight. And I could hear some of you saying, great, but how do I make confidence where none exists?? Part of how I lost 100 pounds was by
flipping the script. 

So you know how low self esteem tells us we're losers, right? Not in the good kind of obesity losers, the complete and utter failure kind. "My 600-lb Life" shows extreme examples of where this Alanon stinkin thinkin gets us. Low self esteem batters us with negative messages about how much we suck as people. The monkey on our back sneers "lose weight?? you can't even manage to close your mouth, let alone manage a long term diet!" 

The key here is, then, to talk back to that wretched low self esteem and stinkin thinkin. To kick the monkey off our back and out the damn door. To flip the script from negative to positive self-statements. A good way to accomplish that is to use another Alanon slogan, "fake it till you make it." Just start calorie restricting even though stinkin thinkin is telling you it won't work. Just pretend it will work. Imagine yourself losing weight. It's a biological fact that calorie restricting will lose weight. So you will make it. And as you do, you'll feel stronger, more in control and happier in your own fur! 

Stay tuned for more on how I lost 100 pounds. 

How weight loss boosts confidence and confidence helps lose weight

Hello my dears! It's me back with more thoughts on weight loss. The longer I maintain this blog, the more I realize that how I lost 100 pounds was about dealing with emotional health issues as much as calorie restricting and portion control. Today we'll look at how weight loss boost confidence and vice versa. 

I often use stories of gastric bypass patients on the reality TV show "My 600-lb Life" as examples. "My 600-lb Life" shows people struggling with morbid obesity but also many mental and emotional health problems. Comfort eating is often a coping mechanism for managing stress, guilt, anxiety, anger and depression. "My 600-lb Life" participants are unilaterally and categorically unhappy. Along with gastric bypass, those with extreme obesity also undergo therapy for emotional health issues. After they lose weight, they are almost always happier, more confident and better able to manage stress. 

How do weight loss and stress management go hand in hand? Well, to continue the metaphor, one hand washes the other. As I began to take charge of my eating habits (by calorie restricting and following a 1200 calorie diet), instead of letting them control me, I felt more confident my low esteem began to heal. But in order shed obesity, I had to work on boosting confidence and improving low self esteem. In short I had to realize that I was capable of self-discipline, before I could begin self-discipling. In even shorter short, it's an upward spiral. Weight loss boosts confidence while developing confidence helped me lose weight. 

But how do you get to that point? How do you make confidence where none exists? In my next post on how I lost 100 pounds, I'll cover that so stay tuned. 

Friday, July 22, 2022

Weight loss and weight management: know your fruit

Hello friends, in this blog I explore how I lost 100 pounds in 2014 without drugs or gastric bypass and also how I maintain that weight loss. Losing weight is definitely gestalt: the whole process is greater than simple list of diet tips. Healthy weight maintenance is also a life-long affair. That's why this blog is in its 9th year and counting. Today's tip is to know your fruit, or body shape. 

Understanding body shape, not just body size, is crucial to weight loss. What is body shape? It's the unique structural design of your body, that differs from person to person. I'm not talking about "big-boned" vs "small-boned". That's a misnomer that gastric bypass patients on shows like "My 600-lb Life" often use. They will explain that their obesity is due being big-boned, which they claim is genetically inherited. Some people are taller statured and so can hold more weight and not appear overweight. But there's really no such things as larger vs. smaller bones. And it still wouldn't account for morbid obesity. 

Body shape is best explained in fruity terms: commonly, pear shaped and apple shaped. Pear shaped bodies (so coveted by us apple shapes) are curvier with larger hips and buttocks. Apple shaped are thicker around the middle with smaller buttocks and hips. There are also squash or hourglass figures with large hips and breasts and small waists. 

I've heard pear shaped say they covet our apple shape. Humph, not so sure about that. "I like big guts and I cannot lie" said no one ever. But I digress. The point with weight loss and body shape, is to know which kind you inhabit and therefore which of your body parts will be harder to lose weight in. I'm apple shaped and belly fat has always been a struggle even after I lost 100 pounds. When I weighed 109 pounds in college, belly fat was still an issue. Pear shaped will have trouble reducing in hips and buttocks.

Height is also an issue in weight loss. We short petite people can't gain a pound without appearing overweight. Taller people may actually be obese but it doesn't show as much. None of this should discourage us from losing weight if we need to. It is also not an excuse for obesity as so many on "My 600-lb Life" seem to think. Weight loss is doable regardless of body shape. In further blog posts, I'll discuss appropriate diet methods for body shape in upcoming posts. 

Keep your dial tuned here for more on how I lost 100 pounds, without gastric bypass. 


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

How I lost 100 pounds by healing low self esteem

Whether you need to lose weight, gain it or maintain a healthy weight, it's important to address mental health, not just physical. Said differently, weight loss (or gain) is not just about calorie restricting or what diet you're on. It's about dealing with underlying emotional struggles. Part of how I lost 100 pounds was by working on low self esteem and stinkin thinkin (Al-Anon) 

I thought my biggest issue was (and was medicated for) depression. But that was only a manifestation of the real issue: low self esteem. Beginning in 1997 through 2004, we experienced a series of unfortunate events. I had major pregnancy complications with our fourth child, lost two stillborn infants, moved into a house that required huge and unexpected repairs (think all broken windows, a collapsed ceiling and burst water pipes). 

We'd sold our mobile home for cents on the dollar to get into this house which we'd allowed the current tenant to live in till her Habitat for Humanity home was ready. Five months later and multiple queries as to when we could move in (met with "her home isn't ready yet") we discovered she'd vamoosed--leaving unpaid bills, damaged electrical and water pipes, collapsed ceiling, burst toilet, broken windows and a dead snake out back(!)--almost immediately after we'd first seen the home. The landlord, our church, BTW, didn't bother to check up because she was living rent-free. She got her nicely move-in ready Habitat for Humanity home while we were stuck with the mess she'd left behind. 

When we saw the house in November, we noted what would need to be done. And there was plenty then. Needless to say, sitting vacant five months left the house in condemned-notice condition. It was actually us who discovered the tenant had split. We drove by one night in March, saw the doors hanging open and everything a mess. 

We alerted the sellers who basically said we were stuck because we agreed to buy it ("remember what a good deal we gave you??") And we were also desperate being now homeless. We had undersold the mobile home for $3,500 (valued at $12,000) because the mobile home market was low and because we didn't want to LET THE SELLERS DOWN when they were finally ready to sell. 

Everything needed fixing. We had to fix it alone with no help from seller which drained our bank account. Husband was juggling two jobs in different cities. Oh, and we still paid the full asking price of the house, no discount for damages. 

Yes, we should have pulled out or at least demanded that things be restored to the condition we'd originally seen it in. Yes we should have insisted they find us accommodations till said repairs had been done. No I shouldn't have tried get the house livable with just my four kids to help. No my  husband shouldn't have had to work on the house after work, just to get it habitable. No, we shouldn't have been so nice and should have been thorns in various backsides. 

But that brings me back to the original point of this blog post: low self esteem. Both my husband and I struggle with it. Why did we allow ourselves to be so taken advantage of? Because we figured that this shambles was good enough for who it was for. And did the sellers chime in with the guilt: we should be grateful that we were getting "such a good deal." We weren't, they were and they knew it. They'd neglected the house, not monitored the tenant and now would be lucky if the city didn't make them liable, if we didn't buy it. Under the table mind you. 

So like two muggins, we bought it. Stinkin thinkin told us it was the best we deserved. Operative word: we (he and I). We knew our kids deserved MUCH better and we wanted, but failed to get it for them. That caused massive anxiety and guilt. Which drove self esteem even lower. Queue the depression, misery and yes even fights (you tend to take out frustrations with those you feel you owe gratitude for hurting you, on those you love). Weird. Vicious cycle. 

Part of how I lost 100 pounds was to get at why I thought so little of  myself. There is a book series in that answer. And maybe I'll write it someday. Suffice, for this blog post, to say that learning to recognize that I was a beloved child of my Heavenly Father (thank you, Fr. Chuck), who wants the best for me, not just good enough for who it's for, helped a lot. So did giving myself permission to express needs, wants, dissatisfaction and frustrations. To say no to manipulative, exploitative situations. To practice self-care. 

A part of my old stinkin thinkin narrative says I should make disclaimers and defend toxic behavior. The monkey on my back worries that you readers may think I'm dramatizing, attention-seeking or just an idiot. Low self-esteem talks like that. Lots of auto blame-shame. I'm also tempted to defend the house sellers, saying they meant well, didn't realize the extent of the damage, yada yada. But I'm not going to. It should have been handled differently and we were treated badly. We are still dealing with negative repercussions.  

So we got screwed over. However, the real responsibility is down to us, to change this stinkin thinkin. We realize, in retrospect, that we are just too nice, or just pushovers. We've been stung multiple times, and should have spoken up about. We are learning together how to advocate for ourselves and not to let ourselves get taken advantage of in future. Because we don't deserve it no matter what you say, skinkin thinkin. 

This post may seem far afield for a blog about weight loss. However, concepts like low self-esteem are actually a large part of how we get overweight (or underweight, anorexic, bulimic, etc) in the first place. Many physical problems originate in our heads. Not our imagination, our stinkin thinkin. 

Love to you all and stay tuned for more. 

Friday, July 15, 2022

Lose weight or don't, but be happy in your own fur

 I just wrote a disturbing post about incels and I (and probably you who read it) need some mind comfort food. So here's a little treat to get us into a better place. Cats, namely ours, Moishe and Mordecai. Look at these guys and try not to smile. 

and while we're on the subject and because the point of this blog is to improve physical and mental health, note this about my cats. They are twin brothers. They have almost identical body sizes but different body shapes. Moishe (L) is stockier (some would say overweight) while Mordy is lean. Some would say skinny. Mordecai is also ALWAYS eating, wanting to eat and thinking of food. Moishe eats less. But he is still heavier than his food obsessed twin. But he doesn't care that he's overweight. He is supremely confident in his handsome floofiness. What can we learn from this? To be like Moishe. Happy in your own fur. Lose weight or don't. Above all else, like yourself. Because seriously, it wasn't till I stopped despising myself that I was able to lose weight. And (just for closure on the incel post) THAT being able to like yourself is what makes you attractive and able to like others. 
Love ya'll! 

Body shaming, blame-shame and other Incel and manosphere BS

This blog explores how I lost 100 pounds but also a lot more about obesity, weight loss and gain and body image in general. Today I'm looking at social messages that contribute to body image dysmorphia, eating disorders and obesity. I'm aiming responsibility squarely at the Incel (involuntary celibate) online community and other manosphere BS. 

Incels are a group of folks who can't get relationships but blame everyone else for that. It didn't start that way, and was initially a small, somewhat fringy group that actually tried to help themselves and others. But incels have devolved into extreme right-wing, sexist, misognynystic, male and white supremist terrorist and haters. Who actually call themselves Christian (!) With a growing cult following. And garbage like they spew is the electrical current that powers body image dysmorphia. 

It's ludicrous because the very thing that incels whine about is that they can't get women (sex--which they believe they deserve) because they aren't attractive to them. They blame-shame women for being shallow. Several incel terrorist attacks have taken place at spas, fitness clubs and yoga studios. Supposedly, these women were taunting them but the real reason is obviously lust. They also hypocritically crave "attractive" women but fault them for trying to improve their looks. The entire incel vocab consists of vulgar, sexualized, objectified misogyny. Don't look it up unless you want to feel sick. 

So how is the manosphere related to weight loss or obesity? This dripping poison shames women for everything. If they don't keep fit, lose weight, etc, they're ugly slobs. If they do care about appearance and health, they are vain Jezebels enticing poor men into lusting after them. Damned if ya do, damned if ya don't. 

You might be thinking, but this is just a small group of wackos. How could they influence female thinking, let alone social mores? Because manosphere speak is an ancient tongue. Sexism is as old as, well, forever. It's wormed its way into every area of life. It's been drilled into women's heads: you are a sex toy but a sl*t if you like it. You should BE "attractive" but shouldn't try to be. You should be "modest" but also alluring. I could go on and on. In short, you can't win. 

So what's the solution? Well, shut down hate groups, obviously. Stop buying the "free speech" crap. Call out misogyny. Mock them into silence. But most importantly, sister, don't give the negativity a home.  Stop letting broken psychos define you. Lose weight or not because it's right for you. Be attractive to yourself. You don't owe anyone anything beside basic courtesy.  

PS This isn't a man vs. woman thing. My advice goes for guys, too. My heart goes out to guys who feel like losers, or even identify as an incel. But it's not someone else's fault you feel that way. It's not someone else's responsibility to fix you. Like yourself, or at least begin trying to. At the root, is self-hatred, stinkin thinkin and autoshame. Do you, to the best of your ability. 

Love you all! Stay tuned for more on how I lost 100 pounds (and blame shame, stinkin thinkin and low self esteem).