By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
November 19, 2015
One word that would describe my week last week was “wired.” There was no other feeling like it. For the duration of the entire week, it was just a whirlwind of emotions and pride and it seemed like it would never end. I was eating well, I was getting plenty of rest and the adrenaline from Ragnar Las Vegas was still running high. I had two of my best runs ever and it seemed like I could keep doing that pace forever. And then Monday just kind of hit like a piano falling on my head, and everything just sort of hit the wall for me. It was strange at work, for I was already exhausted from the week and was subsequently made fun of about my rather super healthy all plant diet. You see, my company gave everyone a free Thanksgiving lunch (like that is supposed to placate us in regards to the fact we will be working on Thanksgiving) and people were sopping it up like nothing. The smell of butter permeated the room and they were giving away some rather ample portions, allowing people to actually get seconds! There was nothing that was consumable for me at this “feast,” and I opted to stick with the nuts and fruits I had brought for my own eating pleasure. You see, everyone at the table kind of noticed me, the anomaly, merely because I look like the kind of man that would have been going town on the food that was being given away. They kind of egged me on about not eating the free lunch, especially when I finally had to exercise a new way of thinking in regards to my diet, a method that was kind of introduced to me a week before by a fellow plant eating friend. “I choose” not to eat the unhealthy food they were shoveling down their throats, rather than say “I can’t.” The result was the same either way, for they were perplexed and made the usual dumb remarks a mob would partake in, but I at least felt empowered by the new way of defending my eating regimen. For the rest of the day, I worked better and harder than most of those guys, for I was working so well in inline packing that they reduced the number of people working the station from six to two. But it still kind of bummed me out, and it was worse during my second break when my company whipped out more unhealthy food; boxes and boxes of Domino’s pizzas, which they conveniently stacked right next to me, which of course led to a couple more remarks when I mentioned I chose not to eat pizza. By the end of the day, I was pretty bummed out, so much so that I started looking for another job, even though I got a promotion that day. All the energy I had was sort of sapped from that one day, and now I’m going to be getting a really healthy dose of work now that I have accepted a basic supervisory role. But I also look at another factor in regards to my loss of energy…..I had started sleeping at home again.
All throughout last week I was staying at my parent’s house as they took a little surprise trip to Denver to go visit my sister (which ironically, Denver had much nicer weather than Tucson that week!). So I stayed at their house, watching the dogs, watering the plants and even cleaning out the refrigerator when the compressor suddenly went bad (and it was a disgusting, horrible job, because I didn’t notice it for two days straight!). Anyway, my parents house was much warmer than mine, not to mention I was sleeping on a lightly used bed that was much more comfortable than my own. I got to tell you, the increased quality of my sleep that week must have played a much larger role than I anticipated, because it was literally like night and day when it came to the differences. You see, when I got home and slept at my place for the weekend, my body was completely disrupted. I had forgotten to winterize my swamp cooler, and with the cold air seeping in through the vents along with some icy winds, the house was insanely cold. Typically I sleep much better in colder weather, but not when the house is under 50 degrees with no heater! My whole pattern melted down, for the increased cold made it difficult to fall into a deep sleep pattern and the fact my dogs—who are bad bedfellows—kept moving around also kept me up. By the time Monday came around, I was so exhausted that my mood definitely was changed and my energy was different. So even though the overweight knuckleheads at work kind of bummed me out, I was already on a poor mood spectrum going into the subsequent teasing.
Now, it is no secret in regards living how important a good night of sleep is. For one, it improves your memory, lowers your blood pressure, allows your body to shut down and rebuild, relieves stress and best yet….it helps you lose weight. Now sure, this is not like the movie “The Tao of Steve” where main character Dex goes on his “all sleep” diet to try and lose weight, but you get what I am saying. The underlying fact is we need that time to regenerate and rebuild, and considering it can make up a third of our lives just proves how important it is for us. Now some people will always state “I can sleep when I’m dead,” but trust me, they will retract that statement when they find out a lot of common ailments (which is sad to label these diseases as “common”) like diabetes, inflammation, high cholesterol and heart disease are agitated by the lack of sleep. Now truthfully, I have have always had some issues with my sleep patterns, and weather always seems to be the issue. But it’s not like I cannot sleep at all, for I often times take some power naps during my days off to kind of offset the lack of I get at night. Hopefully I won’t need to worry about those problems too much in the near future, for the fact I finally got my heater on (yay! I can’t wait for my out of control gas and power bills!) I will also probably get a new bed when I get a couple paychecks under my belt. But here is the other problem that is cropping up in the near future. With new responsibilities in my life coming down the road comes new problems. My sleep patterns are really going to be disrupted when I start potentially pumping out 80-hour work weeks. Now I will only be scheduled for 66 or so, but of course I’m going to try and get some extra time so I can try to get that new bed, new phone (which my current phone can’t even hold a charge for couple hours) and maybe get the new glasses I have needed for at least five years. But one thing so for sure, my life is going to be seriously disrupted, and according to some new research, that is not a good thing. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20151118/sleep-cycle-changes-may-affect-your-healt
You see, with all of the excess of hours I will be working, I might want to utilize the rare off days I would get with some extra rest. You know how a lot of people are. We get up early and go to sleep late all week, and then make up for it with a noon time wake up calls on Saturday and Sunday. C’mon, you know you used to do that. I used to be the king of that procedure when I worked at a movie theater, staying up late to watch the last showing of a free movie because that was typically the best time to go check one out. Or on the rare occasion when I decided to rent a whole bunch of movies and stay up until 4 a.m. or something. Well, this “make-up” sleep that we may partake in could be as dangerous as not sleeping at all. Now, like I always do with this kind of research, the researchers were quick to point out that bigger studies would be necessary to help add to the current date, but not maintaining a consistent sleep pattern during the week can lead to all of the same problems I mentioned earlier when you lose sleep. According to the study, the scientists measured the differences in people that would adhere to their regular sleep patterns on their off days to people who would sleep in to make up for the lost sleep they had during the week or who just merely wanted get some extra rest. The initial finding are quite startling, for those who engaged in the disrupted sleep patterns actually increased their odds for cardiovascular disease. The scientists called it “social jet lag,” a phenomenon that disrupts your body’s natural circadian rhythms. If sleeping in can cause such metabolic problems in our lives, the whole idea of the work-sleep paradigm will have to be considered in the future, and this could certainly bring some issues for many companies, especially mine when they jam-pack 36 working hours within a 60-hour window. While I doubt corporate America will really care, when people mention the bottom line to any CEO, then they might listen.
Now I cannot stress this enough, this is really the first step toward figuring out whether this is really an issue or not, but there has been countless studies that have indicated progressive ideas in workplace management can help lead to a healthier workforce. One of the healthiest countries in the world—Denmark—has a mere 35-hour work week. Now, there has been studies that indicated a shorter work week would be good for al those involved, but this new study indicates that not only do we need a shorter work week, but possibly a smarter work week that allows people to create a better sleep and rest schedule. More rest and less stress make better workers. Now personally, I do not know if the merit of these types of studies are warranted. I have always worked a jobs that has driven me to exhaustion (though I keep trying to find something better). I even worked two jobs at a time for many years. It’s hard to say if my poor sleeping patterns are still due to my weight, but I do know back when I was 400 pounds, sleeping was not something that was always pleasant for me. Perhaps this was one reason why I loved to gorge myself so much, for falling into a food coma was not only a good way to pass the time from the boring afternoon sports to the nightly games that most likely featured teams I wanted to see, but it was a really good way to get some unmitigated, perfect sleep. Eating poor food and knocking myself out was really my preferred way to get some sleep, and having a decent chair to sleep soundly on only compounded the problem.
Now, I can already see how the disruption of sleep has played out for me this week. I skipped a running day, but that may have been the fact I did a pretty hard workout on Tuesday that ultimately caused an extreme amount of soreness. But part of that issue for me was exhaustion. Before I finally had some time to get the darn “pneumonia hole” that was my cooling system covered up, I was uncomfortably cold. But here is the other side of the coin. During the last couple months, I have been getting up at the 6-7 a.m. range just about every day. I have kept the off-day sleep patterns pretty consistent and the workday patterns consistent as well. While this may go against the logic of that story I just cited, I have yet to lose any real weight. I’m still kinda stuck at 245 pounds, even though I am starting to slip into some 1X clothes a littler better and my 36-size jeans are fitting better than ever. But like I said, will I ever be able to lose that pesky weight unless I fix up my sleep patterns. Well, we will be finding out soon enough.
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Meet the Author
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
When you read this blog you are reading through the eyes of someone who is winning the battle of real weight loss. Steve is not a fitness professional, but he is someone we can all learn from.
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