Sleep and Weight Loss, or Lack Thereof.

Day 27. National Blog Posting Month.

Sleep deprivation is starting to catch up with me.  When I was at the office the other day after baby J had his vaccinations, I got on the scale.

Big mistake.

Since I last weighed myself (about 1 month postpartum), I gained weight.  Ugh.  And I have no one to blame but myself and the baby.

I blame myself because of the damn sweet tooth that I still have.  Now, granted, I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but in the past it was tempered by the exercise I was getting.  Oh, and Hallowe’en. I blame the Hallowe’en chocolate that’s in my house.  We normally get about a hundred kids at Hallowe’en but this year the weather was cold and rainy and we were left with far too much.  So much, in fact, that I would have 3-5 little chocolates every night after dinner.  Those calories add up, dammit!

Forget the fact that I have also started running.  It’s not doing a god-damn thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to be doing it and I will not quit, but it’s fucking hard this time around.  [Sorry for the language.]  I am running with about 15-20 lbs of extra weight and my legs feel like two lead pipes.

I need to lose some weight, but that’s going to be hard because of the second reason I listed above.

My adorable little baby boy.

He is exclusively breast-fed and is waking up at minimum of thrice a night.  I know, I know, boo hoo, poor me.  I could easily give him a bottle of formula when I go to bed and that might give me an extra hour or two of sleep.  But, I’m not ready to go there just yet.  I am enjoying our breastfeeding relationship and I don’t want to give it up yet.

But lordy lord, this fragmented sleep is wreaking havoc on my metabolism. Meaning that I have NO metabolism right now.  I can’t burn anything, despite the running.  Instincts tell me that a good night’s sleep is important for weight loss.  The better I sleep, the better I feel, and the healthier I eat.  I can even see it in my husband.  When he sleeps well, he eats sensibly throughout the day (ie. less snacking), exercises more efficiently, and keeps his weight stable. Once his sleep is affected (like it is now), eating habits go out the window and he’s too tired during the day to exercise.

Of course, this is all just conjecture on my part.  Is there any evidence to support my theory?

Why yes, in fact there is!

A quick Google search directed me to this WebMd website, http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/lack-of-sleep-weight-gain.

“It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly,” explains Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep and the clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Ariz.

On average, we need about 7.5 hours of quality sleep per night, he says. “If you are getting this already, another half hour will not help you lose 10 pounds, but if you are a five-hour sleeper and start to sleep for seven hours a night, you will start dropping weight.”

Exactly how lack of sleep affects our ability to lose weight has a lot to do with our nightly hormones, explains Breus.

The two hormones that are key in this process are ghrelin and leptin. “Ghrelin is the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin,” Breus says. “Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin.”

 More ghrelin plus less leptin equals weight gain.

“You are eating more, plus your metabolism is slower when you are sleep-deprived,” Breus says.

A search of Google Scholar led to some more findings:

  • Investigators looked at the association between self-reported usual sleep duration and subsequent weight gain in the Nurses’ Health Study in 1986 and followed over 60,000 women for 16 years. Women who slept 5 hours or less gained 1.14 kg more than did those sleeping 7 hours over 16 years, and women sleeping 6 hours gained 0.71 kg.
  • A systematic review published in 2012 suggested that short sleep duration was independently associated with weight gain, particularly in younger age groups.
  • The Quebec Family Study looked at sleep duration and weight gain. Duration of sleep was characterized as short (5-6 hours), average (7-8 hours) and long (9-10 hours).  The risk of developing obesity was elevated for short and long-duration sleepers as compared with average-duration sleepers, with 27% and 21% increases in risk, respectively.
  • Another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2011 looked at changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in a cohort of men and women over a 4 year period.  Not surprisingly, an increased daily consumption of potato chips, sugar-sweetened beverages, unprocessed red meats resulted in an increase in weight while increased daily consumption of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and yogurt had the opposite effect and resulted in overall weight loss. Interestingly, more weight gain was seen in individuals who slept less than 6 hours and more than 8 hours per night.

So, based on these findings, it would appear that I am NOT going to be successful in losing the pregnancy/baby weight until the little man is sleeping through the night.

Sigh …

Alright then, pass the Chicago Mix.

Tenacity, Determination, Discipline.

Day 19.  National Blog Posting Month.

So, I am really doing this thing.  I set out at the beginning of the month to write a post every day and I am doing it.  I’m not all that surprised though, to be honest.  Usually when I set out to do something, I do it.

I did it with running.  A year or two ago, I never, ever would have thought I’d embrace this running culture.  I recall seeing runners on the street, with their 3-4 little water bottles strapped to their back and their fancy clothes and would think, “Why would someone want to do that?”  Despite have some girlfriends who are runners (who yes, I thought were pretty nuts for running 1/2 marathons), it wasn’t something I felt I could ever do. Back when my husband and I were dating, I remember going out for a “run” with him on Saturday afternoon.  His idea of running is a very leisurely jog in the neighborhood.  I don’t think I lasted more than a few minutes, despite the fact that I had been working out regularly at the gym at the time.  There certainly wasn’t anything “fun” about it.

Then during the spring of 2012, right after my son turned 1, I remember chasing my daughter across a field and getting completely winded afterwards. So winded in fact, that I almost felt like throwing up.  It was a huge eye-opener for me.  I was ridiculously out of shape.  I wasn’t overweight, sure I had an extra 10 pounds or so from my pre-baby weight, but by no means was I “fat”.  I was just really, really de-conditioned.  So, for a few months I debated joining a gym.  I started doing some home workout DVDs but it just wasn’t enough.  Husband suggested that I start running – it’s cheap, it’s quick and I could do it right after work.  In early July, 2012, my girlfriend invited me to her “boot camp”.  I decided to go.  It was a painful 3km run and I couldn’t move for 3 days afterward, but I was hooked.

My husband was really proud of me for not only starting to run, but keeping up with it.  Though he said he wasn’t at all surprised — he has always said that I have a tremendous amount of tenacity, determination and discipline.  I suppose he is right.  After all, I decided at the age of 13 that I wanted to be a physician and nothing stood in my way of reaching that goal.

So as I get back into this running thing, I ask myself what I want to accomplish with my running.  Right before I got pregnant, I was just meters away from running 10 kilometers.  I think that is a reasonable goal to strive for, but baby steps first.  I don’t want to risk injury, nor do I want my breast milk supply to suffer.  I don’t plan on nursing past 6 months as I will be returning to work.  It will be spring when I go back and I think it would be great to be able to get my runs in right after work – it is a very convenient 5 km straight stretch from the office to home.

So, goal #1 – be able to run 5 km by March, 2013.

Goal #2 – physical (ie. respiratory) endurance.  Despite getting close to the 10 km distance, I wasn’t quite able to run a solid 10-20 minutes and that is something I would like to change.  I ran once, a year ago, for a solid 20 minutes but wasn’t able to repeat that feat.

Goal #3 – toning and weight loss.  I was in great shape when I got pregnant last winter and I would love to get back there again, which means I have about 25 lbs (yikes!!) to lose and about 12 inches in total to trim (from hips, thighs and waist).

Wow.

Seeing it in writing makes it so real and so daunting.  But you heard it here first.  I am committed to staying healthy and fitting back into those damn Guess jeans that I own.  Come hell or high water!

Guess Jeans

Tenacity.

Determination.

Discipline.

But first, I need to throw out every single piece of Hallowe’en chocolate in my house.