A Healthier YOU

One of the most common complaints seen among patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is tiredness and fatigue.  These are different from sleepiness.  Sleepiness is usually caused by interrupted sleep (such as frequent interruptions with airway obstruction in OSA), and generally manifests itself as someone who wants to go do something, but falls asleep before they are able to get it done.  Fatigue is a murkier sort of beast.  Tired or fatigued people are not necessarily sleepy, but they do not have the energy to do things they would like to.  CPAP therapy, applied properly in the right person with OSA, can greatly improve sleepiness.  Fatigue is a different matter. It is usually due to many other factors, such as obesity, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and lack of exercise.

In order to address fatigue, we have to address the whole person, not just single problems.  Weight management, through healthy eating choices and proper exercise, can make an enormous difference.  It can address obesity, lack of exercise, and diabetes.  And when people start to eat proper meals and start introducing some exercise in their lives, it can help arthritis and depression as well.

The field of Weight Management is a difficult area to navigate for many reasons.  Many people struggle with their weight, and at some point, figure out they need to do something about it.  The problem is, there are so many choices.  The internet is no help.  Trying to find the right diet, the right exercise program, the time to do it, the money to pay for it…  it is all quite daunting.

Most experts would agree on a few simple points in order to increase your chances of success.

1)  Set your goals and make them realistic.

You can use your past experiences to help gauge your expectations.  If you have lost 10 pounds before reasonably easily, that would be a great start.

2)  Make small changes.

You cannot expect to radically change your diet (go vegan, go gluten free, go carb free, etc) and honestly be able to stick with it for a lifetime.  For you to make new, healthy choices that last a lifetime, you have to undo some bad habits, and that takes time.  The bigger the changes you want to make, the harder it will be to stick with them at the outset.

3)  You have to deal with both the input of energy (eating) and the output of energy (exercise).

Watching what we eat alone is not enough to crack the health barrier that sometimes stands in our way. There has to be some element of “work” being done as well.  Adding 30 minutes of walking every day to your new eating plan can make all the difference in the world.

4)  Surround yourself with like-minded, positive individuals.

This can sometimes be hard, if you are not the outgoing type.  Studies have shown that people succeed when they work with others with similar goals.  If you are trying to eat sensibly, and everyone else around you is eating insensibly, your zest for a healthier lifestyle may not last long.

This is the basis of the support group programs seen in Weight Watchers and other systems.  These can be powerful ways to help lose weight and get healthier.  You do not necessarily have to enrol in an expensive program; you and your best friend can do it together, setting goals and encouraging each other on your walks together and trading new recipes you found.

5)  Do not get discouraged.

We are in this for the long haul. If we do not meet our 2 pound goal in a particular week, we have many other weeks to get this done.  Be brave, be strong and keep working at it.  You cannot live by your scale, nor by the tape measure.

In medicine, we often say – “we do not treat the CAT scan, we treat the PERSON”.  It is the same thing.  You are not the product of your measurements.  You are not what it says on the scale, nor the tape measure.  You are so much more.  It comes down to meeting your challenges.  Were you able to not eat that extra portion you really wanted but did not need?  Were you able to go for that walk even though it was raining out?  Did your will power win over your “will not” power?  That is the measure of YOU as a person, and in the long run, that is what will make you healthy.  Nothing more.

Following these five basic processes, you can be on your way to a healthier lifestyle and a more energized YOU.