Sleep Apnea vs. weight loss

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Sevenfeet
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Sleep Apnea vs. weight loss

Post by Sevenfeet » June 3rd, 2015, 9:52 pm

Yes, sleep apnea VS. weight loss...I phrased that specifically to share my wife's story and hope that it might give some clarity to persons struggling to lose weight on this forum.

Nearly two years ago I posted on this forum about my wife's struggles with weight gain over the years and her many failed attempts to get a handle on it. The last try was different...she was going to try a new exercise that wasn't running, it was the Concept2 Model A rowing machine we'd had in our family for nearly three decades. She worked with it for about four months before quitting. On the plus side, she did get in much better cardio shape during the period and went from workouts that began at 10 minutes to nearly an hour when she stopped doing it. Stopping the workouts mainly happened for two reasons. First, she got a minor injury working out and had to stop for a while. But the second part of it was the frustration that after a few months her body had plateaued and wasn't releasing any more weight like the first few weeks she had started. She had seen this behavior with her body in previous cardio based exercise projects, like long distance running. It was incredibly frustrating and easy for her to get dejected.

She'd also tried diets...the one she liked was the 17 Day Diet book (three 17 day eating plan phases), which her sister and her husband had had success with. But again, her body would only release a small amount of weight in the beginning and then cling to the rest of her weight.

The key to solving her mystery was the realization that she had sleep apnea and it wasn't me as her husband who discovered it (although I should have seen the warning signs). The same sister I mentioned earlier noticed it during a family reunion earlier this spring. I have a mild case of sleep apnea that I control with a dental device. But my wife's family have receding jaw lines that make the back of their mouths very small for airflow. These days if a kid has this issue, the orthodontist uses special braces to spread the mouth apart while the jaw is still growing. Back when my wife was a kid in the '70s, dentists just pulled teeth until the problem was "solved".

My wife's sleep study was done at home with portable equipment and then turned back to the doctor for data analysis. This was a bad move since they like to do the really awful cases inpatient. If they see a really bad patient, they can wake up the patient and apply a CPAP machine immediately and then take data for the rest of the night. My wife's data from the home trial was extremely bad...55 sleep events an hour...nearly one every minute. Basically my wife had not physically slept in years. And as the doctor told her, one of the symptoms is the lack of weight loss even when you are trying. Your body gets into a "fight or flight" mode where it tries to hang on to every extra calorie it can due to an overabundance of hormones released under intense stress.

So she was sent home with a CPAP machine and a warning: Use this or else you are asking for a heart attack. That scared her enough to not only use it but also make another attempt at the weight loss, again with the 17 day diet plan. And because of her jaw issue, we didn't even know if the CPAP machine was going to work. And initially she had problems with the mask type she tried. But a different model was better and she got used to using it. That was a little over six weeks ago. What's happened?

First, my wife is probably the happiest emotionally I've seen her in years. Not sleeping all this time was making her grumpy, irritable and worse. She got sick more often than me or the kids. Now she's a lot more balanced and focused. The device is a complete miracle in this household. But something else happened. Her body is getting out of its "fight or flight" mode. This time her experience with her diet is completely different. She's now down a fraction away from 20 pounds and she's determined to lose another 40 more to get back to "wedding weight". When that happens, she'll evaluate if she wants to go further and get down to "college weight" which was 20 years ago and an additional 20 pounds. Previously, she's never lost this much weight at a time in 20 years.

And most of this has been without the exercise component which is supposed to be part of the 17 Day Diet plan (or any sensible lifestyle). So this past weekend we decided to put the Model A back in operation, this time upgrading the 29 year old PM1 computer with a new PM5. Today was the first day of its use and as an added incentive, I've told my wife I would join her in the rowing workouts. I've NEVER rowed before and the first day doing it this past weekend truly sucked for my hips and legs. But it does get better and today's workout was indeed better. I'm not really out to lose weight (although I could stand to drop about 10-15 pounds from my nearly 7' tall frame). But I'm getting too old to skate by on my good genetics and need to get back into a regular cardio gig. So here we both go.

I've been reading this board for some time and know that many of you really start out big...some in the morbidly obese category. It's awesome to hear the success stories here. But I implore you all to check with your doctors about doing a sleep study, especially if you are really overweight and have had sleep apnea symptoms. This has changed my wife's life and I'm looking forward to see how the rest of the year progresses with her plan.

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Re: Sleep Apnea vs. weight loss

Post by Sevenfeet » June 24th, 2015, 11:42 pm

An update:

My wife has been on her plan now for about 9 weeks. She's down about 22 lbs right now toward a total goal of 60. She's a bit frustrated at the pace now since it's slowed a bit since the first few weeks but she continues toward the right direction....a pound or two every now and then followed by a plateau for a few days to a week.

Rowing has definitely improved the both of us. We are both rowing every other day and slowly turning in faster splits and longer exercise times. My wife began at a faster pace than I did mainly because of her muscle memory from when she first did this for a few months two years ago. So she began her splits at 2:40 doing roughly 3100m and 14 workouts later she's down to 2.26.7 splits rowing up to 6000m. I began much slower since this is my first attempt at rowing ever at age 50 (although I was a Div 1 basketball player in my youth). What began as 3.10 splits is now down to 2.31.3, which means my wife is still kicking my butt. She also rows longer...I began mainly sticking to a 15-20 minute routine depending on how fast I was rowing to get to 3000m but now I'm up to 4000 and will keep advancing the distance as my cardio endurance improves.

Buying the PM5 to upgrade our vintage Model A was a critical improvement for both of us. The stats we get via bluetooth to our phones now and can upload to the logbook give us the ability to see real progression. We got the Polar H7 heart rate monitor which my wife actively uses to balance her workout to maximize her heart rate without doing too much.

I haven't lost any weight but that really wasn't my goal. I'm 6'11" and 293 but my body is still much like my playing days combined with my muscle mass of my gym rat days in my 20s plus a little extra padding. I could stand to drop 10-15 pounds but i haven't changed by diet yet like my wife has. What has changed is that my upper body muscles are beginning to remember working this hard from years ago and my legs are better too. For my wife, everything is better...rowing combined with her first real sleep in years thanks to her new CPAP machine has made her a new woman.

The next step is to figure out what to do for cardio workouts on the non-rowing days. My wife doesn't want to row every single day and would prefer to mix it up a bit. We have begun doing hikes with the kids on the weekends but that is tough on the really hot summer days. We're debating on getting an elliptical which isn't in our budget but it would be an investment in ourselves.

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Re: Sleep Apnea vs. weight loss

Post by gregsmith01748 » June 25th, 2015, 1:22 pm

That's a great story. I heard something similar from a friend who was diagnosed with sleep apnea. After 6 months with the CPAP machine, he was down 30 pounds and able to discontinue his blood pressure medication.

Seems like it would be a good idea to get tested if you have any suspicion of a problem.
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Re: Sleep Apnea vs. weight loss

Post by Sevenfeet » July 26th, 2015, 6:29 pm

2nd update:

It's been another month. Most of it was a huge plateau for my wife so she spent a lot of time in the 21-23 lbs loss range. Needless to say it was very frustrating, despite my wife continuing to do better, faster, longer on our Model A. She's now rowing between 5000-6000 meters a session, usually on the weekdays. Splits are at around 2:20 or so.

But yesterday she finally broke through the psychological 25 lbs barrier. The reason is that we've been stepping up the exercise component of her program in order to keep up the "caloric deficit" she need to follow in order for her body to attack the fat she's been keeping around all these years. I mentioned we begun hiking on the weekends. This has become an entire family affair. My wife, myself and our two kids (9 year old daughter, 12 year old special needs son) all do the weekend hikes every Saturday and Sunday (weather permitting) without fail. We're fortunate that our city has parks with wilderness hiking trails within a very short distance of our front door. Originally we began doing 2.5 - 3 mile circuits in the local parks. These are outdoor wilderness nature trails with a fair amount of hills and valleys, switchbacks and climbing. We began slow and as of yesterday, we had upped the pace considerably (much to the consternation of our children).

Today we decided to increase the workout to a 4.5 mile circuit in one of the same parks we'd been doing a shorter route. We decided to pace ourselves better since it was a new trail and it ended up taking a couple of hours. But my wife dropped two pounds today just by doing that (now 27 total). Now it was probably water weight and she made the mistake of not eating an appropriate carb breakfast before going (usually oatmeal + fruit), opting for her usual semi-egg white omelette but overall it was a good experience for all.

Even though my wife's overall weight loss slowed down, her overall body sculpting progress has continued. She is now "shopping in her own closet", wearing things that have been on the shelf for years. So despite the frustration with the numbers on the scale, she has still seen real progress in the interim. I've been telling her that weight loss is like following a stock. There's always going to be a range that you're going to bounce around in. What matters is the range and the overall trend line. So she's clearly broken through her old trend line (which wasn't going up anyway) and is now continuing on the trajectory she was hoping for through increased exercise.

So now my wife has committed to herself to run our city's half marathon next spring as her body continues to reorganize itself and she feels confident that she can do more impact exercise on her knees, which was a problem at her earlier weight. Rowing will still be a big part of the experience; in fact, we convinced my roommate from college who wasn't doing any cardio to buy a used Model B on Craigslist and get in shape. And one of my wife's old friends who has a weight problem (and so does her husband) are now looking for a machine to acquire. This is infectious!

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Re: Sleep Apnea vs. weight loss

Post by DavidA » July 28th, 2015, 1:35 pm

Sevenfeet wrote:2nd update:

It's been another month. Most of it was a huge plateau for my wife so she spent a lot of time in the 21-23 lbs loss range. Needless to say it was very frustrating, despite my wife continuing to do better, faster, longer on our Model A. She's now rowing between 5000-6000 meters a session, usually on the weekdays. Splits are at around 2:20 or so.

But yesterday she finally broke through the psychological 25 lbs barrier. The reason is that we've been stepping up the exercise component of her program in order to keep up the "caloric deficit" she need to follow in order for her body to attack the fat she's been keeping around all these years. I mentioned we begun hiking on the weekends. This has become an entire family affair. My wife, myself and our two kids (9 year old daughter, 12 year old special needs son) all do the weekend hikes every Saturday and Sunday (weather permitting) without fail. We're fortunate that our city has parks with wilderness hiking trails within a very short distance of our front door. Originally we began doing 2.5 - 3 mile circuits in the local parks. These are outdoor wilderness nature trails with a fair amount of hills and valleys, switchbacks and climbing. We began slow and as of yesterday, we had upped the pace considerably (much to the consternation of our children).

Today we decided to increase the workout to a 4.5 mile circuit in one of the same parks we'd been doing a shorter route. We decided to pace ourselves better since it was a new trail and it ended up taking a couple of hours. But my wife dropped two pounds today just by doing that (now 27 total). Now it was probably water weight and she made the mistake of not eating an appropriate carb breakfast before going (usually oatmeal + fruit), opting for her usual semi-egg white omelette but overall it was a good experience for all.

Even though my wife's overall weight loss slowed down, her overall body sculpting progress has continued. She is now "shopping in her own closet", wearing things that have been on the shelf for years. So despite the frustration with the numbers on the scale, she has still seen real progress in the interim. I've been telling her that weight loss is like following a stock. There's always going to be a range that you're going to bounce around in. What matters is the range and the overall trend line. So she's clearly broken through her old trend line (which wasn't going up anyway) and is now continuing on the trajectory she was hoping for through increased exercise.

So now my wife has committed to herself to run our city's half marathon next spring as her body continues to reorganize itself and she feels confident that she can do more impact exercise on her knees, which was a problem at her earlier weight. Rowing will still be a big part of the experience; in fact, we convinced my roommate from college who wasn't doing any cardio to buy a used Model B on Craigslist and get in shape. And one of my wife's old friends who has a weight problem (and so does her husband) are now looking for a machine to acquire. This is infectious!
It sounds like your wife is doing great. It is terrific what all of you are doing, for your health, enjoyment of life, etc. Also that you are infecting others with these good traits.
Good luck on continued improvements and enjoyment, and good luck to your wife on the half marathon.

David
57 y / 70 kg / 173 cm / 5 kids / 11 grandkids :)
Received my model C erg 18-Dec-1994

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Ralph D.
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Re: Sleep Apnea vs. weight loss

Post by Ralph D. » July 28th, 2015, 6:55 pm

Great motivational story.

I also have sleep apnea. It was much worse before I lost over a 100 pounds (45 kilos). I still have about another 120 pounds to lose and I hope my sleep apnea goes away then. I'm sure it will be better.

I have plateaued about 4 months ago. For some reason I just stopped working out. I can make myself workout for more than 3 days straight. That seems to be the limit. It has been bothering me that I can't get started again.

After reading your story, I am fired up. I appreciate you posting it. As soon as I get this post finished I going to work out.

Reading about such a great story, was the kick in the pants I needed. I will reread this post to help motivate me. If I can just get back to working out daily, I think is what will push me over the top.

Thank again.

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Re: Sleep Apnea vs. weight loss

Post by Sevenfeet » August 4th, 2015, 4:40 pm

Ralph D. wrote:Great motivational story.

I also have sleep apnea. It was much worse before I lost over a 100 pounds (45 kilos). I still have about another 120 pounds to lose and I hope my sleep apnea goes away then. I'm sure it will be better.

I have plateaued about 4 months ago. For some reason I just stopped working out. I can make myself workout for more than 3 days straight. That seems to be the limit. It has been bothering me that I can't get started again.

After reading your story, I am fired up. I appreciate you posting it. As soon as I get this post finished I going to work out.

Reading about such a great story, was the kick in the pants I needed. I will reread this post to help motivate me. If I can just get back to working out daily, I think is what will push me over the top.

Thank again.
My wife is appreciative of the positive comments. :)

One thing I've learned from being a former Division I college basketball player is that plateaus happen. They just do. In order to get past them, you have to up your game. And by doing that, it means that you sometimes have to get creative. One thing I can recommend is that rowing is great but it's not everything. Rowing is why we're here and it's a awesome exercise since it's non-impact on the knees and if you have am Erg in your home, you can exercise at any time. And when you plateau on the sled, upping your row times or intensity does help. But sometimes you need to do something else.

That's why we got the family doing hiking on the weekends. For us, it was a great way to do a new activity with a lot of muscles you may not use as much during rowing and involve the whole family. Two months ago we started by doing a single 2.5 mile hike on a Saturday...then we later added the same distance both Saturday and Sunday. Two weekends ago we upped the game to a 4.5 mile hike on Saturday and a 2.5 mile hike on Sunday. Last weekend we went all in and did 4.5 miles on both days...9 miles total. And I can tell you that after 9 miles, I was pretty sore. But it was worth it and now our respective bodies are getting used to it (and so are our kids!). I'm actually looking to buy hiking shoes for myself for the first time in 20 years.

We still want to invest in an elliptical trainer for home use at some point in the near future. But the Model A will still be the core of our exercise regime here. But it cannot be everything in order to get past the plateaus. If you live near parks or wilderness trails like we do, take advantage of it! If you are a city dweller, find a path you like and comfortable shoes. Pick up the pace when you feel you getting complacent or not feeling like you're being challenged. And if you're still too heavy to allow your joints this kind of exercise, find water aerobics at a local gym or something else you can do to add that extra element. The exercise variety will also lessen the degree of boredom of just doing one thing.

Trust us, it's worth it. And best of all my wife continues to kick my butt in rowing. She just turned in a 6400m effort with her final split coming in at 2:09 (total average 2:13). And to that end, she's noticing that her body is now very different from previous times she's tried to lose weight. For example, today she wore a skirt that she hasn't worn in years (shopping in her own closet). But the last time she was this weight (she's now down nearly 28 pounds), the skirt was still very tight (too tight really). Now it fits comfortably...in other words, the difference between dieting alone and dieting and exercise is probably at least an inch across her middle. She's thinner, but her muscle mass is coming into play now. And that's always good weight to have versus the alternative.

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Re: Sleep Apnea vs. weight loss

Post by markinnb » August 5th, 2015, 10:35 am

I want to say how much I enjoyed the post by Sevenfeet ( above ). C2rower: It's great as part of an athletic / fitness ( whatever a person wishes to call it or not ) lifestyle. Sometimes for some people, it has to be set aside for a short period of time or de- emphasized or limited in total m/week . or time.. or whatever. Great thread.
Keep at keeping at it! in whatever way that you need!
"It's hard enough as it is without doing it all wrong."

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Re: Sleep Apnea vs. weight loss

Post by Sevenfeet » September 5th, 2015, 7:04 pm

Early September Update:

My wife has now been at her weight loss journey for 20 weeks and doing exercise featuring rowing for 17 weeks of it and hiking for the last 12 weeks. As I said before, after the first 10 pounds or so her body began "fighting back" as it were with plateaus at various points making the motivational part of this a lot harder. But she's pushed through it all with grit and determination. And best of all, she's been letting me help her along the journey. Not only have I been participating in her exercise but we now openly discuss her progress and strategies, something that would have never happened in previous attempts at weigh loss.

Her initial goal was 60 pounds. I'm happy to report that today she's gotten to the 50% mark with 30.6 lbs lost.

After beginning with a faster pace, the current pace at 1.5 lbs per week is a lot more sustainable. She's hoping that her skin will rebound at the pace she's doing and there's evidence to suggest that versus a faster pace. At her current pace, she'll make 60 lbs sometime in mid-January. But that won't be the end of the story.

The goal of 60 lbs was to get back to her wedding weight. But to be truly fit in terms of what most guidelines say, she would have to lose another 10 lbs, 20 preferably. So 20 lbs more (80 lbs total) is the second, "stretch" goal after she gets to the first goal. At first we were both wondering if a second goal was even realistic, but now we think it's possible. So here's her new goals broken down:

Next 10lbs: That will put her under 200 lbs total for the first time in years.
Next 30 lbs: Wedding weight.
Next 10 lbs: Officially in the "fit" zone for her height.
Next 10 lbs: End of program, beginning of lifelong maintenance mode. At the current pace, this should come in mid-April, exactly one year from when she started, but she won't be disappointed it the final phase takes longer. An 80 lb loss would be 34% overall weight reduction.

Now what we've learned so far:

The beginning was surprisingly easy, despite the difficulty of getting used to the new food regime.

The plateaus are part of the process, sometimes lasting a while. Longest was 3 weeks in July.

Variety in both exercise and food is a necessity to get through the tough weeks and to keep focus overall.

A woman's period means weight loss during that week is unlikely.

Data matters.

The last point is important. When she was going through the 3 week plateau, I decided to help her refocus by giving her some more tools to make the process easier. She had already been using MyFitnessPal but that needed to be only part of the story. I invested in an Apple Watch in order to be a tool for her in exercise and lifestyle management. It changed how she focused on many aspects of her journey. First, because of her exercise of the past few months, it takes more work to get her heart rate up. The Apple Watch only counts exercise if your heart rate is a significant level above your measured resting rate. That forces you to work harder when you are doing workouts, which made a big difference during hikes. She knew she had to pick up the pace (and eventually run) in order to get her heart rate up to the point of "exercise". It's not as big a problem doing rowing.

The second tool we got was the Withings Smart Body Analyzer WS-50 scale. We retired our old digital scale after over a decade which was fine in what it did, but new models do a lot more. In this case, the Withings can track her weight, report it to her phone, analyze trend patterns, sync it with Apple HealthKit and talk directly to MyFitnessPal in keeping track of the food she is eating. Also, it's pretty good at Fat Mass Index reporting, which is generally a better metric than BMI. On a funny note, I commented to my wife that i doubt many husbands could get away with buying their wife a scale as a present.

We still want to get an elliptical at some point. But we might get something cheaper in terms of a dumbbell set to work on her arms, which she still thinks needs some additional work despite the rowing.

More to come...

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Re: Sleep Apnea vs. weight loss

Post by RowerMatt516 » October 15th, 2015, 1:42 pm

These are great posts-I'm glad your wife's sleep apnea has been diagnosed and treated. Sleep apnea is under diagnosed in this country compared to countries like France and the UK (from what I've read). It is extremely serious and more education and publicity is needed to help people diagnose their sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is responsible for a host of bad things-from car accidents caused by daytime drowsiness to depression and anxiety disorders, probably even certain cases of ADD. It makes people less happy, less productive, etc.


I have been treating my sleep apnea for the past 7-8 years, but I've had it for probably the past 20 years, maybe even longer. If I go even one night without CPAP, I feel groggy and drowsy the entire next day. CPAP allows me to sleep deeply each night.

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Re: Sleep Apnea vs. weight loss

Post by Dingbat » January 19th, 2016, 2:58 pm

RowerMatt516 wrote:These are great posts-I'm glad your wife's sleep apnea has been diagnosed and treated. Sleep apnea is under diagnosed in this country compared to countries like France and the UK (from what I've read). It is extremely serious and more education and publicity is needed to help people diagnose their sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is responsible for a host of bad things-from car accidents caused by daytime drowsiness to depression and anxiety disorders, probably even certain cases of ADD. It makes people less happy, less productive, etc.


I have been treating my sleep apnea for the past 7-8 years, but I've had it for probably the past 20 years, maybe even longer. If I go even one night without CPAP, I feel groggy and drowsy the entire next day. CPAP allows me to sleep deeply each night.
I had it for years as well 'till I went I to the lab and came out with 78. First few weeks with CPAP were great, could actually function in the morning. Now I sleep better but only if I go to bed after a bottle of wine do I really sleep well. No drink last night and my max was 29 ... This started last summer, doctors haven't a clue.

Currently restarted my rowing, 182cm and 115k - can just about manage an interval of 500m 1:00 rest *5 at 20spm and about 170W.

My main issue is discipline - I can handle all sorts of sprints to the death but a steady pace for a stretch of time (even 500m is a challenge) I find difficult to maintain spm and W. any hints?

Edit: another thing - I have a strong upper body and never feel that my legs are doing the main work in the stroke. I now do some cycling intervals but was wondering whether anybody has the same issue and some bright ideas.

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Re: Sleep Apnea vs. weight loss

Post by Alissa » January 19th, 2016, 3:06 pm

On your "edit"...I do have some ideas (I looked at your earlier posts), but suggest you either return to that thread or start a new one. We will be really off-topic (sorry) if we continue that here...

Alissa

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Re: Sleep Apnea vs. weight loss

Post by Alissa » January 19th, 2016, 3:08 pm

I suggest you use your last three paragraphs in the new post...

Alissa

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