old habits changing to new habits
Sleep & Health

5 Healthy Habits that Can Help You Lose Weight and Improve Sleep Apnea Treatment Results

Whether you have chosen a dental sleep device or CPAP therapy in treating sleep apnea, weight loss can often improve your long term success. Focusing on several new habits versus dieting improves lasting weight loss efforts.

So which habits might it be best to focus on?

I recently watched a short Youtube video from one of my favorite health influencers- Heather Robertson of the Half Size Me Community and creator of the highly successful podcast called The Half Size Me Podcast. Heather has lost over 150 pounds and as a result, led to many improvements in her health. But most importantly, she has maintained her weight loss efforts for over 9 years. Way to go Heather!

In her video, Heather shares the 5 most important habits that led her to weight loss. These same habits have helped her maintain her weight loss efforts for years.

5 important habits Heather implemented:

1. Meal Planning

This was Heather’s most important habit that she adopted to create momentum for her weight loss.

She planned meals even on vacations and weekends while trying not to fall into the “let it go” trap during the non-routine days.

When eating out, reviewing the menu ahead of time can help stay on a healthier track.

Most recently, I have been using an app called Whisk to help create quicker meal planning and grocery lists. By making a “collection” called “Easy Meal Combinations” I constructed a ‘recipe’ of all that would be needed for a particular meal.

For example, I created a recipe called ‘Burgers-Fries-Green Salad” and inserted all that would be needed for that meal in the ingredients: burger patties, Yukon Gold Frozen Fries(Mariano’s) and green salad ingredients. When I add this to my meal plan for the week, automatically you can create a grocery list to include these items. This particular “collection” on the Whisk app was made with no or minimal cooking items that can be bought and made with minimal prep or cooking time. Although I like to cook, once in awhile I need quick easy options, especially when food prep time is limited.

2. Daily Activity

Incorporating some movement daily is key to Heather’s continued success.

Picking an activity you enjoy and feel you can continue for the long haul is critical. This can include walking, cleaning your house, yoga, gardening, exercising, or dancing. The key is to get moving and stay moving!

Heather recommends to find the bare bones minimum that you can be active, instead of setting an unrealistic goal. The practice of a new habit is so important in healthier lifestyles, so if 10 minutes is doable, try for 10 minutes of walking daily until that’s a habit. Then you can always add on time when you are ready and regular with the 10 minutes.

TIP: According to Heather, if your time is very limited, focus on nutrition and meal planning rather than exercising for greater results. You can not exercise enough to make up for poor nutrition.

3. Food journaling

Using a food tracker, visual tracker, or a notebook to keep track of your food intake is one of the best learning tools.

This process not only builds awareness but can be looked at as your own “body scientific experiment”.

TIP: I personally love the Lose It app. You can track exercise on this app as well. Based on Heather’s recommendations and personal experience, I choose to not add more calories to the ‘food bank’ from any exercise that is performed. Really take the time to look through the app for time saving tips. The Lose It app is very intuitive and you can see previous meals and add them in groups in an easy click.

Another popular digital journal is My Fitness Pal. I have not used this app, but have heard lots of good things about it as well.

4. Consistent weigh-ins

Heather and her clients use the Happy Scale app to track weight trends. It is normal for weight loss to not have a direct linear path downwards.

It is completely normal for one’s weight to fluctuate slightly with the best of weight loss efforts. The Happy scale app monitors your weight by giving you “green” trends if you are on the down path even with some weight gains. Make sure you look at the “moving average” in the logbook page of the Happy scale app if you choose to use it. That moving average gives you a more accurate weight amongst normal weight fluctuations.

5. Support through a health forum or group

Leaning into others for support can help get you back on track when life’s curveballs occur.

You are far from alone in the healthier life journey and supporting yourself with like-minded individuals can be very helpful.

Some examples of support groups may include Weight Watchers. Another online support that Heather created is the Half Size Me Community. The key here is finding a community you can be open enough to share struggles and successes.

And remember, perfection is absolutely not the goal of any of the above areas.

Think of habit evolution over time with natural ups and downs while learning how to stay in the game.

“People do not decide their future, they decide their habits,
and their habits decide their future.”
F.M Alexander

For more details on these tips, you can watch Heather’s YouTube video.

Need a roadmap for a healthier approach?

If you’re tired of dieting and looking to understand the roller-coaster effects of dieting, read The Diet Fix by Yoni Freedhoff, MD. No other book has come up more frequently in conversation with physicians, dieticians, or health coaches than this book.

The author, Yoni Freedhoff, MD, is an obesity expert physician that works daily with obese patients by implementing non-surgical weight-loss strategies. It’s a sure way to help redirect your efforts towards a more successful weight loss approach.

Know the basics of good health but need help in the actual habit process?

For help with adding and eliminating habits, read the New York Times best-selling book: Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. This book has been on the NY Times best selling list for many months and will give you tips on how to build successful habits or eliminate unhealthy ones.

Weight loss improves the effectiveness of your sleep apnea treatment

If you are not having the results you would like with your oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea, after consulting with your sleep medicine dentist and your doctor, consider implementing Heather’s 5 eating habits. I have seen amazing results with my patients when they incorporate weight loss into their sleep apnea treatment.

If you are looking for more oral appliance resources, make sure to check out the My Sleep Device patient resource page.

Some Helpful Blogs to read:

4 Ways Sleep Apnea Affects Weight Loss Efforts

The Importance of Weight Management/Loss With Successful Apnea Treatment

Stop Dieting and Shift to “Normal” Rules of Eating

Sources:
1. Cleo, G., Glasziou, P., Beller, E., Isenring, E., & Thomas, R. (2018). Habit-based interventions for weight loss maintenance in adults with overweight and obesity: A randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Obesity, 43(2), 374-383. doi:10.1038/s41366-018-0067-4
2. Cleo, G., Glasziou, P., Beller, E., Isenring, E., & Thomas, R. (2018). Habit-based interventions for weight loss maintenance in adults with overweight and obesity: A randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Obesity, 43(2), 374-383. doi:10.1038/s41366-018-0067-4

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