Just breathe? During childbirth they tell you to breathe through the pain, lifestyle gurus tell you to breathe deeply to banish stress, and my trainer is constantly reminding me to breathe (which usually provokes giggles, rather than the desired response). It’s even a Pearl Jam song for crying out loud! Okay, I know that consciousness of breath is integral to meditation and yoga, but why do we need to be reminded to breathe? Isn’t that something we should do naturally? Surely, if we are still here, we are!

Julie Anne Rhodes: just trying to breathe (and sleep)

Evidently not. You see, I was recently tested after years of complaining of chronic fatigue, and it appears I stop breathing up to forty times per hour, cutting off my oxygen supply, when I sleep, (trying to sleep might be a more accurate description). It’s called sleep apnea, and millions of people suffer from it. Many are completely unaware that is why they wake still as exhausted as they were when they went to bed.

Desperately seeking rest in Bali earlier this year

Sounds like no big deal, right? Well, tired is a big deal. Apart from feeling grouchy, it can cause a myriad of serious health problems such as heart failure, stroke, diabetes, and depression amongst them. I suffered atypical migraines with temporary bouts of blindness as a result. It can also screw up your metabolism – evidently, any less than six hours a night sleep slows the metabolism significantly. An important tidbit of information for all of us constantly trying in vain to drop a few pounds, or wondering why we are gaining weight when our consumption and exercise habits haven’t changed. It also means your ability to concentrate is severely impaired. Did you know a sleep deprived person is as dangerous behind the wheel as a drunk driver?

What? You think I'd be caught dead in public wearing the mask? Keep dreaming!

Oh joy! Correcting the problem means I’m doomed to a fate even less sexy than granny gowns – a mask that blows air into my nostrils to keep my airway open when my muscles relax during sleep, and NO, I am not modeling it for you. However, if any of you have connections, I’d be THRILLED to take Jukusui-Kun for a test run instead! I’ve always adored polar bears. In fact, visiting them in their natural habitat is on my bucket list. Too bad this one isn’t ready for the mass market yet – it looks considerably more cuddly than a c-pap machine.

Trust me, two to four hours of interrupted sleep a night is not exactly beauty rest. As exhausted as I am? I’m more than willing to look rediculous, but unfortunately my deviated septum needs repairing first. So this is really just a very long winded way of saying I may skip a couple blog posts while I have the surgery and recover. Just breathe (I’m trying), and I will be back shortly. Some of my more seasoned premium members will be checking into the forum regularly to make sure members have all the PCA™ support you need as well.

Make-ahead meals with the PCA™ cooled properly

I’ll also be using the Personal Chef Approach™ for myself before the surgery, so I can just “heat to eat” when I need it, and be much less reliant on others. If you know someone recouperating from surgery or illness, it is the perfect gift (much more handy than flowers, candy, toys or trinkets), and not really any more effort than cooking your own food for the week, anyhow. Join now so you can!

I think this situation calls for my favorite healthy comfort soup. It’s my top secret weight loss weapon – the chicken vegetable soup I lived on for years as a model. It’s low fat, chocked full of yummy vegetables and chicken, and certainly satiating. My own private diet rescue remedy (plus some of that beauty rest I’m after).

My Top secret weight-loss weapon chicken & veg soup

If you would like to sample a free recipe of mine, please click here for my recipe of the week, if you would like to view this recipe, please upgrade to the premium membership. The Personal Chef Approach™ helps you eat more efficiently, save time and money, and finally succeed at eating healthy all year round. Join now and SAVE through January 31st.

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  • January 17, 2012
    8:25 am

    Jewels, we will all have you in our thoughts while you go through surgery and recovery.

    This was an incredibly informative post, I had no idea the impact of not sleeping well had on weight.

    I just checked out the chicken soup recipe and – YUM!!

    Don’t worry about us, we’ll be here when you return! And I hope you’ll get the well-deserved rest you need!

  • January 17, 2012
    10:19 am

    I know of a former colleague who uses the c-pap machine at night and is feeling so much better for it. It wasn’t long before he was feeling better than he had in years. Sleep is critical and the sad thing is that as we get older, our bodies won’t allow us to sleep for long periods of time. That’s why we see so many elderly sleep deprived people.
    Here’s wishing you well through the surgery and recovery. Sometimes giving ourselves permission to recover at the speed our body needs is difficult. Don’t worry about menus and posts, these will wait while you take some much needed down time. Hugs to you!

    • January 17, 2012
      11:43 pm

      Thank you for helping out in the forum Ruthee. I can’t wait to be catching those zzzzzzzzzzzzz’s again!

  • January 17, 2012
    11:44 am

    By the way, after reading the soup recipe, think that goes on the cook list for Sunday or possibly sooner. Just might make me warm up inside! Tired of wearing track pants, large warm socks and hoodies over my t-shirts.

    • January 17, 2012
      11:47 pm

      It’s already on this week’s menu plan – hope to have it posted by tomorrow evening. Stocked my freezer full today.

  • January 17, 2012
    9:34 am

    Thanks Jodi, and yes! You don’t have to have sleep apnea for lack of sleep to effect your weight. Less than six hours on a regular basis will lower your metabolism, so there is truth to the term “beauty rest.”

  • January 17, 2012
    9:50 am

    wishing that you didn’t have to go through this but so relieved that solutions and cures are on your horizon .. and you will rest peacefully and well

    love you.

    • January 17, 2012
      9:57 am

      Fingers crossed, I’ll FINALLY have a solution!

  • January 17, 2012
    10:12 am

    So often the lesser known health problems just don’t get taken seriously or get the attention they deserve. Often they bring on other symptoms, illnesses and affect our health dramatically.

    I’m glad you were able to share and talk about yours.

    I hope the operation is successful in treating your health. Your health is important and glad you are taking the time to take care of it.

    • January 17, 2012
      11:40 pm

      I do think it is important to bring it to people’s attention. We don’t realize how much sleep (or lack of it) can effect so many different aspects of our health. They say at least 12 million people in America are diagnosed with sleep apnea – just think how many don’t even know they have it!

  • January 17, 2012
    11:29 am

    Does the surgery for the deviated septum not FIX the apnea problem? Bummer.

    Good luck with the surgery and recovery. Do you have anyone who will be with you the first few days? I hope so.

    Lots of love!

    • January 17, 2012
      11:46 pm

      Yes, I have a friend staying with Daisy and my parents will be here for a few days on their way home – I’ll be well looked after, and I’m SO looking forward to breathing well again, and getting my beauty rest.

  • January 17, 2012
    11:49 am

    Sorry you must go through this procedure.
    Hope it all goes well and quickly.
    Found the article very useful and fun of course!
    This what I enjoy about your site. You just never know what you’re gonna get!
    Best to you!

    • January 17, 2012
      11:51 pm

      Ah, peanuts in the grand scheme of things. I’m more concerned about learning to sleep with the machine, but so looking forward to feeling rested.

  • January 17, 2012
    2:38 pm

    I can relate. My dr. thinks i suffer from sleep apnea as well. I definitely stop breathing when i sleep on my back and last night i realized that when i try to keep my mouth shut and breath exclusively from my nose i stop breathing as well. I normally sleep on my side anyway. Now here is the drawback of that. It starts to really aggravate your shoulders causing increased issues with carpal tunnel and can cause your fingers to go numb. I just can’t sleep on my back though… hurts my lower back too much. Good luck to you with the Cpap machine, I have heard great things about them. Just think how great you will feel when you start to get great sleep!!!

    • January 17, 2012
      11:52 pm

      I know, so excited to have sweet dreams again!

  • January 17, 2012
    4:00 pm

    Oh Jewels, good luck with the surgery!!!!
    My Dad btw has been diagnosed sleep apnoe about ten years ago and wears a mask during the night ever since. When he was diagnosed he was at a point where he easily fell asleep almost mid-sentence during day time. He couldn’t concentrate on anything and was always exhausted. Right after he started wearing the mask things changed for good!!!

  • January 17, 2012
    11:53 pm

    Great news Ricarda! Now I’m really excited to get on with it.

  • January 18, 2012
    11:41 am

    dear Jewels, menopause might also be a cause for bad sleeping and having weight problems. For me it started 8 years ago. Don’t fight it, let it happen. Last september my body started to change…I’m back to size 36 again and I gave all clothes size 38 and 40 away!!! With a little help from people from Thailand who eat 10 little healthy meals a day. That keeps your digestion “rockin” true the day & makes your stomache smaller! Much healthier than 3 big meals a day! Drink water, green tea, not too much caffeine, grapefruit “keeps the fat away”, take a walk after a heavy meal, take a hot shower before you go to bed. Migraines??! From my teens till 8 years ago! I know! I went to a healer and she has helped me with that. Amazing! No more migraines. Good luck & love from the Netherlands, Yv

    • January 18, 2012
      12:17 pm

      Hi Yvonne – I wish it were as simple as that, but I have done a sleep study that conclusively showed my breathing shallows significantly and oxygen levels drop below normal (which is what causes me to wake up to 40 x per hour) during sleep. Many woman go undiagnosed for the simple reason it is easy to blame menopause for some of the symptoms, and this can be dangerous to their health if untreated. Getting the test simply involves being hooked up to electrodes that monitor you – nothing dangerous or invasive, and so worth the effort. Plus treatment involves no drugs.

      I’m sure menopause does contribute to weight gain, but sleeping less than six hours a night on a regular basis further reduces your metabolism. It is also important to correct the sleep apnea for serious, potentially life-threatening illnesses, not just dress size, although I’m thrilled to hear yours is back where you would like it to be – gives us all hope!

      • January 18, 2012
        12:20 pm

        …and treatment involves no drugs.

        Glad to hear you’ve gotten past the middle age bulge!

      • January 18, 2012
        12:56 pm

        40 x per hour! You are absolutely right to have it tested & find treatment! I just tried to give some hope about weight “problems”. But what’s a problem as long as you feel good in your body. The “right” weight is something we women can discuss about for days an days and days…while zipping a wine…ha ha. Hope you soon find rest in your sleepless nights. Let us know!

  • January 18, 2012
    3:42 pm

    Hey Julie Anne

    I have sleep apnea too. I have my CPAP. Probably should start using it again. LOL It did help alot. Just try and get the full face mask instead of the nose cover or nose pillows. Those are so annoying, and with the nose mask thing, I woke up with an extremely dry throat, begging my ex for water.

  • January 18, 2012
    9:25 pm

    I too have sleep apnea and have used my machine for over a year. I love it now. I use a full face mask, i tend to get stuffed up a lot so it seemed to make more sense to me. It took a little bit to get used to sleeping with the mask but once you do you will feel so much better.

    • January 18, 2012
      9:29 pm

      That’s great to hear Chris! I’m looking forward to feeling rested again.

  • January 19, 2012
    5:29 am

    My father, at the age of 71 years; started to sleep with the Cpap due to chronic snoring/apnea, etc. He stated “I’ve never slept so well in my life, for the first time in around 70 some odd years, I feel rested”. He goes NOWHERE without it now. I hope you get the opportunity to see if this works for you!

  • January 19, 2012
    10:20 am

    JulieAnne, you are SO loved and are SO important to so many people. You’ll be missed but above it all we want you healthy and happy. Much love and best wishes to you, my friend.

  • January 19, 2012
    9:41 am

    Keeping my eye on the prize – thanks for adding to it’s sparkle Nicole!

  • January 19, 2012
    10:38 am

    Thank you Rachel. It’s so nice to feel loved.

    After all the last minute fuss with my insurance company, Dingelberry here arrived 30 minutes early, and I’m now sat twiddling my thumbs – yay iPhone.

  • February 3, 2012
    4:31 pm

    My husband also wears a CPAP at night. It’s not disruptive to me and as a matter of fact, I have a hard time sleeping at night if I don’t hear the soothing ‘hummm’ of his machine. I’ve gotten so used to the white noise. He also sings the praises of his ‘miracle’ sleep machine. It’s annoying for travel because the TSA makes you take it out of the carrier and swabs it down, but he won’t take the chance of checking it in our luggage in case it goes missing. As for myself, I toss an turn, snore and never feel rested. My husband has been trying to get me tested for years. Reading your blog and the other posters on here may just be the push I need to finally go inquire with my Dr. This is why I love your blog!Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  • February 3, 2012
    4:37 pm

    Glad it helped convince you Suzanne. We don’t realize just how important a good nights sleep is to our health.