I was a skinny kid, blew up to pudgy briefly at the start of puberty and then slimmed down again. I stayed skinny until age 30, when I put on about 40 pounds in one year. I was stunned because I was running 5-6 days per week, doing the "Buns of Steel" workout every morning after my run, doing at least 2 - 5K races per month and chasing after a house full of kids. I went to the doctor and he told me it was just the middle age spread starting. I argued it was too much weight too fast and told him how much I was exercising. He said I was probably just building muscle. I told him I'd been on the same exercise regime for 3 years, I wouldn't suddenly be building muscle. He was no help, no other doctor was either, and I continued to gain weight. The heavier I got, the less I exercised because it began to get harder and harder to move. It also became painful in my knees and hips. Fast forward 18 years and 80 pounds later, I still struggle not to gain weight.
I'd been on diets over the years, with people and alone. Every time I did a group diet, everyone else would eat more than me and lose twice as much weight as me. It didn't seem fair. I went to more doctors, again, "there's nothing wrong with you." So at the beginning of this year, M and I decided to get serious about eating healthier and moving more. For three months I cut out extras, started exercising on average 4 days a week. I thought those changes would do something, anything. I didn't lose an ounce, much less a pound.
So next we end up taking a week long cruise. I decide I've been working so hard for 3 months with not a change, I'm just going to relax on the cruise and worry about the diet and exercise when I come back. For the entire week on the cruise, I don't exercise and I eat round the clock, more than I've ever eaten before. I also sleep really well for the first time in years. By the end of the cruise, I lose 5 pounds. Within the first 2 weeks back from the cruise I lose an additional 3 pounds. That's the incentive I needed, I begin exercising more than before, more strenuously, being even stricter with my diet, and for the next couple of months . . . I don't lose any weight. I am so frustrated by now! I'm also getting 1-3 hours of sleep a night.
So I'm complaining about all of this to a friend and she offers me some melatonin to help me sleep. The first night I take it I sleep one hour and wake up, then fall back asleep for 6 1/2 hours. Awesome! I can't tell you how great and clear-headed I felt after that much sleep in one night. I took some the second night, and didn't sleep as much, but still better than before. I get on the scale the next morning and I've lost 2 pounds in the 2 days I've taken melatonin and slept! Coincidence?
So I'm all excited to tell my friend this and before I can e-mail her, she has e-mailed me a medical study about light and sleep affecting how a body stores weight. In a nutshell the study says if there's any amount of light in your room at night, it disrupts your sleep and your body's own melatonin production, which will cause your body to produce 50% more body mass than someone sleeping in a completely dark room. So now that I have some additional confirmation for this, I'm covering the digital clocks, the glow-in-the-dark light switch on the wall and putting extra covers over my front window to prevent the glare of the street light from shining in my eyes at night. Who knew sleeping could be a weight-loss technique?