HSW 95 – Exercise, Mental Health and PTSD with Beck Lawther.

Today we’re talking about the benefits of exercise when it comes to managing our mental health – in particular around the topic of PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with Beck Lawther, a Police Officer with the Victorian Police Service based in Melbourne.

Beck is also the co-founder of Triple Zero Fit, a personal training company which runs fitness sessions specifically for first responders and emergency services personnel who are struggling with PTSD, depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions.

Things we chatted about:

– What led Beck to set up PT4PTSD?
– Why taking a 9-5 job for a couple of years can be a great strategy to reset our physical and mental health
– Why simply getting to the gym can feel like an insurmountable task, especially for those suffering from PTSD
– How physical exercise stimulates hormone production that improves our mental health
– How you can become a volunteer personal trainer, or utilise some of the services offered by Triple Zero Fit

Links mentioned in the podcast:
Triple Zero Fit Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/triplezerofit/
Triple Zero Fit Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/triplezerofit/
The Code 9 Foundation – https://www.code9ptsd.org.au/

It’s Time For A Change!

change3It’s time for a change!

After much deliberation, I’ve decided to undergo some rebranding and revert back to the original name of my blog – ‘The Healthy Shift Worker’, which I set up way back in 2009.

Wow – it’s hard to believe this blog has been humming along for that long, but don’t worry – the content is still going to be the same as I share some of my ‘shift working wisdom’ on all things to do with shift work including sleep, immunity, nutrition, mindset and movement.

I’d love to tell you the BIG reason for the name change, but it’s a bit top secret at the moment (although super exciting!)

Hope you’re having a great weekend – whether you’re rostered on or off!

Audra x

An Expanding Waistline – Why A Cosy Trip In The Flight Deck Left Me Anxious.

Man Waist FatOne of the major challenges I hear from shift workers is a constant struggle to lose weight.  An expanding waistline that seems to steadily creep up on us over the years and before we know it, we need to buy larger sizes of clothes in the hope that it may help to disguise this extra weight.

Of course a steady weight gain is not surprising really given our lethargic lifestyles and reliance on highly refined, processed foods to help curb our appetite whenever we are feeling too tired to cook.  However a few months ago when I was lucky enough to catch a ride home in the flight deck (one of the many perks when working in the aviation industry), something struck me which made me even more concerned about our expanding waistlines and the subsequent ill-effects that occur from being overweight.

As I strapped myself into the jump seat and listened in earnest to the emergency evacuation drill from the co-pilot, I could not help but feel a little concerned.  Whilst the co-pilot went through the evacuation process in the unlikely event that something catastrophic may happen to the flight, he directed me to the window which was above his right.  In other words, if we had to make an emergency landing we would be climbing through “his window” as a means of escape.  I said “sure – no problem”, but what I declined to ask (despite the question vigorously spinning around in my head), was how HE was going to get through that window.

You see, I’m a fairly lean and flexible person – thanks to a bit of walking, swimming and yoga I would have had no problem in jumping out that window if I absolutely had to.  But the the co-pilot, on the other hand … well let me just say that his waistline would have prevented both him and myself, from getting through that window in a hurry if the aircraft ever did have to make an emergency landing.

This left me really anxious.  Whilst I knew I could get out that window if I really had to, I felt like my life was in the hands of someone else – that his expanding waistline could have prevented my escape from a potentially life-threatening situation.

In Dr Pamela Peeke’s book, Fit to Live she asks her readers the following question – “Are you physically fit to live?”  Because as Pamela explains, to really enjoy life you need to have strength and balance, be able to stand up and see your toes, and be flexible.  However what is of even more importance is that if you were ever faced with an emergency situation (which I hope you never will), could you save your life?  Could you run down or up 10, 20, 30 or even more flights of stairs? Could you escape through a burning window or climb under a car if you had to?

You see, you don’t want to just be healthy. Health and fitness are not the same. You can be healthy but unfit at the same time. You need to be both. You need to be physically fit so that you can live your life the best that you possibly can, but also be fit enough to save your life (or that of another life) in the unlikely event that you were faced with an emergency situation.

I get that exercise or movement of any kind can be an incredibly hard thing to do when you’re feeling tired and lethargic.  As a 20 year shift work veteran I totally understand this quandary, but it’s something that you need to do regularly to help keep your waistline in check.

In essence, it’s not something that you want to avoid.  The good news however, is the fitter you become the more energy you will acquire which is a great motivating tool for any energy-depleted shift workerSo go on, find a way to get your body moving again so that you can get your waistline back in check because you never know when your life (and the life of others) may actually depend on it.

Why Losing Weight Is So Easy, Yet So Many People Struggle To Actually Do It!

Now despite what you might be thinking, losing weight is actually really easy to do – and that’s with or without shift work. So why is it that so many people struggle to maintain a healthy weight?

Well quite simply because it’s also easy not to do it.

You see most people know exactly how to lose weight. The words “exercise, healthy foods, and water” are certainly familiar to most people. But the primary reason most people struggle in their weight loss ventures is because even though following these methods is actually easy to do, it’s also easy not to do it.

And unfortunately for most people – they take the easy option and choose ‘not to do it’ instead.

Let me explain …

* Now it’s not because there is a lack of fruit and vegetables – markets and grocery stores are full of fresh fruit and vegetables.

* It’s not because there is isn’t enough space or exercise equipment available to help us to get active – there are plenty of parks, gyms and other fitness style outlets out there to help you to get active.

* And it’s not because we don’t have enough time – we all have the same 24 hours available a day – it’s what you choose to do in those 24 hours that determines your overall health and happiness.

So there really is no excuse. Everything you could ever need to help you to lose weight and stay healthy is within your reach. The major reason that so few take advantage of all that we have is simply – neglect.

Most people would have heard of the expression “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Even though you may debate the validity of this familiar quotation – what if it was actually true? If by performing that one simple act – that one simple discipline – which could make you much healthier, would it not make sense to just eat that one apple a day?

Now assuming the quotation is true, why don’t more of us eat that one apple a day, every day – to maintain our health? If it is that easy, and there is such a tremendous reward attached to this discipline (weight loss and good health), then why do we not do it?

Because the things that are easy to do are also easy not to do.

You can fail in just about anything including weight loss, if you are simply neglectful. When we fail to do the small things that we should be doing every day, these small neglects have a way of becoming major oversights with the passage of time. And by this I mean that your weight gradually starts to increase and your health starts to decline as the years go by.

So if you’re serious about losing weight and achieving good health – don’t be neglectful.

Don’t use shift work as an excuse, because that’s all it really is – an excuse.

Failure to do the simple things that we could and should do (eat healthier foods and staying active), will result in a downward spiral of weight gain and ill health which once started, is very difficult to stop.

So make today the start of the new you where you begin to actually do things, instead of choosing ‘not to do them’. Your health and waistline will definitely thank you for it later on!

Exercise = Improved Sleep + Weight Loss!

Did you know that recent studies have revealed that shift workers are prone to being overweight? It’s information that probably wouldn’t surprise you as many shift workers are struggling with their weight in some way, shape or form.

But what you might not be aware of is the strong correlation between being overweight and having poor sleeping problems.

So if you are a shift worker AND you’re over weight, then you really need to do something about it because your sleep deprivation is going to lead you to even greater health problems later down the track.

So quite simply if you want to get more sleep, then you need to shed some of those excess kilograms!

And one of the best places to start is by increasing the amount of exercise that you’re doing. Now as a shift worker you’re probably cringing right now at just the thought of doing any exercise because quite frankly, you’re probably too tired to do anything remotely energetic!

Sounding familiar? Well as a fellow shift worker I certainly “hear you” but just stick with me here.

You see everybody, whether or not they want to lose weight – benefits from simple, regular exercise. Why? Because our bodies are designed to do a certain amount of physical effort every day.

If we go back in time 100 years ago, it was actually quite difficult to live without doing some sort of exercise such as walking, doing manual work, housework, lifting or just carrying things around. But unfortunately thanks to today’s modern, mechanized lifestyle it is quite possible to live without ever fully exerting yourself. And this is unhealthy for three simple reasons:

1. The body has muscles that are designed to work everyday, and if they don’t the muscles get weaker and our body begins to store energy as fat.

2. Exercise is one of the best ways to flush out the toxins that stress can create in the body.

3. It is scientifically proven that exercise improves sleep.

So just by gently increasing the amount of exercise that you do everyday can help you to reduce stress, lose weight and even more importantly – help you to get a better night’s sleep.

Now if you’re a shift worker that has got to be music to your ears!