Handling Shift Work
A HUGE thank you to Ehayes for this comment. It was too good not to share as it touches on the demands of shift work, heightened need for dialed nutrition, and a real need to be flexible with training. Ego driven, non-adaptive training will get anyone overtrained or injured, but the process happens much more quickly in the shift worker:
My personal experience as a Firefighter, my wife Emergency Nurse and dedicated Paleo listener, Crossfit games competitor, no kids at home yet. This is in response to the LEO and many other podcasts topics concerning shift work people.
Robb is right on the money with maintaining consistency in an otherwise chaotic schedule. My advice:
You must be more strict on Paleo than your friends.
Your training must be flexible, but the goal and program has to be more focused. Your day to day energy is never quite the same as the last.
Intermittent Fasting comes naturally when getting a call at lunch or dinner time, but never planned.
Don’t be afraid of an extra rest day. It is better than adding insult to injury.
My schedule is every other day, 24 hr shifts, after 3 worked shifts, 4 days off. That works out to sleeping at work 1/3 of my life. While at work, if I sleep, I float between 7 fire station thus sleeping in a different old creaky bed most nights. I unplug all electronics in every room because they all have the common comforts that should not exist in a bedroom; t.v., internet, radio etc….There is always a chance of being woken up, therefore the sleep is absolutely never as good as being home. Limit one cup of coffee, because the potential to drinks 10 cups on certain days is not out the question. Just an example of necessary parameters I need for consistency.
On to the point.
Paleo IS nutritional consistency. As shift work folks, it has to be tighter compliance because the symtpoms of non compliance plus bad sleep are worse.
My wife is gluten intolerant. When she worked 3am-3pm, an accidental gluten ingestion was worse than when she is on a 7am-3pm and getting 8 hours of sleep vs. 5 hrs sleep. Also, symptoms of hypothyroid were subtle, but enough to question without diagnostic tests taken. Allergies were worse and on and on. On day shift, these symptoms are not present. She can choose to work day shift, which is great, bu those who cannot need a tighter diet to maintain normalcy, in my experience. As for me, no outward signs of gluten intolerance here, but Paleo has made days after a bad shift that much more tolerable. Thanks for that.
My goal- Strength is #1
You need to be able to work on your goal wherever you are. If you can’t consistently work on your goal you will not achieve it. Pick something achievable, with a defined track to get there and crush it.
CF Football Strength never miss and METCON only when I can- Strength is not always on the correct day and not always recommended loads. Loads are easily adjusted for tired days but the ROM is still there. I get PRs when I feel good. I can do strength at work or off work. The point is, goal is consistent, load is flexible and I make progress. Met Cons only when I feel good. Of course I practice gymnastics, sprints, etc… when I feel good, but they are 75% efforts. 100% efforts on rarely practiced movements equals injury.
I have tried jumping between CF Football, OPT, and others at the same time. It is a road to nowhere and for me injury. What if you feel great but its a light day or you feel bad but its a triple day. How can choose what to do? They all have different goals. It just doesn’t work. And training tired does not translate into better production while being tired at work, it leads to injury.
My rotation works on a 9 day cycle. Not a single online workout program exactly fits into my schedule. Pick one that you CAN follow, do it on the days that work for you. Stick with it for 3-6 months minimum. Make progress
In the case of Shift Work, less is more and simple is better, in my experience.