Celebrity Health

Shonda Rhimes, Sleep Apnea and "The Year of the Yes."

Shonda Rhimes, Sleep Apnea and "The Year of the Yes."

Producer and author Shonda Rhimes is probably best known for her popular shows, Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder and Scandal. Despite her fame, she was miserable. 

Shonda Rhimes diagnosed with sleep apnea

In Rhimes’ book, “The Year of the Yes”, she recounted her former philosophy about work. She worked as hard as she was able, until all hours, consisting on fast food and little sleep. Naturally, this put her body and mind into hyper-stress mode. Since Rhimes eats when she is stressed, she found herself eating often and poorly. As she charged forward to achieve the success she craved, she put on more weight and continued unhealthy habits. 

Her justification for her stress eating was that she saw her body as a container that carries around her brain, which is why she let her body go while she was becoming more successful. She became so grossly overweight that she had developed joint pains and experienced chronic fatigue. It was at that time, she also discovered that she had sleep apnea.

Like most cases of sleep apnea, weight is one of the biggest contributors. For adults, excessive weight affects the soft tissue located in the mouth. When the muscles near the throat and tongue are relaxed, the soft tissue near the mouth blocks the esophagus. This causes a person to stop breathing multiple times a night, suddenly gasping for breath. Sleep apnea prevents patients from reaching a deep level of sleep. If left untreated, sleep apnea can be fatal. 

Rhimes suffered from sleep apnea. She was tired all the time and developed hypertension.  One day over Thanksgiving, the lightbulb finally went off and that day she decided to make significant changes to her lifestyle. 

Her new philosophy

She was visiting with her family over the Thanksgiving weekend and having a discussion with her oldest sister. Rhimes was invited to an event but declined. Frustrated, her sibling sadly responded, "You never say yes to anything!"  Shonda suddenly had an "Ah Ha" moment and it was the beginning of a new life. 

On January 13, Rhimes' birthday, she texted her closest friends telling them effective immediately she would say yes to anything and everything that scared her. For a whole year. 

Here are the most significant changes she made in that year. 

  • She lost 125 lbs! 
  • She said No to the Dress. She said yes to telling the truth and couldn't pour herself into marriage. 
  • She appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live. It was her first yes. 
  • She talked about poop. Yep, poop. At Dartmouth College. It was named one of the best graduation speeches of the year. 
  • She appeared on the Mindy Project, one of her fav shows

Photo source: Hollywood Girls by Take News.