On Call… Love it or Hate it…

On call or shift work is a fact of life for me and many other physicians. So is continuing to work the next day, even while short on sleep.

Being on call created a lot of challenges for me personally in my weight loss journey and I think it is worth a deep dive.


What stories do you tell yourself?

There have been times in my career that I dreaded being pulled out of my cozy bed so much that I would spend a lot of time thinking about it. If I knew I had a call weekend coming up, I would think about how many people we had due and how likely it would be that I would get called in. My brain would try to predict what it would be like if I didn’t get to sleep and would tell me lots of stories about how hard the following day would be. And don’t let it get started on what could happen if I might be up multiple nights in a row!

The end result of all these stories my brain would tell me was stress. I felt stressed for days leading up to my call and through the call whether or not I was actually busy.

The story I was telling myself was creating discomfort beyond what the actual sleep deprivation did. I was adding misery to a challenging situation through my thoughts.

When I recognized this and started to purposefully not tell myself stories about upcoming call, it got a lot better. I didn’t feel stressed out in the days leading up to my call shifts and if I did happen to be up in the night, all I had to deal with was the sleep deprivation. And you know what? I will still choose to have uninterrupted sleep, but being up in the night without all the extra drama I was creating is really not that bad.

How does this impact weight?

The impact of the stress we create around our pending or past call shifts is important. We know that hormonally, stress makes it harder to lose weight. But more importantly, when people are stressed out and feeling a lack of control in their life, it often shows up in eating.

My overeating would start in the days before call and then really get going when I actually was on call and “too busy to plan”. I used it as a license to eat whatever I wanted. I used food as comfort instead of going to bed. And then the post-post call day wasn’t much better 🙂

And when you consider that I have been on 1 in 3 call for a lot of my career, that is a heck of a lot of opportunity for overeating!!

A better approach

What I have learned to do is minimize the additional stresses I create by managing my thoughts around call. I have actively worked on unplugging the behaviours of overeating as a method of coping with sleep deprivation and try to lay down for a short nap or just drink water instead.

This week’s episode has my best tips for surviving call with your weight loss plan intact. Be sure to download your On Call Survival Plan as well { link to popup}


You Can Be on Call and Stay on Track.

With my private coaching program, I can show you how to juggle call and other duties while staying focussed on your weight loss and other behavioural changes. Book an introductory session so we can chat by clicking below.