Shallow Breathing

can't breatheExperts say that losing weight is about calories in vs. calories out. Just eat less, move more, and you’ll lose weight.

Based on my own experience, I know that’s true, for the most part. Of course, there are additional factors – thyroid conditions, medications, etc. But those don’t affect the vast majority of people trying to lose weight.

But the part of the equation that this explanation doesn’t take into account is what drives us to eat more? Why, when some of us reduce our calorie intake to what it “should” be, do we feel like we’re in a constant state of deprivation, of holding our breath?

A few years ago, I lost about 60 pounds over the course of six months. I gained it all back over the next three years. Why, when I had all the momentum and positive reinforcement of losing – compliments, less joint pain, etc.?

For starters, I began working full time again, in an office. Going to the gym for one to two hours each day, followed by an hour recovery period, shower, then an hour to prep a healthy dinner just doesn’t happen when I’m working 50-60 hours a week, plus commute.

But what really got me was that – for all six months I was losing weight – I felt like I was breathing shallow. I was fighting what my body was telling me to do – to give in, eat more, relax a little. When I did, all hell broke loose – and slightly more calories combined with significant less exercise led me back to where I was in the first place.

The funny thing is that once I got there, when I stopped counting calories, my body evened out. I haven’t gained a single pound in 3 years.

We all have different lung capacities. Some people just need more air to feel comfortable – more oxygen to keep their bodies moving. Try breathing shallow for a minute. It’s easy, but only for a while. Eventually, your thoughts meander – and your subconscious brain kicks in forcing you to breathe more.

Are calories the same way? Am I doomed to a lifetime of calorie obsession, tracking, and “shallow breathing” to try to get my body to exist in a different state?

Maybe I’m just frustrated. This week, despite being more active and maintaining a 1200-calorie-per-day average deficit, I gained a pound. I’m hoping this is just a natural fluctuation rather than an indication of true gain.

Anyway, for the first time in a while, I’m not using this backtrack as an excuse to throw in the towel – but rather motivation to keep going.

If it means I have to keep shallow breathing, I will. And I’m still hoping that, in time, it won’t feel so shallow.

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One comment

  1. leannenalani · August 25, 2013

    I’m so sorry that you have to deal with this and I think I know where you’re coming from. That shallow breathing thing is rough and not seeing the scale go where it should despite all the effort. At one point I decided I was not eating enough and overtraining, so I started to eat a little bit more and it helped a lot on the weight loss front. But that whole calories in, calories out thing is a challenge because everyone is different.

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