How it feels to be clinically dead…

I say this in jest.  Measurable Progress was supposed to be about my journey down to my ideal weight.  It hasn’t been going well.  I have tried nearly everything to reduce my weight, and of course did tons of research.  I know my gut bacteria is fine.  I know that diet pills and the extra “energy” you get from patches is just adrenaline or caffeine that boosts your metabolism…amphetamines.  Legal speed, but speed.  I hate pills.  I’ll drink coffee or tea or pop (which has WAY too much sugar and tastes awful without it.)  Spending a lot of time at the gym makes me sore and fat instead of just fat… Nothing seems to work. Then I was looking at folks at the gym, and at church, and at my club meetings.  It seemed that they all breathed faster than I did.

When I sit or sleep next to my husband, I breathe once for every 4 of his.  Yup.  So I looked it up:  Normal breathing–respirations per minute–are 12-18 in a normal person over 12 years old.  12-18/minute?  How many breaths do you take in a minute?  I’ll wait.

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So?  How many did you come up with?  16?  14?  Good for you. Realize it’s probably not accurate because you know you’re being observed so NOW you’re paying attention to your breathing.  If you’re over 24 breaths per minute, you may have problems…go see your doctor!!!  If you’re under 8 breaths/minute, you may have problems…go see your doctor!!!  My doctor says my thyroid is fine, my heart rate is about 60 bpm and though there’s a slight murmur, I’ve had it all my life.  However, he hasn’t addressed my respirations which are…(drum roll)  take a guess.

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Would you believe, 4/min?  I inhale over 2 seconds, then exhale for about 13.  Low is 8, if you’re a trained athlete.  Mine’s 1/2 that.  So A) I’m on opioids, B) I have a brain tumor, C) hypothyroidism, D) toxins or E) a head injury.  As far as I know, I don’t have a brain tumor.  Definitely no opioids, or toxins or head injury, and doctor said my thyroid is fine.  The only conclusion is that I’m dead, and my body hasn’t decided to quit breathing altogether. 

When you exercise a lot…running, working on a farm, athlete, construction…you lower your metabolism because you strengthen your heart.  Running forces you to breathe from your diaphragm.  Marathon runners and elite athletes are supposed to be breathing about 50-75 bpm while active, but it doesn’t say what their resting respirations are.  They have to breathe rapidly to get rid of the CO2 which is the byproduct of lactic acid that builds up in the muscles during exertion.  If they don’t breathe quickly, things begin to shut down because the lactic acid builds up the acidity of the blood and that tends to make the brain a bit nervous.  Fast breathing usually happens in the torso rather than deep in the diaphragm.  The upper part of the diaphragm in this case basically flutters.

3d rendered medically accurate illustration of human diaphragm anatomy

When they finish the race or the activity, they bend over to keep from fainting, and have to force as much CO2 from their bodies as possible, so they employ deep diaphragmatic breathing.  Bending over is a bad idea as it inhibits the diaphragm from expelling as much CO2 as it needs to, but that’s neither here nor there.

Their lung capacity grows as they get more fit and their hearts get stronger.  That lowers the resting respiration rate.  But still not below 8-10 bpm.

If I exercise really hard (like those evil interval training exercises!) I can get my heart rate up to 150+ for about 10-15 min.  Then when I stop, it only takes about 5 min for my heart to go back to its 60, and my breathing to return to its 4 and that’s normal for an athlete.  I’m not an athlete, or a dancer, or a laborer.  What does that mean?  My metabolism is very very slow.  That indicates that since I cannot work out 5 hours a day like I did when I was teaching dance, if I eat over 1000 calories/day, I gain weight.  Solutions anyone?

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