Don’t forget to breathe

August 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

As you know

I started Crossfit last month

Which by the way


Because someone like me

Should NOT be doing something like that


Except for the fact…


So I guess that means I can


We can do things we never thought we could do

Who is going to stop you from walking in the door, right?

What are they going to do?

Tell you to leave?

The truth is

Most of the time

We are the ones in the way

We are the ones telling ourselves “NO”

Because the only thing I’ve ever gotten from Crossfit

Was encouragement



And even a fist bump!


I’m really loving the fact

That I’ve met a group of people

Who in spite of the fact that they are pretty much awesome in every way

Physically and otherwise

Still can relate to someone like me

Someone who is struggling

Someone who spent years overeating and underexercising

And yet

No judgement

Just “Great job!!” and “Go for it!!”

I’ve been super privileged

And blessed

To have met Susan

This wonderful woman at Crossfit

She is always encouraging

Always giving me words of wisdom

The other day we got partnered up

And we were doing these things they call

Windshield Wipers


Crossfit has a language of its own

It’s like trying to learn how to text

And understand acronyms

All over again

Here I am partnering with Susan

As SHE is doing Windshield Wipers

First she did it

But then it was my turn

And I’m doing windshield wipers

Or trying to

And I’m feeling like I’m about to pass out

When suddenly Susan says to me


What…you say??


You’re NOT breathing!!

You have to breathe!!

Turns out I was holding my breath

So Susan had this great idea

It goes like this


Actually her advice was a bit more in depth

She was telling me when to inhale and when to exhale

So I started paying attention to it


And something crazy happened!

It got a lot easier!


Breathing helps!!

Isn’t it funny how you can be working so hard at something

That you actually forget to breathe?

Since she pointed this out to me

I’ve been paying attention to it

When I have to walk or jog

I remind myself to breathe

When I’m lifting the weights

I remind myself to breathe

This is so simple

And yet so profound

Being 417 pounds at one point

I had MAJOR issues with breathing


As in…..Sometimes I didn’t breathe at night

While I was sleeping

They call it Sleep Apnea

Basically what happens

Is you just stop breathing while you’re asleep

Usually because you are so obese that it obstructs your airway

It literally stops you from being able to breathe

And for years

I dealt with this

Waking up very suddenly



It’s a horrible way to live


Sorry for the caps

But really….I have no other way to explain to you what it’s like

To go to sleep

And wonder if you will ever wake up again

I actually began to dread falling asleep

Because I knew what it brought

The anxiety

The terror

You know it’s going to happen

Somewhere in the middle of the night

You are going to wake up gasping for air

Like you’re drowning

I already was in the recliner

Because I could no longer sleep in the bed

I had to sleep almost totally upright for years

Because any other way

The weight would crush me

Crush me in my sleep

My biggest fear

Was my children waking up one morning

And stumbling into my room to hug me

And say “Good morning, Mama!”

Only to find me dead

Because I had suffocated in the night

Suffocated from my own weight

Can you imagine?

I mean literally….

Having my children who I love

Have to live with the fact that I basically killed myself

Because I suffocated in the night from MY weight

The weight I put on

The weight I gained

That I did it to myself

And because I chose that path

They are now without me

And it’s my own fault

That just plagued me all the time

Knowing that my children would grow up with this

This horrible notion that I died from my own bad choices

That I would choose a brownie over them

As if I would love food more than my kids

More than my life

And yet that is exactly the life I was leading

And that is exactly where it was going to end up

I literally lived in fear of this every day of my life


But there are more reasons I have issues with breathing

I’ve suffered from anxiety for a long time

And when you have panic attacks

You feel like you can’t breathe

That is one of my big issues with exercise

There are times it triggers the same feeling

As a panic attack

Whenever I started feeling out of breath

I would panic

And I think this kept me from continuing on

I would quit

Because whenever I felt like I couldn’t breathe

I had to stop

It set something off in my brain that said



When my brother came to visit me

We were walking really fast

Trying to hit my maximum heart rate zone

And I started to panic

I can’t breathe!!

I’m going to die!

That is how I always felt

This is hard…this is tough….I can’t breathe


But my brother would assure me


Just try to control your breathing

But keep going

This will NOT kill you

I pushed through it and discovered

He was right

I didn’t die after all

I just had to learn to push through the panic

That point of the workout where you start to really get out of breath

And everything hurts

And you want to quit

But guess what?

THAT is the exact moment

The VERY moment

Where you have to keep going

Where you have to decide

Is this going to be my life??

Sleeping almost totally upright in a recliner every night??

Wondering if my children will be traumautized in the morning??

Because I suffocate in the night from my own weight?

Or is this going to be the moment

Where I stand up to the anxiety

And find a way

Where I learn how to breathe through the panic

Through the pain

I don’t know if you’ve ever felt this way

But for me—finding my breath—can be tough

But breathing is crucial to life

When I was at Crossfit the other day and struggling

Susan noticed that I wasn’t breathing

I was holding my breath

And she let me know

Do you realize what that means?

It means she was paying attention

It means she could see that I wasn’t breathing

And she took the time to tell me


How often in life are we holding our breath?

Not just through exercise

But through LIFE

Through painful experiences

When my husband left me

I was drowning in my own sorrow

I forgot how to breathe

I would call my mother in a panic

And say

“Mom! I can’t do this! I can’t breathe!”

And you know what she would always say to me?

Very simply, she would say this

“Breathe in.  Breath out.  Now do it again.   See? You’re alive.  You’re breathing. As long as you keep doing it….you’ll be fine”

That’s it

As simple as that


My mom and I had this inside joke

She would call me sometimes and I’d say “Hello?”

And instead of “Hi“, she would say “Breathe out!”

It was a running joke between us

The fact that my mom had to call me to remind me to breathe!

She would also tell me….

“Holly, you have to learn how to handle things on your own! I’m not always going to be here. You have to learn to handle life on your own.  You don’t need me to tell you when to breathe in and breathe out. You can do it!”

Sometimes it’s like she knew…

It’s like she knew she would be leaving me….

But it was our running joke

The idea that so much of my life, my Mom was at the helm

Reminding me that I could handle things

Reminding me that I could keep going

That as long as I didn’t forget to breathe

I would make it

But now she’s gone

And I miss her every day

She’s  no longer here to remind me to breathe

So God sent me Susan

And Susan reminded me to breathe

But that’s not all

Today during our workout

I had to run

Susan was standing by the door as I was running out

As I passed her I said this


To which SHE replied

“No you’re not.  You’re LIVING”

As I jogged up the hill, I thought to myself

She’s right

This IS living

Because what I was doing before


But this….

As much as it hurts

As much as it sucks…

And trust me



This is living

Getting up on a Saturday morning when you want to sleep in

Walking into a Crossfit Box with people you know are out of your league

And trying to hang in there with them

Not giving up when you want to quit

Not stopping at 20 reps when you’re supposed to do 30

Not letting the panic that sets in overtake you

Fighting through it


Not letting the voices inside your head win

It may feel like I’m dying

But I’m not




I’m living

I’m breathing

We all need someone in our life

To remind us of this

To remind us to breathe

To remind us that the pain we are feeling

Is not going to kill us

That in fact

This pain


It is the pain of fighting for your life

And like Susan says


Because that’s what we’re here to do , right??

We’re here to LIVE

My mom isn’t here anymore to remind me to breathe

But God has placed other people in my life

Like Susan

To remind me

That He is here

That He is the breath of life

That when I feel I’m suffocating

He is there

And we are not alone

We are not suffocating

We are fighting

We’re fighting for our life

And in the middle of all that

Remember one thing….


Because you’re not dying

You’re living

You might have come to the brink of death

But now

Here you are

Fighting to live

Breathing in

Breathing out





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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Cindy August 19, 2012 at 2:04 am

Awesome. So profound.

I have a recurrent issue where my brain spins out of control with “what if” scenarios, and I become paralyzed…unable to make a decision or move forward. My mom has ALWAYS told me “Don’t go looking for trouble.” Gotta love our moms…always knowing what we need.
Cindy recently posted..Sinking inMy Profile


Enz August 19, 2012 at 2:47 am

Sometimes it really is that easy.


Enz August 19, 2012 at 2:47 am

Oh..I forgot to add…I am so intimidated by CrossFit, so go YOU!


Holly from 300 Pounds Down August 19, 2012 at 3:15 am

Don’t be intimidated!! I was too!! The only reason I got up the nerve to even go was b/c I emailed the owner first and she was totally supportive and encouraging. I would recommend doing that first to seek out the right place. But it is SO worth checking out!! I literally cannot say enough good things about my experience there!!


Patrick August 19, 2012 at 3:39 am

Great perspective. None of this is easy, and it will be difficult to the end I imagine. It’s tips and tricks (often obvious to the healthy) like BREATHE that make our mission here just a tad easier to tackle.
Patrick recently posted..Hello SaturdayMy Profile


Staci August 19, 2012 at 5:05 am

I read not too long about things about breathing. I don’t even remember what I was reading… but you know how a baby breathes? You know when you watch them and their chest rises really big and then falls? That is apparently the RIGHT way to breathe…. great big, deep, CLEANSING breaths. But the article said as we grow up and older, we take these tiny, shallow breaths that just aren’t what we need. Anyway, I’m rambling, but your post reminded me of that and now I find myself sitting here taking gigantuous breaths! Haha! 🙂 YOU ARE AWESOME! I still hate your hubby, except for the fact that he is military, and I will respect that part. Hehe
Staci recently posted..Saturday’s Mini GoalsMy Profile


Holly from 300 Pounds Down August 19, 2012 at 5:15 am

I LOVE YOU Staci!!!!!!!!! Seriously!! LOVE YOU! We really have to get together sometime in real NON virtual life!!


Christine August 19, 2012 at 5:10 am

I discovered on Friday, the “in between” workout between personal training sessions, that it’s way easier to lift weights when my trainer is there. Even though I’m doing the exact same thing! I don’t know if it’s just that she’s there or just the distraction, but having her there really helps! The power of two.
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Linda Kuil August 19, 2012 at 11:52 am

I’ve woken up in the middle of the night choking on bile because I ate so much before bed that it crept up on me after laying down. Horrible, right? And I did it to myself, bingeing at night. Now, I do things to feel BETTER, not worse, even if it’s uncomfortable in the process. That discomfort is PROGRESS.


Lee Mitchell August 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Great post. Concentrating on breathing seems like such an easy thing to do but really…it is the toughest thing to do!
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Adrianne C August 19, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Love this post! I found it by accident through Facebook and am so glad I did. I love your attitude and you are dead on. Just breathe. Eventually it will pass. It will get better. One foot in front of the other and one breath at a time. You’re also right about Crossfit. I’ve been partnered up with huge studs and felt like a weak troll. One time I apologized over and over because every time I missed the ball we both had to do pushups. My partner never once complained and encouraged me the entire time. Through like 200 extra pushups. 😉
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Kara August 20, 2012 at 12:28 am

You are still doing so fantastic! Thanks for continuing to inspire me along my own journey.

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Trish August 20, 2012 at 12:39 am

Yes breath!! I have had to remind myself if that quite often.

Just an FYI I am sooooo impressed and in awe if what you are accomplishing. Go you!!!!
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Gi August 20, 2012 at 2:26 am

Such a inspiration Holly.
Glad you are doing so well.
Gi recently posted..Back to it allMy Profile


Angie Mizzell August 20, 2012 at 10:40 am

I wonder if you realize how you are ministering to so many of us. I’ve always heard “breathe” and once even wrote an article for a magazine about it, how the secret to “balance” is in the breath. After reading your post, I’ll be aware of how many times during my day I am still holding my breath.

And- the next time I joke that I’m dying, I’ll remember that I’m actually living. Even if it sucks. And if it sucks, I can find my breath and I can show humility and gratitude for another day of LIFE.


Amanda August 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Love this post!
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Carrie August 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Beautiful, beautiful!

And I admire you for sticking with crossfit training. I’ve never done it because a friend of mine has and well, it scared me just hearing her talk about it.

But this was a great post…just loved the thoughts behind it!
Carrie recently posted..LUX: Since I’m not over here, I must be over there. Vol. 08192012My Profile


Denise August 20, 2012 at 11:53 pm

I love it. Breathe. Can it really be that easy?!


Pam August 21, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Wow–I just found you through Mrs. Success Along The Weigh. What a great writer you are. I see myself in what you write. I slept in a recliner for 10 years. I started out every night in bed, but after a couple hours my back hurt so badly, I moved to the recliner. And I would have these anxiety attacks at night, sure I was having a heart attack and dying. I hated the thought of everyone at my funeral saying things like, “If only she’d lost weight…” Crazy the stuff we worry and think about when we’re obese. And the worst realization is that there is no one to blame for our condition but ourselves. We did this to our bodies.
You are changing your life. I changed mine. Been at my goal weight for 16 months now. I’m old, 61, it took me so long to get here, but I’m so glad I finally did it. And every day I’m still doing it. Cause it doesn’t stop when you get to your goal. Maintenance is tough. But it is not the HELL that being morbidly obese was. It is LIVING! And it is FREEDOM! And I am loving life again!
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