Unless your office is situated on the top of a very steep hill and you’ve parked at the very bottom, then no. This is not normal. The human body is capable of so much more than that and it saddens me to see what people accept as their “normal” in life. You should be able to undertake basic everyday movements such as walking around a shopping centre, hanging out the washing, collecting the mail and so on without being able to hear an audible change in your breathing.
People put up with this for years. They normalise it. They laugh about it. They seek ways to make the “job” easier so they can move even less, so they don’t have to feel a little bit uncomfortable as they go about their daily life activities. Let’s crank up the air-con so we don’t feel a little bit sweaty, let’s park as close as we can to the shopping centre doors so we can avoid that breathless feeling. Unfortunately one day though, this minor inconvenience can no longer be ignored. This “little problem” that they have shrugged off for years because “that’s just the way it is” catches up with them as their doctor gives them news of a health scare. For some this is the catalyst they need to make some serious lifestyle changes, to look at diet and exercise and make an attempt to get their life back on track, and regain function as a normal human being. For others however, they look to blame everyone and everything else around them. Or they might even get caught in an unproductive cycle of self-blame – going around and around in circles, criticising themselves but still essentially writing themselves off as “no-good”, they are “too far gone”, “that’s their lot”, or “they’re just useless”.
For the blamers and self-blamers it’s never too late to start making changes. However, they need to get real. Many go looking in the wrong direction, seeking an easy solution to their problems. Fad diets, sugar-laden weight loss shakes or various late night tv pseudo-exercise gadgets are a waste of not only time, but also money. So how do you get started with making a change if the easy options simply aren’t going to work?
First, go and see your doctor. Talk with them about what you are intending to do and get a clearance from them before you embark on any new exercise/weight loss regime. You may have an underlying medical condition that needs treatment and/or stabilisation before you can safely get started and burying your head in the sand about it serves no-one well. If you’re a smoker – sorry, you’ve got to give it up – but I’m sure you know that already. Then, in terms of exercise, Just. Start. Moving. You don’t need to go from zero to a marathon runner overnight, and in fact, a great first step is just looking at where you can increase the amount of incidental exercise you perform during the course of your normal daily activities. Can you park a little further away from work? Further away from the shopping centre doors? Can you walk to the corner store instead of driving? Walk outside and hang the clothes on the line instead of bundling them into the drier? Look for as many opportunities as you can in a day to be active. Once you have increased the amount of incidental exercise the next step would be to seek out the services of a personal trainer or professional fitness facility (this is not the same as wandering aimlessly around a 24/7 gym). You get what you pay for when it comes to exercise and unless you have had a former life as a fitness professional, there’s a pretty good chance you are going to need some help.
What about nutrition? If poor nutrition has been a contributor to your undoing, then it’s important to start small. Making drastic changes or changing too many things at once will almost always be destined to fail. Just like exercise, look for areas where you can make incremental change first. Can you eat more green leafy veggies? Can you cut down, or eliminate some processed foods? Can you reduce the amount of sugar you put in your coffee? Small changes add up to a lot over time and consistency is the name of the game. A question I receive a lot is “should I use a pre-prepared meal service”? You can, but it’s not at the top of my list of recommendations. Why? Because at some point in your life you are going to need to be able to feed yourself again. If you’re not in the greatest of shape now, chances are you are lacking skills in meal prep/planning and likely also have poor eating habits which need to be addressed. Whilst having pre-prepared meals can be an effective weight loss strategy for some, it’s really still only a band-aid solution and in a lot of cases the weight piles back on once the service is stopped. A much better idea is to hook up with proper nutrition coaching, such as that offered in our Nourish To Flourish nutrition coaching programme where you will learn the necessary skills and habits to equip you for life.
So, no, it’s not normal to feel puffed walking from your car to the office. And you shouldn’t accept it that way either. The earlier you recognise it as a very real issue, the earlier you can start taking action and hopefully thwart off future ill effects. Don’t put off until tomorrow that which would be best started today. Time waits for no-one and you only get one chance at life. Make the most of it.