I know there are guys that follow my blog – so while a guy might be rolling his eyes right now – this might be valuable information for someone you love. I’ve been wearing bras since the 5th grade, and over 30 years later I still was wearing the wrong bra and it was AFFECTING MY HEALTH. Most women have heard that the majority of us gals are wearing the wrong bra for us – so what does that mean? While there are some who focus on accentuating their curves, I’ve always been utilitarian in my clothing choices. Yes, I care how something looks, but I care a lot more about comfort than appearance. I’ve never been a fan of lacy underthings because they always cut and tear – the only people that will see me in just a bra are my doctor, my husband and myself in a mirror – so it’s not like I’m trying to make some kind of major fashion statement… but I was still wearing the wrong size and wrong bra for me. I fell in love with the make & model bra I’ve stuck with over 20 years ago – have the model # memorized and recently ordered more online.

Since I buy all my bras at the same time, they all go off to be with the Lord (ie, the elastic dies) around the same time… the sides start to get sticky, etc. I had just ordered some new ones a few weeks ago and was throwing out the old, stretched out sticky ones. Well, when you gain weight, your new (and because it’s new – tighter!) bra is going to be too small for you. Even if it’s elastic everywhere – there are no such things as one-size-fits-all.

A few months ago, I was at the mall with my husband and went to get fitted. I knew my bras (even the old stretched out ones) were getting too snug and I had never been properly fitted for one. For those who are modest like me, this does not require nudity. Most lingerie shops will have one person who is a trained bra fitter and they do not charge to fit you. There are formulas online for figuring out the size yourself, but it’s much better to have another person measure you – especially if they’ve been trained and have done this many times.

The lady who measured me for a bra gave me a size 2 sizes larger (same cup size) than I was wearing. WHAT? That sounded huge. I tried on my favorite model of bra in that larger size and I felt like I was wearing a halter top. I should have trusted the fitter on the size, but tried a new model. I had been used to the same model bra cutting into me for over 20 years and a better fitting size didn’t feel right in that model and seemed to hit me wrong.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago – I got my new bras via mail order – ordering the same small size I had worn when I was 50 lbs lighter. Not smart. They were expectedly snugger as they were new, but I’d never say they were gouging me or particularly uncomfortable.

My entire life, I’ve had the occasional issue where I’ve had to sometimes yawn to feel like I got a good full breath. A few weeks ago I started noting that I was doing this a lot. Each day, it would be a little more and a little more. As I’d let out a sigh from the big breath, my husband would turn to me and ask if everything was ok – because it sounded like I was making a commentary on our life or something – and I was merely breathing. I was ok at night, but as the days would wane on, I’d get more and more where I’d have to lean forward in my chair or stand up to get in a productive yawn to breathe. I always had associated the yawn-to-breathe issue with my weight – but truth be told, I had the same issue when I was HWP – so it was a wrong mindset on my part that kept me from realizing what the issue was.

I finally got to the point where I went to the doctor because 9 times out of 10, my attempts at yawning were unsuccessful and I was using every muscle in my body trying to get in a good breath. The oxygen monitor showed my oxygen level was at 99%, so the doctor wrongly assumed that the issue was “anxiety.” The only anxiety issue I had was not being able to breathe. While I balked at the idea, I relented and agreed to take an anxiety med that night to see if my problem abated. It got worse. I called the next day to let the doc know it was even worse, and she sounded annoyed with me – that it was in my head and I simply would not accept that it was truly anxiety. I was so frustrated. I knew it wasn’t in my head – yet I was starting to doubt myself. Each day got more and more agonizing and I could not perform at work.

At the advice of friends, I went to one of those ‘doc in the box’ places and got wonderful care from a doctor that listened to me. I felt vindicated, as he said the ‘anxiety’ theory was “nutty” and said that people with breathing problems should never be put on a drug that makes it harder for them to breathe. He treated it as asthma and asked me to come back in a week. The inhaler really helped – but I was not getting the amazing relief I had heard others talk about when using inhalers. I started googling and put two and two together and realized my bra was the real culprit.

Some of you may now be saying, “wait, you moron! You didn’t notice relief when you took your bra off?!” And the answer is, “NO!” Even 2 hours after my bra was off, I was still laboring to breathe. Only after a full 8 hours of sleeping (although I could not get that much actual sleep due to muscle soreness in my obliques, etc.) did I feel like I could breathe in the morning. I thought the asthma meds were doing their job. I’d shower, get dressed, and by the time I got outside, the symptoms returned – and I assumed it was due to something outside. It wasn’t like I was laboring to breathe immediately after putting on my bra.

As it turns out, an improperly fitting bra can cut into your diaphragm just enough to cause spasms akin to the worst case of hiccups you can’t even want to imagine. If there was a form of hiccup-related dystrophy, this was it. I was completely incapacitated by this issue – a bra that was the wrong shape for me and the wrong size.

After my epiphany (and a full day at home sans bra), I found the loosest fitting bra I could find at home and ventured to Walmart to try on various models. I’ve been a fan of the Playtex 18 hour bra for decades – but my famous standby, #4693, wasn’t working for me anymore. I got 2 sizes up (like the woman who gave me the proper bra fitting said I needed!) in every model they had and tried them on. Only one model I tried was comfortable, so I bought the only 2 they had in the store and ordered more online.

I’m still sore and recovering. I’ve torn muscles under my arms and in my obliques from the crazy gyrations I was doing trying to breathe, but I’m on the mend. I spent $100 on the wrong size bras a few weeks ago, and then with copays to 2 different doctors plus meds from each – spent another $200. Now I’ve just ordered another $100 worth of bras that will actually fit. I could have spent 3/4 less if I had just spent more time trying on bras in the right size to begin with.

I don’t care how motivated you are to eat right and exercise – none of that is happening if you can’t even breathe!

I had the wrong notion about how bras worked – that if snug enough, those girls would never sag like the topless tribal ladies you’d see on National Geographic specials. A bra does not have to have a vice grip on your rib cage to accomplish this. You merely need to keep them from hanging down like pendulums. Something a bit snugger than a comfy tank top that can keep those girls slightly lifted in separated (more a sweat and comfort issue than support issue) is enough.

I’ve often waxed somewhat judgmental on gals that wear the crazy high heels – no matter how great they make you look, they shorten your achilles tendon, they misshape your feet and hurt your spinal alignment – yet I was doing nearly the same thing to my rib cage – and wasn’t even getting a flattering figure from it.

I’d always heard that women were often wearing the wrong bra – but never did I think this was a health issue until I could not breathe. Get properly sized. Do it. Go.

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