Imagine being short of breath almost every moment of your day. Imagine seeing doctor after doctor looking for answers and getting nothing but a new prescription for medication that may or may not work. Terms like pulmonary inflammation, reactive airways, Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD), Celiac Disease and Vocal Cord Dysfunction do nothing but frustrate you and still leave you short on
answers and short of…breath.

Branden Husky is no stranger to exercise, weight lifting or extreme working conditions. He started power lifting when he was twelve years old; he has been a swimmer, a wrestler, a football player and even spent time on his high school rodeo team. He has been a fire fighter for seventeen and a half years and is currently the Battalion Chief at the Goodyear Fire Department. So what in the world caused him to almost pass out during a CrossFit workout and take eight weeks off?

In addition to having “restrictive airway issues,” Branden was also tested for Celiac Disease and GERD. But despite negative test results for Celiac and medication for GERD, he continued to go through four Albuterol inhalers a month to clear his airways and promote his breathing. Albuterol inhalers are most commonly used for patients with Asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) neither of which Branden was diagnosed.

In June of 2011, Branden decided to change his diet and try the Paleo lifestyle. He made the changes to his diet not specifically because of his breathing issues, but because he wanted to change the way he ate. Remarkably, within two weeks he noticed a drastic change in his breathing and was no longer dependent on his inhaler. Instead of going through four inhalers a month he now only needs to use the inhaler on occasion. Eventually, Branden was able to stop using all of his medications (with exception of the inhaler). The trigger, it seems, for his breathing issues pointed to sugar and with the Paleo diet almost all of his breathing symptoms diminished. He still seeks medical advice and consultation from his doctors, but maintenance is much easier these days.

Although easy breathing is more than enough to finish the story here, Branden says that the personal and physical changes are also worth mentioning. Instead of feeling irritable and uncomfortable, he says “I feel physically more confident and comfortable than I used to.” “Functional training gives me the confidence to try anything, any sport.” He recently took up paddle boarding just for fun and says that he is in the top 10% for his fitness drills as a fire fighter.

“Branden is clearly strong, but he also has some great gymnastics skills including hand stand walking and lightning fast burpees,” says Coach Josh MacDonald. Coach Will Trujillo agrees with this sentiment saying “we all know he is a powerhouse, but he is also nimble and athletic. If my house was on fire, Husky is a dude I’d want to save me.” And save you he could. Because of CrossFit and the Paleo lifestyle, his breathing and lung capacity has also increased; which if he was still running into burning buildings would allow him an almost twenty minute work cycle from one air tank. To give you an idea of how efficient that is, when someone is working at a high intensity and exhausting each breath they may only be able to work for about ten minutes (sometimes less) on one tank. Branden can work about eight minutes longer which means, Will lives.

As a CrossFit Coach, “Branden’s story is important because it is a perfect example that what you eat affects everything in your life” states Coach Aimee Berencsi. And Branden is one of many who have had their lives changed in this way. If you are interested in doing a Paleo Challenge, talk to your coach and see when the next one begins. For tips on how to get started check out the nutrition tab at . If you have a chronic medical condition and are looking to drastically change your diet and/or exercise program consult your doctor before you begin.