Overcome your obstacles

Saturday, June 21, 2008

We each have different obstacles to overcome in order to achieve lasting weight loss. For some, it's eating disorders, or medicine that causes weight gain, or stress, good or bad. And for others, it's emotional eating, a love affair with food or being unable or unwilling to exercise. And if you're like me, you might need to overcome yourself. You know what I've heard a lot of recently: I'm just not ready. That's an obstacle, too.

If I've hit on one of your obstacles, and even if I haven't, you might not like what I have to say next, but take it to heart: none of these can't be overcome.

And when I say none, I mean, none.

What do I know about it? A lot.

You can thank Tricia Goyer for what I'm going to say next. She gave an amazing radio interview for Moody's Midday Connection recently, and in it, she gave an honest and transparent look into her life and some obstacles she's had to overcome (the interview was about her book, "Generation NeXt Marriage." If you get a chance, listen to it and leave a comment at the Midday page.)

I've decided to speak up about the blood clots in my right leg. I've mentioned them, but I seldom say much beyond that.

People who meet me in person frequently ask, "Is your right leg bigger than your left?"


Many of you know the blood clots' diagnosis galvanized my weight loss. One careful reader noted I had lost 41 pounds before I started exercising.

She's right, and I have the clots to thank for that.

Last summer, my family hit the road for a camping trip in the Wallowa Mountains in Eastern Oregon. When we arrived, I stepped out of the motor home and noticed my right ankle felt funny. I looked down to see a huge, swollen mass hanging over my K-Swiss sneakers.

I turned to my husband and said, "The only time I've ever seen my ankle swell is when I've had blood clots." They had struck twice before, due to traumas, once in my 20s and again in my 30s. Doctors were convinced I'd never have trouble again. I believed them.

At this time, I weighed an obese 161 pounds, only drank water if I was really thirsty, and as for exercise - well, I ran out of breath climbing one flight of stairs.

I looked back down at my ankle, remembered the long hospital visits, the months of walking on crutches, daily shots in the stomach, and decided I did not have blood clots.

Off I hiked to Blue Hole, where massive waterfalls create cooling sprays in the hot sun and salmon make a ruckus when spawning. I walked miles daily, looking for the perfect fishing hole (I'm an avid fisherman). I traveled with friends to the charming town of Joseph. Inside, I fretted about my ankle. Outside, I comforted myself with hamburgers, french fries, diet cola, brats, chips, trail mix and whatever else I could find.

I knew it couldn't be blood clots. I knew it had to be blood clots.

After 2-1/2 weeks of sun, river and food, I arrived home with my ankle, knee and thigh swelling and my leg killing me.

I had nearly killed myself.

The minute my ankle swelled, I should have gone to the hospital in Enterprise (the closest city to our campground with a medical facilities). But, I ignored every symptom, hoping they would go away.

I had massive blood clots in the deep veins of my right leg, called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. The same leg I had them in before. Only this time, they were spontaneous. That's bad. Very bad.

The thing about blood clots is, if part of one breaks loose and travels to your lungs or heart or brain, you can die instantly. I didn't know it just then, but I had one on the way to my lungs.

I started on medicine that caused my blood to clot slower and had to keep my leg elevated above my heart for more than three months. I started researching my condition and discovered three major factors of spontaneous blood clots (among others): obesity, dehydration and lack of exercise.

Didn't that describe me to a tee?

I was desperate to do the one thing I'd failed at consistently for years: lose weight and get in shape. But, how could I lose weight if I couldn't exercise?

The obstacles to reducing my bulk overwhelmed me. In my social circle, we're all great cooks. We get together frequently, and we bring large amounts of our favorite foods - beef stroganhoff, barbecue meatballs, chips and salsa, berry cobbler. All that temptation, all the time.

But I knew I couldn't fail this time, and that's when I started talking tough. I decided if I used my God-given abilities and exercised discipline, will-power and self-control daily, I could lose weight and keep it off, even when reclining most of the day.

I designed an eating plan that accounted for my lack of movement. Rather than count calories, I reduced my portions by about one quarter. It didn't take me long to instinctively realize how much was too much.

I can still hear my stepson saying, "Why are you putting meatball back? It's just one." Yeah - it was one too many, and it went back into the crock pot.

I woke up every morning determined in my heart to eat right. I set a goal of a pound a week, and usually I met it. Sometimes, I'd go for two weeks and, nothing. After a while, I realized, hey, just wait, your body will catch up. It always did.

By November, I was up and moving around more. I found I could increase my portions slightly and still lose, so I did. On Christmas, I reached my goal and in January, I asked my husband to take the treadmill out of the garage and set it up in the family room.

I lost nine more pounds without changing my eating habits. And I keep it off with some daily tough talk and discipline in eating and exercising.

But the story doesn't end there. The crisis for my leg will never end. Because I waited so long to get my leg diagnosed, the blood clots scarred over and won't ever dissolve. My blood has had to form new routes to my heart, and this last bout of clots destroyed the valves in my right leg.

Don't misunderstand: I praise God because I'm still able to walk and jog and do the things normal people do. I'm not complaining, not one bit.

It turns out, advances in medicine revealed I have two blood-clotting disorders and I'm borderline for a third, rare one. My obesity, lack of water and exercise, combined with my blood disorders, led to a rapid decline in my health at only 42 years old.

I'm here to tell you, it wasn't worth it.

I'm here to tell you, no matter what obstacles you face, you can still lose weight and keep it off for good. It'll take effort. It'll take a plan. It'll take hard work. And it'll take all that every single day.

But you have to want it.

Don't wait one more minute. Don't do to your body what I did to mine.

Today, I'm healthier than ever. Because I've brought my weight under control and am in fantastic shape, I've greatly reduced my chances of forming more clots.

I'm on a crusade to help others achieve better health through meeting their weight and fitness goals. And now, you know why.

Thank for bearing with me, everyone. If you have an obstacle you think you can't overcome, you've come to the right place. You won't get much comfort from me, but you'll get some tough talk.

Because if I can do it, so can you.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post

    Well said.

    I am back from vaca and ready to do this tomorrow morning I will be stepping on the scale for the first time in a week and am hoping for a lower number than I left at but am not as hopeful as I was before I left. I found out on the trip that my mom only eats once a day and only drinks 2 cups of coffee one diet drink and NO water. We walked over 62 miles in 6 days and because of only eating once a day I am thinking all of that effort is going to go to waste I did try my best and I did drink as much water as possible so I am still hoping for the best.

    Thanks for this post Dori I am trying to get over the SEVERAL obstacles that I have to lose this weight.

    Oh yeah one thing hit me big time well two actually the first being that almost EVERYONE I saw was overweight and I saw millions of people and then the other thing was I was in a restaurant and the waitress commented to see that she was glad we were eating our food and that it bothers her to see people eat 4 bites and then be done and then she commented about how in America the parents say "eat all your food, there are starving children in china" and the parents in china are saying "don't eat all your food there are obese children in America" both of these things hit me pretty hard and I am truly hoping that they can be my motivators.

    P.S. I am so glad to be home!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    4774 days ago
    Dori. This one made me cry. You are so brave. You are such an inspiration. I will try to toughen up on me. I can't promise, because that makes me a liar when because of triggers in my brain send me into a suicidal spiral and emotional abyss...sometimes I don't want to eat at all, due the destructive nature of the trigger, I often try to lead myself into the medical dysfunction of "failure to thrive" even though I know it's a very painful death...I just figure so what's new? Life is don't misunderstand...I fight it like a sonuvgun with medication, meditation in prayer, the bible and therapy, but even with that I still have episodes. Rare thank God, but there nontheless. I will always have them, the best I can hope for is managing the disease. Add on to that a lifetime of eating disorders and you have a pure mess. But I have toughened up and gotten stronger, more determined and disciplined in the last 4 months, particularly the last 4 weeks. In 4 weeks I've only had an encounter with one fast food and that's a record for me. I am making myself drink fruit smoothies, lots of veggies, grains, and get most of my protein from beans legumes, nuts, and fish, with a little chicken now and then. Maybe one red meat twice a month and absolutely no pork. Finding out cow milk is bad for us, drink rice and soy milk. I don't know what other benifit milk is supposed to be for other than calcium and vitamin D and I get plenty of both. I have worked my body to death. I've worked ever since I was a child, had one vacation in my whole life, and the last decade before the heart attack, I worked solid sometimes round the clock 24/7 and took care of my mother by myself...only getting an average of 3 to 4 hours of sleep a night, living of will power, motivation and caffiene. My 2 jobs almost finished me off with all the stress and has had both long term physical as well as mental and emotional ramifications that I admit are easy to give in to. Pain is a great inhibitor. Sometimes I honestly wonder if I should force myself through the pain, and then I think of what doctors have told me in the past, and the one terror I have left in life is to be this big and permanently crippled. No one would or could want to adequately care for me. I would be subject to others to do for me, dependant on their whim. Having worked as a CNA in both home and facility care, I can't have that happen. So I wait. Thank you for the "tough talk" talk like this comes from the very best place...from the wisdom of God into a loving heart that genuinely cares for others. I'm sorry it took so long to get back to you and you can talk to me about being in your book anytime. I'll send you my number in case you'd rather talk instead of type.

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon Pami
    4777 days ago
    Hi Dori: I have had one blood clot back in 99 and my left leg is still bigger than my right. mine also was DVT. Mine was from laying in bed for 3 days due to a really bad virus I caught. I went to the hospital on a Sunday because I could not even keep water down. I ended up being dehydrated so had an IV for about 4 hours and went home. No problem. Well Monday I woke up and could not stand on my left leg. I had no warning as you did. My left thigh was 37 inches believe it or not. It was a deep purple and I was in pain like I never had before. Well you know how emergency rooms go very slow. Did ultrasound because I had no pulse anywhere in that leg. I was in the hospital for a week and yes daily shots in the stomach. Well about 4 years ago my mom got a clot because of EVISTA Don't take it. And then 2 years ago she had another one. they did numerous blood tests and she has a rare type of blood that is succeptable to blood clots. I have the same type. She will be on Coumadin the rest of her life. I was on coumadin for 5 years and then was sent to a specialist that said it was worse being on it than not so took me off. luckily I have had no more trouble but yes it scares the hell out of you. My leg is still 2 inches bigger---always will be. To this day if I am sick I will raise my leg just to be safe.
    So I know what you have been thru with the clots. Your blog was a good one..
    4778 days ago
    Dude, you are awesome!
    4779 days ago
    Dori - I think that is an incredible blog, and if you would consider it, I would like to see it as the first post in your HEROES Tough Talk thread. I find your honesty and forthrightness to be refreshing and vitalizing. Would you think about it?
    4779 days ago
    You are definitely an "expert" at this point! You have done it and achieved your gols!
    4780 days ago
    Wow Dori - thanks for sharing your incredible story!! When I read your blogs, I get so inspired and feel that I can finally lose this weight. I need to keep your writing in front of my eyes at all times. Maybe I'll print it out and post it on my pantry and on my refrigerator!
    4780 days ago
    Dori, thanks for sharing your story. I have my own obstacle to overcome with my weight but I know I am on the right path. I'm finally taking care of myself instead of hating myself. I know I have gained the weight for a variety/combination of reasons. Now that I am aware of the "why", I am much better equipped to deal with those demons and exorcise them from my life for good. I like your blog. It is encouraging. Hmmm, maybe some "tough talk" is just what I needed.

    Thanks again,
    Teresa emoticon
    4781 days ago
    Inspiring story, Dori!


    4781 days ago
    greetings... thanks for sharing such a powerful story. so glad that you survived in such a wonderful fashion. terri
    4781 days ago
    Great story You are an Inspiration and I'm glad your health is better. I have 30 more lbs to lose and I know I can do it. I definitely have to exercise. Thank you for your story.
    4781 days ago
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