Yesterday I wrote The Many Years of Yo-Yo Dieting, the first article in a three-part series about my friend Betty’s lifelong struggle with weight loss. When I left off, Betty had completed a full marathon and a half-marathon and was hooked on a sport for the first time in her life.
The following summer (2007), Betty started training with her best friend for her second Virginia Beach Rock ‘N’ Roll Half-Marathon. One morning while they were walking on a local multi-use trail, a biker went flying past them and his pedal clipped Betty’s heel, which sent him crashing to the ground. Chaos ensued, with Betty more concerned about the biker spread out on the ground than herself; until she looked down at the blood collecting in her shoe and felt lightheaded… The biker got up, and when he saw how badly Betty was bleeding, he took off and left the scene of the accident. Betty passed out and when she came to three more bikers had came along and were wrapping her ankle/heel to stop the bleeding. Keep in mind that these bikers were all on long rides and were nowhere near their cars, so they couldn’t get Betty to a hospital. Fortunately, another biker that had just parked his car and gotten on the trail nearby, came along and saw that Betty needed help. He rode the short distance back to his car, drove it onto the trail and got Betty to the hospital.
Betty’s Achilles tendon was severed, and by 3 PM she was in surgery to have her tendon reattached. After the accident, Betty couldn’t work for two months while her injury healed and she started physical therapy. She spent two months using a walker, then two months on crutches before she was allowed to put weight on her injured leg. While she was on pain medication, she lost her appetite and lost another 15 pounds or so… much of which was due to muscle atrophy. Once Betty was able to go off of her pain medications, her appetite returned, but she wasn’t able to walk, much less exercise. She gained about 30 pounds during her recovery…
I met Betty in February of 2008 when she hired me to help get her back on the running trail and to help her lose the weight she had gained during her recovery. She had moved, and seeing her other trainer Kelly would have been nearly impossible. Betty had lost so much muscle strength that walking even a mile on the treadmill was extremely difficult, and it took her almost three months to get back to where she had been before the accident. She had a small set-back when her scar tissue attached itself to her skin (on the inside) and she had to return to physical therapy for several months. Once that was taken care of, she was as good as new.
With a new focus, Betty lost down to 156 pounds and felt great! She now saw the big picture and realized that she had made a lifestyle change and that was why she was finding success. But then… sometimes life throws you a curve ball, and that’s exactly what happened to Betty next. There were furloughs at work, so she took an early retirement. She then had a couple of stressful part-time jobs… Life in general wasn’t going quite as planned, but nothing major was going wrong, just a few little ups and downs along the way. Betty took a year off from training with me and did things on her own.
In April 2011, right after her 60th birthday, Betty decided to put herself first and make her health her number one job. She had given up red meat and pork after her bypass surgery because she didn’t feel well after eating it. She decided to cut chicken and eggs out of her diet, and eventually switched to soy and almond milk. Gradually she has become vegan, giving up fish as the final step, and says she has never felt better. She has energy when she wakes up that she never had before, and stays energized throughout the day. It was not a big decision, it just sort of happened. She never dreamed that she would stop eating meat.
Today, Betty works out with me twice a week where we do circuit style workouts, she walks, takes a weekly spin class, does restorative yoga, and takes the stairs in her high rise building whenever she comes and goes (she lives on the top floor).
Betty does the best she can and takes one day and one challenge at a time. Her advice is to make a plan and to stick to it.
Tomorrow I will publish part three of Betty’s story, “Betty’s Vacation Survival Guide.” Edited note: Click here to read part three.
- If you would like to ask Betty questions, she will be watching for your comments and will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
- Do you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet?
- Do you take the stairs instead of the elevator?