Let’s Move Quad Cities celebrates the spirit and determination Quad City area residents take to promote movement and fitness. We welcome guest blogger, Lisa Lynn Eveleth, founder of Live Fit With Lupus, Lupus survivor and current Mrs. Iowa United States. We asked Lisa to not only talk about her passion as a Lupus advocate, but how she’s overcome her own health struggles with the disease to inspire people of all ages to meet and beat their own physical challenges.
Living Fit With Lupus is Why I Move
by Lisa Lynn Eveleth, Founder of Live Fit with Lupus and the annual Live Fit with Lupus Hills of the QC Race and Festival.
Tell us about your life journey with Lupus.
In the beginning, my body attacked my platelets in my blood, preventing it from clotting. My doctor became so worried about my bleeding that he advised me not to use sharp knives or even shave my legs.
I was first diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP). Finally, it became life threatening and an emergency exploratory/splenectomy surgery was performed. This was the beginning of my journey of living with lupus.
More problems began to arise as I was teaching fitness classes. It became a struggle for me to get out of bed. I had swollen joints, numbness in extremities, migraines, mouth ulcers, rashes, and extreme hair loss.
I tried pushing through symptoms, but the pain was so tough, I couldn’t manage on my own. Simply turning the faucet on or standing in the shower was difficult. Even raising my arms up to wash my hair was a challenge.
I remember my rheumatologist giving me a diagnosis and informing me it was a CHRONIC condition with NO cure. The acceptance was tough. I was so young and had so many plans!
But rather than give up, I began educating myself about my disease and tried everything I could to reclaim my health. But I had a hard time coping. It became such a roller coaster ride, making it difficult to make plans.
My disease seemed to dictate my life. Each time I seemed to be on the mend, I would end up back in the hospital with renewed activity of my disease, such as seizures or mini strokes.
My disease has attacked the brain and kidneys on several occasions. It felt like everything who made me who I am, was GONE. My short term memory was lost.
I remember when the doctors would come in for rounds and ask me questions as to where I was, who the president was and hold 3 items in front of me….such as an apple, an orange and a pencil. I had trouble finding the words.
My weight had dropped as low as 72 pounds and my hair was completely gone. I did chemotherapy on several occasions to reboot the immune system.
I often began to wonder if life would ever be tolerable or if I’d ever feel like a whole person again.
What is Lupus?
Lupus is an overactive immune system, where your body creates anti-bodies against itself. It is almost as if you are allergic to yourself. It is an inflammatory disease which can attack any connective tissue in your body creating inflammation throughout, from the top of your head to the tip of your toes.
Talk about your journey from Lupus patient to fitness model.
It’s been a long, tough road, but as someone who has struggled for most of my life with a serious illness, my biggest thrill is that, today, I’m able to accomplish many of my goals.
Through nutrition, exercise and the right mix of doctors, I am proud to say I’ve worked hard to manage my disease.
There was definitely a point where I didn’t believe it would be possible for me to get to where I am today, but continuing to NOT GIVE UP and setting my goals high, has helped me accomplish so much!!
I’m grateful I can be a showgirl and model because I really enjoy it! I will never forget how sick I have been, but I certainly cherish the healthy days and do not take them for granted. I feel very blessed. For me, the word “fitness” extends far beyond physical appearance or athletic ability. For me, “fitness” means health.
The disease that I thought had robbed me of my goals has given me a sense of purpose and determination. I wouldn’t change anything I have gone through. It has strengthened my faith and made who I am today.
Do you still suffer the effects of Lupus today?
I never thought I’d be able to have the strength or the capability to show my muscle mass after the meds I was on, and the disease process itself. It has been amazing thinking back about where I came from to where my health and fitness level is today.
Lupus is a chronic condition so I do still suffer from symptoms, but I have learned so much from dealing with my disease that I know my triggers.
I eat healthy, exercise, and try to keep inflammation down to the best of my ability. Sometimes viruses can come and a light switch turns on and my immune system flares. Positive thinking and believing that things will always get better helps tremendously.
What made you want to found the Live Fit With Lupus Foundation?
When I was diagnosed with lupus, I felt alone and had no one I could communicate with who understood what I was dealing with, so I wanted to change that for others. I wanted to help people on a larger scale. I wanted to have something positive come from a tough situation.
Every month when I speak to our Healing meeting group, I know my purpose and why I suffered through my symptoms. It is so apparent to me and for that I am grateful.
The foundation is for patients to have a place for answers after a diagnosis and help them overcome their obstacles.
We help educate, inspire and provide resources for them. We are meant to LIVE, not just exist in this world.
The foundation has grown so much in the past 5 years! We have helped hundreds of patients and have created awareness in the community with over a dozen events since 2013!
How do you balance your own Lupus management with being so involved in your work?
I am very passionate about my work and it drives me to help others! I try very hard to balance my own health by getting plenty of sleep. It is magic for me! I also eat very clean, exercise, and SMILE all the time. 🙂
You are an inspiration to many! How do others inspire you?
Thank you for that compliment!
I like to think I help inspire others and show them that life CAN be different and that they can be their own advocate in their health.
Many people inspire me! One in particular is Dr. Terry Wahl. She was diagnosed with MS and struggled with her illness and fought hard to get her health back. She is the author of The Wahl’s Protocol.
What do you say to a person who thinks they can’t beat or manage Lupus?
When a person doesn’t think that they can turn their disease around, I give them hope by sharing my own experiences. The proof is in the pudding. 🙂
I believe for that reason I was definitely meant to live out the heartaches to teach others. I show them my own health and teach them to change their lifestyles and to heal on a cellular level.
How has your charitable work changed your life?
My charitable work has changed my life forever, knowing that I can change even just ONE life and make it BETTER is EVERYTHING to me. I cannot begin to express how much it fills my heart to change the life of another.
So, strange as it sounds, I would not change anything I have gone through because it has all been worth it in the end.