Losing 150 lbs and Living with Dystonia

In the summer of 2001, my neck muscles began to involuntarily contract, causing my head to pull to the right.

I had no idea what was wrong. My doctors were also baffled. No one knew how to help so my symptoms kept getting worse. I searched the internet like crazy and finally discovered dystonia, a neurological movement disorder. A neurologist specializing in movement disorders made the official diagnosis. It was a relief to know what was wrong, but scary to think of what lied ahead.

By the time I was diagnosed, I was in extreme pain and disfigurement and pretty much unable to do anything on my own.

My head and neck were locked towards my right shoulder andTom Seaman heavy 1 the muscle contractions significantly worsened with any type of movement. I had to drop out of graduate school, quit my job, and move in with my parents because I had become disabled to the point that I could not function without their help. I felt immense shame.

I tried a variety of treatments, none of which were of much help. I fell into a pit of depression, became very isolated, experienced severe anxiety and panic attacks, drank alcohol to help reduce the pain and muscle contractions, and had an awful diet. Within 5 years of my diagnosis, I gained around 150 pounds due to my unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle. At well over 300 pounds, I didn’t recognize myself. Life was anything but fun!

Tom Seaman heavy 2In December 2006, I caught a stomach virus and was sick for almost 2 weeks. During that time, my dystonia symptoms subsided a little and I lost about 15 pounds. While getting sick was not the type of motivation to change I would have chosen, it was exactly what I needed. It was a wide open window of opportunity and I jumped through it. I knew if I didn’t, I would eventually have more serious health problems.

I changed my diet and began exercising (for weight loss and to help manage my dystonia symptoms). I changed what I ate and when I ate, I cut back on the amount of food I ate, and I walked everyday. I started out by walking to the end of my driveway, gradually increasing to 2-3 miles twice a day. By October 2007, I lost all the weight! In less than a year I was back to a healthy 185 pounds for my 6’ 2” frame. I also found some effective ways to better manage my dystonia.Tom Seaman thin

People often said to me that I must have a much better attitude after losing all the weight.

My response was, “Getting a better attitude is what motivated me to lose the weight.”

My attitude was certainly better and I absolutely felt better about myself, but had my attitude not changed prior, I never would have been so determined to take the necessary steps to lose the weight and better manage my dystonia symptoms.

I still have problems with my neck and back from dystonia that prevent me from doing certain activities, but life is so much better! I have maintained my weight and my symptoms are night and day compared to the horror I once lived. I used to essentially live on the floor, writhing in pain, feeling completely worthless and depressed, unemployed, morbidly obese, and totally dependent on the help of others. I didn’t want to wake up in the morning because I didn’t want to face the constant physical and mental pain. Now I am at a healthy weight and in much better control of my dystonia to where I can live a more normal life with passion and excitement.

My journey with dystonia and weight issues led me back to school in 2010 where I became a certified professional life coach so I could help others with their health challenges. Then in 2015, I published a book called Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey. I wrote this book to give others hope and inspiration, as well as guidance for how to better cope with a life altering chronic condition.

I have been faced with major challenges throughout my adult life. What helps me jump over hurdles is my belief that everything has a solution. There is nothing that can’t be altered to improve our quality of life. Obstacles provide us with opportunities to grow and become better people, and every day I am grateful for the chance to help myself and others achieve their personal best.

Tom Seaman Headshot (2)About the Author: Tom Seaman is a dystonia awareness advocate and certified professional life coach in the area of health and wellness. He is also the author of the book, Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey (2015). To learn more about Tom and get a copy of his book, visit www.diagnosisdystonia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @dystoniabook1 and check out another article of his on Patient Worthy here.

Tom Seaman

Tom Seaman

Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and author of the book, Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey, a comprehensive resource for anyone suffering with any life challenge. He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, and health blogger. He volunteers for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader and WEGO Health as a patient expert panelist, and is a member and writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers Network. To learn more about Tom, get a copy of his book, and subscribe to his free health newsletter and take advantage of other resources, visit www.tomseamancoaching.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram.

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