Living the American Dream Requires Your Whole Heart

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Size 14 and XL in the vineyard, Sept 2010.


“Please God.” I whispered.

“Please no please, PLEASE God please, please NO.” I continued to whisper as I fell to my knees in front of the kitchen sink.

I couldn’t see straight.  I mean, my eyes were shaking.  I couldn’t think of what my next move was.

This had been happening fairly regularly for the past year or so, but this time my heart was beating very erratically and I couldn’t get her back on track AND it started to feel painful, filling me with the overwhelming urge to cough and vomit all at once.

The eye shaking and tingling in my hand, through my finger tips, was awfully annoying in the weeks past, but in THIS moment gave me such alarm as to think I really might be dying.

“Where is my phone?”  “Please God not in front of my babies.” “Where is my phone!?!…Don’t cry Shellie!…Don’t do this! Please God WHERE IS MY PHONE?” I began to whisper-sob, as I crawled to the bedroom to get my phone, because I didn’t want my little son and daughter to hear the fear that started to consume me, and crawling because I didn’t want to faint and hit my head on the way down if I were to stand and walk.

“I need you to come home and drive me to the E.R. now, I think I’m having a heart attack.”  I calmly told my husband from the floor in our bedroom where I thankfully found my phone.  “Something is very wrong and I can’t see things well.” “I love you.”

At least now my husband was on his way home and although the fifteen minute drive from the winery to our house in the vineyard seemed like an eternity, I was relieved he would be here for the children if I fell unconscious — or worse.

I was quickly admitted into the hospital, descended upon by Emergency Medical Technicians, shuttled by wheel-chair to a hospital bed where I was hooked up and needle stuck, questioned about everything from my last menstrual cycle to medications I might be taking, and the most dreaded of all inquiries . . .

How much did I weigh?

For the next several hours, while lying in the hospital bed, I thanked God, and made some new promises. I swore to God and to myself that I would really begin honoring the life I have been blessed with.  I decided right there on the gurney, naked and obese, to set some goals and make the changes to my health I must make to fully live my dream life.

The emergency room physician explained, rather coolly, that I was not having a heart attack.  The monitors tracked some tachycardia arrhythmia and he strongly advised me to see my own doctor to further determine what I needed to treat this problem.

What the ER doc was not hip to was, that the very reason I hadn’t gone to my doctor for the year or so that I had been experiencing this irregular heart beat thing, was because I knew I would be told that I was obese and to change my eating habits and get some exercise and just altogether stop being so fat!

He didn’t know that I was waiting to lose weight before I went to my doctor. He also didn’t know that I don’t like to go to the doctor because that’s where sick people go.  Further, he was obviously unaware that I had lost 38 pounds over the last four months.

Okay, and also, gained back twenty or so pounds–But, Urgh, ignorance gets me peeved.

When I walked back out through the doors to the mini-van, to my family, I knew I had better be wearing a smile, because they must’ve been going crazy with worry for the time I was unable to see or speak with them. It was dark now and the sight of my son asleep in his car seat made my eyes well with tears, which were then mixed with my little daughter’s as our cheeks came together in kisses, fear, relief and sorrow for every cross word either of us had ever spoken to one another.

I held my little girl in my arms until she was ready to go home.

My husband just kept staring at me, silent during the night drive until we were back inside our cozy home.

Life came crashing in on my family this day and we were rocked by this experience, literally feeling the weight of it all.  Change had come knocking on the door of our little house in the vineyard and as the lady of this house, I graciously invited change in.

Getting ready for bed that night, I removed the medical tape and cotton ball from the spot on my arm where some blood was taken for testing.  The perfect shape my blood had made made me fall to my knees for the second time in the same day.

My husband was astonished by the symbolism as well–

Blood in the shape of a heartI will have this keepsake for the rest of my life.  Falling asleep, as usual, I counted my blessings. I added “my good health” to the list this time and the next morning began implementing all of the tools I had in my collection to ramp up the weight loss with heavy emphasis on setting weekly goals and meeting them.

My life changing lesson, combined with gratitude and pursuing a deeper level of understanding of how the heck I ever got to this size, has me healthier and happier than I have ever been.

I went from a size 14 jeans in an XL top to a size 4 in one year.

Size 4 one year laterI didn’t kill myself doing it, either, although if I hadn’t changed, I believe I was staring directly into the end of a loaded pistol with my own hand on the trigger.

Wearing my heart on my sleeve, I share how my life was very good before I made this transformation, but now living my version of the American dream —  My Life is Grape!


Shellie Croft spent a year sharing her American dream stories on 8 Women Dream.  You can now find these stories on her blog Shellie’s Consumption.

  • Heather Montgomery, Product Launch Dreams

    Shellie – your timing is impeccable! I love your story (of course) and the strength it took to get your health back. I’m halfway to my own goal of 75# weight loss and look forward to hearing the details on how you accomplished yours.

    As another vertically challenged (I’m 5′ 4″) and over 40 woman , thanks for sharing your results!

    – H

  • WOW, Shellie, such a powerful and moving story, and so beautifully shared… I felt your fear as you shared it… Must have been so terrifying for you… Thank God you are OK!!! Your family must be extra-grateful for you now…

    And also WOW what an amazing transformation… You look wonderful! (beautiful in both pics and extra-sexy and confident as the “mini-you!”). Cheers to you for doing something so important for your own health… and continuing to live the dream in new ways, and to make it even more amazing.

    You are an inspiration! <3

    Love, another of the dreamers,

    • Dear Lisa,

      Thank you for the words of support and for the virtual embrace:) You are so nice to say I am sexy, so I must tell you that my husband (who has literally been with me through thin, and thick and thin) also contstantly told me and showed me he thought the same.

      My health and continued pursuit of happiness were my inspiration, so if now it turns out my story of weight gain and loss can inspire someone/anyone to feel their best, well then YAY!!!

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for being lovely to me, my fellow dreamer.



  • TC

    Nice story. Must have been scary for your husband. You look great and your family must be very happy.

    • TC,

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      It was indeed scary for my husband. But, evidently, we all needed this kind of a fright, as it was the thing that catapulted me onto the right path to greater health. Now we continue to build on our well being and happiness and honor this blessed life:)

      Have a beauty of a day, hope you’ll visit next Sunday!



  • Betsy

    Hi ~

    You are an inspiration and you look so pretty.

    Thanks for this ~

    • Oh Betsy!

      Bless your heart for saying this. Thank you!



  • Pingback: Living The American Dream With Your Whole Heart: Only Lighter()

  • I’d love to hear exactly how you did it too. Was it exercise, a change in diet …etc.

    That cotton ball is amazing. It was like your heart crying out to you to get well.

    Love the photos and the story.


    • Cath,

      Thanks so much, for everything. I’ve been entertaining the notion of a longer, more detailed Part II post for next Sunday. What do you think? It would include the who,what, where, when, why and how of it…

      I will also add, right now, that from May of 2010 to August 2011 it was a GRAND total of an 85 pound weight loss.

      Some other significant stats: I am 5′ 2″ tall and over 40:)

      Big hug from a smaller me.


  • You are so beautiful, inside and out. Thank you for being so brave and strong. You saved your own life so that we can all benefit! xo Rem

    • Thank you for your kindness Remy. This was one of those “walk through the fire” moments for me to write and share, but I sincerely hope that the truth in my story will help someone/anyone struggling with weight.

      I deeply appreciate your support.

      Big love comin’ atcha!