Some of the obstacles that he has experienced are:
• He was born 7 weeks premature in 1974 weighing only 3 pounds. They lost him twice while transporting him to Primary Children's Medical Center. His parents would call each day to check on him and were told, “He's alive today. We will see about tomorrow.”
• When he was 6 years old, he started to limp. He was diagnosed with Legg-Calve Perthes Disease and spent nearly a year at Primary Children's undergoing surgeries and having casts on his legs. He was told he would have to have a hip replacement at some point in his life. Due to an accident he was in in 1995, he had his right hip replaced when he was 21 years old.
• Due to the accident in 1995, the doctors informed him that he was born with only one functioning kidney. His left kidney never fully developed and his right one was damaged in the accident. He must have a surgical procedure every few years to check the functioning of the kidney to ensure it is draining properly. Because of this, he has a higher risk of developing diabetes and at one point was pre-diabetic.
• He suffers from severe back problems due to a combination of poor genetics, the Legg-Calve Perthes Disease, and the car accident. Because of these issues, he had his lower back fused in 2004.
• IN November 2017, he had his knee scoped to remove pieces of cartilage that were floating around and 6 days later he had the C5-6 and C6-7 discs replaced in his neck which were found after a fall he had at home.
On top of dealing with all these health issues, Nellis has been fighting with his weight for most of his life. This resulted in him being teased and bullied as he was growing up. At checkups around 2003, several doctors told him that if he did not lose weight soon, he would be dead within 5 years. In response to these meetings, he would put a huge effort into losing weight and attempting to live a healthier lifestyle. He tried numerous diet plans and exercise routines. He would drop a few pounds, but somehow the weight would always come back, at which point he would give up. At later checkups, doctors told him the only way he would ever lose weight would be to have gastric bypass surgery. However, due to only having one partially functioning kidney and his other health problems, his urologist disapproved the surgery, explaining that the surgery would probably result in his kidney shutting down, or worse, death. For a long time, he used this as an excuse to not exercise or lose weight. He ended up sinking into a deep depression and gained more weight. At his heaviest point, he was close to 400 pounds.
On New Year's Day 2012, he decided he was disappointed in the cycle of weight loss and weight gain and how it was affecting his mental health. He quit drinking soda and exercised intensely. He signed up for a gym membership and started to meticulously watch what he ate. He also signed up with a personal trainer to teach him what he should be eating and why it is beneficial for his body, as well as proper exercise techniques and form for fat burning. Nellis has lost over 200 pounds throughout this journey!
In 2016, Nellis set the goal to participate in a Spartan Race and he completed the Spartan Super in just over 4 hours. He then became addicted! During 2017, he completed a Spartan Super beating his previous time, a Spartan Sprint, and a Spartan Beast to earn the Spartan Trifecta award.
Nellis has made great physical progress throughout this journey, but now he has another issue at hand – loose skin that will not reabsorb into his body. This loose skin is both a mental and a physical hindrance to him. He still feels insecure with how he looks. He is embarrassed to look at himself in a mirror, worries about clothing that may be too tight, and he won't take his shirt off in front of anyone. The extra skin gets in the way of multiple exercises at the gym and other activities he would like to participate in. Because insurance companies view removal of this excess skin as cosmetic, they will not help with the costs of the surgery. I am asking for your help at this time to help us to raise the funds we need so that he can have this surgery and feel like he has accomplished this next step.
This surgery may be the end of his weight loss journey, but it is just the first step in his next journey. He desires to be a motivational speaker to help others on their fitness and weight loss journeys!
- Kari Stevens
- Matt Dignan
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