Last week was my first trip to the gym in at least 3 years.
I hadn’t been there since my leg decided to start doing its own thing about 3 years ago, so I had no idea how long it would be before I needed to sit down; however, I was hoping to at least break into a sweat before I needed a rest.
I decided that if it was an embarrassingly short time before that happened, I could pad things out with some yoga (for which I never seem to run out of energy). However, I would risk being that person who does yoga postures in front of the mirror, in the gym, wearing trainers.
At least I would have this lovely lunatic with me to keep me on the straight and narrow.
In the morning I was disproportionately excited. I used to be extremely fit, so not being able to exercise properly for the last few years has been really frustrating. This week was the first time in ages I felt I might be able to get at least a chunk of that life back.
And as it turns out, I did alright. And in spite of not being able to lift my arms above shoulder height without pulling the face above (not that helpful for a yoga teacher), I’m already planning my next trip.
For now I’m off to whip up some post-workout energy balls. And then sit down for a bit. Because aside from the fact that I have Multiple Sclerosis, I am also 41 and a half…
Two weeks ago I wrote this. At the time I was feeling really tired and in desperate need of a boost. So I got all health-obsessed to see how much difference it would make.
So how has it been?
“Boring” – according to my husband.
Regardless of his reaction, I have carried on (and added a few extra veggies to his plate too). Two weeks in and I am feeling great.
There has been very little “cutting out” and a lot of “adding in”, just as planned.
And as expected, my energy has soared.
I plan to do so much more over the next few weeks in terms of what I eat and how I live to stay well, and after years of searching for a miracle cure, I think I’ve finally found something that works for me and fits in with my family.
The following ideas are not rules (I love a list opportunity), as we are all different and have different needs, but these simple changes have made such a difference to me that I really wanted to share them:
How to boost energy levels and reduce inflammation
Have more early nights
Drink lots of water
Eat more fruit and vegetables
Drink less coffee
Eat and drink much less sugar
Eat less wheat products (especially white bread and pasta)
Eat and drink much less dairy (I don’t have much anyway, but some weeks I accidentally eat lots of cheese and then I get a horrible headache)
Eat more protein i.e. oily fish, eggs, nuts, seeds. Ideally some at each meal.
Eat smaller portions
Leave bigger gaps between eating to rest your digestive system.
Do more frequent exercise even if you feel like you are too tired (within MS-reason or your own physical limitations of course)
Do LOADS of yoga – and I don’t just mean the upside-down-crazy-core-conditioning-stuff (although this is also very important (again within your own physical limits) and I usually do this stuff first, which helps my brain concentrate on the restful bit). I mean every aspect of it. Make sure you include, in fact prioritise, the restorative and meditative side of yoga. (See yoga nidra network for some brilliant deep yogic relaxations which you can download from their site). Please always practise yoga safely, ideally with the guidance of a teacher.
Don’t worry too much if you have a couple of beers on a Saturday evening followed by some delicious chocolate during a slob-out on the sofa watching mindless telly then fall asleep 15 minutes into a film (now there’s an insight into my crazy social life!).
I hardly drink, but if I do have more than a couple of beers in a week, I feel so much more tired. This could well be due to my condition, my treatment, my age and all the yoga I do. Or maybe a combination of the lot. But I’m pretty sure that if you want to increase energy levels, keeping alcohol to a minimum is really important.
Yes I know I sound boring. In fact my husband thinks this angle could be the death of my blog (and maybe my friendships!) I’m sure those more sweary blogs will still appear on occasion. I do still have MS.
But for now, I will stick at the healthy stuff and keep you posted.
I am a yoga teacher after all. I should at least post one quinoa-related blog in 2017…
At the weekend I was lucky enough to see a lovely friend of mine who I haven’t seen for years. A fellow yoga teacher, she also happens to be an expert in nutrition.
I like to think of myself as health conscious with a fairly good grasp of what’s good for me and what’s not when it comes to my diet. And although I have been getting a lot of it right, after learning more at the weekend it turns out I’ve also been getting some of it wrong.
So after a lot of post-yoga-day inspirational thinking, I’ve decided to go for it and see how great I can really feel.
I usually let myself off the hook with the dramatic changes in eating habits, saying things to myself like “you’ve got MS, you deserve some treats in life” or “it’ll be so exhausting avoiding all those delicious foods”. But what my lovely friend made me wonder is whether it would be exhausting at all…
What if it was the opposite of exhausting? What if I felt so good that it was more than worth the effort? I’ve recently had a big increase in energy from simply upping my water and vitamin D intake. So imagine if I was to add loads more healthy nutrients and anti-inflammatory foods into my diet. And then imagine if I reduced the inflammatory parts of my diet too. It might be amazing.
The nutrition geek in me is starting to become a lot more than a little excited.
Of all the advice she gave me, this is what stood out to me the most – “Think less about cutting stuff out and more about adding more healthy stuff in”.
When I am in the depths of fatigue, I find it hard to sleep. Brilliant.
When I was pregnant, I had absolutely no MS symptoms whatsoever.
No-one else in my family has MS.
When I’m feeling MS-shit, I don’t look ill.
Whilst I am teaching or practising yoga, my MS disappears.
When my leg weakens after walking it recovers completely after a little rest and a chocolate biscuit. I’ve yet to work out whether it’s the chocolate biscuit or the rest…
Caffeinated coffee makes my right hand buzz.
I can remember 5,000 things to do with the house, school, work and multi-task the fuck out of my to-do list, but if you ask me to fill in a simple form, my brain turns to mashed potato and I have to get my husband to do it for me.
One of the hardest things for me to do when I’m MS-y is concentrate on anything longer than a simple sentence. Hence the lists.
Ironically I’ve been feeling too MS-y to spread the word (the messy hair and lack of make-up is always a giveaway).
Anyway, I’ve decided it doesn’t really matter when I try to increase awareness, so I’m doing it this week instead.
Share and comment and do all of those lovely social-media-spreading-of-words if you fancy it. The more people know about it, the less scary and misunderstood MS will be. I for one was terrified when I was first diagnosed. And even more so when I was waiting to find out why I couldn’t feel my fingers and toes sometimes.
MS Trust and MS Society have been doing great work in the form of research and raising awareness for years. And they continue to do so. This is such a valuable tool for anyone affected by MS. Brilliantly straightforward information that you can read at your own pace – which is essential when newly diagnosed – when all information is scary information.
And for those of you who are more local to me, here is a link to my local MS centre.
I was too scared to walk in for the first few years that I lived here. I’m not sure what I was scared of. Maybe the feeling that I really and truly had MS. I didn’t need to feel scared. It’s one of the most warm, welcoming and supportive places I have come across.
Is it ok for (MS-y) me to have a week off being as healthy as possible?
Every Christmas, Easter, birthday or occasion-of-any-sort equals more sugar, wine (I can feel hungover after a small glass, so I’m not talking a lot of booze here), less helpful food choices and uncomfortably NOT doing yoga (I start to feel uneasy by day 2 of not yoga-ing).
During these times, I end up gradually ignoring everything I know about how to take care of myself and eating myself into a state of headachey-fatigue.
So here I am. All slumped and exhausted. My rubbish bin full of Easter egg foil.
Apparently some mice with autoimmune disease have been seen to increase levels of myelin through fasting, and in some cases have completely reversed the disease process. I am currently way too foggy and auto-immuney to work out how the hell they know this about these tiny little creatures with their tiny little myelin sheaths.
I wish they would put me on a fasting experiment. It might sort out my unstoppable sweet tooth.
So here we go again. Back to the beginning. Back to cutting down on all those delicious energy -sapping culprits.