Living with MS means I am constantly thinking about how to take good care of myself. What I eat, how much I eat, sleep and exercise all makes such a difference to me. And if I spend a couple of weeks on holiday eating and drinking too much (like now) then I try and counteract the overindulgence with more exercise (preferably in a forest-it really is true what they say about forests and forest bathing).
I’m currently trying all sorts to get fitter and stronger. This can be quite a challenge due to the fact that my leg gives up after a few minutes of walking or running, and I barely break into a sweat before I have to stop to rest my crazy leg.
So yesterday I cycled up a massive hill pulling my (heavy) children in a trailer behind me to try and get a sweat on.
The husband was getting loads of dirty looks as I struggled up behind him. He even got heckled at one point.
I was mostly giggling at my ridiculousness and the dirty looks hubby was getting (the giggling makes it impossible to cycle up steep hills by the way). He was mostly taking the piss out of my cycling-up-a-hill-tactics, and trying to explain to the heckling strangers how stubborn I can be.
But I did it. I broke into a sweat and was quite out of breath at the top.
And I felt a sense of achievement that you get from things like childbirth and completing a marathon. (By the way a marathon for me now is walking further than I did yesterday, which isn’t very far, so please don’t think I only consider 26.2 miles a worthy challenge. I’ve done both. And my mini walks are so much harder than when I actually could run a marathon).
So here it is. My sweaty-forest-look. Crazy hair optional.
Here’s to finding ways to stay as strong and fit as you can for as long as you can. It feels pretty amazing.
I am always grateful to have been diagnosed with MS when I was relatively young.
Yes it was a shock. And yes I cried incessantly for a month. I feared that all the things I wanted in life were now impossible.
Luckily the control-freak in me took over and I have since been doing lots and lots to keep myself as well as possible.
So far, so good.
MS has forced me to take care of myself in ways which I’m not sure I would have done without it. I have an in-built warning system which means I get a definite warning such as numbness or a headache when I am overdoing it. But after ten years of living with MS, I now don’t even have to get to this point before I realise I need to down tools for a few days (well, as much as I can with two small children to take care of!).
Here’s a great video clip of Nicola Chapman of pixiwoo talking about her experience of MS. It feels good to hear that others are living and managing MS in the way that I am.
As everyone affected by MS knows, there are different types and levels of disease progression, but as more and more treatments become available, I really hope that we will all have the ability to improve our health further with simple lifestyle choices. It has had such a positive effect on me, physically and mentally, and I hope that this is something that is available to everyone with MS very soon.
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”.