Improving MS in 2017

Living With MS In This New Year

Finally the holidays are over and 2017 is here and time to get back into a routine. Each new year, we usually set resolutions of things we would like to change or accomplish. The beginning of each year we like starting new but unfortunately by spring, we have usually fallen back into old habits. In order to change something, like our weight, or our diets, or even to stop a bad habit, we must be conscious every day to work on these changes, establishing a pattern, so it becomes routine. First the mindset needs to be there, that we really, really, want to make these changes. One goal for me is do whatever I can to help improve my health especially the Multiple Sclerosis.

Most people say that MS is going to do whatever it is going to do regardless, but I totally disagree with this statement. Many years after my diagnosis, just taking the medication regularly was about the only thing I would do to help improve my situation. One day it became extremely clear that this wasn’t going to be enough; it was time to think outside the box, do my research, and see what all I could find to help the medication to do its job. After reading a lot of books along with a ton of research, eating healthy and doing an exercise routine at least 3 times a week seem to be the answer. Multiple Sclerosis is an auto-immune disease, so it only makes sense to do everything possible to build our immune systems up to help prevent deterioration. Eating healthy provides us with the necessary nutrients to help keep bones and muscles strong and exercise will build your muscle strength. Since following these two things, it has been remarkable that when I do go through relapses that I don’t get as weak as in the past and relapses don’t seem to last as long.

I keep reading and hearing that 70-80% of our immune system is located in our gut. So eating healthy only makes sense. The push in the past couple of years has been to start a probiotic like eating yogurt or drinking kefir, sauerkraut, etc. Also eating high fiber foods, whole grains, nuts and seeds, are examples. In the past, we have heard to eliminate fats, but there are good fats we should take in such as avocados, cheese, extra virgin olive oil, dark chocolate, and fatty fish. Proteins are not just in meat, they are also in beans, eggs, and fish. Eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t eat some of your favorite foods, just means you probably need to prepare them in a different way; example is to bake not fry. Also, remember that everything in moderation. Proportions need to be considered if you want to reduce your weight. Try eating on a smaller plate to fool your brain into eating large.  Drink lots of water! This is so important; it will help flush out all the toxins in our body and hydrate us assisting all of our organs to work properly. Help our immune system to reduce inflammation by eating healthy. Reduction of inflammation will help the MS.

It doesn’t matter if you are in a wheelchair or working a full time job; there are varieties of exercises on land or water that will provide you the ability to strengthen your muscles. I have seen some living with MS who has been in a wheelchair that became able to walk with an assisted device by starting an exercise routine. Water is a great place to start especially if you have pain or fear of falling. You can work on balance without the fear of falling. Since starting water aerobics, I have been able to improve balance 100% and even walk heel-toe at my doctor’s office without swaying side to side or grabbing the wall. Water also offers resistance exercise which is equivalent to working with light weights. If you are in a wheelchair and unable to stand on your own, you can put a floating belt around your waist to help keep you floating so you can move your legs and arms freely. The warmth of the water has been a great way to relieve pain from joints and muscle spasms. Exercise of any type also reduces fatigue and helps with your sleep along with improving your overall mood. It truly is a win-win! You might even loss some weight or inches by doing this.

It has been amazing watching individuals suffering with MS gain some additional use of their legs after starting some type of exercise and improving their diet. I find myself cheering them on and wishing others would just take the first step to give this a try. This past year probably has been the most difficult for me in regards to my Multiple Sclerosis; it seemed my body wanted to stay in a relapse. I went through a medication change this past May starting Gilenya but even the side effects from this med caused a great deal of issues. After changing from taking it daily to every other day to help combat these side effects, things started to improve. During this year, I continued to eat a nutritious diet and working out in the water. Yes, there were many days that it took every bit of energy I had to do this, but it paid off. At every doctor’s visit, my muscles remained strong allowing me to walk on my own without a cane. This would not have happened without my exercise routine!! On days where I feel stronger, I will walk along with performing water aerobics; the thing is to keep moving as much as possible.

In a few weeks, I will be posting a video of water exercises that anyone can do no matter where you are with walking. There will be examples of exercises if you want to increase the intensity to get a better workout. This new year, provide yourself with the best gift of all by helping to provide a BETTER & HEALTHIER YOU. Start off by making up your mind that you want to change/improve where you are right now, and then do it. Make it a daily routine and stick with it for at least a full month; if you don’t feel better then stop. It will truly surprise me if you don’t feel at least better mentally if not physically. Good luck and Happy New Year.

MS Blogger and Multiple Sclerosis Activist shares her journey living with MS, tips for others living MS and her husband, Steve, offers his insight as a caregiver for MS.