Happy New Year to all you inspiring ladies! I trust that you are feeling positive about 2013 and all that you would like to achieve this year. The start of the year is always a good time to review what we have been doing and assess what is working and what is not. As a young girl growing up, New Years Day was goal setting day! My Dad would give us each some paper and ask us to set goals for the year. My three siblings and I didn't really feel like doing such a taxing activity on a holiday day, especially after a late night. However, we never regretted it! Sure, some of our goals were a little unrealistic and we didn't manage to actually achieve them all but the process of goal setting pointed us in the right direction and made us aware of what we should be focusing on in order to live purposeful and productive lives.
You may be thinking about your diet and what you want to eat more or less of and what you want to cut out altogether. In the last paragraph of this post, I share my MS Diet goals for the year. Firstly, I'm going to review how I did with my MS diet in the month of December.
Refresher: The Reasons Why And How I'm Measuring Myself
If you need to know more about what I am actually tracking and why, please see my first progress update for November 2012, I have explained it all there in a lot of detail. I have made no changes to the metrics since that post. But just to summarize, this is why I am tracking my MS symptoms:
- Firstly, I wanted to track my progress as it would afford me the opportunity to look back on the data and see if there were any correlations between relapses, changes in diet and stressful life events. It would hopefully confirm that what I eat/don't eat is certainly making a difference to my symptoms and slowing down disease progression, which would help me to refine / taylor my MS diet a step further for my own body.
- Secondly, I'm also doing this for all of you amazing women! I want you to see the MS diet in action and the ups and downs that I go through on a weekly and monthly basis. My hope is that you will feel encouraged to keep going when you see the stats on how it is working for me. I want you to see my progress based on what I eat. I am going to be completely honest with you and you will notice that there are days when I let things slide a little. Hopefully I can show you that by sticking to the MS diet lifestyle, both relapse rate and disease progression can be significantly slowed.
Just to refresh you, I am also broadly tracking these categories daily, but there is a lower level of detail for the actual criteria, again, you can see that on the November 2012 progress update.
- Hours of sleep I got the previous night
- How stressed I felt during the day (max value)
- Amount of exercise I had (minutes of aerobic and also weigh-bearing exercise)
- Whether I have taken all my MS supplements (see full list of what I take)?
- Amount of good foods I've eaten (foods to embrace)
- Amount of bad foods I've eaten (foods to avoid)
- The presence and severity of MS symptoms I experienced, if any
Some of the targets I have set for each of these are quite difficult to attain, but thats why they are targets! I wanted to set goals for myself that I can work towards, and over time, I plan to move closer each day to achieving them. I'm being honest with you, this is where I am now. But, I dont plan to stay here forever!
My Stats And Analysis
Please also remember, I've averaged and standarized the results into a simple 1 to 5 scale to make it easy to understand. In this way, you can clearly see everything towards the top of the graph, I'm doing well in. And everything towards the bottom of the graph I'm doing badly, this translates as follows:
1 Very Bad
So, here is the graph for December 2012!
It is sad to admit, but my exercise is clearly still my biggest problem - I blame the holidays! Just kidding, thats not an excuse. I know this is something that will come right in January! My sleep was still also very inconsistent, mainly as my 3 year old has been waking up 3 times every night during the month, hopefully this will stabilize soon! Obviously, sleep was bad on New Years Eve too as we stayed up to welcome the new year in! My stress levels are still a little high for my liking, but being on holiday for 2 weeks in December has helped to smooth them out quite a bit. My uptake of foods to embrace has improved from last month, in part, thanks to my new juicer! I am pretty happy with how many bad foods I avoided over the festive season, and have been very harsh with my rating of myself in the graph (a small bite, though rare, is still a considered a "breach"). Supplements consumption could have been better, this is mostly due to the fact that I ran out of some of my supplies which didn't arrive in time, so will need to improve my stock management skills! My MS symptoms have been very light on the whole (a bit of stiffness, and small bit of numbness which improved from last month) - but I am still aiming for perfection!
Things That Happened This Month
The build up to Christmas is always a fun and exciting time. The kids and I have so enjoyed the lights, beautifully decorated Christmas trees and the contagious feeling of joy in the people we met! We attended a few Christmas parties and hosted one for the children we care for. I must admit that I was very tempted to sample the delicacies on offer and I did have a couple very small bites of mince pie and cup cake (I confess!). My body told me, almost immediately, that I had made the wrong decision! I felt bloated and my brain became a bit foggy and fuzzy. Moral of the story: definitely not worth the pleasure of those few seconds.
I made sure that I had some MS Diet snacks for myself this Christmas. Dehydrated cashews and almonds were a winner as were the cocoa crunchies that I concocted (I'll have that recipe out soon!). In this way, I actually didn't feel deprived at all. For Christmas lunch, I prepared a roast leg of lamb for my family and salmon with garlic, ginger and cranberry sauce for myself. We all ate the same vegetables with cashew sauce and topped it off with some home-made dairy free strawberry ice cream for dessert. The meal was truly delicious and I felt great afterwards.
I hope some of you got a chance to try out the MS Diet Holiday Feasting recipes and that they helped keep you on track during this very tempting season! If you didn't managed to stay on course with your diet, tomorrow is a new day and this is still only January, a month filled with possibility for change!
New Meal Plans And Other Resources!
I have been working on developing new tools and resources for us to use to help manage our MS diets. I have started putting things together now and want to focus on that in January. See the last goal for 2013 at the bottom of the post for more details!
This month I have also been looking out for new MS diet foods, as I like to do. Thanks to @Katie_Woodman for suggesting CoYo "Heaven in a mouthful".
This is a great new product I have discovered, and is branded as coconut milk yoghurt, but tastes more like chocolate mouse. Its dairy-free, soya-free, gluten-free, lactose-free and has no added sugar. The name of this flavour is "raw chocolate"!
It is mostly coconut milk, cocoa powder and Xyiltol, so we could make this ourselves (*hint to myself*)! What a find! Thanks Katie!
Look out for these "free-from" products in your local area - CoYo costs £3 (less than $5) for a 125g tub, so its not that cheap, but as a treat, its very affordable, and we all need a healthy treat now and again!
There seems to be a new market opening up for these types of foods, more than ever before. Some of these new products are actually better than what you think!
I have also started taking Spirulina Powder, something I am considering adding to my regular supplements. Spirulina is a well known blue-green algae which is commonly found in the salt water lakes of the Central, Southern America and Africa. When you mix it with water, its very dark.
It is also considered a "super-food" like kale, so its full of nutrients and also had a lot of protein. It doesn't taste as nice as kale (well, as nice as kale can taste), it is after all an algae, so I can't expect much from the taste department I suppose.
I am going to test it out and report back to you all soon!
I also purchased a new juicer which is much easier to use and clean than my other one. I am now achieving my goal of having two glasses of raw juice every day. One in the morning and one just before dinner. My only problem is trying to keep up with my supply of fresh fruit and veg. Fabulous!
So far, I am very impressed with the speed and quality of the juicer, the pulp is very dry, so I know the machine is extracting almost all the juice. I'll be doing a full review of the juicer once I have used it enough, so look out for that on the site soon!
I have also started to use it to make raw juices for my children - they love it (surprizingly!)! It has always been a difficulty to get them to eat their vegetables at dinner time. At least now, I know they are getting a strong dose of fresh raw fruits and vegetables each day.
The juicer came with a Jason Vale juice recipe book, so expect a lot more juicing recipes on the site in the next month! I will be tweaking them to help target a MS diet, and the ideas for new raw juice recipes are now literally endless!
As for my symptoms, I haven't experienced any new symptoms this month. The symptom of stiffness and slight numbness in my right and and lower arm is on-going. It is at its worst, first thing in the morning and seems to improve throughout the day. It doesn't affect my functioning at all and is more of a minor nuisance than anything else. I'm hoping that with time and healing foods, it will improve.
Unfortunately, my ambitions to do more exercise were a bit short lived. I did 20 minutes of of Pilates and went for a few family walks but didn't manage to do my XBox exercise routine. I am disappointed in myself, especially since I know how important it is for me to get my blood pumping and muscles burning regularly. However, 2013 is a new year and I have a plan! I think that the key will be to go to bed at a reasonable time and then get up a bit earlier to do my 30 minutes of exercise! I have been able to do this before and I had an incredible amount of energy as a result. Discipline and willpower are the key words here!
Lessons I Learnt This Month
There are always delicious MS Diet alternatives to any meal. There is no reason, at all, to feel deprived at special occasions. The key is to be prepared and plan what you are going to eat. I get really excited about a special meal that I have planned for myself. I know that it is going to leave me feeling satisfied and healthy with no feelings of regret. I would love to hear about some of your MS Diet alternatives to the Christmas meal, please leave a comment below!
Managing my stress is an essential part of the lifestyle I am trying to achieve. Caring for my family, working and nourishing myself is often a bit of a juggling act and can bring an element of stress into the equation. I don't want to feel like I am just trying to keep my head above water every day. My aim is to feel rested, energized and organized. To achieve this, I need to plan meals, household chores and rest times for myself.
Connecting with other women who have MS is a wonderful way to stay accountable and share joys and struggles. I am really enjoying all the amazing feedback from you all and feel that we are really starting to build a community of women who feel that MS is not a death sentence, but an opportunity to get healthy and live life to the full.
Things I Will Work On Next Month, And Goals For 2013
1. Exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes, 3 times a week
This will include a combination of light cardio and toning exercises. I am excited about the Pilates classes that I will be starting at the end of January. I'm doing them with a good friend and so we will hold each other accountable and keep each other motivated.
2. Earlier to bed
I often tend to go to bed a little later than I should. The quiet time in the evening is precious rest and relaxation time and sometimes I enjoy it a little too much. There is also always so much admin to do, which can't be done with the kids around. However, this has to change because it is having an impact on my energy levels and my desire to exercise in the morning. I have decided that I would like to be in bed by 10pm with the light off at 10:30 at the latest!
3. Try a new recipe each week
I love my staples. Roasted or steamed vegetables, salads and fish. However, there are so many delicious new recipes to try. It's good to keep the MS Diet fresh and exciting! Obviously, I'll be sharing them with you too!
4. Do something just for me each week (psychological nurture)
Reading a few chapters of a good book, meeting friends at my favourite coffee place, shopping trip by myself or going through old photos of my family - these are my big stress relievers. What are yours? These activities to me keep me balanced and feed my soul. It is not only important to keep our physical bodies fed but it is vital to keep our psychological selves nourished too. We need to be in the right frame of mind if we are to achieve our MS Diet goals.
5. Create some tools to help make this easier for all of us!
Over the years I have developed many tools I use to help me keep living well, slow my MS progression and reduce my MS symptoms. I am planning to refine these and expand on them so we can all benefit from them. This is what I am going to work on:
- MS Diet Starter Grocery List (already available)
- MS Diet Quick Checklist (a sort of summary of foods to avoid and embrace)
- Newly Diagnosed Essentials eBook (summary of major points)
- Raw Juice 2 Week Fast Guide eBook
- 8 Weeks To Reversing MS Program
- Members Only Forum & Community
- Juicing Ingredient Selector
- MS Diet Super Grocery List
- MS Diet Routine Builder
If you have any suggestions about what tools and resources you think would be beneficial, even if its something unique to you, that you would like me to develop, please post a comment down below, I would really value even a quick suggestion or agreement of those items in the list. Thank you!
Until Next Month
I'll update you again on my progress next month, and more than ever, I am excited about MS Diet for Women and the community that is forming. It has been fantastic to connect with amazing women and I look forward to journeying with you in 2013 as we discover new insights about how food can help us effectively manage our MS.