Progress Report: July/August 2013
A Change Is In The Air
It is a stunning day in London! Bright blue skies with not a cloud in sight. The temperature is set to reach 82F/28C which is a little on the warm side but still just about perfect. A great day for getting some precious vitamin D. I don’t know about you, but I’m dreading the onset of the cold weather. I don’t feel my best in winter and it is really tough with children because they get cabin fever and then we all go a bit crazy! In a way, though, I really enjoy the change of season. Feeling the crisp air on my skin, wrapping up in my favourite coat with my favourite scarf and feeling the crunch of the multi-coloured leaves under my feet. This change of scenery instills in me a sense of hope. In this post, I want to discuss taking back control of your eating if you feel you have lost it or given it away. I would also like to update you on my current MS symptoms and a few new things I am doing to keep my MS in check.
Isn’t it silly how the weather can effect our personalities and emotional well being? Why do we let it? It is completely beyond our control. Nobody, not even the TV weather man can change what the weather is going to do. It just does what it wants to. Sometimes I feel that if I moan enough about what is going outside then, surely, something will eventually have to change! An absolutely hilarious thought.
In contrast, we do have a large measure of control over our daily MS Symptoms and illness progression. We choose what we put in our mouths. No one else can do this for us. Even babies choose what they will and will not eat. If we are eating food that nourishes then we will have a body that works as it should. If we are feeding ourselves junk then our body is not going to work as efficiently and might call out in pain as it tries to deal with the toxins. Even if we don’t have control over the weather, we DO have control over our health.
This is something I need to be constantly reminded of because I do make bad choices sometimes. It is such a weird thing because I know I’m going to feel awful yet I choose to go ahead anyway and enjoy those few moments of pleasure. I can’t really complain about the consequences because I made the decision. I need to keep uppermost in my mind that my health is in my control. No one or nothing else, even the weather, should be able to take that control away from me. As I go into the new season of autumn/fall, this is what I am being mindful of.
As those of you who have been following my progress reports will know, regular exercise has not been my strong suit recently. I have always loved exercising but when my children came along, I kinda fell off the wagon. I have loved going for power walks in the park and doing the odd pilates class but my workouts have been a bit few and far between. I believe that in order for your fitness levels to increase you need to be working out at least three times a week. Once a week is better than nothing but it is not really taking your energy and fitness levels to new heights.
I am proud to say that I have turned over a new leaf. Now that the summer holidays are over and there is more structure to my day I have been going to the gym more often. My plan is to start with 3 one hour sessions a week, to begin with and then see if I can add one or two more in time. I have planned three time slots: Monday morning, Wednesday evening and Saturday late afternoon. These times have been carefully considered and planned for, as you need to when you have children, and I am 100% committed to sticking to them!
Two classes I have been trying out are Yoga and Zumba. Two completely opposite classes in every way! I love the the serenity and slowness of yoga. I feel that it has been great for toning, strengthening and balance. The only thing that hasn’t made me feel great is hanging my head and letting all the blood rush down. It actually makes me feel like I have a heavy head and a foggy mind the following day. I have chatted to a few other women with MS about this and some of them have experienced the same problem. It might be that our central nervous systems are more sensitive to change and can’t handle the rush rush of blood very well. So, lying down or standing upright yoga is best for me!
Zumba was the best fun I have ever had in an exercise class. It was relaxed, upbeat and a great cardio workout. I felt like I could go at my own pace. If I didn’t feel like jumping, I didn’t and I could choose to make the movements as big or small as I wanted to to. It got my heart rate up but more importantly, it made me smile. I felt happy when I was doing it which fed my soul and lifted my emotional outlook. I am adamant that staying happy and positive about life is another huge key to staying well. Depression is exceptionally common in people with MS. The statistics are that 50% of us will experience symptoms of depression during the course of our lives. We need to do all we can to guard against this and keep our emotional tanks full. Exercise is an important part of this.
Focus on Cinnamon
I have also recently rediscovered the incredible spice, cinnamon. What is it about this powdered bark that tickles our tastebuds and sends us into foodie heaven? It tones down sweetness and adds a richness that feels strangely healthy. This is the only way I can really describe it. I have been adding it to my banana smoothies with mouth watering results. I also feel great afterwards. Just really calm and focused with a satisfied tummy.
Cinnamon is actually quite a miracle working spice. According to recent research done by the university of Texas, it holds promise for many neurodegenerative diseases, including MS. The study shows that cinnamon reduces chronic inflammation linked with these neurological disorders. Now that is a brilliant reason to season your food with cinnamon! It has so many other health benefits from helping the body recover from a cold to stabilising blood sugar levels.
Cinnamon can be added to tea, soups vegetable dishes and sprinkled over roasted butternut. My absolute favourite way of eating it at the moment, though, is with cubed apple, pecan pieces and maple syrup. You need to adjust the quantities to your own taste but let me just tell you that this snack is far better than chocolate and coming from me, that is saying something! My toddler son even loves it and sits with me eating pieces of cinnamon and maple covered apple and pecans out of my bowl and licking his little fingers in enjoyment. Give it a try!
My Current MS Symptoms
My symptoms are still pretty stable with a few altered sensations every now and then. About a month ago I had a very stressful few days and I just knew that I was going to reap the after effects. Sure enough, about a day or so later, the soles of my feet began to feel cold and tingly and this feeling slowly crept up my legs and ended at my belly button. There was definitely numbness but also a strange buzzing sensation and a slight feeling of electrical impulses going up and down my legs. It was more of an irritation than anything else and I still had full movement and strength in my legs but it was a clear warning sign.
The symptoms faded after about 2 weeks and I have been fine since then. Every time an episode like this happens, I become more and more aware of how sensitive my body is to stress, bad food and countless other things I’m sure. The challenge is to avoid these situations, keep myself calm and do stress busting actives like Zumba!
Summing It All Up
And so this MS journey continues. I am very relieved about the stability of my symptoms and this motivates me, even more, to stay on track and eat the right foods for healing to take place. I know my body exceptionally well and have finally learnt to listen when it is telling me something. I know what foods to say yes and no to. I know when to take a break because I have been doing too much. I know when to take the pressure off myself and just chill! I have a lot still to learn and master but I feel that I am on the right track.
I would really enjoy hearing your insights on your MS journey and what you are in the process of learning at the moment. Your feedback is absolutely invaluable and hearing from you really makes my day!
If you need help and support to take the next step with your lifestyle, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.
Love and nutrients,