Tag: fitness

This week in food and fitness

I’ve cooked too much food over the course of the last two or three months. I blame my Instant Pot. Yes, it’s as wonderful as everyone says it is, but all of the recipes I tried were designed to feed the family. I am but one woman with a husband who refuses to eat the healthy meals I cook because he doesn’t want to take it away from me. My life is weird.

What went wrong

Cooking ahead and freezing seemed like a great idea, but it restricted me to eating the same things over and over. Plus, frozen food looses its appeal after a week or two.

The lentil soup I made was tasty, but it started to look like an unappetizing brown mush. I also discovered that I don’t like whole wheat pasta. It just didn’t work in the Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe I tried. My Instant Pot tortellini dish was good the first night, but it didn’t hold up well after being frozen. I’m ashamed to admit that I threw some food away.

A new approach

This week I’ll try cooking something every couple of evenings. My goal is to have food to take to work, and an option for dinner. I’ll aim to eat the recommended 5 servings of vegetables a day. Adding a serving to breakfast should help with that.

Check out the Nutrition Diva’s tips for getting more veggies in your diet.

Illustration of eggplant with human characteristics.
I’m good for you!

150 minutes a week

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. I’m aiming for at least 30 minutes each day. Strength training for all the major muscle groups is also a must. The government says to do it twice a week. Exercise is not a problem for me if MS fatigue doesn’t get in the way. If I happen to catch a cold, or the flu, exercise becomes difficult. Gentle stretching and some yoga poses are an option for me then.

I have chiropractor appointments three times a week for the next two weeks. I’ll try and make it to Planet Fitness on the evenings I’m not being adjusted. I’ve been having a lot of fun with Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, and Wii Fit. I want to get back to a more regular yoga practice. And there’s that Tai Chi app I downloaded.

Should I make a workout schedule? Maybe. I could be making better use of that Happy Planner of mine.

Figure exercising on mat.

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This week in goals

I’m going on record with a list of things I’d like to accomplish this week. We’ll see what happens.

  1. Exercise at least 30 minutes every day
  2. Try making stickers with my Cricut
  3. Write and schedule at least 3 blog posts
  4. Finish my Instagram presentation for work
  5. Do some digi scrapping
  6. Avoid compulsive news consumption
  7. Don’t beat myself up for not getting it all done

One thing is guaranteed. I will compulsively create designs with the Assembly app.

Abstract vector art

The not so common cold

I think I’ve been suffering from a cold for the last week or so. It’s hard to tell with me. When I think I have a cold, I get a little post-nasal drip and congestion behind the eyes. I don’t get the traditional stuffy nose. My energy level is lower than usual, and I need to sleep longer than I usually do. During these more prolonged periods of sleep, my dreams are more intense and involved.

I think that my colds last longer because I have MS.

Do a search on ‘MS and the common cold,’ and you’ll find tips on avoiding a cold like staying away from sick people and washing your hands. Some sources hint that a cold might trigger a relapse. When I see that, I start to wonder if I’m having a relapse. I tell myself that probably isn’t the case and then start Googling.

So much and so little

It seems like there are tons resources for learning about MS. It seems that way, but I keep running into the same info. Maybe I’m looking for something that will apply to me specifically. That’s not going to happen, because MS is different for everyone who has it.

Rest is important

All of the experts emphasize the importance of rest. I was looking for something definitive about overdoing it and having a relapse. I couldn’t find anything, but it seems like it’s a good idea to treat yourself well. Get regular exercise, but don’t push yourself to exhaustion. That’s good advice for all of us.

Here’s a brochure from the National MS Society on managing MS fatigue. It doesn’t have the personalized answer that I’m looking for, but it gives me permission to take a few naps every day. I might just give that a try.

The quote is from Lalah Delia. Learn more about her here.

Keeping your balance when you have MS

Balance problems and difficulty walking are two of my most troublesome MS symptoms. Luckily, there are exercises I can do to reduce the impact these symptoms have on my everyday life. 

Cat walking on a fence

Even if you don’t have a neurological condition it’s a good idea to add balance training to your fitness regimen. Start improving your balance with the help of these articles and videos. Consult your doctor before starting a workout program if you haven’t been active for a while. 

Living with MS: Avoiding Falls

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition that affects a person's brain and spinal cord. Some of the most common symptoms are fatigue, visual disturbances, altered sensation and difficulties with mobility (balance and walking).
This list features articles about improving balance, strength, and mobility.

Free From Falls : National Multiple Sclerosis Society

This eight module program is designed to increase your knowledge about risk factors associated with falls and provide you with strategies to reduce your risk of falling.

Exercises to Improve Balance for People With MS | Everyday Health

Balance problems caused by multiple sclerosis can make walking a challenge, but some simple exercises can help.

MS: Exercises for Better Balance and Coordination

Not only is exercise is a good way to improve some of the physical effects of MS, but it can also help you regain balance and coordination. Here are several moves you can try.

Improve Your Balance : National Multiple Sclerosis Society

In order to improve your balance, you may have to lose your balance! You CAN address balance problems by challenging them. By sticking to a program that is safe, yet pushes you to your limits, your balance can gradually improve.

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Improve your balance and stability workout | Move more with MS

Improve your balance and stability workout | Move more with MS

Join Dom, Koz and Samia while they demonstrate some simple leg exercises that help teach you how to stabilise your body for better balance.

Balance Exercises For MS: 3 point Toe Touch

This is a great exercise to improve balance while changing directions. Often times, people with MS feel are fearful and non-confident in their body due to fe...

MS Yoga Balance

A short yoga practice that uses a chair for balance.

Body Balance Meditation — Meditation Oasis

A mind/body approach to physical balance.

Thinking about the body

Yesterday

I’m at my local Planet Fitness recovering from my 20-minute treadmill walk and a smattering of strength training. I need this recovery period to get my legs working a little better. I’m uncomfortable crossing the road to get to my car.

Treadmills at Planet Fitness

Today

I’m at home on the couch continuing the post.

I’ve been thinking a lot about body image. I’ve gained weight over the last couple of years and I find myself not liking my body. I’m letting myself get worried about the food I eat. I feel guilty when I consume unnecessary sugar.

I don’t want to be that person.

My body has served me well for 47 years. I can say that even though I have MS. I could berate my body for betraying me, but I’ve gotten past those feelings (mostly).

I know from experience that a good way to improve body image is to use your body and appreciate how that makes you feel.

I sleep better at night on days I’ve worked out. My mood improves. I feel proud because I’m taking care of me.

I think if I focus on taking care of myself, the good feelings will follow. That means not worrying about every gram of sugar I ingest and letting my body rest when it needs to.

Funny how things become more clear when you write about them.

“Lighten up on yourself. No one is perfect. Gently accept your humanness.

Walking the walk

I can’t remember exactly when it was that I realized I forgot how to walk correctly. I don’t know that there is necessarily a “correct” way to walk, but a time came for me when walking didn’t feel natural. Now I know this was a symptom of my undiagnosed MS.

I looked for gait training resources on the internet. I picked up pointers from The Gait Guys, and Core Walking with Jonathan FitzGordon. I started to pay attention to the way my feet were striking the ground. I adjusted my posture. I tried to walk with my toes forward instead of turned out like a dancer. I thought about hip flexion, and arm swing, and hip rotation. All of this only served to make me more confused than ever. Trying to make your walk natural is probably the most unnatural thing you can do. It was for me.

The blogger at 2 or 3 years old
When walking was new and natural.

Now that I have an MS diagnosis and I understand why my walk is a little weird, I’m not as worried about it. I still try to be mindful of posture and heel strike. I have a little bit of foot-drop on the left side, so I make an effort to dorsiflex to reduce the risk of tripping and falling. I guess it’s possible that my body and brain have made adjustments to overcome the neural miscommunication that MS causes.

That being said, I still feel self-conscious about the way I walk. I tell myself that people are not watching my walk and judging me on it, but I also feel that people must be watching and judging.

Nothing to do but take life one step at a time.

Do this instead

My brain could do better

Lately, I’ve found myself spending too much time scrolling through my Twitter feed. Sometimes when I come across something objectionable I delve into the post’s replies to see if someone out there has something to say that will make me feel better. I know, I’m just looking for someone to validate my worldview. I’m human.

All of this is unhealthy. I’m damaging my psyche and I’m wasting precious time. Why do I choose to devote energy to other people’s nonsense?

It is mostly nonsense, isn’t it?

The Solution

The way around this dilemma is to do something else! There are tons of things I can do with my time instead of browsing Twitter. Even going to Pinterest would be a healthier option. I made a list of ten worthwhile activities!

  1. Do something blog-related like plan and write posts.
  2. Engage with other bloggers.
  3. Practice playing the guitar.
  4. Learn how to use my digital SLR camera.
  5. Learn some jewelry making techniques.
  6. Draw
  7. Art journal
  8. Read
  9. Meditate
  10. Make more lists

I could go on, but you get the idea. I should consult this list the next time I’m tempted by Twitter.

Pencil drawing
Something I drew

Tracking Symptoms

Once in a while, I think it would be useful to track my MS symptoms. I was doing it when I was part of this study that gathered data via an iPhone app, I quit the study because I was taking all of those supplements from my herbalist and didn’t want to mess up the data. I was also tired of feeling pressured to complete the app’s activities. I considered logging my symptoms in a paper journal but that didn’t happen.

The Aby app

A week or so ago I saw an ad for an MS app on Instagram, or maybe Twitter. It’s called Aby, and Biogen makes it. Pharmaceutical companies provide these resources hoping that you’ll use their drug. It has a journal feature where you can log your activities and symptoms.  I’ve used it a few times, but it seems like more trouble than it’s worth to report the same minimal symptoms day after day.

Screenshot of Aby journal feature.
The journal feature.

The app has some useful informational articles and exercise videos. The videos are designed for people with MS who tend to have trouble with normal fitness routines because we experience fatigue more quickly than the average exerciser. I’ve done two of the routines so far. One for the lower body and the other for arms. They were both around 25 minutes long with rest breaks between sets. The lower body sequence was sufficiently challenging for me, but the one for arms didn’t feel like much of a workout. These are good to have handy on my very low energy days.

Worth a try

All-in-all, Aby is okay. I don’t like that the medication reminder feature won’t let me schedule alerts for my three times a week injections. You can only set them for multiple times a day. It only got three stars in the app store, and that was from a paltry fifteen users. The one person who wrote a review called it “Good, not great.”  I should probably add my two-cents worth.

Aby is free, so go ahead and give it a try. It may be worth it just for the exercise videos.

Any fitness screenshot

Space and Time

Sometimes I write about how Multiple Sclerosis is treating me. I can’t say that I struggle with the condition, because for me, it is not that bad. I belong to an MS support group on Facebook and see so many people posting about the difficulties they go through because of the disease. I’m grateful that things are pretty good for me.

My worst symptom

The disconnect between my brain and my body makes walking somewhat difficult. For me, walking is not natural anymore. I think too much about the mechanics of walking just about every time I get up and take a few steps. I worry that people see me coming and think, “she sure has a weird walk.” It’s funny how your ego tricks you into believing everyone is watching and judging you.

My next worst symptom

The fatigue that comes with MS makes if challenging to be as physically fit as I would like to be. I can walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes at about 2.5 mph, but when I dismount I need another 30 to 45 minutes of recovery time before I feel comfortable walking from the gym to the car. I don’t use an assistive device for walking, but I would be better off using one after a treadmill workout.

Dancing

I majored in Dance in undergrad and went on the earn a masters degree in Dance. I danced with a local modern company and with a belly dance troupe. I am still able to dance, but the muscle spasticity caused by MS is a problem. I can’t always rely on my body to do what I want it to do, for the amount of time I want to do it. I can perform a solo with little difficulty, but when I’m done, I have to shuffle off the stage, because the effort has caused the muscles of my lower legs to revolt. Dancing isn’t what it used to be.

Small collage with photo of dancer and mixed media leaf

Not complaining

It could be worse and I want to say that I’m not complaining. I think I am complaining. There are days when I wish I could be the person I used to be.

A life plan

My recent fascination with the stories of people who have had a near-death experiences led me to a book by Michael Newton, PH. D. called Journey of Souls. The work documents case studies of people Newton interviewd during hypnosis in which they recount a time when they say they existed in the spirit world after death. These subjects talk of having sessions with members of a soul group who counsel each other about what they will do in their next incarnation.

If what is said in the book is true, I have to believe. that after my last life, I chose to inhabit a body that would develop MS because I needed to learn something from the experience.

When I was a child, I remember telling my mother that when I was up Heaven I chose her and my father to be my parents. I believe more and more that this was indeed the case.

Sometimes I think that I’m supposed be be a writer, and MS is here to divert me away from dancing and toward writing. I have always had. trouble settling down to one area of interest. I’m a jack of many trades and master of none. I may not be a master of anything until my next life.

I’m event thinking about starting another blog devoted to spiritual stuff. Another example of my lack of focus.

The Common Cold

I’m getting over a cold this weekend. The illness itself only lasted about four days, but the lead up to getting cold symptoms was a week and a half. I blame MS and maybe hormones.

I realized several years ago that I would inevitably have low energy periods each month. I experienced flu-like symptoms (fatigue and muscle aches) without the upper respiratory distress. Every time I made plans to start a regular fitness regime, I would feel not well enough to get started.  Now that I know I have MS, it all makes sense.

You see, the period when I’m coming down with a cold is slightly worse for me than for people who don’t have an autoimmune disease. I’m just guessing. I haven’t done a study. I missed a few days of work last week because it seemed prudent not to overtax myself. I didn’t get a lot of exercise either. I feared that overdoing it could lead to a flare-up.

The only way I can get in better shape when I’m faced with these monthly energy fluctuations is to not skip workouts when I’m feeling good, and do what I can during my less than 100% periods. I’m considering getting in a little strength training every day with some cardio built in. I keep talking about it, but not making a plan. The trick is not to use the lack of a plan as an excuse to doing nothing.

Today, I’m recovering. Tomorrow should be better. I might do some hooping.

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