Multiple Sclerosis presents many unique challenges to losing weight. Many of the medications we take cause weight gain. We become more sedentary as our symptoms progress, depression sets in, or our bodies protest as we become overheated during exercise.
It is possible to lose weight and maintain a healthy diet and weight with this disease; don’t let your evil twin tell you otherwise.
One of the main things we need to look at and consider in managing our disease and our weight is our diet; many of us can stand to change a few things here. I am not proposing you suddenly write down everything you eat and modify your entire pantry. Most of us would quit before we started if we had to begin there.
I propose making gradual changes. One of the reasons so many of us fail in the first couple of attempts at this is lack of organization. I admit, I used to have that issue. A bit of planning will rock your world in a great way! For instance; I know that every night, at 7:00PM, I’ve set aside 20 minutes to ride my stationary bike; at a minimum. I also know that I need more time in the morning to prepare breakfast and lunch, shower, and take care of the animals before work, so; without fail, every morning I make sure that I get up at the first alarm toll, 5:30, no excuses. This way, I have the time to take care of myself. It is very hard at first to change a routine. But remember, stick with it for 30 days straight and it will begin to form a habit, and feel like the most natural thing in the world to you.
Are you eating out for lunch every day? cut it back to three times a week to start and substitute those lost lunches with a healthy packed lunch. Increase that after a couple of weeks. The difference in your wallet might be enough to encourage you to continue with that program. Cutting out take-out food will yield huge results as long as you are substituting it with healthy choices.
Do you know that soft drink you love so much? Guess what?! If you changed to a diet form or if you cut back a little you will see big results in a short period of time. Back in the 90’s; I went from a size 5 to a size 10 in rapid order. I had a desk job and felt tired enough at night to excuse myself from working out. I was heavily into a major brand of cola. Drank about 5 cans a day at a minimum. I switched to diet and never touched the regular again one day. I went back to a size 6 over the course of a few short months. That was the only change I made. What does that tell you about that sugary soft drink? Now I will qualify this a bit; diet soda is not good for you by any means. I am severely addicted to the soda and quitting was way to much for me to do at the time. So I made a gradual change. I am now cutting back the amount of diet soda I drink. That is a bigger challenge and will take longer to do, but it will happen over time.
Do you see where I am going with this? Make it easy on yourself and don’t worry about how much you are trying to lose or when you need to lose it by. Just make gradual changes that are easy for you to do and things will begin to improve.
Read a lifestyle book. Not a diet book. That’s right; listen to someone who has the disease talk about what they do with their diet and life. Check out my library page for resources here. Montel Williams; Living Well is an excellent place to start. Its casual, fun, and an easy read with really great tips to a healthier you.
Now keep in mind; if you force yourself to follow a protocol for thirty days, it will begin to become a habit. The hardest work you will do will be the first 30 days, after that it begins to become part of your nature, and simple regular maintenance checks will keep you in line.
What about exercise? Do you get any? Maybe just the workout that your fingers get on the keyboard of your computer? hmmm. We need to work on that. Do you think you could manage a 10 minute walk (even at a snails pace to begin with) down your street? That is a place to start. Maybe Fido would like to go with you and may even help encourage you to keep it up. You may start to appreciate the sunrises or sunsets so much that you forget why you are walking. Its a great time to ease your mind, think about pleasant things. Smell the fresh air. Listen to the sounds outside your home. Suddenly that 10 minutes becomes 20 and you didn’t even realize it.
Perhaps you feel ready for something stronger. Get a stationary bike and do 10 or 20 minutes. Play your favorite tunes on your ipod and start peddling. Close your eyes and imagine riding down a road by the beach, air is warm on your skin, you can smell the salty air, palm trees line the road, people are smiling at you as you go by, you are at your ideal weight and feel great. Visualization takes your mind off of what you are doing. That 20 minutes will fly by, and you will find that your mind will crave that little break in thought. It becomes a little mini vacation. Your getting exercise and having fun doing it.
A few last words about diet. Eat whole foods; Vegetables and fruits. Visit that produce aisle in your grocery. Cut back the prepared foods. I know they are easier, but it will make a huge difference in how you feel. Eat meat if you want, just remember, everything in moderation. If you like ice cream, eat it as a treat on Sundays and cut back to two scoops instead of three. Make sense? Small changes are going to rock your world. Just make it part of who you are. Take that 30 day challenge to make some healthy habits.
The last piece of advice I have for you; don’t try anything radical. No one diet is going to cure MS. No one diet is going to forever change your life. You need to work on changing you first. Get more organized, make healthier choices, give yourself some time. You will get there! Good luck.