31 Days of MS: Bodybuilding Freed Me – One Workout at a Time

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31 Days of MS | Multiple Sclerosis News Today | 31 Days 2022 graphic
Marie Pontini

Photo courtesy of Marie Pontini

Day 25 of 31

This is Marie Pontini’s (@mariepontini) story:

The page on the previous chapter of my life had turned. It was pointless to wonder why, hang on to my past expectations of the future, or worry.

My accomplishments, education, and knowledge were suddenly meaningless with my severe cognitive impairments. Without my career, what used to define me had disappeared. I had nothing to hang on to from what my life was before, except good memories.

This was five years ago, when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

The fact that I went from walking to using a wheelchair within a few months, to needing home services to eat and wash myself, made it easier for me to be resilient — it took me out of my previous life so drastically, I was forced to see it as a completely new chapter.

I had a clean slate in front of me, the unknown. I’m grateful to myself for choosing to turn it into a positive experience and a challenge, to see an opportunity to free myself and let go of my protective shield.

I started bodybuilding as a way to empower myself over chronic intense neurological pain. I told myself: “I choose the pain of the gym to fight the pain of my body. Because this pain, I chose it, and it gives me results and pride.”

I was 310 lbs., always hated sport, but decided to transfer all my ambition into it.

Bodybuilding has freed me, one workout at a time — becoming stronger mentally, knowing myself, accepting who I was, learning to love and respect myself. I learned to be kind to my body when I would fall, when the pain would exaggerate, or when I would need a break so I wouldn’t quit. I developed complicity with my body … self-love.

We can surpass any adversity that comes to us. The level of difficulty will be greatly impacted by how we decide to see it.

You are everything you were before your diagnosis and more than one thing. It’s okay if your past expectations of the future never happen. You still have the same potential. Decide to see beyond your circumstances.

Multiple Sclerosis News Today’s 31 Days of MS campaign will publish one story per day for Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in March. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #31DaysofMS, or read the full series.

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