Just Put One Foot in Front of the Other
I’ve been working on my health this last year or so, trying everything from a vegetarian diet to visiting an acupuncturist to help with muscle tension and headaches. All of it has been just wonderful. But the elephant in the room — the thing I still needed to address but kept walking around — was my weight.
I lost around 100 pounds a decade or so ago when I lived in a smaller city, didn’t have a commute, and was childless. But over time, that weight crept back on, as it so often does.
That’s why, a few weeks ago, I joined a gym in my area. It’s less than five minutes away and open 24/7, so I can go in when the place is empty. (They also have excellent sanitation protocols, which helps.) And if there are a few other folks around, I work out in a mask. (How’s that for determination?)
I try to go at least four days a week and have used the treadmill, elliptical machine, and stationary bike, rotating between them to keep things fresh. There’s also a 30-minute full-body circuit that I’ve taken advantage of, and I’ve noticed I’m feeling quite a bit better overall as a result. In fact, I’ve experienced several of the positive results the staff over at the Mayo Clinic says exercise is responsible for, including everything from weight loss to improved mood and increased energy. I’ve also noticed that I’m sleeping a bit better.
If you’re not ready to go full-on gym rat, I hear you. It can be intimidating, but there are a lot of great gyms out there that cater to all kinds of folks, not just the “beautiful people” as I call them. Many even offer small classes if that’s your thing. And remember that exercise doesn’t have to be all panting and pain and sweat dripping from your nose. Yoga is an excellent form of exercise for MS patients, as are tai chi and adaptive water exercises, the latter of which has the added benefit of keeping you cool!
Maybe you want to start out in your home, which is a great option, too! The most important thing isn’t owning all the right gear or pushing yourself to the brink. You just need to get started. Begin with a few stretches, some chair yoga, or a lap around the neighborhood with a friend (especially since the weather is changing around here and getting a little more livable). Maybe even go out and do a little gardening. Find what works for you and go for it!
Anne Lamott, a writer and teacher whose advice I’ve long followed, has a wonderful book called “Bird by Bird.” It’s about writing, but I think it’s applicable to all of life. In the chapter from which the book’s title is taken, she tells the story about her brother, who had procrastinated when it came to a major school project, and the way their dad stepped in to save the day.
“Thirty years ago, my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”
That’s all that’s required if you want to make some positive changes. Just do one good thing. Follow it with another, and before you know it, things will be different. Take it one day at a time. Take it bird by bird.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.