Just Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Jamie Hughes avatar

by Jamie Hughes |

Share this article:

Share article via email
Main graphic for column titled

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?)

Recommended Reading
patients on anti-CD20 therapies should get COVID-19 vaccine/Multiple Sclerosis News Today/cells illustration

COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Testing Extra Dose in MS, Other Diseases

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.

She writes:

“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.

Comments

Ben Smoke avatar

Ben Smoke

Well said...but we are all different. Some with less ability. This should be better acknowledged. Thank you

Reply
Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

I hope that came across in the column, Ben. I can't do what I did ten years ago (sadly), but I'm doing what I can. Everybody can only do what's best for every body.

Reply
Teresa Flynn Melendez avatar

Teresa Flynn Melendez

Thank you, Jamie. This was a wonderful and inspiring read! All the best to you, a fellow MSer.

Reply
Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

Thanks, Teresa. Glad to be of service to you today. Keep your chin up, friend. We're in this together!

Reply
Azmeh Dawood avatar

Azmeh Dawood

Exactly the same benefits as exercise are obtainable by fasting. Both stress the body out producing beneficial hormones and side effects. It’s my favoured option. Sit on my bum and get the benefits of working out. I’m 52, with an EDSS of 6.5, 8 yrs. from diagnosis, PPMS, fit enough to ride 10km by tandem, BMI: 20, that is, I’m 5,6 or 166cm, 124 lbs or 56kg.

Reply
Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

I hadn't considered that, Azmeh. That's something I need to look into as well. My faith encourages fasting for spiritual reasons, but I know there are physical benefits too!

Reply
Helen Woodbridge avatar

Helen Woodbridge

Hi. I really like your attitude. I also exercise gently each day with various activities. I recently returned to walking regularly and can now go 1.5 ks on a good day. I was impressed. It’s difficult to exercise regularly but it makes a huge difference. So do it while you can no matter how little - your body and mind will love it. 😁🦋Helen. ACT Australia.

Reply
Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

Absolutely, Helen my love! I couldn't have said it better myself. Do what you can to help yourself feel strong and good. It makes a HUGE difference. Peace and grace to you today, m'lady.

Reply
John Brett avatar

John Brett

YES SLOW PROGRESSION IS ALWAYS THE BEST.
I SWIM DAILY BUT HAVE ADDED EXERCISES INTO THE ROUTINE IN THE POOL. I LOVE THE BOYANCY OF THE WATER WHICH REDUCES THE IMPACT STRAIN ON VULNERABLE JOINTS.
THE IMPORTANT THING IS TO KEEP AT IT !!!!

Reply
Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

Pool exercises are the best! It's less stressful on the joints, helps you stay cool, and so many other benefits. I'm with Dory, "Just keep swimming!"

Reply
Linda Margaret Neuberger avatar

Linda Margaret Neuberger

So great to hear the positives from other MS people!

Reply
Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

We have to stay positive and care for one another, Linda. Thanks for stopping by for a read and leaving a comment. I sure do appreciate it.

Reply
Kevin Lipetzky avatar

Kevin Lipetzky

I walk daily with my walker and drop foot brace daily in our mall. It’s about .8 around the mall. It has helped me by increasing my stamina. I look forward to my daily walk.

Reply
Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

That's beyond excellent, Kevin! That's a great way to get healthy and stay cool at the same time. Way to go!

Reply
Dorette de Beer avatar

Dorette de Beer

Hi there, yup what can I say. I was reading this and can relate. I was soo overweight when I was diagnosed first in 2000 Aug 29 on my birthday. Not good at all. because you have no clue what it is about, all you see is black, going downward and no hope at all. I fell into a dark pit of self pitty and did not wanted to get out, cause my life was over, what is going to happen, I still wanted a child? Meds ? no ways, I am not that bad. so living with it, being huge, overweight, just living, in 2017 aug, I joined a gym, what i knew of excersize is pretty scary... equipment? what? what? well, I were like you doing my thing, in the corner, alone, hope no one is watching, or seeing me... :( after a week/month of trying and suffering every time I went there from pain, I desided to join class training... it is now4 years and boy oh boy I love it. I just cannot see myself doing gym with all the testosterone and old spice overdone in gym. for me I have grown so much, I am out off the box.. talk, mingle, and everyone knows me know. made so many friends, whom I love dearly. for pass 3 weeks not gym, got some bad news, my days of no meds are over, I was soo depressed. Did not gym and started overeating... did not care anymore... but i got up after sulking... started yesterday back at gym... (The leasions are more, so I need to go onto meds. I have no idea how this is going to effect my mood or my motivation, but I will live by how I started this journey... MS you are going to live with ME and not the other way around. this is really i think not easiest of things that is waiting for me. but I will do it!! How meds is going to effect my weight. I do not want to go back to where I was few years ago, although I have picked up lots due to covid and rules gym closed.. and and... but I will keep on fighting... Not going down so easy. I live in South Africa. What ever you do, 1 day at a time.... Cheers... XxXx

Reply
Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

Good on you, Dorette! Keep up the good fight and take care of yourself. You're right. It lives with it, not the other way around!

Reply
Amy Jo Burnette avatar

Amy Jo Burnette

I was diagnosed with MS over 30 years ago. It is inspiring and comforting to read the ideas and efforts of others in the same boat. It gives me both inspiration and a sense of community. Thanks

Reply
Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

It is such a blessing to know that you're among friends, each of whom gets your unique challenges. Thanks for reaching out, Amy Jo!

Reply

Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.

Dancing Doodle

Did you know some of the news and columns on Multiple Sclerosis News Today are recorded and available for listening on SoundCloud? These flash briefings give our readers an alternative option for accessing information important for them.

Listen Here

Video