How to go from hating your disease, to loving it

Jana was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2001. She suffered for several years with serious MS symptoms. Through various research and programs, Jana realized that she had a say about her own body and that she did not have to be a victim of the disease. She took on the view that MS was a wakeup call to her to live her life fully and set about healing all the relationships in her life, particularly with her family.

Learn how to master multiple sclerosis and create a healthy mind and body!

What is MS?

MS is an autoimmune dis-ease which means that the body is attacking itself. What? Yes, something is haywire in the body so that is why I say dis-ease- the body isn't at ease with itself for some reason. 

 

With MS, the body is attacking the myelin sheath which is the covering over the nerves. Imagine an electrical cord with holes and nicks in it, the messages can't get from one end to the other without short circuiting.

 

This is what's happening in the brain to other parts of the body with MS. The various symptoms are numbness, tingling, fatigue, imbalance, memory problems and pain. I mostly experienced dizziness, tingling in my extremities and extreme fatigue.

 

An experience of fatigue was feeling exhausted from doing nothing or moving a few 100 yards to get a glass of water from the kitchen. I looked fine on the outside but surely didn't feel fine. 

Move Your Mind and Body!

Moving the body is important for everyone but especially those with an autoimmune condition.

 

My neurologist was adamant that I do strength training. He believed it helps the nervous system. It kept me healthy when I experienced MS. I was a triathlete and did many obstacle course races for years while experiencing MS.  I was a bit stubborn and crazy about fitness due to the threat of losing my physical ability to MS. When I was initially diagnosed my doctor said I would be disabled within ten years.

 

Now I had a timeline to complete all these high level fitness endeavors.  In addition, I was passionate about fitness and the benefits it gave me.  As a young girl in grammar school, I placed fourth in a free throw contest in the entire state of Iowa. Fitness always had a special place in my heart. I felt my fitness success saved me from a challenging childhood of mental, sexual and physical abuse.

 

When my doctor gave me my diagnosis and imaginary “losing my physical ability” timeline, I completed a triathlon when I had an MS attack of dizziness and fatigue.  The attack disappeared during the triathlon. It was like jumping through fire. 

I was grateful and inspired I was able to complete it.  I’ve done many more hard core endurance events including an Olympic distance triathlon, riding my bike for MS in the Swiss Alps for a week (over twelve thousand feet of climbing!), multiple 150 mile cycling tours for MS and even obstacle course races where I jumped over fire! After several athletic injuries, including plantar fasciitis, my sports doctor prescribed yoga and strengthening as a way to heal.

 

My foot healed completely after several months of dedicated yoga, stretching and strengthening. When I consistently do yoga, my whole body feels balanced and I feel great alongside running, cycling and strength training. I believe yoga also cleanses the nervous system. 

 

Moving the body is also a form of stress reduction.  A good yoga, cardio run or swim energizes your day and makes you feel fresh and renewed. It's really difficult to motivate yourself to move when you’re sick with MS or any autoimmune condition. When I had symptoms of MS and was experiencing extreme fatigue I forced myself to swim, run or strength train and I always felt just a little better after. 

 

The hardest part was getting out the door. I had my Masters Swimming group to rely on, my triathlete buddies to run and cycle with and a coach to do strength training with at times. Buddies make the biggest difference in getting out the door and being consistent. Not only does exercise make you feel good, it helps keep the waistline smaller! Meditation helps the mind also. 

 

It reduces stress and creates more calm, clarity and focus in your life. Take it on for 10 minutes a day and remember that your mind is part of your body and it needs to move as well as the physical body. 

 

You’ll be grateful you did!


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