STAYING HEALTHY WITH AN ILLNESS

The Universe works in such a crazy way sometimes. Ironically this blog post had already been scheduled as the How To Series Refresh post for the day. If you saw my Instagram post earlier today then you will understand how I am feeling right now and why I am talking about the Universe.

As you may or may not know I was originally diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in August and now know that I do not have MS. I actually have an extremely rare autoimmune disease called NMO aka Neuromyelitis Optica.

You can learn more about it here…

Since then my personal and professional life has had to completely change. One thing I refuse to change is my positive attitude. Yes, I have those days that I cry and I am curled up in a ball in bed. But you will never see me posting a negative comment about it on Facebook. I just don’t want to bring negative energy or comments into my life! Although today I am human and was definitely heading in that direction…

My advice to anyone with a medical condition is to surround yourself with the most positive group of people. That includes your Doctors! Seriously even them! You have to be strong for yourself in order to get better and stay healthy. My mantra which you’ve probably seen me post before is Positive, Productive, Happy and Healthy. And this is how I choose to live my life…

The first thing I did when I found out I was sick was search for other patients online. I needed more information. I needed to speak with others that knew exactly how I was feeling. I was just thrown into a world of unknown and needed to find answers and others going through the same experience. And that is what I continue to do every day. Now I use my voice to help spread awareness about all of my recent diagnosis in the JUST FOR US COMMUNITY.

There are so many people out there that think they are alone. But they are not! They just need to want to find others out there. They need to be extremely proactive and want to do it. That is a must! Trust me it’s a full time zero paying job being your own advocate. I know my voice matters and can help others if I use it. I realized this when I started posting videos about my chronic illnesses. I’ve received hundreds of messages and emails from others wanting more info as well as providing me with info that I am so grateful for and messages thanking me because I made the video in the first place. That part is and still is crazy because I was just doing it for me! I needed an outlet…

I remember the day I got diagnosed. I cried my eyes out. My friends hugged me and told me I was going to be OK! I called my family and then posted on Facebook for the world to know. There is no way I could hide this! I needed everyone to know so I could find others that were going through the same thing. I needed help and answers as this was the one thing I just could not fix or change. I was so frustrated but thank god for social media because that is where I found everything and everyone I needed to know! Part of me didn’t want to post because of clients finding out. But then I thought if they think I couldn’t handle their workload then they didn’t really know me. Everyone knows I am a Happy Workaholic and always have been. And they know my personality, which is I NEVER EVER give up!!!

After my post on Facebook I went to Instagram. I began to search every hashtag looking for friends, a community and more answers. That is how I found my friend Jennifer Finney. She caught my attention right away! She had a spunk and positive energy about her that I know I could relate to! There was no “Negative Nancy” vibes about her which I loved. Everything in her feed was positive so of course I introduced myself and followed her. I then decided we needed to be friends on Facebook! Thank god she accepted! lol

I mean if she were in Las Vegas I’m pretty sure we would be besties by now! Although I think we are online…

Right Jennifer? lol

We’ve messaged each other all positive notes and she always answers my questions. We both also love to cook delicious healthy meals. I mean obviously I was sold! lol.

Thanks Jennifer for always being there for me especially when I needed it the most!

I am so lucky to have found you.

FYI…If you are one of those people that cannot understand or comprehend how you build relationships with others online this right here is a prime example. Contact and engagement!

When I started putting together the ideas and concept of my How To Series I created lists of friends and clients who were amazing at their job, career, achievements and those who inspired me!  A list of friends that I wanted my readers to learn and know about! Jennifer was the first one I added on the Health and Wellness list.

I asked Jennifer to share her story as it is truly remarkable. I also asked her to share her tips on being healthy and fit while having Multiple Sclerosis.

These tips go for anyone going through a health situation so please know that it is not just for MS patients.

Also we are not doctors. We are just two women sharing our story and journey with you today.

Here is Jennifer Finney’s story…

I wasn’t always fit and healthy. In fact, most of my life, I was obese. Until a few years ago, exercise and eating a healthy diet were way down on my list of desires and priorities.

I often used MS as an excuse to NOT take a walk with girlfriends or learn to cook healthy meals.

But four years ago, that all changed when I decided to overcome my excuses and just see what would happen if I changed my diet and started exercising again, in spite of my MS.

After making regular exercise and eating a diet centered on whole, unprocessed foods a priority, I’m happy to report that I’ve lost weight, gained energy and stamina I didn’t even realize I could have, and gained more mental strength than I ever dreamed possible.

Of course, having MS definitely has its challenges when it comes to exercise. For myself, I typically have a numb right leg and foot, I struggle with stamina in heat, and my bladder has a mind of its own.

But, as the experts say, exercise is vital to our overall health and well-being, so I’ve figured out how to “do it anyway.”

Remember, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. But most doctors will tell you that the benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks of getting hurt. So if you’ve got the clear, and you’re ready to get started, here are a few tips for you that I’ve learned over the years and apply on the regular for myself and my clients.

Tip #1: Know your body and don’t be afraid of it.

It’s okay to push yourself beyond what you think you can actually do. I started exercising by walking on the treadmill, later moving on to the elliptical when I built up enough leg strength and cardio vascular stamina.

I did as much as I could in the gym until my bladder problems and wonky right leg started making it difficult. So I switched to the lap pool where I could pee with abandon and it didn’t matter if my leg was numb. When I injured my shoulder I had to find another way to work my body and my heart.

That’s when I found spinning. Tough as nails, spinning strengthened my legs and my cardio vascular endurance by leaps and bounds. Plus, I was able to lock my feet into place so again; wonky leg was not an issue. Yay!

I’ve since moved on to doing many different at-home workouts, being mindful of my body.

Working out at home is a great solution for me, because I can control the climate and my bathroom is seconds away. I also try to incorporate stretching and some sort of yoga practice, which has helped a ton with balance and flexibility.

Tip #2: Listen to your body.

It’s important to be mindful of what your body is telling you during and after, exercise.

If you’re in the middle of exercising and you feel pain or feel like you need a break, it’s totally okay to take one! Stop what you’re doing, wait 10 minutes to recover and then start up again if you can.

I try to be very aware of the signals my body is giving me all the time, not just during exercise.

If I have muscle soreness, I take an Epsom salt bath. If I am exhausted after several days in a row of strenuous exercise, I take a day off to rest. If I need a nap, you guessed it, I take one!

Tip #3: Have fun!

If exercise is something you dread, then you’re doing the wrong thing. Try different types of exercise until you find the one that really is your sweet spot.

For example, you may need to get off the treadmill and call your girlfriend to go for a walk in the neighborhood. Or try the elliptical machine or swim laps the pool.

Switching up your routine isn’t just good for your body, but your mind, as doing the same thing all the time gets boring and your body gets used to it.

Also, put together a playlist full of your fave pump-you-up tunes, or listen to a podcast while you workout.

I used to LOVE listening to a Comedy radio station in the gym and found myself LOL’ing and getting the “what are you laughing at” look by other gym goers more than once. haha! Which made everything even more hilarious!

The important thing is, do what you love! If you don’t love it or enjoy it, then it’s time to do something else.

In the end, the most important thing to remember, no matter what, is that you just can’t quit altogether. The way I see it, the day I quit taking care of my body, with how I exercise it and how I choose to nourish it, is the day I decide I’m not worth it.

It’s the day I decide to let MS win.  And I’m not about to let that happen as long as I can help it.

So to recap, know your body and don’t be afraid of it, it’s capable of a lot more than you think. Tune in to your body and do what it’s telling you. If you need a break, take a break! And finally, have fun! You’ll be much more apt to keep going if it’s something you enjoy, not something you dread.

And, of course, whatever you do, DON’T QUIT!

You CAN totally do it!!!

About Jennifer Finney…

Jennifer Finney has had MS for 12 years. After losing over 100 pounds by changing her diet and exercising, she now coaches women who desperately want to lose weight without dieting.  She gives them the tools they need to jump off the diet roller coaster once and for all and live a life they truly love.

When she’s not busy helping women transform their lives, you can find her indulging her inner rock star on a Sunday morning singing with the church band, enjoying a movie night with the fam or savoring a grande soy latte, no whip. And of course, chocolate will forever and always be her love language. ❤

Find Jennifer on her pages below and be sure to tell her I sent you…

Website

Facebook

Instagram

As always if you have a question or something inspirational to share please let us know in the comments below or on our social media pages.

Until tomorrow…

KAG

PS If you are someone who is looking for a few friends online I have started a community called JUST FOR US.

The JUST FOR US Community has been created for anyone going through a tough time. Health, heartache or just in need of some happiness. This is a safe place for you to share your feelings, find a few friends and most importantly know that you are not alone!

For more on my health journey visit my page here.

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