Drawing on her experiences working as a personal trainer and sports nutrition advisor, Diana, who was diagnosed with MS last year, shares her top tips for living well with the condition.
Hello my name is Diana. I was diagnosed with MS last year (15 months ago if anyone is counting… I am) and it came as a HUGE shock. Shortly after diagnosis I read so much information around living well with MS and how important maintaining a healthy lifestyle is in helping to manage the disease. For me, this means keeping as well as possible to allow me to maintain largely the same activities I have always been used to doing; namely walking everywhere (I drive too, but walking has always seemed a great dose of free exercise!) and training in the gym (I’m a qualified personal trainer). I never really ‘sit still’ and I don’t plan to anytime soon. With any luck.
A bit of trial and experience over the last year (15 months, did I say?!) has led me to put together these five tips for living well with MS which on a practical basis help me to feel ‘good’ and better-able to cope with any niggling symptoms MS gives me.
My top five tips for living well with MS
1. Stay hydrated and cool. Water is a close friend of mine – I’m rarely without a bottle in my bag or in the car. Despite my treatment seemingly working (everything crossed) my original ‘limpy-leg’ can return if I run ‘too far, too fast’ ie get too hot. I always take a bottle of half-frozen water to the gym and top it up once I get there which helps to cool me down when I run and hopefully guard against ‘limpy leg’ returning. I also tend to wear thinner gym clothes and strappy tops to try to keep cool and use the fans built into the treadmill and other machines.
2. Sleep. I’ve noticed I don’t seem to sleep as well as I did pre-diagnosis and I’ve always needed a decent amount of sleep – I was never the party animal existing on a few hours sleep here or there. I make a point of going to bed early with a book, not drinking caffeine in the evening or eating supper too late.
3. Exercise. I have always been a keen gym-goer but I now focus more on strengthening my left side as it is noticeably weaker these days. For example, I train each side separately on the shoulder-press machines using different weight increments for each side and I can easily use the leg-press machines with one leg at a time. This will hopefully go some way to prevent ‘limpy leg’ returning too.
4. Healthy diet. This feels like a bit of a ‘fake’ tip as I have always been really conscious of eating healthily and haven’t really changed much; I focus heavily on vegetables (I’m vegetarian) and make everything from scratch; ‘batch-cooking’ Sundays are a ‘thing’ in our house. I’m secretly looking forward to the cooler weather when roasted Brussel sprouts are back in season!
5. Relaxation. As I said in my introduction I am not very good at sitting still, although I am trying to make time for it now and read a book or watch a film. I struggle to engage in films but I’m really trying to get into it as it’s something we can all enjoy together. That said, I do enjoy a massage or two, so perhaps I need to spend more time doing that!
My belief is that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can't NOT help to some degree if only to make us feel better that we are 'doing something' - and fighting back against MS. I believe that it can't not help to try; who's with me?
MS in the Media
17 May 2019
- Statin has potential as SPMS drug
- EastEnders MS storyline
My Vespa adventure for the MS Trust
13 May 2019
For his next fundraising adventure, our supporter Nick Jolly will be riding 2,500 miles to Hungary on his Vespa scooter. He tells us about the inspiration behind his challenge.
"When you lose something, it makes you appreciate what you have"
13 May 2019
Danielle MacGillivray stars in our new film, Danielle. Here she tells us about her MS diagnosis, why she wanted to share her story in the film and learning to "appreciate the little things" every single day.