12 years ago, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). At the time, I went into traditional denial and decided it wasn’t really happening and that I would carry on regardless. Through a combination of stubbornness and getting drunk and signing up to things, over the next 10 years I climbed Kilimanjaro and completed 5 half marathons.
For someone that has never seen herself as being ‘a sporty’ person I felt I had achieved quite a lot. In my mind, someone who was sick couldn’t do all those things, so I was OK. I guess I was someone who most people would call fit, but lots of my MS symptoms were getting slowly worse behind the scenes. Walking in a straight line was a challenge (even when I hadn’t been drinking!) and I didn’t feel strong.
In an attempt to manage my symptoms, I found a few exercise videos on YouTube. Given my dodgy balance, some were fine but others were not and so I decided to bite the bullet and find a Personal Trainer. After procrastinating for a few months, I finally reasoned with myself that I’d sign up for 10 weeks to learn the exercises I could and should be doing to support my MS so that I could then be more confident to carry on myself knowing I was completing them safely.
I still remember the first session. I asked for it to be at home as the idea of going to a gym was in no way appealing. At this point I knew there was no way I’d go to a gym on my own. I waited nervously in my old gym stuff not knowing what to expect. Surprise-surprise, the old saying, ‘things are never as bad as you think they will be’ was true and whilst at the end of the session I wouldn’t say it was the best experience of my life, it had been relatively enjoyable and I didn’t feel completely inept. Over the next few weeks I became more confident and had a much better understanding of what type of training I really enjoyed (Boxing) and those that impacted negatively on my MS symptoms (Planks with pressure on my hands). Somehow 10 weeks turned into 2 years and I now see it as a core element of my overall health management.
The results after 2 years? Yes, I am thinner and weigh less but I have no idea by how much and it isn’t a focus. I don’t go to the gym to lose weight – I enjoy my food and drink too much! What’s more important for me is that my balance is better, my fatigue is more manageable, my strength has improved (giving my body a better chance of adapting as my MS progresses) and my doctors say that my actions are significantly helping a positive prognosis.
So the last bit is MS specific and perhaps having MS has meant I have needed to focus on my health a little earlier than some, but I am an absolute convert to believing that keeping a little bit fitter and healthier is a good thing and that most people would really benefit from this.
Training with a Personal Trainer is definitely not as scary as I thought it would be and I would even go as far as saying I enjoy it. No one is more surprised than me about that statement!