MS will Not Define Me

Are You Tired of Being Told to Pace Yourself?

I started physical therapy to strengthen my muscles to try to get rid of some of the “wobbles” from the MS.  The favorite line from the trainers is “pace yourself”.  I’m sure I have heard this before in my life but NOW it seems to grate on me.

In my business, I have been told to pace myself.  In other words, don’t play the comparison game.  Quick and easy will get the sales now but it won’t usually get you long term success.  After almost 7 years of being in direct sales, I am grateful I paced myself.

When I started with MS symptoms (or had flare ups), the phrase “remember to pace yourself” became the one thing people would always say.  I don’t know about everyone else, but I know when someone says it to me, I tend to speed things up! I know they mean well, but it can be frustrating – a constant reminder we can’t do things like we used to.  As unpleasant as it is to hear, the sentiment is not all bad. Taking some time to do things our way at our own speed can be extremely helpful and make for a more rewarding life. It’s something not only those with a chronic illness need to remember, but also those around us need to learn.

Runners, pace themselves in a race.  Those struggling to lose weight, pace themselves.  So why is it, those of us with chronic conditions seem to think it is a bad thing to do. I know it just can’t be me, right?

#1 Feeling different from everyone else

I have always been non-stop, on the go.  From to being a career woman, then a single mom and then working full-time and commuting.  I always seemed to have enough time to do everything.  I will admit, I don’t like the idea of having to slow down, or of feeling different from everyone else.  Heaven forbid if I feel like I am holding anyone up. So despite everyone’s best intentions when they say pace yourself, it makes me feel bad. It’s a huge reminder we’re different. On any given day, it can make me feel like I’m a burden to the person saying it.  I know they mean well, BUT if you know someone with a chronic illness, don’t tell them to “pace themselves”.  Just as a runner knows their body, we know our bodies.  Believe me, if we need to slow down, trust me, our body will let us know.

#2 Going at our own speed

I joke with my mom who is 81, I inspire to run up the steps like she does.  There was a time when I could BUT life with a chronic illness, has taught me I need to pace myself. It is the key to enjoying life.  Whether it is a good day or a bad day, we can still accomplish a lot if we simply take our time and do it at our own speed.  Moving at a slower speed, taking breaks in between doing things can be frustrating, but more often than not, it can be rewarding. The key is having others understand we may be just a little slower or do things a little bit differently to get the task done.  I will admit I am still a work in progress where this is concerned…

#3 Little accomplishments can mean a lot

I have often joked about our “dust bunnies” but I will admit I do like staying on top of keeping things neat and tidy.  Fall cleaning (or whatever season) can be a pretty overwhelming task for someone like me even before MS.  My desire is to do it but I easily squirrel (forgetting how to do tasks or just get tired).  So now, I set small tasks to get done – scrub bathroom, wash kitchen floor, etc.  It won’t happen quickly, but it will get done. I need to enjoy the little accomplishments.   I know it may sound bizarre, but little accomplishments mean a lot.  Why is it “baby steps” are good things in life, showing we are moving towards a goal yet with a chronic illness, we tend to think of it negatively?

#4 Advice for family and friends

Patience!  Not one of my strong points.  If you know someone with a chronic illness, you will definitely need to practice patience.  It’s more important for friends and family to understand and respect our need to pace ourself, than it is for them to remind us to do it.  Yes, I do sometimes need to be reminded since slowing down can be helpful.  I would rather discover it on my own, no matter how painful it might be.  Sounds crazy, right?  So friends and family, please don’t tell us to slow down, but understand if we do.

Just as we would cheer for a runner who is pacing themselves towards the finish line…  let’s try to remember there is nothing wrong with going at our own pace when we have a chronic illness.

Today’s post was the result of some conversations with friends who also have chronic illnesses.  I hope it shed some light for someone, especially those who have family or friends who are newly diagnosed.  I believe God put this on my heart today to share for a reason.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

MS will Not Define Me

Moving on With MS

Today we are headed to the MS Center in Teaneck for my annual visit.  Truth is, I am really nervous.  The last year has brought some definite changes in my health.  I don’t always notice them but on a recent visit with my daughter in NC, she told me she is seeing the change and not for the good.

So for those who may be new to my blog, I will give you a brief history lesson.  I was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis) in February 2016.  I should say, I was told I had it BUT the doctors didn’t want to write it anywhere except on my chart.  See my symptoms didn’t fit the checklist they had for an MS patient.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) covering nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body.

Let me back up just a little bit. For years, I have been complaining about not being able to remember things. As a recovering addict of 26 years, I always said “the drugs killed my brain cells” and life went on.

Fast forward to about 4 years ago when after my husband suffered a health crisis, he started saying ” you are different”. I talked about “not remembering things” to the doctor but no one seemed concerned. Then there were other health issues: IBS, glaucoma, chest wall syndrome (yes, it is real), unexplained weight gain, loss of sex drive (yes, I am telling all), adjustment disorder with depression and periodontal disease. Believe it or not, I was okay with it ALL until the night I fell apart telling hubby how bad the memory issue had become. I truly thought I was on the same road as my grandmother – Alzheimer’s. At my  next primary appointment, we finally got him to listen to how bad things were with my memory.

After countless visits to the Neurologist, MRIs, a spinal tap, endless blood tests, and an EEG – there was no treatment options available.  Just wait.  So wait we did, and in 6 months, I was blessed with no changes in my lesions.  Then in June 2017, we noticed some more changes.  Difficulty with my joints, not sleeping, and mood swings.  The new MRIs showed more and enlarged lesions so it was time to take action.

For some it may sound crazy but I opted to wait until now to go to the MS Center for treatment options. Why?  I didn’t want to be sick for the Leadership Incentive Trip.  I wasn’t sure what the future held and I wanted to enjoy the trip with my daughter. In the meantime, I have been working with a chiropractor using holistic options to help with some symptoms.  An adjustment monthly helps with the tingling.  A gluten free and dairy free diet has helped me to feel better.  The CBD oil and the iodine drops help with brain fog. It is a journey and I definitely struggle with all of the things I can’t eat.

This is not about a “pity” party or being Negative Nellie. Just for today, it is about squashing the inner gremlins who want this life challenge to defeat me.  I am not ready to give up fighting but some days it is hard to keep up the fight.

So, today we head to the MS Center to see the MS doctor.  I’m fearful but I trust God has a plan for me.

I am blessed to be able to work from home.  My WHY is about giving back to others and not letting MS take over my life. I will continue to use my business and my blog to encourage others who are struggling with this disease or any chronic disease. I want to bring a smile to those who are struggling on the inside but on the outside look “normal”.

Life has definitely become a challenge for my friends and my family. They have learned to be more patient, not only with me but with each other.  They are learning even if “I can’t remember”, I still care.  We are learning to embrace each moment – pictures become more important than ever – they do help me to remember a little.

“My planner” is the key to keeping my life in order.  I am learning I can still have a successful business despite the memory issues – lots of notes, systems and a sense of humor.  My customers are amazing despite my inability to remember the names of products or prints.  I am amazed with 98% of my business being online, I am able to grow and pay my bills.  Customers even joke when I call them by the wrong name or confuse them with someone else.

Thank you for taking the time to read today’s blog which is definitely more personal than I have written in a long time. All I ask is you continue to keep me (and my family) in prayer, and be understanding when I give you a blank look as if to say “I should know you but I don’t”.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

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Unclutter Your Life, Weigh to Goal

Value Yourself

My weightless journey has been a journey.  Actually more like a roller coaster.  Last week at our meeting we talked about valuing ourself no matter what the scale says.  This was like a SMACK in the head for me.

The numbers on the scale have always played a factor in how I feel about me.  No, let me be honest, when I was at my heaviest I didn’t get on a scale.  I had no clue how much I weighed and being clueless seemed to be okay with me.  I liked myself as I hid behind the weight not letting anyone get too close.  Does this story sound familiar?

I walked into the doors of Weight Watchers seeing myself through different eyes.  The eyes of the scale.  It didn’t get really hard until I got closer to my goal weight.  As the number got lower, the insecurities of my youth came out.  No, I didn’t head to the nearest shrink to bare my soul – I began fighting the inner gremlins with some help of some really good people. I learned to start seeing myself as others see me.

I know what does all of this have to do with anything, right?  How many of us let the number on the scale define us especially when we are on a weightless journey?  We let our self-worth be connected to the number on the scale.  When it goes down, we are happy.  When it goes up, the inner gremlins join us in beating ourselves up.  It is time to stop the madness.

Recognizing and appreciating ourselves for our many gifts and talents is not an easy task. The reality is when we feel good about ourselves, we are more likely to have a positive outlook on life, take better care of ourselves and the end result is we lose weight.  The better we feel about ourselves, the easier it is to lose weight.  Think about your own journey….

I remember doing a VERY scary exercise when I began trying to squash my inner gremlins.  I was told to ask 5 friends and/or family what they thought my best qualities were.  In other words, how would they describe me?  YIKES!  I sent the message out and was definitely not ready for the responses I received.  I was told I was kind, generous, compassionate, determined, helpful and strong.  I didn’t see myself from their perspective. But on my worst days (seems to be quite a few lately), I go back to the list and repeat the positive traits over and over again.  Why?  So I can feel and believe them again.

What can you do to see yourself through loving eyes?  No, I am not suggesting you reach out to family and friends to ask for their input (unless you want); I am suggesting you find a quiet spot, grab a piece of paper and a pen, reflect AND…..

THINK about someone in your life who cares about you; a friend or relative, spouse or significant other.

FOCUS on the person for a minute and describe them in words or draw a picture.  What do they look like? Height? Eye color? Hair? Do they smile a lot? Do they have a soft or loud voice?  How would you describe their personality?

CONSIDER what makes this person special to you.  Does thinking of this person make you happy?  Excited? Loving? How do they make you feel?

IMAGINE you are this person who loves YOU and start to see yourself through their eyes.  What do you like about this person you see?  Write down thoughts, feelings and behaviors you love about yourself.  I know this is tough.  You may just start with “I like my eyes” – something simple.  Then dig deeper.  Think about the qualities you have down deep – are you caring? kind? passionate about life or a cause? hard worker? friendly?

COME BACK to yourself and read what you wrote.  You will notice a growing appreciation for how you feel about yourself.

Believe me, I get how tough this can be.  I struggle with it too. Do this once a week for one month and read the positive qualities daily.  You will be amazed at the difference it will make in your life.  Thirty days make a habit, right?

Change those negative, unhelpful thoughts into positive thoughts.  Changing your mindset is the first step to make a difference in your life which will give the ripple effect of making a difference in the lives of those around you.  Share you best qualities with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Feel Good Friday

Feeling Good about Jiggle Thighs

NO! This is not a picture of me….I have been on a journey to get back to goal weight since January.  Back to Weight Watchers, walking or moving more and I have been STUCK!  Well, the scale seems to move VERY slowly but those “jiggle thighs” don’t seem to be going anywhere.

I am looking forward to the Leadership Cruise in September so I am on a mission.  I am fighting playing the comparison game. I am fighting the gremlins who want me to be more concerned about what others will think of me than me loving me for me.  I’m sure I am not alone.  Swimsuit season is upon us or at least it will be VERY soon and it makes me CRINGE!  What about you?

I read a blog post on Women Living Well about learning to accept things.  It made me stop and realize I need to look at my “jiggle thighs” in a different way..

For as long as I can remember, I have had “bumps” on the top of my thighs. Yes, they have gotten smaller with the loss of 105 pounds but they are still there! I walk, maybe not as much as I could (or should) but you would figure loosing 105 pounds would have helped to get rid of them, right? Most of the time my clothes conceal them but I still know they are there. Of course you can really notice them as my waist continues to shrink and nothing is in proportion. Maybe this isn’t your problem area, maybe it is the “jiggle arms” or the muffin top or the roll our bra creates – no matter what we all seem to judge ourselves when we look in the mirror..

How about this thought….My jiggle thighs (or your problem area) are evidence of God’s goodness in my life! Sounds crazy, right? Mind you I never notice this or any other problem area on other people, just on myself. Most people don’t mention it – okay maybe an occasional child who is curious but why wouldn’t they be – I’m curious to know why God has blessed me with these wonderful thighs.

Jen Wilken said “The expectation of physical perfection hits modern females early and often. In middle school, girls cut themselves to deal with the pressures of conforming to the ideal. In middle age, women do, too—but allow the surgeon to hold the knife.” WOW! She then goes on to say “We carve the record of our self-loathing into the very flesh of our bodies—a self-marring, a literal carving of an idol. Increasingly, physical perfection is the legacy of womanhood in our culture, handed down with meticulous care from mother to daughter, with more faithful instruction in word and deed than we can trouble to devote to cultivating kindness, peacemaking, and acceptance that characterize unfading, inner beauty.”

Yes, I considered surgery.  We even met with a doctor to see what would be involved.  By the time we left, they had described a procedure which would cut me almost in half.  They would take out the cellulite and the excess skin from the weight loss.  The healing time would be several months.  Then he said “there is no guarantee the bumps won’t come back”. WAIT! You mean even after all of this, and sticking to my WW program there is still the possibility they may return.  I will admit, I was willing to take the chance.  Then after much thought, prayer and discussion with hubby – I decided against it.

So, every day I work on squashing the inner gremlins who want to torture me with lies about the need to have a perfect body or to be an ideal weight. It doesn’t mean don’t be healthy. It means strive for a goal reachable for you. I am learning to accept me for me – jiggle thighs and all – knowing I am beautifully made by God. Most days this is a tough pill for me to swallow.  I am not less than because it has taken me a “LONG” time to reach my goal weight. I am not less than because my body is not a perfect size 10.

Today, I am living in the hope, security and the arms of a Higher Power who loves me unconditionally. Give yourself a break today and know as long as you are trying your best – it is all God is asking of you.

For tips on healthy weight loss check out – Weight Watchers.

Have ThirtyOne-derful day.

Business Tips and Tricks

Get Energized for Business & in Weightloss

This is a repost from April of 2013….

#1 – Establish priorities.

As in business, we try to tackle everything at one time. List your priorities and focus on just one or two items at a time. The same thing in your weight loss journey – one step at a time. Eating more fruits & veggies.  Exercise. Cutting out carbs. Prioritizing a list takes the stress off and allows you to focus on one thing at a time with the comfort of knowing where you will go from here.

#2 – Be as efficient as possible.

In my business, this is a little bit easier to do when I avoid Facebook, Piniterest and anything else that distracts me from my goals for the day. I even put a picture of a “security camera” in front of me. This is my gentle reminder I have to practice what I preach when it comes to office hours. In my weight loss journey, the same can be said – excuses or reasons why we don’t have time to take a 10 minute walk, eat the right foods, go to a meeting or as Weight Watchers would say “get active”. Don’t be a computer zombie or a couch potato, move even if it is up and down the stairs or around the block. Get up during commercials and move.

#3 – Combine your work with different areas of your life.

For me as a Thirty One Director, it is an easy to combine areas of my life. I use and carry our bags every where I go.  The best is when I get to combine work with a trip to North Carolina to see my daughter, Belinda. As far as my weight loss journey – it is not just a “diet”! Yes, my goal is to reach my ideal weight but I am also learning how to care for myself by eating right and moving more. Seems basic enough, right?

#4 – Actively manage your time and stop wasting it.

Time management may be easy for some but for me it is a struggle so calendar blocking has become my friend. My monthly calendar is color coded so I can manage time with family, work, my Thirty One business and time for me (sometimes this gets cancelled). Manage your time when it comes to activity or exercise. Add it to your calendar so it becomes a part of your every day life and you aren’t wasting the small amounts of time doing nothing when you could be active. I know, I need to practice this one myself!

#5 – Commit to learning new things.

My professional development is important to me because it is an investment in my business which helps me personally and my team. You can learn new things in a variety of ways like reading a blog, a video, a conference call, a networking meeting or a formal conference/ training. The same is true about my weight loss journey. I continue to learn new tips and ideas from my Weight Watcher meetings.

#6 – Don’t sweat the small stuff.

There are going to be bumps in the road but you can learn from them and then let them go. Sometimes this is easier to do in business then when we are losing weight. If you lost weight but are suffering from a small set-back like some weight gain or a plateau – look back on what worked and what didn’t. Protect your loss. Just because you gained a little doesn’t negate all the positive work that you have done.

#7 – Laugh more.

I have learned to laugh at myself. I LOVE what I do – who wouldn’t love to party every time they go to work, right? The same has been true in my weight loss journey . I have found  finding humor in everyday life makes me a happier person.

This might be lot for a Saturday but the lesson is simple – we tend to look at our lives as separate compartments – business, family, work, spiritual, etc. – very seldom merging together. When they do, it is often in a negative way – why not take the positive lessons we have learned and apply them to every part of our life as we take this journey through life.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!