Geoff, how did you come to be the host of Living Well with MS?
I went on an Overcoming MS retreat and I was so blown away by it that I wanted to give something back. I do audio-visual as part of my work, so I was familiar with presenting. I thought, “Okay, I can do this” and I applied to be the podcast host!
What are your biggest takeaways after speaking with so many people on the podcast?
My takeaways are that MS is different for everyone. We all get different symptoms. I have problems with heat, whereas other people have problems with the cold. Also, the things that work to improve symptoms are different for everyone. It could be the type of exercise you do. For example, some people are much better with heavy weights, and some people are better with lots of reps. So, you've got to try lots of different things.
What do you envision for the future of the ‘Living Well with MS’ podcast?
I see the future of the podcast as speaking to experts to get the latest information, which is always changing. Also, continuing to speak to community members who are following the program and hearing their stories; I think that works well. Sharing the Overcoming MS message with people with MS is so important, as there are a lot of people who want to do everything they can to improve their situation. I would also like to see medical professionals pre-empt the discussion, and make the information available to everyone.
What have been some of your favourite interviews?
The first would be George Jelinek - I think he's been on three times now. He's really great to chat with and, obviously, he founded the Overcoming MS program. So he's number one, there's no doubt!
There’s Aaron Boster. He's a neurologist in Ohio in the States. He's a fascinating guy and a specialist in MS. He supports the idea that you can do a lot more than just medication and has a really popular YouTube channel.
Linda Bloom, because she's almost as core as George Jelinek. Linda Bloom was instrumental in sending the Program to the masses by founding the Overcoming MS charity. Overcoming MS wouldn't be what it is without Linda Bloom. She's massively central to the whole thing.
Matthew Embry was an interesting interview, as you could say he has a 'competitor program'. It's a similar approach, but not the same. He's not anti-Overcoming MS and I don't like to see it as a competition between Overcoming MS and Embry's program. He also has his own film 'Living Proof', and I believe that another one is coming at some point.
Helen Rees Leahy and Mark Webb, who are both in wheelchairs. They really opened my eyes that not being fully mobile is not a terrible thing. It's not a failure of the approach you're taking. You can't say, “Oh, well, Overcoming MS doesn't work” because you're in a wheelchair. You can have a great life whilst not being fully mobile.
You have a full-time job and a family alongside hosting the podcast. How do you make it all work?
It works as I have quite a flexible work programme. I work mostly with Americans and I'm in the UK, so I work later in the day.
Also, the podcast guests are from around the world, so I speak to them at all different times. If they're in Australia, then it's going to be very late at night for me. Whereas for a lot of podcasts it's a one-person show, I'm not doing that. I pretty much turn up and ask the questions and work alongside others in the team supporting Overcoming MS.
The kids are far more work for me, my son is going off to university at the weekend, so he'll become less work. But my daughter is incredibly busy, she's got a TV show coming out in about a month or so and she competes at a national level at swimming, so she's very busy!
What has been one of the funniest moments when hosting the podcast?
George Jelinek did the very first podcast, and his dogs were in the room with him. His dogs were going crazy when the postman arrived at the door! We were already recording, which wasn't a problem as we could pause and edit the audio. We then did an interview with his wife, Associate Professor Sandra Neate (who took over his role at the Neuroepidemiology Unit). The dogs sat in her interview as well, so I mentioned we had a problem with the dogs before. She just said, “No, the dogs are fine.” And she was right - they were the best-behaved dogs you've ever seen. They were so obedient with her. It was so funny as they weren't at all with George!
Have there been any changes in your thinking or any other new habits that you've adopted since talking to so many experts?
Through the experts on the podcast, there are a lot of MS-specific exercises that I've heard about and I like to try them out. I’ll do a month's trial, or I'll pay for a subscription for a while because I'm normally enthused by what they say. I am developing my own exercise programme based on having done lots of different subscriptions with people. I make sure that I exercise every day.
I'm pretty sure that I'll continue with fasting. Experts have also emphasised a whole food diet - a plant-based, whole-food diet, plus fish is what we're aiming for. How much processed food you have is a big problem. You can find processed OMS-friendly food, but it should be a whole food diet.
What are you most proud of from the 100 episodes?
To start off with, the podcast was released and we didn't know if anyone was listening. When we started to get some figures from the podcast providers, there were thousands upon thousands of listeners. That was great!
Subsequently, I've met people and spoken to people and they say, “Oh, yeah, I listen to the podcast", "it's been really helpful and helped me with this", "I learned about that" and "thanks so much.”
That is so heart-warming to think I've made a difference just by getting information out there. I'm not an expert, but I'm enabling experts to get the message out there. If that has made a difference to even a couple of people, then it’s all worth it.
Who are the guests you would love to interview for future episodes?
I'd love to interview Michelle Obama, as her father had MS and it would be a really interesting story to share. And she's Michelle Obama, one of the most famous women in the world!
Also, Rangan Chatterjee who's a doctor based in the UK. He has his own podcast, has written a few books, and worked with the BBC. His books are so aligned with the Overcoming MS Program, he advocates a plant-based whole food diet and a healthy lifestyle.
How can people get in touch with you?
You can email the podcast at email@example.com or you can find me on Twitter @GeoffAllix.
We would like to thank Geoff for all the time he has given to the charity and for helping people find the Overcoming MS program.
The 100th episode with Dr. Jonathan White is out now. Listen to it here.