Are you struggling to stay on track with the Overcoming MS program? If so, you are not alone! Most of us, at some time or another, won’t manage to follow all the recommendations as fully as we’d like. We are human after all. But it is worth remembering that any effort that you make will be rewarded with good outcomes.
Below are suggestions to get you back on track and links to further information that can support you in your goals.
One: Break it down
The old joke: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, applies perfectly here. The Overcoming MS life-style requires a total life commitment with changes in diet, exercise and meditation practice that are new to most. So rather than taking on the challenge whole, break it down into manageable parts. If you are taking medication, for example, add your vitamin D supplement and flaxseed to that daily routine.
Try if you can to make everything as regular as possible - even if you only manage five minutes a day. When I began, five minutes’ meditation seemed a chore; almost six years on, forty minutes doesn’t feel like enough.
For those new to Overcoming MS, you might like to read Susanna’s story of how she adapted her life-style in: Adjusting to Overcoming MS, bit by bit
Two: Keep it simple
When I commenced on the Overcoming MS diet, I ate a lot of raw fruit, vegetables and dates! Delicious, but not very filling. Then I started branching out to salads, soups and pasta dishes. To my surprise (and delight) I realised that simple, wholesome meals could be made easily and quickly.
Take a little time to plan your weekly shop and the meals you hope to prepare. Always make extra to eat the next day or freeze. That way, when energy levels are low, you won’t be tempted by unhealthy, convenience foods.
The website offers numerous recipes and ideas to make the transition to the Overcoming MS diet easier. Here’s one: Tips for cooking at home
Three: Make friends
All endeavours are easier with friends. Though we cannot be certain that we will get all the support we need from our own social circle, we can be sure of getting it from an Overcoming MS one. Joining a circle (see Overcoming MS Circles ) helps in so many ways. We can ask for advice, swap tips and recipes, moan about our symptoms and know that everyone there understands. And if we find ourselves wavering, they will help get us back on track.
Four: Make time for meditation
This is the one that many of us struggle with. How do we find time to meditate in our already hectic lives? Ironically, it is because our lives are busy that meditation is vital. We all know there is a link between relapse and stress and meditation can break that connection. Starting with just five-ten minutes a day will get you into the habit. Overcoming MS offers great ideas on how to make your practice a regular event in her blog: Fitting meditation into a busy life
Five: Keep moving
Whatever stage our MS has reached, our well-being will only be improved with exercise. Dr Gretchen Hawley writes encouragingly on how we can adapt exercises to meet our needs in Four ways to modify any exercise our abilities will be as individual as we are and it is important not to compare ourselves with our other, more mobile peers. I love yoga; you may love to swim. Whatever you can do and enjoy, do it – and often.
Six: Be kind to yourself
This is perhaps the most important. In following the Overcoming MS life-style, we are giving ourselves the greatest gift of all: hope for the future. We will not always follow the program perfectly. Sometimes we will veer off track, lose momentum or even give up for a spell. But the program and the Overcoming MS community is always there for us, willing us to start again. After all, every step we take improves our lives a little more. And there is no better way of being kind to ourselves than that.