I lived a very different life when I was first diagnosed with MS. I was newly engaged and excited to get married and had just (as in, 2 weeks before my first ‘official’ relapse) started a new job at a marketing firm. Needless to say my first optic neuritis and subsequent diagnosis turned my life upside down quite a bit, but I was determined to find a way to move forward with my life.
When I found the OMS program, I almost immediately applied it to my life and found it relatively easy to do so. Sure, figuring out the diet was a challenge, but I had plenty of time and headspace to figure it all out. And it worked; I went from a pretty grim prognosis (prior to my diagnosis I had three relapses in quick succession) to being relapse-free for years. I worked out daily and I sure looked great in my wedding dress!
However my life changed rapidly since then. I got married and was pregnant soon after, we moved house, I lost my job (turns out combining C-PTSD, MS, a thyroid issue, young children and a job at a high profile marketing firm was a bit too much. Figures.) and we had a second child 2 years after our first. After that, my world kind of imploded; first my mother passed away and a few months later, COVID came along. Suddenly my life was reduced to the four walls of our home and some short walks in our neighborhood. Exercise wasn’t as easy as it used to be and I found myself having to get creative to get some workouts done. In this blog, I want to share some examples of ways I incorporate exercise in my day-to-day life.
Including the kids
In an attempt to get my kids to work out and to have something to do on rainy days, we created a bunch of fun exercises we can do even with our youngest. For example, I put on a tabata timer and we run like hell through our living room before freezing for ten seconds. It’s a nice little workout for all of us and sure helps to get rid of some of their excessive energy on days we’re stuck at home! We also love freeze dancing, ball games and things like hide-and-seek. It may not seem like much, but I sometimes add hundreds of steps on my smart watch who often asks me if I’m working out.
The second thing I do is walking. We walk all over our little town, going from playground to playground. We even got a twin buggy so I could take both my kids on long walks and I picked up walking on my own in the evenings as well, listening to music or a walking meditation along the way!
I now try to walk as much as I can; we walk to the grocery store, to the train station, to the GP. I think I’m the only mom on our block who does this all while walking, but it really helps me to get some exercise while doing mundane tasks. Sure, it takes longer, but I don’t need to work out after and we always have a good time; there are so many playgrounds in our town we always find a place to play.
I average 7500 steps a day now and on days I don’t walk as much, I really miss it.
Time for you
We have an exercise bike and I try to ride it at least 20 minutes four times a week. It’s a nice quiet moment to myself and I get to watch some of my favorite shows. As my husband has been working from home full time since the pandemic he can watch the kids during his lunch break, giving me some me-time and time to work out.
I think the best investment we did, though, was to get a cargo bike. In the Netherlands where I live everyone gets around by bike, but of course our kids were too small to make long trips on their own kiddie bikes. The cargo bike is a pedelec, which means it assists my own cycling, allowing us to take long trips even on days when my energy is low. We now take the bike everywhere; to my father who lives 12km away, to my in-laws, when doing groceries and bringing the kids to school.
I’ve never been a big sports fan but I do know I need (and enjoy!) exercise, so I found all these little ways to incorporate it in my day. I hope now that the pandemic has entered a new phase and my daughter has started primary school, I can pick up swimming once a week again as well, as it is the only sport I really love doing and I do miss it. But even if for whatever reason I can’t, I know there are plenty of ways for me to get a workout in!