By David Lyons Photo: Robert Michael/Corbis
I am in the process of finishing and publishing my new book, The NaturalBody Road to Fitness: An Easy-to-Follow Guide to Fitness for People with Disabilities. This book will cover every aspect of exercise, nutrition, and mindset in taking charge of MS or any debilitating challenge through fitness and health. I’m writing this book in response to the thousands of people who ask me how they can battle MS in the gym as I am doing. I am here to help you understand the psychology and methodology that is the foundation for fitness with MS or another disability.
Step 1: Consider the Alternative
Before you even begin to think about getting in the gym or even exercising at home, you must be mentally prepared to follow through. If you just sit down and really consider the alternative to not exercising and eating for optimal nutrition you will come to the realization that you have no choice in the matter. The question is, do you want to deteriorate or take a proactive role in fighting this disease? I know the answer is that you want to fight!
Step 2: Choose ‘Something’ Over ‘Nothing’
Take a look at where you are physically in this challenge. Whether you are wheelchair-bound or able to run a marathon with MS, rest assured there is a plan of action to take. You just need guidance on what that plan is. Knowing that you do not need a 30-day fast-track routine or a 60-days-to-a-bikini-body approach should ease your mind.
For those of us with MS or some other chronic health condition, a fitness/nutrition regimen is not about the quick-fix market of books and videos. It’s a lifestyle change that starts with making a decision that you no longer want MS to control your life. That emotional resolution that you will do something instead of nothing makes all the difference in failure or success.
Step 3: Set Your Own Goals
Get the notion out of your head that a sensible fitness regimen is out of your reach. No one is expecting you to push as hard as I do, sustain injuries as I have, and take fitness to an extreme as I’ve done as a competitive bodybuilder with MS. In fact, I’m telling you not to do that. You know what you want to accomplish, and if it’s a goal to walk up one flight of stairs, that’s a great target to shoot for. You are now prepared to set up a plan that works for you, at your level, and that fits your goals.
Step 4: Change Your Mindset About Food and Fitness
Take inventory of your life and find the time, emotionally, to let an exercise and proper nutrition program be part of your everyday routine. Get in your mind that exercise, whether in the gym or with bands in a wheelchair, is as normal to you as brushing your teeth. Then take that mindset into the kitchen and choose to eat multi-grain oatmeal for breakfast instead of sugar-coated processed corn flakes. This is how it all starts. It’s an option you pick in the list of choices that come to your very intelligent brain. As the possibilities of what to eat and whether to exercise presents themselves, be mentally prepared to select the right one.
Step 5: Tell Yourself ‘I Want This’
Keep telling yourself that the amount of time you spent on your fitness life is as important, if not more important, than the 20 other things you have to do today. And when you get into this frame of mind and actually follow and stay on a methodology that works within a comfortable level, you will feel better, look better, and be motivated to stay the course and never quit.
Being fit begins in the mind, and you all have a strong one. I, with a team of experts, will be laying out a plan and a program that works with MS or any other obstacle in your path. It is easy to follow and gives you all the elements to succeed and stay the course. But you have to tell yourself you want this. You want to be in the best physical and emotional position you can be with MS so life is more fulfilling and MS is less challenging.
Yes, this is a simplified version of how to mentally adapt to a healthy lifestyle, written in a short blog. But it’s a start. And following a guide to getting fit with MS is the finish.