Transformation Tuesday

Throughout most situations in life we become our own worse critic, especially when it comes to our performance or appearance. Often times I find myself focused on my current plateau, especially now that I am still working on regaining my previous strength from a year ago. Yesterday my sister in law posted the picture on the left of me at 25 in honor of National Siblings Day. Seeing the picture reminded me how far I have come since starting my fitness journey! Keep working on being better than you were yesterday, but don’t forget to keep celebrating how far you have come.

Decision to join the Challenge of the Champions (COC)

In 2014, when I first started kickboxing my only goal was to get in shape in a way that didn’t bore me. My chaotic work schedule kept me from being very consistent and I only trained a couple times a week if even that often. At the end of 2015, I finally made the jump to join the intermediate class. However initially I only did the classes that were either bag classes or pads, it took me another couple months to overcome the intimidation of a full gear class. It wasn’t until I started working across the street as well as joined the 90 Day Challenge in 2016, that I finally made a dedicated commitment to my training. Even then it was just about becoming stronger and getting in the best shape of my life.
In May, I finally made the decision to really put myself out of my comfort zone and started grappling two years after joining. After only about a month and a half of grappling is when I would be benched from training. It wasn’t until January 2017, when the next 90 day challenge started that I returned to grappling due to still overcoming my MS flare up and being too nervous. I also fully returned to all kickboxing classes and consistent training. My number one goal for the challenge, feel normal and get my push up game back! Still learning how to deal with pushing myself, understanding what my body is telling me, and trying to make sure I get ample rest, I got the email inviting me to the tournament.

So many things went through my head from “No way!”, to “I’m not skilled enough to do this”, to “My body can’t take all of that training”. After conversations with my Sensei, school manager Danielle, and fellow TSMMA students I decided to commit. Why? Because fear was the only reason I could come up with to not do it. This is my commitment to myself to fight this disease with a positive attitude for the rest of my life. It is also my way to celebrate overcoming the most challenging year of life to date instead of letting MS hold me back. You never know the next time you will have an opportunity to do anything in life, so don’t wait do it today!

My Journey to Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis

In June of 2016 I was feeling on top of the world with my physical conditioning between participating in the 22 Pushups Challenge and averaging about 6 hours a week of training between kickboxing and grappling, when one odd sensation in my hands started to cause me some concern. After about two weeks of feeling a pins and needles feeling in my hands I started noticing numbness in other areas of my body including my pelvic region and feet. Typical Megan style I pushed it to the back burner because I had to make cupcakes for a friend’s wedding and couldn’t let her down. The numbness quickly spread to my entire lower half of my body now including a tingling sensation as well. I ignored and continued about my 4th of July weekend promising myself and others around me I would go to the doctor on my next day off.

On July 5th I got dressed for work for the first time since the tingling had joined the equation and finally realized just how severe of a situation I had been ignoring for a couple days. I called the doctor’s office which offered me an appointment within hours, again typical Megan I couldn’t because I was at work. However I got it together and made a later appointment that day. My primary care office just looked at me confused with no suggestions to even offer up, just ran a ton of blood work and told me to call their preferred neurologist they should be able to get me in that week and sent me to get a brain MRI.

I contacted the neurologists office which gives me an appointment over a month away. Guess I shouldn’t have waited so long to see somebody! Meanwhile I search for an office closer to get an appointment sooner as I am having trouble walking and the doctor’s office has benched me from working out until I see them. I found a recommendation for a different office and got the appointment set up for just a few weeks out instead.

Blood work comes back perfect and I get told it is anxiety but go ahead and finish getting those tests in the meantime. Brain MRI comes back and this is the first time the term MS is thrown my way. How do I react… drink an entire bottle of wine of course!!

Finally I see the neurologist where I get some more sound answers, however go get some more MRI’s and see me back in two weeks. Just kidding we don’t have anything for 5 weeks. In the meantime don’t worry we will talk about what it all means when you come back and no working out. So I am left to stress for five weeks and do my own research about the disease. I started to fall apart emotionally from the stress of it all, meanwhile I am still working my 50 hour work week schedule.

I realize about 4 weeks into my wait period that I need to resume my physical activity before I fall apart totally. I finally return to kickboxing I feel great mentally and I have made it through the class but realize how much strength I have lost in a short period of time, which makes me discouraged.

I return to the neurologists office to get a confirmed diagnosis and be treated pretty cold by somebody who just told me I have a disease that is going to affect the rest of my life and I need to commit to a life of being on potentially dangerous medications.

Fast forward to October I find a great new doctor and medical facility at the University of Penn. They made everything easy, made me feel at ease, he even looked at the MRI’s with me, and we commit to a treatment. Within 48 hours of visiting them they have me set up with Shared Solutions, my payment taken care of, and my copaxone ready to be delivered. All I had to do was contact my assigned nurse to set up an appointment to learn how to administer the injections. Within two weeks I was on my medication.

I can finally breathe again and hooray the fatigue has finally passed as well! Sure I have a chronic disease but I’m on a treatment so now it’s time to resume my regularly scheduled life.

Hello World!

Hi! My name is Megan, I am a 32-year-old female from New Jersey. I have always had a passion for health striving to be a doctor from a very early age. As a young adult, I chose to pursue a career in the eye care industry as an optical manager. As a teenager, I was extremely thin, with a diet consisting of whole medium pizzas and no exercise.
As I got older this lifestyle no longer kept me lean. With a high obesity rate in my family as well as diabetes I knew I had to make a change.
In May 2014 I began my journey to a healthier lifestyle when I stumbled across a free trial kickboxing class at Tiger Schulmann’s. Finally somewhere that had classes working with my long retail hours.
Shortly after I started cleaning up my diet with an introduction to the Advocare 24 day challenge. This was the first time in my life I paid attention to portion sizes. I also joined the local gym and got a personal trainer and started learning how to truly work out.
This sparked a passion in me that I never realized was there.
By May of 2016, I got myself in my top physical condition with the help of my first TSMMA 90 day challenge. At this point, I have become very comfortable with clean eating and mastered the art of meal prepping for the week.
In June of 2016 while feeling the healthiest I have in my life I received the shock of my life when I experienced what would be my first documented Multiple Sclerosis flare up. Later leading to diagnosis in late August. It slowed my progress for a few months as I had to recover from the flare up and start treatment.
Today I am challenging myself to new physical levels despite my disease. I am currently training to compete in my first kickboxing tournament and working on obtaining my personal trainer certification.
This will be a documentation of my navigation through training at a level needed to compete and overcoming the challenges my body will face during the experience.
I look forward to sharing my journey with you all. Hopefully, I can inspire strength and motivation for others working through their own hardships.
Thank you for following my journey!