As Summer Comes to a Close

pool, summer, ms, heat
As summer comes to a close,

so does my mental versus physical battle.  Summer has always been my favorite time of the year, enjoying laying by the pool soaking up the sun.  However, since my MS diagnosis, this leisurely activity has become a crippling activity for me.  Last summer I spent my time relaxing in the sun having no idea that it was actually making me feel worse.

pool, summer, ms, heat
Keeping Cool at the Pool

As I headed into this summer I knew that the heat was going to be troubling but I kept telling myself it would be ok because I wasn’t in the middle of a flare up.  I started my summer off with a trip to San Antonio which proved that this mindset was completely wrong.  I spent most of my trip tired and napping (I’m sure the margaritas didn’t help either)

MS and Heat

According to multiple medical sources, heat is thought to increase MS symptoms because the temperature affects the demyelinated nerves to conduct electrical impulses.  It is not proven to cause any additional damage or attacks.  The symptoms I personally experience increasing is fatigue and muscle weakness.

These two side effects have a major impact on my ability to train at the capacity and level I would like.  Not only have I been extremely tired, every time I train I struggle through due to strength issues. Which leads to me getting frustrated, and takes away all the stress relief exercise provides me.  There is a delicate balance between pushing yourself in a healthy way and pushing too far.  I like to push far, and then I start to feel like I’m going to collapse beneath my own arms and legs.

overheating, summer, ms, heat, exercise
The Product of Overheating

I solicited some feedback from my fellow MS warriors about how the summer heat impacts them as well as their workouts and here is what they had to say.

Marlene

“I now stay out of the heat as much as possible. After having MS for nearly 40 years, I’ve had lots of experience with it. Although they say that the effects of heat are temporary I have had relapses that I believe were related to being overheated, and I learned that heat was bad for me from my first neurologist. I have AC, and if I do get too hot, I drink ice water to cool down fast.”

Carole

“Heat, and more specifically humidity, definitely affects my ability to be active. It makes it harder for me to breathe, I often feel like my chest is being crushed when it gets too hot and humid. If it’s that way for more than a day or two, I start to get really fatigued and struggle to even do the basics of life. I think this is especially bad since with MS our vitamin D tends to be low, but it can get difficult to be outside and get exposure to the sun when it starts getting too hot. So it’s a double whammy 😫”

Carla

“Yes it does but I don’t let it. Pushing thru the pain, fatigue, and lethargy has increased my tolerance. The more I exercise, the more tolerable the symptoms are. For example 18 months ago, I could only do 10 mins of my boot camp before I got drunk & disoriented. Now, I am usually good for 45 mins. I have even started running a bit. The fear of falling is always there though.”

Joseph

“I get so worn out, my whole body feels heavy and I’m always tired”

It is hard for all of us as we all have our own experiences with the disease.  However, the MS community is one of the strongest group of individuals I have met and helped me keep fighting and pushing hard every day.  There is the struggle between what makes you happy and what makes you feel worse. For me, it truly has been a year of figuring out how to navigate life in different ways.  Some things still work, while many things need a revamp.  I will be sad to see the pool closed, but I can’t wait to get back to my normal workout routines and be able to focus clearly again.

sister, pool, summer, heat, ms
Quality Sister Time

 

Bike MS: From City To Shore 2017

Bike MS

Bike MS: From City To Shore 2017

Previously I discussed the prospect of participating in the National MS Society’s fundraising event Bike MS: From City to Shore. While I made the decision not to bike it this year, I will be participating as a volunteer at the event! My goal is to participate next year as a biker, giving myself more ample time to properly train.

I will be participating with Team Grinds My Gears, led by my friend Stuart Kinckner. Stu and I have known each other since college when he started dating his wife Meloni. She will be joining me as a volunteer this year and on the course next year! Stu has a demanding career in hotel management and is a father of two but still, makes time to take care of himself as well.

Stu’s Journey to a Healthier Lifestyle and Bike MS

Bike MS
Stuart making his training a family event

“For a very long time, I never paid much attention to what I put in my body. Then you start to notice things changing as you get older. It was about 8 years ago when I decided to do something about it. I cut out sweets and sodas amongst other things. I started rock climbing and realized how much better I felt. About 2 years ago I met my friend Isaiah, a professional boxer and very much into fitness, that I realized I could accomplish even more physically and push my limits. I started going to the gym weekly and soon my visits became more frequent. Watching what I was eating and keeping up with my fitness, I felt like I went back in time. At the age of 34, I physically feel like I did when I was 18 and feel confident in my body. Growing up I was never really into sports. Now feeling like I can accomplish anything, I decided to search for a challenge. I started riding a bike actively about 4 months ago. Now I needed more of a purpose other than fitness. What better purpose than contributing to finding a cure for this horrible disease, Multiple Sclerosis. I have never pushed myself to such limits as I plan to for this cause. Take a stand with me and help support the cause.”

Bike MS
Stu and Mel living an active life together

What is the money raised used for?

The National  MS Society helps provide support for individuals and families impacted by MS. They provide resources from educational information, to mental support teams, to financial assistance, to research funding. The main goal is to find a cure and end a world with MS. Your donation can help in this research, can provide an individual with MS the medications they need to reduce further damage and cope with the disease, or even provide financial assistance for a better future.

The National MS Society is a non-profit that I strongly support as their website and resources helped me during my own personal diagnosis. Searching the internet can be a scary thing when you are looking for medical information, and multiple sclerosis is scary enough to cope with already. Initially, I was not given any information from the neurologist, because of the vast amount of resources on their site both myself and my mom were able to find reliable information and help us process the information.

Bike MS
College Meg & Mel Before a Healthy Lifestyle

Please join us in fighting for a world free of MS, whether you donate, join our team as a rider or volunteer, or share our story with your friends and family we greatly appreciate all of the support.

Donate or Join our Team Here!

 

Motivation Inspires Strength

Today officially marks one year of starting my MS journey. While I was showing symptoms for a few weeks before it is the day I officially acknowledged I had waited too long already. Acknowledging it was time to get answers because something was seriously wrong.
The following week would the first time the term MS would be used. It would be a couple more months until it was an official diagnosis.
If you had told me at that time my life would be what is has become today I wouldn’t have believed you.
Doing self-injections three times a week. Ensuring I average 8 hours of sleep a night. Trying to avoid the heat like the plague. Taking more than one medication. More doctors visits than I have ever experienced total previously.
The positives that I never imagine to come of this was pushing myself to compete in the COC. It may have eventually happened but not knowing if next time would be an option was great motivation.
The biggest surprise of all has been sharing my experience with the world through blogging.

Beginner Kickboxing Motivation Image
First class of one year celebration of MS Journey

Today I choose to keep living my busy life and keep kicking versus letting it slow me down or be sad. I push myself to new limits but also listen to my body more than ever. I have more motivation than ever to live the healthiest life possible. Ensuring I take care of the only body I have to live in.
The best way to celebrate my one-year marker is to spend my day meal prepping and push myself to do my first triple class in my Tiger Schulmann’s history. Including my first kickboxing double since I started grappling.
Today I choose to be stronger than all of the excuses I can come up with to not push myself through three hours of intense work. I also remind myself I can always be stronger than Multiple Sclerosis, no matter what the circumstances are.
I will fight for my health and to stay in control of my body. Taking care of it the best I know how.
Exercise, Training, and Proper Fuel!

Ending the year as a Champion

On Sunday the main event took place. I successfully completed my first Challenge of the Champions tournament with Tiger Schulmanns. I took second place in Grappling and third place in kickboxing.
The tail end of last week I was extremely stressed about making weight because I had gained weight over the last couple months, most likely from muscle gain. Sunday morning I woke up much earlier than I needed to and felt a weird calm as I got prepared, I had a clear mind and was laser focused. The calm immediately went out the window the minute we pulled into the venue parking lot.
As I was walking into the venue reality sunk in that I was about to fight in my first fighting competition and all my insecurities of not being fully prepared started to fill my mind. I got checked in, immediately weighed in with 3 lbs to spare and started to fuel myself. As everybody asked if I was ready my answer was no. The closer the time was creeping up to 10 am the more anxious I was getting and the more I was starting to pace.
Next thing you know it was time for my event and I was on the mat with Sensei Arce reviewing the rules with us. I was second up so I watched my competition go at it very intensely, as I tried not to outwardly show my nerves. Now it was my turn to get on the mat and compete, while the nerves were still very much present, once I got into position I was able to keep myself very calm and focused. As soon as Sensei Arce said go I was down to business with full determination. That determination was fueled by adrenaline and I immediately swept my opponent and got mount. “WHOA HOO!” Celebrating in my head but still remaining focused on not allowing her to get out. First two minutes is up and I am in the lead, one problem I got so excited I totally forgot we had to switch positions and get right back to it. The rest of the matches were more exhausting because I had depleted so much energy right from the beginning but it all paid off. I left that event feeling proud of myself.
Fast forward a couple hours and now it is time for kickboxing. I thought I’d be a little more calm since I had already completed one event, but sparring is something I have always struggled with both confidence and stamina so I knew this event was going to be much more challenging. Again as I sit all geared up being instructed how the event would go I tried to sit still and not alert anybody with just how terrified I was to get in that ring and fight. However again as soon as it was time to start I managed to focus my energy positively and be fueled by adrenaline. I shocked myself with the different moves I was successful with that I had never pulled off in any classes, even though we worked them regularly. After winning the first fight I find out I have a minimum of two more fights to complete, and my arms are already burning away! I lost the next fight but made a comeback for the final fight.
Competing in this tournament has brought so many emotions throughout the journey. During training I mostly felt frustrated and unprepared, due to training with more advanced students. Even though I knew that about my training it never made it easier mentally because I was constantly losing. On Sunday I experience fear, anxiety, excitement, and pure happiness. All of the hard work and frustrations encountered during training paid off in a big way. I am most proud of the fact that I got out there, facing my fears by pushing myself as far out of my comfort zone as possible. Leaving with two medals felt amazing but the real win was the valuable life lessons I got out of this. It helped bring some of my fighting and tenacious spirit back that years of life struggles had taken away. Served as my reminder that I can be successful at whatever I put my mind to and pushing myself out of my comfort zone can be great. Looking back at my videos, even in the rounds I lost I can see how far I have come in this journey and see how hard I worked and it allows me to still celebrate those “failures”.
Many of you are wondering how do I feel after pushing my body through all of these physical challenges. The truth is my body feels great, I have been stiff and recovering all week, but nothing different from everybody else pushing their body the same way. The more I push the less I notice side effects like tingling and numbness, and I didn’t experience any of those sensations on Sunday. I will continue to push my body in new ways as I continue my journey to getting stronger and pushing myself to be better. The question many have already asked is will I do it again? That is yet to be determined, as I progress in ranking it will become more challenging but I plan to train like that is the plan and will take it one step at a time. One thing I know is this journey isn’t over. I need to focus on is strength training to get stronger to help me be more successful in my training. I am thankful for my Tiger Schulmann’s Princeton family and helping me push through my diagnosis and not letting me give up on my training. Without the support of Sensei, Danielle, Joshu, and my TSMMA brothers and sisters this year could have turned out very different. Thank you for being my inspiration. This was the best possible way to celebrate a year since my diagnosis, which is fast approaching over the next couple of weeks.

Grappling Round 1
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Two Weeks to Go!

Today marks exactly two weeks until the COC, and was the final day of Sunday training. Although I still have some additional grappling time, tomorrow will be my last day of being able to spar in a class, which makes it all feel so real and the nerves are starting to set in.
This week is my last week to push as hard as possible in training both on and off the mat. My goal this week is to train as much as possible, so the following week I can continue training on the mat, but limit the extra workouts and get as much rest to allow my body to be it’s strongest for the tournament.
Today I took a few really good hits to the gut, which made me stumble and slow down. As much as it is easy to want to ignore, it is also very challenging to put into action. I am very stubborn, and usually when it comes to being purely determined I manage to pull off things that seemed impossible. Channeling this side of me is going to be the most important part of June 4th. That means training to make myself uncomfortable and work to push through it.
I am glad I have some extra time to work with grappling, some days I feel great and other days I train with the more advanced students causing me to feel like I completely suck.
In beginner I now pick things up much quicker than I previously did and that helps me realize that I have grown. Especially when I am able to demonstrate the moves on Sensei! One of the “perks” of being the small one in class you get to demonstrate the reality of an attacker being larger.
Focusing on these small growth measures helps me stress a little less. I want to know that I have given it my best effort at the end of the day and with any other approaching deadline I keep asking myself have I done enough?