‘I think that’s what my message is to people: It could be on your chart, but it doesn’t have to define you.’
“In 2004, I had completely debilitating exhaustion and blaring headaches where I would see spots. I was diagnosed with lesions on my brain. It was overwhelming because I watched an uncle die of progressive MS. I had lost my eyesight with MS six years ago for months. I said, ‘If I ever get my sight back, I am not going to miss a sunrise.’ So, there we are, zero degrees, out there catching it. I think when you go through really challenging times, it either consumes you or it catapults you into appreciating life.
People aren’t taught about self-care and that you can really change your life with what you eat, how you exercise, your mindfulness.
“I have a really great analogy that I’ve always told my kids because we grew up at the beach. When a wave is coming at you, if you just take a breath and dunk under the wave, you go through the calmest part and pop up the other side. Then the next wave comes and you’re not out of breath. So, my philosophy is as those waves of challenges come at you, you have to take a deep breath and dive in it.
“People aren’t taught about self-care and that you can really change your life with what you eat, how you exercise, your mindfulness. If someone told you, you have a lifelong diagnosis, it’s crippling. So, you learn to take it in 24-hour increments. And I think that’s what my message is to people: It could be on your chart, but it doesn’t have to define you.
“I’m a huge gym person. I go six days a week. And then in the morning when I take the dog for a couple of loops around the block, we go to the beach and I do my meditation and morning prayer. If my legs are extra fatigued, I will sit in a chair and do leg lifts with my bands. The days I feel good, I’m like, ‘All right, what can I do?’ It’s important that whatever muscles you do have, strengthen them, because if your legs don’t work and you have to use a walker, you’ve got to have that upper body strength. We can rewire our brains to overcome the deficiencies that MS causes. I feel like I’m a walking testament of that.
“Someone who’s been living with multiple sclerosis and was a professional bodybuilder, he’s like, ‘You ever consider getting your own certification?’ So, I did go back to school and got my certification for personal training. Here I am almost 50 and I’m starting something new — so it’s exciting!”