This past February I finished what I hope is my final round of Lemtrada infusions to treat MS (you can read my whole MS journey here). After I finished my treatment I knew it was time to get serious about getting stronger and healthier, so I signed up for my first half marathon! I gave myself 12 weeks to train for it, and on June 4, 2016 I did it! It didn’t go as well as I hoped (my final time was 2:36, and my goal was 2:15), but I did it! The fact that I can run for 21.1km is a miracle, so I tried not to be too disappointment by the time!
I’ve had so many people ask how I’m feeling and if the treatment is working, and to sum it up in one sentence, I hardly feel like I have MS anymore. I feel amazing. Unless I am stressed or overtired, almost all of my symptoms are compleletly gone! The buzzing in my neck and legs is gone, I have very little numbness in my hands, my hearing has completely returned, my eyesight is great, and the biggest thing is that my strength and energy has completely returned. Where I would once struggle to walk up stairs or stand for long periods of time, I can now bound up the stairs two at a time and can go hours without a break to stop and sit. I literally feel like a normal person again, something I wondered if I’d ever feel.
To top it all off, my last MRI and appointment with my neurologist revealed that I have a healthy looking brain! If you know anything about MS, you know that the damage never goes away; It accumulates and gets worse over time. The fact that the damage to my brain has not only halted (which is what they hoped this treatment would do), but healed, is absolutely amazing! My MS in reversing, something we were told was impossible just a year and a half ago. Amazing, right?
At my last appointment my neurologist stressed the importance of taking care of myself, so proper rest, stress management, nutrition, and fitness continue to be a priority. I really notice a huge difference in how I feel when I pay attention to these things.
When it comes to my fitness, after the half marathon I felt stronger and healthier, but all of emphasis had been going to cardio and I had completely neglected strengthening my muscles. Since my treatment I had also gained about 10lbs of fat that wouldn’t go away no matter how much I ran or how much I tightened up my nutrition. It’s likely my body’s response to losing such a huge part of its immune system, but still annoying! So, the Monday after the race I decided it was time to start integrating weight training into my routine!
Now, I know that I can’t be the only one who grew up thinking that if I lifted weights I would look like Arnold Swartzenegger’s twin! I didn’t wanted to be “big”, I just wanted to be “toned”. I convinced myself that cardio and the occasional sit up would be enough keep me strong and lean (Insert eye roll here), but as I’ve learned more about fitness and nutrition, I’ve recognized that most women will never get huge regardless of how much they lift because we just don’t have the same levels of testosterone as the dudes. Praise God. We can lift weights!
So, all that to say I’ve recently started to incorporate weight training into my fitness routine and I’m being more mindful of nutrition as it relates to my fitness goals. Basically, trying to get a little more protein and paying attention to when I eat my carbs. Until now I’ve just been trying to get good food into my body without thinking too much more about it.
My goal is to eat most of my carbs earlier in the day so my body can use them as fuel as the day goes on. My favourite thing to have first thing in the morning, pre-workout, is these super easy overnight chia seed oats. You can quickly whip them up in less than a minute and store them in fridge overnight, or you can toss them together as little as 1/2 hour before you want to eat them. If I forget to make them up the night before I throw them together as soon as I get out of bed. They just need a little time to soak!
This bowl is about 350 calories, perfect for your first pre-workout meal of the day, and has 15g of protein, 38g of carbs, 1 g of sugar, and 18 grams of good healthy fat! If you want a little extra protein you could mix in protein powder, but 15g grams is enough for my pre-workout meal, especially because I follow my workout with a protein shake. But it’s totally up to you!
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1 Tbsp hemp hearts
- 1 Tbsp ground flax seed
- 1 cup mixed berries
- Maple syrup/honey to sweeten (optional)
- Mix together almond milk, oats, chia seeds, hemp hearts, flax seed and refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning, top with mixed berries, sweetener (optional) and additional almond milk if desired.
- If you want to heat up your oats in the microwave before eating, wait to add flax seed until after your oats are heated.
- If you want to top with something other than berries, so for it, but it will change the nutritional info I provided above!