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Overcoming a setback to get on track with MS

By Matt Cavallo

Last year I started the year on a medically supervised diet. While it was difficult to stick to the diet, I had a goal and was able to lose 45 pounds in the first three months of last year. As the year moved on, I kept the weight off by staying disciplined. Then the summer happened. We went on some trips and with travel came extra food. Cheat days became cheat weeks and little by little I started to see the numbers on the scale start to creep back up.

After the summer, I decided that since I was able to lose weight and stick to a diet, I may be able to stick to a strength training routine. I found a personal trainer and started working out. I suffered a serious MS relapse in 2016 which left me weak on the right side. Strength training was a big struggle initially because I was unable to use my right arm and leg the same way that I could use my left side. My personal trainer started slowly with me and we isolated each side. 

Even though we weren’t pushing it too hard, by just starting to work out again my appetite returned. I found that I was hungry all of the time. I tried to suppress urges to eat, but I would find myself in my pantry sneaking snacks. It was almost like I was on autopilot. I would be sitting at my desk working one minute, and then, without even thinking about it, I would be in the pantry snacking on whatever goodies I could find. While I was starting to feel stronger, I was not burning more calories than I was consuming. I am currently 15 pounds lighter than last year, but that means I put 30 pounds back on from my initial weight loss and my weight gain it isn’t all muscle.

My personal trainer appointments ran out. My fear is that I will fall out of my gym routine and back into my lazy old habits just as I fell back into overeating once my diet ended. I am also worried that my right side limp will return if I stop working out, yet I am coming up with more and more excuses of why I can’t get to the gym. One thing I know to be true, it is hard for me to stay disciplined with eating and working out. I also know, however, that I feel better when I am lighter and in shape. 

I never wanted to be a yo-yo dieter, but I am thinking of all the mistakes I made in the second half of last year. While I have made progress, I am suffering from setbacks I brought on myself. To overcome these setbacks, I need to get back on a diet program. While it may not to be a strict as my medical weight loss, it does need to be strict in terms of calories. I also need to ditch bread, pasta, and all of the comfort foods of my youth. I also have to recommit to the gym even without the aid of a personal trainer. I have found that when I eat badly, my fatigue is much worse than when I eat healthy. I also have more energy, mobility, and feel better overall when I work out. Most of all, I have to convince my inner voice that staying disciplined with diet and exercise is a way to keep my MS in check.