Health & Wellness

Tips for Total Health

By Megan Weigel
It’s important to maximize plant-based colorful whole foods and water; minimize processed foods, sugar, refined grains and sugar-sweetened beverages. Shop according to the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen ( when choosing organic produce to save money; buy in bulk and freeze produce when it is on sale to save money.

Maximize your potential by choosing the best time of day to move and types of movement you enjoy! Use cooling equipment and drink cool fluids while exercising. Try your best to move your body daily, choosing shorter duration and less intensity if you need to on some days. Avoid exercising when you are overtired or dehydrated.

You can maximize the environment’s influence by decorating with colors that are pleasing to the eye, diffusing essential oils to help with anxiety (like lavender, bergamot) or pain (peppermint), and playing pleasing music. Begin to choose natural and clean beauty products. Get a daily dose of sunshine. Eliminate harm from the environment by minimizing the use of single use plastics, containers with BPA and phthalates, and exposure to harsh chemicals. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s website,, to grade the health of the products you use on your body and in your home.

Maximize your sleep hygiene routine by reserving the bedroom for sleep and sex. Start a calming bedtime routine that includes a gratitude journal, a meditation exercise, or prayer. Afraid to meditate because you don’t know where to start? Many of the free smart phone and tablet apps have short meditations made for sleep. Minimize your screen time at least an hour before bed, avoid eating dinner or snacking late, and watch your caffeine and alcohol intake. While many people use alcohol because they think it helps them sleep, it actually impairs your sleep efficiency. Try chamomile tea instead!

Stress Management:
Reducing stress can help you meet small goals in other categories. Include time for mindfulness, meditation, and/or prayer each day. Make time for important relationships, but also learn to say no so you have time for yourself. Maximize your “spoons!” If you are not familiar with the Spoon Theory, it is a great way to explain your energy level and reserves to people unfamiliar with MS. Basically, you start the day with a certain number of spoons. Activities use up spoons; housework may use up four, while running errands may use 10. If you only have 15 spoons each day, and you want to go see a movie with your partner at night that uses four spoons, then you shouldn’t do housework and run errands in the same day! It’s a great visual and helps to put things in perspective while you meet daily goals and conserve energy. Prioritize your needs this way in order to minimize your fear of missing out. Finally, avoid toxic relationships and runaway thoughts that don’t create a positive attitude.

Setting Goals Can Improve Well-being
There is so much information available to us these days that makes it hard to decide where to start when it comes to improving your health. Should you focus on nutrition? Exercise? Stress reduction? What if it isn’t possible to commit to all of these changes every day because of the way your symptoms fluctuate? Does that mean you are a failure? Absolutely not! Let’s look at an easy and manageable way to set some goals that will improve your health and your sense of well-being.

If you aren’t sure where to begin, choose a category in which you know you can succeed in maximizing positives and minimizing negatives. Examples would be starting with exercise because you love to dance; or starting with nutrition because your primary care physician has noticed your blood sugar is getting higher and it is a necessity that motivates you. This will allow you to realize success that will keep you going. Then, move on to the next category. You are prioritizing! If goal-setting is a challenge for you, consider making an appointment with a counselor or a life coach to help you. Your MS provider may be able to give you a good referral. With time, small changes in these areas of health and wellness can mean big differences. The differences may be positive changes in your MS symptoms, your overall sense of well-being, or even an improvement in other problematic medical conditions. Take charge and make a change today!