MS, Body Image, Exercise and Warm Weather Clothing: Question of the Week

Cathy Health Guide
  •  It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”  ~Edmund Hillary

    Spring is here and, depending on where you live, the flowers are blooming.  It feels to me as if the earth is re-awakening.  Our winter weather was warmer and less snowy than usual; in northern New Jersey we had a blizzard on Halloween – quite unusual, but the rest of the winter was tolerable.  Although it was not a difficult winter to endure, I am always happy to witness spring and all its splendor; my forsythia blooming, my weeping cherry trees showing off their majestic beauty and my peonies breaking ground.  

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    With spring comes warmer weather, when we shed our heavy coats and sweaters only to scurry about looking for some “in-between” clothing.  You know, when you have to find layers of clothing to keep you warm in the cooler mornings but not too warm when the afternoons heat up.  It’s about this time when I begin to think about summer weather – short sleeve blouses, bathing suits, shorts –  thus revealing more of your anatomy.


    I’ve always had struggles with weight, so thinking about warm weather clothing gives me stress.  I have a horrible body image (a good subject for another post) and dread wearing summer clothing.  I now add into that equation the fact that I have MS.  Before my diagnosis I always loved to swim.  Today when I swim I feel so buoyant and lovely in the water.  It allows me the gift of feeling, even for a short while, as if I’m not disabled.  But I HATE, yes HATE, wearing a bathing suit.  There’s nowhere to hide – let it all literally hang out.  I am in awe of people – and I know a few – who could care less what others think about how they look in a swimsuit or shorts or a sleeveless blouse.  You only live once so you may as well do what makes you feel good, and to hell with what others say. I wish.


    Now I have MS.  I can’t feel my feet or right leg.  I fatigue after walking down my street.  If I exercise too much my entire body goes limp and my legs give out.  I purchased Jane Fonda’s newest workout on DVD – long ago I used to do her original workout every day.  I figured now that she’s older I could certainly keep up with her.  Wrong!  I do bits and pieces of the workouts, a little at a time.  At least I am moving.  I am going to weekly gentle yoga classes; it helps my muscles stretch and improves my balance.  I take walks or use my treadmill every day, at least 10 minutes at a time.  I use light free weights doing a few repetitions after stretching.  I listen to music while walking and watch videos while on the treadmill.  I once heard a saying, “If you rest, you rust” and that keeps me going. 


    I know I won’t be toned and thin by the summer.  It’s a fact I always live with.  Having MS doesn’t allow me to bike a mile or run a lap or even do a full daily workout.  But I am trying to come to terms with who I am and what my MS has “left” me.  I try making a commitment to myself everyday to get some form of exercise within my own means.  I want to live a long and happy life, one of quality.  I keep my eye on that prize and don’t dwell on what I can’t do, but rather what I can.


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    So my Question of the Week is:  Do you get exercise, and do you share my feelings about weight, body image and warmer weather?  I’d love to hear from your story.  It astonishes me how a conversation among friends is so useful and rewarding.  So let’s talk, my friends.

Published On: April 10, 2012