HealthWorks is Helping Me Fight Multiple Sclerosis
By: Kelly Maxwell
So many people find themselves experiencing changes in their life that can significantly impact their mental and physical health. Whether it be an accident, illness, or experiences in other aspects of our lives, this change can result in feelings of insecurity, negative self-worth or negative self-image: Am I enough? Do I belong? This is bigger than me. I can’t do it. I feel like a burden. I’m alone.
For me, the fulcrum was my diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Overnight, my life was not the same. Balance loss and instability, muscular atrophy, extreme fatigue, and a constant battle against the failure of my body/nervous system abruptly reshaped my reality. The first few years of diagnosis were hardest. I lost a lot of function and began to withdraw into a shame spiral. It didn’t feel like I was ‘me’ anymore, and in many ways the person I was before 2017 is gone. This didn’t have to be a negative. It was time to be honest with myself – life was different. It will continue to be an uphill battle, but this is still my life. I can have goals. Those goals and expectations just need to shift to fit this new and ever-changing reality.
Along with the many medical treatments, one of the things MS neurologists will adamantly reinforce is to “be active and exercise” any amount possible. We have all heard these words, but I am the living, breathing embodiment of how real that advice is for your physical health. Physical activity is vital in combatting the progressive, negative symptoms my disease causes. It’s easy to nod along with health professionals and tell yourself, “Simple enough. I’ve got this”. In reality, self-motivation is one of the most difficult things to accomplish on a consistent basis. Add to that challenge a physical or emotional burden and you can easily become overwhelmed.
Healthworks has helped me to overcome many of those obstacles and fears. Having special needs can be a point of anxiety, but Multiple Sclerosis was on the profile list for member accommodation considerations when beginning your membership. This immediately let me know that HealthWorks was mindful of member diversity and special needs accommodations. Janie discussed what was available and two things stood out – Yoga and Personal Training. Taking the YOGA classes with Amy and Norma and signing up for a personal trainer is arguably the two best decisions I have ever made for myself. They have helped me to drastically improve my physical health in just a few months.
From the moment my first YOGA session started, the atmosphere of compassion, inclusion, acceptance, and the ‘spirit of kindness to oneself’ was palpable. Before and after the session, other attendees introduced themselves and made me feel included. This was a community and there was never a question if you belong there.
Not long after, I was matched with Brittany – my personal trainer. Again, the experience of compassion, acceptance, encouragement, and attentiveness stood out. We discussed my needs, and after a short evaluation of my base line – we were off. What I appreciate most is the way we were able to build a training program that targeted specific personal challenges with MS in a way that brought improvement to my daily life. Training has also greatly improved my feelings of self-worth and confidence. Additionally, I now had a commitment to another person. It was more than self-motivation. I must say that starting with a trainer is a great way to break the ice, build a sense of personal belonging, and it addressed my self-motivational issues right away.
Each week I found that I was surprising myself. I was gaining considerable strength and endurance. This has allowed me to have whole pieces of my life back. I can now balance on one foot, stand for extended periods of time, and walk for longer distances. All of which was unthinkable just one year ago! I now look forward to seeing Amy, Norma, Brittany, my classmates, the HealthWorks team – everyone. This has become my community. It is difficult to express my level of gratitude for what HealthWorks is doing for my life. They proved to me that I am not alone in this journey.
With any holistic approach to well-being, community and physical health are two key pillars. With Healthworks, I have found both. I am truly grateful for the wonderful people that have been with me on the journey to reclaim my life thus far. The whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.