Why I took time out to focus on my health

Hello neglected blog of mine!  Sorry, I’ve not been around for so long, I hope I didn’t worry anyone!  I know I always feel concerned for any chronic illness bloggers I haven’t heard from in a while.

I am doing well though.  I’m in a much better place than I was even a year ago and I have a lot of lifestyle changes to thank for these improvements to my overall health and wellbeing!  I’ll share a few more details about the specifics later in this post because, as ever, if any of the changes I’ve been introducing can help someone else then that would be a fantastic achievement!

why I took time out to focus on my health

For those of you who are part of my Surviving Life Book Club or follow my Instagram account you will know I’ve haven’t hidden myself away completely.  I’ve been doing plenty of things I enjoy, like reading loads of brilliant books and then chatting about them in our book club.  I’ve also loved coming up with loads of fun and creative activities for my son (who is now 4, how did that happen?!) and sharing a few of these on Instagram to inspire others.

why i took time out to focus on my health
A few creative ideas and activities I’ve tried with my son

Healthy living with MS

I had a goal I needed to work towards and I knew it would require commitment.  I wanted to give it my all, just to see what I could achieve.  Unfortunately, this meant I no longer had time to focus on blogging (not with my limited energy reserves anyway)!

You see, I started introducing the recommended lifestyle changes for the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis programme (a whole 18 months ago now) and I’d started to notice some improvements to the levels of inflammation I was experiencing.  I felt I owed it to myself and my future happiness to take a more structured approach to healthy living and form some positive (and hopefully) lifelong habits.

why I took time out to focus on my health
Travelling as much as my MS allows! Various locations, UK and France.

Changes I made for my health

I began to track my day-to-day health and activities, setting myself healthy goals or targets each day. 

I tried to balance regular exercise against what my body was capable of day-by-day. 

Healthy eating became a priority for me.  Specifically, a whole food plant based (WFPB) approach which had to be made sustainable long term.  I started to abandon my comfort zone and try new recipes and flavours (all whilst avoiding ingredients lists and instructions which were too long or complicated for my MS to cope with).

I focused heavily on adjusting my mindset and began to believe that reducing progression and seeing some health improvements was indeed possible if I could find what worked for me.

Stress reduction was a huge thing for me too.  I had to learn to go easy on myself and accept where I was in life.  I tried to introduce more meditation, although I know I could still do much better here!

I became more proactive with supplementation, particularly flaxseed oil and vitamin D.

why I took time out to focus on my health
Healthy eating following the OMS programme. Learning a new way of living.

Finding balance

To some, the changes I’ve introduced may seem a little all-consuming or obsessive but something that has always remained important to me is maintaining a balance between dedication to my health and enjoying living in the present.

Over the last few months, I’ve never felt that my lifestyle changes have taken me away from enjoying time with my family or getting the most out of life.  It has only ever been MS which has done that!  In fact, the changes I’ve introduced have made enjoying life easier and have meant I could be more of the mum I desperately wanted to be to my son.  I feel more hopeful today than I have ever felt since my diagnosis.

Work in progress

As is always the case with MS, nothing is ever simple and I’m not about to pretend that my MS is ‘cured’ or that I don’t still have plenty of battles to face or limitations in life!  Quite often it has felt like two steps forward followed by one step back!  However, any gradual improvement I’ve noticed or reduction in progression is worth the effort I’ve put in to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

It’s worth noting that (until recently) I’ve been continuing with my MS treatment and disease modifying drug Tysabri.   My approach has been to throw everything I reasonably can at MS and hope for the best!

Finding motivation

There was a time (not too long ago) when, due to my health, I thought there was no way I would ever get to be a mum again.  This was a really hard time for me, as I’m sure far too many of you, unfortunately, don’t have to imagine.

I’ve written about my struggle with parenting with MS in the past and although I knew I always tried my best as a mum, I had to face the reality of my limitations and accept that, if I chose to have another child, I would be taking on far more than I could cope with.

If I’m completely honest, the possibility of improving my health to the point where I could even consider having another child, was a huge motivating factor in maintaining the lifestyle changes I introduced.  It kept me dedicated to my diet whenever temptations arose and it got me off my bum and exercising like no personal trainer ever could!

As my health started to stabilise and my head felt clearer, I knew that what I wanted most in life could be made possible, I just had to had to find my own path and rise above the all-too-prevalent judgemental attitudes of others.

Exciting news!

So, my partner and I decided to try for another baby and now here I am, half way through this pregnancy, expecting our second child in May!   I’m off my Tysabri treatment for the duration of my pregnancy but doing well all things considered and we are so happy and excited and grateful.

We made the decision to pay for a Mother’s help once the baby arrives, to support me with the extra rest I will need with a newborn and the bags of energy required once they become a toddler.  This seems like the most sensible solution to my limitations and will ensure my baby (and 4 year old) are getting the very best that they deserve.  I feel very lucky for this to be an option, I think most mums and dads (disabled or able-bodied) would love this sort of help with childcare and it’s making me feel very positive for the future, rather than scared or anxious!

Where I go from here

I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I want out of life and what I want from my blog.  I think, initially, I took my blog very seriously, it was an outlet that I really needed and it was so, so valuable to me at the hardest time of my life.  However, I also treated it a bit like a job (that in reality I wasn’t well enough to do).  I’d worked all my adult life and missed that ambition and sense of purpose working gave me and blogging was a way to fill the void.

Focusing on my health has helped to alter my mindset and I don’t feel like my life lacks purpose any more.  Obviously, I would prefer to be well enough to work but I’ve adapted and learned the skills to find purpose in other things. 

That isn’t to say I’m calling it quits on my blog, not at all!

why I took time out to focus on my health

A new way of blogging

In fact, I’m more inspired than ever to add to my little online space.  I’ll just be approaching it in a different way!  I’m not going to promise to post regularly as I want blogging to be fun and fit easily around my life (especially once my baby arrives as I’m sure I won’t have the energy or the inclination to write much through a sleep-deprived fog).

I want this blog to be more of a fun space that fully reflects who I am, what I’m doing and which hopefully helps others along the way.  I plan to continue to share craft ideas and my experience of family life with MS, however, I also want to recognise other things which are important to me, such as healthy living, reading, creativity and education/learning.

As part of this refocus, I’m going to take a more light-hearted approach with my blogging social media accounts and use them to actually be more social.  I’m such an introvert, this really isn’t in my nature but there’s a great online community I’d love to be more involved with, if I can just get over myself a bit and not be so scared to put myself out there!  So, please say hello over on Twitter or Facebook or wherever as I challenge myself to move out of my comfort zone and share a bit more about myself!

Thank you so much for sticking with me and I appreciate all of your support since I started this blog a whole two years ago. 

Happy New Year and here’s to a positive and fulfilling 2019 for us all!

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9 thoughts on “Why I took time out to focus on my health”

  • Congratulations on your baby! Blogging is a lot of work and I get the need to cut back. I feel like I might be fighting an IBD flare and it’s time to get more intentional about how I spend my time.

  • Wowowowow, where to start… I think you’ve done brilliantly in acknowledging what you need to do, and focusing on your health. “I felt I owed it to myself and my future happiness to take a more structured approach to healthy living” < most definitely Nat, and your post has been incredibly inspiring for others (like myself) who probably need to consider doing the same. Aaaand, huge congrats on your pregnancy and being half way through already, that’s incredible! I am so, so happy for you both. I think the refocus and adjusting your goals and ideas for the blog is a good idea; it needs to be about what’s best for you, what you can manage, and what you want the space to be, because It’s your own slice of the blogosphere after all. Huuuuuge hugs and congratulations and I hope the New Year is a good one for you lovely  ♥
    Caz xxxx

    • Thank you so much Caz, you’re really lovely as always! I feel like this year is going to be one of two very different halves; before baby and after baby!!! I wish you all the very best for the year ahead and I’m always here whenever you need me! xx

  • Aww wow, huge congratulations Natalie. That is such exciting news! I hope you are feeling well throughout your pregnancy. Good for you taking time out to focus on your health and re-evaluate things. I’m pleased you’ve had such positive results. Wishing you all the best with everything xx

    • Thanks Emma. First trimester was tough (mainly due to the morning sickness) but doing much better now. Wishing you all the best for the year ahead too xx

  • So, so glad to hear your update Natalie and so glad OMS is working so well for you. You have a very exciting year ahead and I wish you loads of love and luck. Your plan for the blog sounds ace and I really look forward to reading more. I put a lot of pressure on myself to try and make it a bit of a ‘business’ but what I really need is an outlet, so I am going to write how and when I want and stop trying to be perfect. Happy 2019! xxxx

    • Thank you Jenny! You helped to inspire me to start OMS in the first place so I’m entirely grateful to you! I’m glad you’re focusing on what you really want to on your blog, it’s the only way I can make it work for me. Life is too short for anything else! Happy 2019 🙂 xxx

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