Is Inflammation Making You Sick?

by Carolyn Kaufman

Having a disease like MS can be really overwhelming. Between the large variety of potential symptoms and fear of what’s to come, MS creates a lot of stress and questions. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have many answers.

Or does it?

When I was first diagnosed, I had no idea what I would do. I was 20 years old and already struggling with severe obesity. Losing weight seemed mysterious enough, I didn’t know how to even begin to deal with a complicated illness like MS.

My disease progressed pretty rapidly and I was experiencing relapses that would last 3-9 months every year to two years. My doctors told me this was normal, but my mind told me otherwise.

Five years post diagnosis, I collapsed and lost the ability to use my entire right side for about 4 months. I could barely walk, use my dominant hand, or feel sensation on my skin. For the second time, I was forced on disability before my 25th birthday. I felt completely lost.

During those four months where I could barely do anything, I decided to immerse myself in holistic study. I believe that Western medicine has a lot to offer, but it wasn’t helping me, and I couldn’t wait for anyone else to fix me anymore.

I discovered that MS (and all autoimmune diseases along with many other health conditions in general) is a result of too much inflammation. Inflammation manifests through symptoms and occurs in the body because of poor nutrition, lack of movement, chemicals, and stress.

It dawned on me that if I could reduce the triggers for inflammation, I could also probably reduce my symptoms. It was worth a shot, so I went for it.

I researched anti inflammatory foods and herbs, supplements, all natural and organic skincare products, and different ways to manage stress. Once I understood what I needed to do, I made an action plan to get started.

I began with diet and herbs and replaced my main beauty products immediately. Toothpaste, soap, lotion, shampoo, and conditioner. I didn’t need much more since I was barely leaving the house.

Within a week, I could feel my energy growing.

Within a few weeks, I could get myself to the gym.

Exercise started slow and small, getting on the stationary bike for just 15 minutes at a time. I knew that any improvement was good improvement and I focused on giving myself credit whenever possible.

Meditation, connecting with nature, gratitude, mindfulness and journaling became games that I could play to strengthen my brain. It became easier to react to stress when it occured and over a few months, I could tell how much stronger my body, mind, and soul were.

It has now been over 4 years since I collapsed and I’ve worked tirelessly to reduce or eliminate as much inflammation as possible. Through the process, I’ve been able to eradicate the daily symptoms of my illness and lose over 145 lbs.

There is an immense gratitude that I feel for that flare up that led me to find my path to healing and I understand how simple it can be.

If you’re just beginning, start slow. Get rid of processed foods that are filled with chemicals and buy organic whenever possible. Be aware of what you’re taking into your body because, if the body doesn’t understand how to process it, it will create inflammation and spark an immune response.

MS is a difficult challenge to overcome, but there is opportunity to find relief.

Believe in that, and you’re on your way.

Carolyn Kaufman is a Health Coach in the Boston area and uses her personal story of losing over 145 lbs with Multiple Sclerosis to show people how to heal by shifting your mindset. For any questions or to sign up for her newsletter, contact her at www.WithoutTheWeight.com

An Attitude Of Gratitude

by Carolyn Kaufman

An important part of dealing with MS is stress management. We don’t always think about that because we get so caught up in the specifics of diet. We don’t realize there are other tools to healing.

We all know that meditation is helpful, but it’s also kind of advanced and not everyone knows how to do it. That’s totally cool, no one is asking you to jump into a 30 minute routine every day.

In fact, I’m not going to tell you to meditate at all. One of the most effective tools for managing stress and developing a positive attitude is through gratitude.

Especially when you’re battling a beast like MS, it’s tough to maintain gratitude, but it’s the simplest exercise with POWERFUL results!

Every night (or morning, whatever works best for you), give yourself a couple of minutes to write down 2 – 3 things you feel grateful for and a couple sentences on why you feel that way. This could be anything from having a symptom free day to having a roof over your head. There is SO MUCH to be grateful for!

So let’s do the first one together and inspire each other to get grateful!

Today, I am grateful that I feel well enough to go to yoga tonight. I feel grateful for working internet so I can write you these emails. And of course, I’m extremely grateful to have found the Overcoming MS plan!

What do you feel grateful for today?

Stress Management

I thought today was the perfect opportunity to jump on the stress topic.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always struggled with stress management. I remember sitting in my neurologist’s office a few years after diagnosis, struggling to manage the heaviness of MS. He was a pioneer in the MS field, he even worked with Dr. Swank directly, and by the time he was my doctor, he’d been treating MS patients for about 45 years. 

We sat and talked about stress and he finally turned to me and said, “Carolyn, you’re a type A personality, which isn’t surprising… most people with MS are.” 

It was probably a random thought to him, but it stuck in my brain for years, even after he passed away. Why would so many people with MS have a similar personality type? What’s the connection? 

I started studying stress management and put the tools to practice… and soon after, everything became easier. Every action we take comes from a thought first, but if our thoughts are overwhelming and scary, and negative, it’s tough to take positive and clear action!

The way you think is the answer to healing the body, which is why the OMS group spent so much time talking about it at the symposium we all attended. 

Could it be that Stress Management (SM) is truly the reverse of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Considering that I’m completely symptom free for multiple months now, I have to say, I sure believe so. 

There are multiple ways to manage stress…. 

  • Deep belly breathing (make sure your belly expands)
  • Keep a journal of things you’re grateful for 
  • Stretch/practice yoga
  • Take a walk in nature
  • Spend 5 minutes a day focusing on the present moment
  • Turn off the TV/Enjoy silence
  • Eat an unprocessed anti inflammatory diet (physical stress counts too!) 
Burnout is REAL. Even though it seems awkward to slow down, it’s the most important thing you can do to align your thoughts with your actions and start healing your body. 
Do you have a stress management practice? What do you do? 
With love & light,
Carolyn Kaufman

Inspirational Writer, Speaker, and Health Coach.

How To Manage Stress

by Carolyn Kaufman

We’ve all been there. You’re feeling alright, something stressful happens and before you know it, you’re having an MS attack.

It’s a commonality among MS patients (and realistically, patients of most chronic illnesses), which is why it’s so important to look at.

Stress is major contributing factor to illness and obesity. Both eastern and western practitioners agree (which is rare all in itself!) that stress can affect our health, but no one talks about how to manage it!

I wrote a blog post on it recently (click here to read), but I wanted to give you the short version.

You see, it comes down to breathing, but not JUST breathing.

Becoming cognizant of the breath and making sure you’re getting full deep inhales (let your chest, ribs, and belly expand) and then full deep exhales (let your belly, ribs, and then chest contract).

That type of “deep belly breathing” chemically takes you out of your sympathetic nervous system (your fight or flight) and transfers your into a state of homeostasis, your parasympathetic nervous system.

This transfer allows you to burn fat instead of sugar, reduce inflammation, think clearly, and digest food properly.

This method is 100% free, you don’t have to carry anything to do it, and starting your day with even just 1 minute of this type of breathing will carry benefits for you.

Don’t be afraid to start slow and build. This type of breathing will help you stay calm and focused, something we could all use a little help with!

And don’t forget, this is just one small tool in a very large toolbox… What do you do for stress management?

Carolyn Kaufman is a writer, speaker, and health coach. You can find out more about her at www.WithoutTheWeight.com