CrossFitting with MS

There seems to be a misconception that if you have Multiple Sclerosis (MS), you can’t do CrossFit. Check out basics member, Ilene Snider’s story on CrossFitting with MS.

As far as I can remember, I have always exercised. I think I joined my first gym, Lady Fitness, when I was 22 years old and I have been a member of a gym everywhere I have lived ever since. I have always worked out pretty hard, at least I thought I did, and have tried to eat healthy. Healthy always meant low fat to me so if the label said non/low fat I was in. I have basically lived this way for the past 25 years and although I wasn’t in perfect shape, I thought I was healthy and fit. Then, about 6 months ago, after endless efforts on Aimee’s part to get me to try Crossfit, I came to Fury on a Monday and had the workout of my life. As I was leaving, Aimee casually remarked, “See you Wednesday.” She knew I was totally hooked.

Shortly after, I decided to try the Paleo Challenge and went to Sprouts with Peter and the group to learn about Paleo. I had already been gluten free for about a month – I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1999 and after reading that eliminating gluten could help reduce MS symptoms, I had decided to give it a try. So all I had to do now was eliminate dairy and sugar and I would be on my way. I did the best I could, but the holidays proved to be especially challenging and I just didn’t stick with it.

When the Paleo Breaking Barriers Challenge was announced, I decided I was going to try it again, but this time, I would give it my all. The first 30 days were the hardest, with a few minor infractions, but I hung in there and stuck to it. My challenge partner, Melanie, and I just did our baseline workout again and we improved by 130 points. Fatigue has been my number one MS symptom through the years and since I have changed my diet I can definitely say that I sleep better and have more energy.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy to do CrossFit with MS but you can definitely do it. Some days are harder than others depending on the workouts but isn’t that the case for everyone? The main glaring benefit for me has been the combination of the mental and physical strength that I have learned is inside me and thus given me the confidence to deal with my disease with a heck of a lot more confidence than I had before. I think there is a slight misconception that people with MS can’t do CrossFit but I think people with MS should do CrossFit. MS can cause balance and endurance issues, both of which are addressed everyday in CrossFit (and are two of CrossFit’s ten components of fitness).

Lately, people have been telling me that I look great and want to know what I’m doing differently. I tell them all about Crossfit and Fury, but especially about Paleo. Then, this past Friday, Aimee sent me my before and after pictures and I was stunned! I always thought I was in pretty good shape – I eat pretty well; go to the gym 5 days a week… but the transformation in these pictures is proof positive for me that changing my diet has transformed not only my body for the better, but my life as well.

I have another MRI scheduled in about a month and I am convinced that there will be no progression of the disease. I truly believe that eating Paleo and exercising this way is what will make the difference and keep me out of a wheelchair!