Member of the Month: Jodi Johnson ( aka The EDIBLE MONSTER)
Here is Jodi’s story in here words:
I trust the wisdom of my body.
Funny that was today’s centering thought in my morning meditation. My left eyebrow raises a bit in question of this mantra. I’m not so sure about the wisdom of my body.
I haven’t been sure about it for years now. How can you trust in a body that is broken down from chronic illness?
More specifically, how do I trust my body when it doesn’t show up for me any more in the most basic of ways, like oh I don’t know, walking? I’ll tell you how.
I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in January 2008. I was 31 years old. Riding high in a sales career and literally running in high heels. I was an avid runner, loved hiking and biking and being in the ocean and traveling and everything in between.
I once jumped off a water taxi in Italy as it pulled away from a dock when I realized I was on the wrong boat. It was a slow-motion movie moment with my arms gracefully outstretched holding shopping bags, my long hair blowing behind me and my body fully elongated, landing on the other side in high heeled sandals with a final head turn to see all the onlookers gasping in surprise at my miraculous physical feat.
The first few years after my diagnosis I didn’t change how I lived my life because the diagnosis in my eyes was merely just a thing. Don’t be fooled, because my mobility was declining.
The decline was happening in small distinct moments over time, at first.
I would never admit I was getting worse because in my mind I wasn’t. I was still trying to figure it all out and each mishap was just because I didn’t have it totally under control.
My running career died out. I was dropping things more often. Falling. Losing control of my bladder.
I was losing the ability to carry stuff and walk at the same time because I needed my hands to hold furniture or graze the walls for balance. I took responsibility for none of it.
And when each incident, moment, and mishap was over I blamed it on the MS and went back to life. No big deal. I’ll be fine. I am fine.
What. A. Joke.
I did not feel fine.
I think we all know this in one way or another and it’s why we are all here at the MS Gym.
I am only reliving these memories to show how important moving my body was to me.
MS took away running and high heels from me. Those two things defined who I was. How was I supposed to live as super woman without running or high heels?
Let me fast forward from 2008 to 2019.
11 years it took me to get my head straight and find an exercise program that fit me.
When I describe me I am talking about the girl currently in the scooter who cannot bebop over to a physical therapy office one or more days a week.
A girl who is fortunate to work full time from home, who also juggles two elementary school age children that are pure energy and love to play, a girl who still insists on keeping up her own home in the slow and awkward way that is MS, and more importantly, above all else, a girl who still loves to adventure.
I may not be jumping off a water taxi but I will find ways to do what I want to do. I ride the all the rollercoasters. Did you know that many amusement parks are super ADA friendly?
If that’s your thing and you haven’t been in a while, I highly encourage you to go. They have scooters for rent there and special procedures for disabled riders.
My life is lived on wheels, which I fully embrace because I want to have fun. One of my favorite sayings is, “peace is living life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.”
That quote helped me overcome the way I perceived mobility aids. Mobility aids would unapologetically become my new best friends. In order to have fun and be happy, I had to get comfortable on wheels. For now, anyway.
I want to do life on my own two feet again. I see myself walking, running, the sidelines of the kid’s soccer game one day. I see myself hiking. I see myself dancing using my legs and not just my arms while leaning on the kitchen counter.
I see myself walking into a yoga class, doing the yoga, and walking back to my car. I see myself in the ocean with the strength to stand firm as the waves roll at me one by one. It doesn’t matter to me if you look at me and think, impossible.
It is my dream and I will work with every ounce of my being to get there. I’m here for it. So yes, 11 years after my diagnosis I found an exercise program that is for me, and my lifestyle.
One that I can stay consistent with and do nearly every day and one where I see improvement because the exercises are specifically designed for a person with MS. Exercises that begin with where I am. Where you are.
Coach Trevor & his team get it. Let me shout that out loud!!
For a couple years I searched YouTube for adaptive yoga, wheelchair exercises, etc. I found the videos and tried many.
But in practice they weren’t really designed for wheelchair users nor fully adaptive or progressive beyond one video.
I found the MS Gym through Facebook one Saturday morning. My evolution of joining their awesome community started slowly. I saved the videos week by week and spent a year using them as a supplement with riding my stationary bike.
Then finally, just one year ago for only $1, I tried the 15-day trial of BGB chair boot camp. Every day I showed up and at the end I wanted more. It was confirmation to me that the exercises were working, and so was my body, a tiny miracle. For my birthday last April my husband gifted me the annual subscription. I haven’t stopped logging on, and I haven’t looked back. Finding the MS Gym though was Part 2 of my journey.
So. What about Part 1?
During the ‘I’ll be fine, I am fine’ phase of my life when nothing was actually fine I was desperate to fix the MS.
I was sure I could cure myself. I was a Type A!
I only sought solutions. I dove into books, researched supplements, researched diets, sought the help of massage therapists, chiropractors and healers. I leaned on my medical team but my neurologists weren’t focusing on my healing; they stayed their course on halting the progression and prepping me for a dismal future.
I felt lost. I found myself picking up personal development books at the recommendations of friends and it was like a paparazzi stampede of lightbulbs flashing in my head. A million a-ha moments that I couldn’t absorb fast enough.
My prior headstrong approach to my life and career didn’t fit life with a chronic illness.
Much in the same way I have had to adapt physically to live fully, I also had to adapt mentally. I found so much purpose in personal development. I found myself. My physical self was not healed, but my mind was. In every moment we have the power to choose our attitude and our reactions.
I reframed how I chose to live with MS. This was the critical Part 1 of my journey.
The two most impactful things for me have been building a positive mindset and moving my body, both of which require continual practice.
A healthy mind creates a healthy body. I have a bullet proof morning routine that I rarely sway from. I rise early each morning before anyone else, drink a full glass of water and take high dose biotin and baclofen to chill my spastic muscles. I meditate for 20 – 30 minutes then journal and do my gratitude practice where I write down 3 different things that I am thankful for.
Next up? The MS Gym!
Most mornings Trevor is the first voice I hear. After I exercise the rush of my day begins – breakfast for the kids, off to the school bus, work, chores, making dinner, doing homework, playing, bed time.
Not every morning is perfect and sometimes I lack the energy to stay on my plan or my day is too hectic with appointments and activities. OK. In the spirit of total honesty and transparency, I am really good at over planning. I’m still learning that there is a balance and I give myself the grace to make the best decision for me, and sometimes it may *gulp* be skipping a day or spending a shorter amount of time stretching or choosing a companion guide.
Nothing is impossible. So back to the beginning I asked, how do you trust the wisdom of your body? You get busy moving it with a program and coach who has intimate knowledge about neurological illness. You show up and do the best you can every day. You have faith that your body can heal. You take action. I am not walking yet, but I will again someday. I trust in the wisdom of my body.
I am now 43 years old, married to a wonderful man with two beautiful children ages 7 & 10. I am lucky to continue to work as a mortgage underwriter from home full time. We are in the middle of relocating from Maryland to Chicago.
I have a million hobbies and love to travel. I do more now as a disabled person than I did before my diagnosis and live an adapted life without limits. I’m able to keep up with my busy life because I consciously move my body and follow the MS Gym programs.
I no longer feel the same fatigue in my neck and shoulders at the end of the day. I am standing stronger and my balance is improving. My bladder is stronger. My arms look fantastic. I chant ‘butts, guts, and blades’ to myself to focus my mind on my movement all day long.
I’m building the foundation I have been missing since my diagnosis to get back on my feet. I love the membership community and am inspired and humbled time and time again with the courage, resilience and determination that exist in everyone’s shares and victories.
Trevor’s motivation and mindset trainings are integral to the movement plans. I listen to Trevor, different podcasts, and audio books and yes you guessed it, more inspirational YouTube videos every day to keep lifting myself up.
MS taught me to live big and make the most of each day. As a stubbornly independent Taurus with perfectionist tendencies, I’ve learned to ask for help and I’ve learned how to give more of myself. My word for 2020 is adventure. I cannot wait to see how it unfolds and where I’ll be standing at the end of the year.
**** Jodi documents many parts of her journey. You can follow Jodi’s journey on Instagram at edible_monster, Facebook at The Edible Monster and on her blog www.ediblemonster.com