I recently had a polite disagreement with an MS expert. His business is built on helping people with MS and we disagreed that the disease could be altered by changing a patient’s environment.
I argued that diet, community, restoration, and exercise dramatically alters the direction of this disease. I defended my position by sharing my personal experience and his comeback was to remind me that MS is a snowflake disease. While we are all the same thing (diagnosed with MS) not one of us is the exact same.
I would argue that he just won my argument and proved that was true for all chronic diseases. Health is similar to a complex snowflake. There is not one easy answer or pill that will cure a disease. Chronic disease is influenced by the environment and the smallest habit modifications can have a lasting impact. It is almost impossible to compare another person living with the same diagnosis. We need to treat the person, and not the disease.
A snowflake is a result of a journey through the clouds from inception to its final resting place. Similarly, health is not defined by one moment in time whether it is good or bad because it is a long complex journey.
Eight years ago I gave up cereal, dairy, pasta, artificial sweeteners, english muffins, and frozen yogurt. Those daily choices used to define my diet. I researched the importance of stress management and I recommitted to my health. My snowflake changed shape, but I was not cured.
Today, I am still down 40 pounds. I fantasize about cereal and english muffins, but they are not in my daily life. I meditate, I exercise. I practice regular yoga. Sometimes, I struggle with stress, and stay in bed eating my favorite caramels. My snowflake is constantly changing shape and it is unique to my journey.
During the holidays my disease took hold and I was living with an indescribable pain. After months, I wanted to throw in the towel. I was following the rules but weeping with pain at night. I thought it was unfair because I was doing so many things right.
For a brief moment I thought, f**k mediation just give me a bowl of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios with Skim Milk and and a banana. I would get angry thinking of people waking up pain-free downing bowls of cereal. Those non-meditating jerks were living a better life, so, why should I keep following all the rules?
Because, one good choice does not heal, and one bad choice does not make me sick. I am not the person I was 8 years ago or the same person I was last year. I will be a different person tomorrow,
Being kind to myself and patient with my body was important to heal this time. I visualized what throwing in the towel would look like. I wasn’t happier 8 years ago eating cereal every morning for breakfast. Eating frozen yogurt on the couch while I watched The Biggest Loser was comfortable but not fulfilling, so, why was I so angry?
I was angry with the short term results, not the process. Honestly, the process is the best part. I love the person I have become in the past 8 years. I still love that person who ate frozen yogurt on the couch eight years ago. I need to accept and embrace my snowflake. I will never be angry with past choices because it has led me here.
Even when I get frustrated with the journey that will just help shape me and not destroy me. I am stronger because of my pain. I am better because of my successes. I will have weak moments and phenomenal celebrations in my future.