IMG_4294A year ago I wrote about finding my new normal. It’s now been two years since I started the Damn Diet, and all the changes that I have made seem, well, normal.

A year ago I was reflecting on the changes I had experienced in the previous year. I was remembering the devastation of the diagnosis and the dread of starting the Damn Diet. I was remembering the fatigue and how, over time, I slowly gained more energy each day.

A year ago it seemed like a major milestone to have stuck to the Damn Diet for one whole year. A year ago there were many milestones to celebrate: I experienced drastic improvement to my health; I went from some days of sleeping for 12+ hours to getting up at 6:30 a.m. and spending an hour writing; I went from experiencing numbness in my limbs to no symptoms; I gained new understanding and appreciation for the amazing creation that is my body; and, I learned that maybe this new normal wasn’t so bad after all. I am healthier, more energized, and–bonus!–thinner than I’ve been maybe in my entire life.

A year ago I had reached a goal that I had set for myself–a very important goal. Achieving goals is something that comes easily to me. It’s not just that accomplishing the task is easy, but staying on target until it’s accomplished is my natural course of action. It’s how I’m wired. When I am working toward something, I’m focused, determined, disciplined.

A year later, as I celebrate the two-year milestone I wonder if there really is anything to celebrate. I haven’t achieved a goal–there was no goal to achieve this year. This year has been all about maintenance.

A year later I am reflecting on having accomplished the goal of achieving health–last year. Now the goal is to maintain health, which seems much more difficult. Maintenance does not have an end or a target. Maintenance does not have a measurable change. Maintenance requires that I stay the course–indefinitely.

A year later I am living in the land of indefinite. The land I have been trying to avoid for two years. It is the land that I begrudged when the Damn Diet was prescribed: I couldn’t fathom committing to something that had no end. And yet, here I am, a year later committing to something that has no end.

A year later I realize I will be on the Damn Diet for the rest of my life. That means I have to regulate myself. Always. I have to continue to ask for a grocery list of exceptions when I order out at restaurants. I have to continue to ask about the menu when going to a friend’s house for dinner. I have to continue to answer questions about my health choices.

A year later I have slowly started to help others answer questions about their health. I have written an ebook about managing depression with out drugs. I have taught two health workshops at the yoga studio where I practice. I have become an advocate for making healthy choices.

A year later I am making healthy choices every day and realizing that I have to consciously and deliberately and intentionally choose health. I choose when to go to bed and when to get up so that I get enough sleep. I choose what to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I choose to eat vegetables as often as I can. I choose to treat myself with a cup of decaf coffee and coconut cream. I choose to say no to events or invitations and stay home to rest when I’m feeling low energy. I choose to be in business for myself so that I can continue to make choices for my health without the stress of how they will affect my job.

A year later I continue to choose what my normal will be every day.

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7 thoughts on “MS & Choosing Normal: Two Years in Reflection

  1. Janna,

    I just love your story so much. “Maintenance” is the worst. There is no progress and accomplishment. It’s boring! I’m “maintaining” mercury poisoning with my own damn diet…unless my husband brings home ice cream. Then all bets are off. I have to ask, since I don’t know if you’ve blogged about it before, does your husband follow your diet as well? We are newlyweds and my husband wants to convert to gluten-free with me but it’s a difficult switch!

    1. Hi Alyssa! Thanks so much for your comment. To answer your question: yes, my husband does follow my diet–for the most part. When we cook at home, we are eating the same. But he definitely deviates a bit when we eat out at restaurants. I feel very lucky because my husband does the cooking in our house (and I do the cleaning!), so he’s cooking for my diet. It would be very difficult otherwise, if he were trying to cook separately for himself.

  2. Hi Janna!

    You are a beautiful writer! I’m so happy to be walking this parallel journey with you. You have voiced so many feelings that I too experience, thank you for your expression. Although my issues are autoimmune and hormonal imbalances, nevertheless the “damn diet” has proven damn awesome for me! And I’m proud of myself for pushing through the challenges and discomfort of having a weird, and inconvenient diet in the face of social acceptance. That is where I struggle the most. At home, cooking is where I am the most happy, and satisfied with my food. For Thanksgiving I made a “Raw Strawberry Cheesecake” and my husband chose it over the other sugary treats. I agree the “maintenance” part of it will be the most difficult to weather for the long haul (for life). But for now I stand strong in my choices and embrace the idea of finding a restaurant (when it’s time to be social) that will actually serve food for the health of their customer rather than food for stuffing sake. Can’t wait to hear more from you!

    1. ooh, I love this! Especially the “damn awesome” part! I completely agree–the damn diet has been awesome for me, too, but it’s also been damn hard. That is why remembering that each day I get to make the choice for health is so important. Thank you for the comment! xo

  3. Excellent. I’ve come to you through an intro via Jane Gassner on FB. I’ve had MS for 28 years and write/advocate for others. You are doing beautifully, but then, you already knew that! I don’t really need to give you any advice – you are advocating for yourself. How marvelous is that? Quite!

    Nice to “meet” you. I look forward to sharing in your journey.

    Cathy

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