This post is part of the Epilepsy Blog Relay™ which will run from March 1 through March 31. Follow along and add comments to posts that inspire you!
As a strength and conditioning coach, athlete and avid outdoors woman, there is no doubt that I have a passion for health and wellness. Throughout my life I have been an athlete in many different arenas from collegiate soccer, softball and track to elite CrossFit to recreational skiing and mountain biking. This last fall I took on my greatest physical endeavor to date. In 31 days, I ran 500 miles across the state of Colorado over the Rockies.
The toll this adventure took on me physically, mentally and emotionally is unexplainable. It changed me as an athlete, as a friend, as a professional, as a person…in a positive way. It was the most grueling, exhausting and rewarding thing I have ever done. I think the physical reason are obvious, but the reason that I was changed as a person was because I saw the greater good in human kind. I witnessed people of all walks of life reaching out to help someone they didn’t even know. You see, this run wasn’t for the personal gratification of achieving something slightly insane (that was just a bonus). This run was for something way bigger than myself. It was for all the little kids that are fighting or will fight…For all the adults who have lived their life ashamed of being different…For all the families who have spent countless hours worrying for the loved ones. I ran for epilepsy.
I have epilepsy. When I was 8, I was diagnosed with simple partial gelastic seizures. Despite the struggle that accompanied this, I lived a normal life. My parents and my brother were so supportive and never let me believe that I couldn’t do something. I got good grades. I played every sport. I had friends. I got my license. I went to college. But I had this dark secret that I was so ashamed of. It wasn’t until 2012, that I mustered up the guts to share my story. With the encouragement from my boyfriend, we released a video for the world to see (Jenny LaBaw: Living with Epilepsy). The response was overwhelmingly positive and eventually led me to the point where I am today. I am no longer ashamed and in fact quite the opposite, I am proud. I am an advocate for Athletes Vs Epilepsy and share my story with anyone who will listen. I want people to be educated about epilepsy on all fronts. I want people living with epilepsy to find their strength within and lead the life they want.
As a fitness professional, I want to encourage people living with epilepsy (and their families) to focus on their health. This means sleeping well, keeping stress low, eating healthy and keeping active. I know that taking care of my body has greatly impacted the success I have had over my epilepsy. The fear of exercise for people living with epilepsy can result in over-protection, fear of isolation/exclusion, and restriction from activity. Taking the proper steps and progression into an active lifestyle will benefit their health, their mood, their self-esteem and social integration and possibly even their seizure activity.
What are the proper steps?
- Consult with your doctor.
- Less is more at first
- Start with walking.
- Join a gym and get guidance from a fitness professional
- Over time slowly increase intensity and volume.
- Listen to Your Body
- If it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not.
- Keep a journal
- Log your mood, how you feel before, during and after.
- Safety First
- Respect your doctors orders/recommendations.
- Temperature Regulation: Don’t get too hot.
- Exercise on soft surfaces (woodchips, grass, sand, mats)
- Wear proper head protection if participating in contact or impact sports (biking, skiing, contact sports, etc)
- Buddy System: exercise with friends so that if you do get in trouble they are there to help.
- Wear ID: name, emergency contact, medication, etc
On Imagining Possibilities
I am not saying, stop what you’re doing and go run 500miles. I am saying start today at giving yourself a chance to be the healthiest version of yourself you can. You never know where that will lead.
NEXT UP: Be sure to check out the next post tomorrow at LivingWellWithEpilepsy.com for more on Epilepsy Awareness. For the full schedule of bloggers visit livingwellwithepilepsy.com/epilepsy-blog-relay.
Be sure to check out the Epilepsy Blog Relay Thunderclap to raise epilepsy awareness. And don’t miss your chance to connect with bloggers on the #LivingWellChat on March 31 at 7PM ET.