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How I’m Getting Back on the Wagon

January 25, 2024

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3 Steps to Fail-Proof New Beginnings with Alene Brennan

Do you feel like you missed the boat on New Year’s resolutions? 

Maybe you were too burned out from the holidays or you already fell off the bandwagon. 

Or maybe New Year’s resolutions aren’t your thing, you’re just simply looking for a fresh start to eating better and to manage your diagnosis. 

If so, you’re going to love Season 3 of My MS Podcast. And I recently kicked it off with a personal life update and my 3 fail-proof steps to new beginnings. 

Derailed on Day One

This New Years, I got derailed on day one. Can you relate?

You have a plan and then you trip on your first step. 

That was me New Years weekend as I saw the positive covid test. 

I had great plans for a fresh start in 2024 because 2023 was a really challenging year for me personally. By the time December rolled around my entire nervous system was shot. My body desperately needed a break. 

So, I took a three-week holiday break, something I haven’t done since starting my business 10 years ago. 

At first I kept thinking about all the things that I “could/should” be doing for work and around the house. But I eventually allowed myself to relax. 

I read some great mindset books, I started using my essential oils more, and most of all I spent some really quality time with my daughter. 

There was such an exhale… the long awaited exhale. 

I Needed a New Beginning

I decided that January had to be a new beginning for me. I couldn’t live in burnout mode.

I love to set goals and chase big dreams, that will always be a part of me. I just didn’t want to come at the expense of my health and me enjoying everyday life.

My Intentions for 2024 

It meant setting boundaries around my time and energy. And these boundaries weren’t against other people in my life, they were actually against myself. I needed to stop pushing myself to unhealthy limits. 

I wanted a realistic pace in my day and to accept the fact that not everything needed to be done right away.

This wasn’t about being less ambitious. It was about being ambitious for the things in life that mattered to me – again – not someone else’s definition of success. 

Top 3 Steps to Fail Proof New Beginnings

As I thought about this shift, I realized there were three things that tend to help me most to reset and stay focused. 

STEP 1: Accept & Respect the Fatigue

It can feel like such a catch 22. You want to make a change because you don’t feel well, but you don’t have the energy to start making changes. 

I get it. 

I battle with it too. 

Especially this year when I was faced with covid fatigue on top of normal MS fatigue.

But as disappointing and defeating as fatigue can feel, trying to push through it doesn’t work. 

We can’t “power through” the fatigue.

You and I both know, that’s not how it works. 

The Disappointment of Fatigue

Fatigue can feel disappointing because you start to think about how unfair it is that you got the short end of the stick when it comes to having enough energy to live life. 

It’s disappointing when you have to cancel plans or can’t finish your to-do list.

While it’s important that we recognize that disappointment, in my experience, the sooner I can call it what it is – my body needs rest to heal right now – the faster I stop the story that I try to build around the fatigue and what MS is doing to my life. 

So, can you start to give yourself grace or factor your health and energy into your planning? 

Can you interrupt the story that your mind is telling you that you “should” be crushing your goals instead of resting?

What if you were to take a more realistic approach and honor where you’re currently at and that it might need you to go at a slower pace than you’d like to go? 

For example, during those first few weeks of January when I was sick, I allowed myself to sleep in, and as I said, my morning routine had to take a back seat. 

I allowed myself to rest during the day, when my expectations were to be back at work full steam ahead. 

As much as I wanted that to be my reality, that’s not where my body was at right now. 

I guess the main message here is to have flexibility in the expectations for your plan. 

Set a clear goal and plan for how you’re going to make it happen, but don’t be so hung up on sticking to a rigid plan. 

Give yourself the grace to adapt so you can respect the fatigue. This flexibility will give you the strength then to keep going and not get thrown off by the first set back. 

It doesn’t come as a surprise and catch you off guard. 

STEP TWO: Action Precedes Motivation

Now this next step may feel like it completely contradicts what I just said, but hear me out. 

Just as much as there is a place where you need to honor your body’s need for rest – that’s how your body heals – there’s also a place where you can find yourself lacking motivation to take the first step. 

One thing that I have found to be true is that Action Precedes Motivation. 

In other words, you can’t wait to feel motivated to take action. 

If you’re waiting on motivation, chances are you’ll never achieve your goals. 

It may sound harsh, but it’s the truth. 

You can’t wait on motivation to start taking action. 

It doesn’t happen like that. 

More times than not, you’ll have to take that first step even when you don’t feel like doing it. 

Because it’s not until you start doing something, that your body will start to see the benefits and THAT is when the motivation comes. 

So sometimes you have to choose the side salad at the restaurant when you want the fries. 

Or you have to take the supplements when you don’t feel like taking the time to get them out. 

Or you have to go to bed earlier when you want to watch one more episode on Netflix. 

Action precedes motivation. 

STEP THREE: Start Small, Start Today

Now this third step is what ties it all together. 

Because if I’m telling you to respect the fatigue, but also take action before you’re motivated, where’s the line? How exactly do you start this New Beginning for you?

Make your first step ridiculously easy. 

If you’re trying to reach the infamous nine cups of veggies a day but right now you can’t even get one in? 

Your first step might be to decide which day you’re going to grocery shop this week and add one vegetable on the list. 

Or if you want to get back to your workout routine, but right now you’re struggling to have the energy to get through the day, maybe you walk the mailbox to get your mail this afternoon, and eventually work your way up walking around the block. 

If you want to go far, you have to be willing to start small. 

You can’t be too proud to take action on a small step. 

Because let me tell you the further you push your starting point away, the less likely you are to ever start, let alone achieve your goal. 

Stop pushing off your starting point. 

Your Starting Point

Be willing to start small, but start today. 

I’ve actually come to like this because it makes me feel like I’m doing SOMETHING versus just staying stuck where I’m at. 

Doing 5 minutes of stretching now makes me feel more accomplished than continually telling myself that I’m going to start back with my yoga practice as soon as the fatigue goes away. 

Or I’m going to take this one supplement this week because I know that I can make that happen, versus putting it off until I can remember to take ALL of them. 

Be willing to start small. 

Training Your Brain for Success

And circling back to the mindset aspect of New Beginnings, when you start with these small steps, you’re actually training your brain to start seeing those small steps in all areas of your life. My brain now spots these little opportunities now, and the more often I follow through on them, the more my brain looks for the next opportunity. 

That which you focus on gets bigger. 

Do you want to keep focusing on the setback? Or do you want to focus on taking small steps that will lead to your comeback? 

My MS Podcast

This my friends, is the theme of Season 3 of My MS Podcast

I have lots in store for you. 

And on the note of honor my desire to create better balance this year. I’m shifting the posting schedule of the podcast. I’ll be posting once a week on Wednesday. 

Not only was the 3 times a week a lot for me to manage on my own, but I also was hearing from you that you were having a hard time keeping up with listening to all the episodes. 

Now if you want to connect more between each episode, come join me on Instagram, as I am sharing the behind the scenes of my day-to-day life, and it’s a great place for some daily encouragement. 

Now It’s Your Turn

What’s one way that helps you to get back on track when life tries to derail you?

Please share in the comments below. 

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I'm Alene, your MS Sister.

When I was diagnosed with MS in 2016, I was scared and felt alone. But as a Nutrition Coach, I knew there was more to healing than what I was being told. I took action and within six months the lesions I had on my brain shrunk and went inactive. Now, seven years later there has been no new lesions and no new activity. As a nutritionist specializing in multiple sclerosis, I help women take back control of their future.

That’s my story, but I’m not alone. It's your turn to start Thriving with MS. I’m here to show you the way. 

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