Finding Hope in Hopelessness | Peta Murchinson | TEDxSydney
From Feeling Hopeless to Helping Others Live Well With MS
“I keep moving and keep striving to be better.”
By David Lyons
In This Series
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Kevin Smith was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at age 22, while still a college student. His physical condition worsened quickly. He was in constant pain, and he began to lose hope for the future as one MS medication after another failed to have any effect.
When his younger brother, Jeff, suggested working out instead of taking medication, he was game to give it a try, and pretty soon, he was hooked. Not only did he have a new lease on life, but his , including the pain, disappeared.
Today Smith works for Envoy Air, a subsidiary of American Airlines, and he’s engaged to be married in 2019.
He connects with others with MS all over the world through Facebook, offering tips on working out or diet, or just offering support.
According to Smith, “We are truly in this together, and the only way to really conquer this illness is to team up and share ideas and our journey.”
In his spare time, Smith enjoys working on cars and is currently building a 1978 Datsun 280Z V8 and a 1956 Chevy pickup.
Smith and I originally met through the online MS community and bonded over our love of the gym. I later had the pleasure of meeting him in person at a bodybuilding competition we were both invited to attend.
When I first interviewed him, in 2013, Smith was working out intensely and following a healthy diet with few processed foods. Let’s check back in with Smith to see how he’s doing five years later.
Name: Kevin Smith
Hometown: Red Oak, Texas
David Lyons: Why have you continued with a fitness program?
Kevin Smith:I have continued with my program because fitness works for me. I have tried various routines until I found what fits me best.
DL: What has motivated you to keep working out to help battle MS?
KS:I stick to the golden rule: “An object in motion stays in motion, an object at rest stays at rest.” So I keep moving and keep striving to be better.
DL: What are your symptoms currently, and have they improved since 2013?
KS:I have no symptoms other than occasional full-body jerking spasms. It doesn’t happen often, but I get them when I sit down, lie down, and in my sleep. Overall my illness has improved since 2013. I have fewer active lesions and feel a lot better than I did then.
DL: What’s your current exercise routine?
KS:I rotate all muscle groups with different combinations every week. If I do chest and back on Monday, the following Monday I’ll do legs and arms, so it’s a constant change.
DL: What now is the biggest challenge in your workouts?
KS:My energy is low if I wait too late in the day, so now I get up and work out at 6 a.m. every morning before work, so that doesn’t become an issue.
DL: How do you stay motivated to continue your fitness program?
KS:When I saw my last MRI and compared it to my MRI from 2010, I saw that what I was doing is pointing me in the right direction. That in itself motivated me so much!
The neurologist I saw last July agreed that what I’m doing is working. In fact, he was blown away and amazed with my results, so much so that he said he was not going to recommend meds at this time and [I should] continue doing whatever it is that I am doing because it's keeping my MS stable and not active.
RELATED:5 Ways to Have a Better MRI Experience With MS
DL: Have you altered your diet and nutrition regimen in the past five years?
KS:Yes, I’ve tried various diets and paid attention to how my body reacts to certain foods. I’ve cut dairy, beef, chicken, and pork all out of my diet. I only eat fish, veggies, fruits, and nuts now.
It’s been a journey trying to figure out what really works for me. Everyone with MS is so different that what works for one may do the opposite for another.
In the beginning I ate like a bodybuilder and consumed a lot of lean meats. It helped, and my MS wasn’t as bothersome, but I continued studying and kept tweaking what I ate. I ultimately decided to take meats out of my diet except fish, mainly because , and that’s counterproductive in what I’m trying to achieve.
DL: How has continuing working out changed your life and helped with your MS?
KS:Working has not only improved me physically, but also mentally. I am more confident in myself, and I now set goals more often. Before working out I accepted MS as defeat. I didn’t know much about the illness, but what I saw online was bad. Improving my diet and working out has given me a new outlook on the illness and how to live with it.
DL: Have you learned anything new about fitness or nutrition since 2013?
KS:I’m constantly studying and learning which food does what for your body. It’s so amazing what fruits and veggies can actually do for you besides just providing basic nutrition.
DL: What have you learned about yourself in this journey?
KS:I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I ever thought I was, and that MS has made me truly a better person.
DL: Do you have any other advice for those who want to conquer MS through fitness?
KS: Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t be afraid of the hard times — they will pass. Your mind is a powerful thing, so stay positive always!
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