Case Study: How Exercise and Movement Helped Melissa Improve Her Obesity and MS

Melissa is the office manager at a busy doctor’s office. She is short in stature and has been severely obese for years. Her work is sedentary and very stressful, so she doesn’t get much exercise. She’s gone through a number of significant family stressors over the past several years that adversely influenced her health. Melissa has multiple sclerosis (MS) and has been treated for it with various medications.

Constantly Sick Is No Way to Live Life

When I first started working with Melissa, she was frequently sick, often coming in for sinus infections and other maladies. She was generally tired, her body hurt, and she could not lose weight. Though she had always been heavy, she said she was athletic as a child and exercised, and her current physical health was nothing like it should have been, based on her own history.

Despite her chronic disease and other challenges, she continued to work hard and to engage in life in a meaningful way. She had purpose, but she lacked the physical health to engage with her purpose in the way she wanted to. She was committed to working on her health until she got better.

Off The Couch, With Willpower

The last thing you would have predicted for Melissa was that she would take up running as a way of addressing her issues. She was significantly overweight, with poor posture from her sedentary work, and on medications for a serious chronic autoimmune disorder—hardly an obvious candidate for running. But she decided to enroll in a “couch to 5K” program as a way to exercise. She followed the step-by-step process: first walking, then jogging, until at last she completed her 5K. At that point, she felt so good that she began to use Weight Watchers to track her nutrition. She also drew on some of the resources my office gave her to help her choose foods wisely.

Today: No Infections, Improved Energy, A Sense of Purpose

When I saw Melissa recently, I learned that she’s now in a running club and she’s planning for races of longer distances.

  • She’s no longer on her medication for reflux, and we had to stop her blood pressure medication because her blood pressure has decreased so markedly.

  • We haven’t seen her for an infection in months.

  • Her pain is far less than it was, her energy has improved, she’s sleeping better, and her mental clarity is great.

She feels alive. She also feels determined to continue to improve her health, and even potentially to reduce the impact that MS has on her body and her daily life. Melissa has lost fifty pounds through exercise and diet. Her BMI still suggests that she’s still significantly obese—but we’re not really worried about that. We’re focused on the fact that she feels good, she’s healthier, she has good conditioning, and she’s eating healthy foods. She just needs to keep doing what she’s doing.