This is only the beginning.

It’s cold out.

The sky: gray.

The air: crisp.

The leaves: moribund.

Don’t get me wrong. I love fall just as much as any other basic white girl. In fact, I’m sipping on a spiced latte as I type this. See?

But I get anxious as autumn rolls around–not because of the ten months of winter and snow ahead, and not because of how emotionally attached I got to summer this year after being cooped up while recovering from a bad injury last year. Instead, the leaves turning and the temperatures dropping signal MRI season for me.

As longtime IOAB readers know, my MRI results historically haven’t been so great. Last year, after (another) medication proved to be unsuccessful, I had to make a shift to something a bit more aggressive.

And where do I go from there, if my body is still not responding?

After having a humbling discussion with my doctor’s PA about how fortunate I am that my previous MRI activity hasn’t caught up to me (yet), I began implementing more self-care and self-healing practices, which I hoped would make an impact on this year’s scans.

And maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t.

But somehow, everything aligned just right, and I received my FIRST positive MRI results EVER. No new lesions were present since last year’s scans and some of my old lesions appeared to be smaller.

And so I called upon my Instagram followers to help me decide how to celebrate this amazing news.

Several of you had some pretty great suggestions. And while the food, tattoos, and vacations are things I will definitely get around to, I decided instead to sign up for a six week fitness/nutrition challenge at a local gym.

Here’s why:

1. I’ve always been “skinny-fat,” a term I didn’t realize existed until just recently. Now that I know it’s a “thing,” it’s all I can think about.

2. I want to understand macros.

3. Exercise has been proven to rebuild myelin, a thing I could use more of. 🙃

4. Exercise is good for bone density, another thing I could use more of.

5. I want, but mostly need, to improve my strength, balance, and flexibility.

6. I want to live.

The initial six weeks were tricky.

Sanctioned workout times clashed with my work schedule, I love sleeping, and I’m easily distracted by food.

Did I get discouraged? Yes. Did I feel inadequate? Like I wasn’t sweating enough, grunting enough, not working hard enough? Yes. Did I feel like I was being judged by others because I’m on the slender side? Yes. Were there days I chose to stay in bed? Oh, you bet your ass.

But ultimately, did I stick with it and accomplish something I didn’t think I could? Yes. Do I feel empowered? Yes.

Am I choosing to continue down this path? YES.

I choose me.

Being more consciously consistent with my fitness and nutrition, as well as learning to make myself a priority has made me a better version of myself–physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Five years ago, my body betrayed me. I received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. A year and a half ago, it betrayed me again with a traumatic tibial plateau fracture and the surprise discovery of osteoporosis. To think I was only beginning to learn how to walk again one year ago!

But now? I’ve put on muscle mass. My energy levels are through the roof. I feel strong.

I’m in charge here.


Check out the video of my painfully cringe-y celebration wiggle fest below. And don’t allow my majestic awkwardness to distract you from the caption below it. It’s worth a read. 😉

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Hi there. This is obviously and undeniably awkward, sub-par dancing. You’d never guess I’m a trained, professional belly dancer 🤣, but it’s true! I promise! Please just know a couple important things behind this happy little wiggle fest… • 1. Make no mistake, there was definitely a bottle of sangria involved in the making of this video. 🍷 and 2. I’ve been feeling pretty empowered after recently completing the @bodybydesignbrookfield six week fitness challenge. When a trifecta of #multiplesclerosis, #osteoporosis, and the ongoing recovery of a #tibialplateaufracture stand in the way of staying active, building muscle, and having any energy to do anything, I celebrate any victory. • Have there been drastic changes in these first six weeks of my journey? Some would say no. But in my eyes, I think there have been. My clothes are fitting better, and I’m able to pinch a little bit less around my self-perceived “problem areas.” • But here are the best parts: Despite #MS making it difficult, I’ve gained muscle mass. I’ve also increased my metabolic rate. I feel comfortable in my skin again. And the cherry on the sundae? My energy levels haven’t been this high in many, many years. I feel strong. 💪🏻 • I celebrated by treating myself this past weekend. I relaxed at a Korean spa, visited the @artinstitutechi, and witnessed an overwhelming and inspiring @suhailasalimpour & Bal Anat performance, one of my bucket list items. • And I even allowed myself to let loose a little and have a drink or ten. • …Which brings us to this short video clip. • And so, here I am…in a hotel room, pre-partying before catching an @atribecalledred set and feeling the best I’ve felt in a long, long time. 🍏 I’m healing. This is only the beginning. Tally ho. #ifiwanttolive #applestrong #itsonlyabruise #msblogger #spoonielife #fitness #bestself #gains #swole #healing #wigglewigglewiggle #selfimprovement #tribecalledred #atribecalledred #sisters #selflove #feelingfly

A post shared by Katerina Stappas 🧿 (@itsonlyabruise) on

You can follow along on my fitness journey by viewing my “Six Weeks” Highlight on Instagram!

This is only the beginning. Tally ho.

7 thoughts on “This is only the beginning.

  1. Yay! Congratulations!! That’s such great news and you’ve inspired me to get off my butt and go for a walk, even though it’s the LAST thing my body wants to do right now. I’m impressed that a 6 week fitness course was your choice to celebrate the clean mri, I would have picked something much more self-indulgent. The payoff is obviously worth it, though. Really happy for you!!💕

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carol S Shriver

    Congratulations on your MRI results! Your list sounds daunting, as well as your six-week fitness/nutrition challenge which sounds tough to accomplish. I’m glad you are able to see and feel the results. Your wiggle-fest was funny. But what is skinny fat? I can’t imagine what it is.

    Liked by 1 person

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