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We all know that trying to keep ourselves feeling as fit and healthy as possible is important at the moment. The great thing about Slimming World’s Body Magic activity programme is that no one has to miss out on the mood-boosting, body-toning, healthy-habit-building benefits of moving more – it’s all about finding the activities you love and that fit in with your life, your confidence and your ability.

After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1988, Slimming World member Kim Hatton thought she’d never be able to enjoy activity until lockdown began and she found herself in need of a fresh way to keep busy at home. To mark MS Awareness Week (19-25 April), we’re sharing how Kim found her fitness fit…

“Raise your arms up above your head and bring them back down…” The fitness instructor’s calm voice guided me through the movement as I sat at home in my wheelchair, following along to the workout video I’d found online. Once it was over, I was flushed and out of breath… and I felt an enormous sense of achievement. I’d just exercised for the first time in more than 30 years and I couldn’t wait to give it another go!

Exercise had never been a part of my life. I have multiple sclerosis (MS), a lifelong condition that affects the brain and spinal cord, causing problems with vision, movement, sensation or balance, or a combination. Although I refused to let my MS stop me from living a full life, keeping myself busy with church services, playing the ukulele and knitting, living in a wheelchair made exercising difficult. I struggled to find wheelchair-accessible gyms in my area and it never occured to me to look online for workouts I could do at home.

Then, in March 2020, the UK got caught up in the Covid-19 pandemic. Because of my MS, I was classed as a vulnerable person and was asked to self-isolate for three months. As I couldn’t leave my home to go food shopping, I had to rely more on what I already had in the freezer and cupboards to make my meals until my carer could do a shop for me and, unable to keep up with my usual busy routine, I struggled to adapt to the big changes that were happening around me.

It wasn’t long before my weight was affected. I’d joined Slimming World in 2017 and lost 1st 4lbs to get to my target weight of 11st 3lbs, but when I was no longer able to go to my Slimming World group due to the lockdown restrictions, I lost focus on maintaining my weight loss. I missed the support and camaraderie I got from the other members in group, so when my Consultant, Lisa, texted me to let me know she was launching a temporary Slimming World Virtual Group, I was excited to get back on track.

It was just like being back in an actual group. We talked about how we’d all been struggling with different challenges, and my fellow slimmers were full of great ideas for how to stay motivated. I listened as Lisa talked about Body Magic and how it was important to keep active at home. It sounded like fun, but I assumed I wouldn’t be able to get involved. Then Lisa told me that there were lots of workouts for wheelchair users online and suggested I give one of those a try. It was like something inside of me clicked. I knew I needed new ways to keep busy and I thought Body Magic might help me refocus on my weight loss. “OK,” I told Lisa. “I’ll do it!”

The next day, I searched online and found a wheelchair workout that I liked the look of and set myself up in the living room to give it a go. Although some of the exercises weren’t suitable for me, I was surprised by how much I could do… and by the end of the first session I felt more energetic and upbeat than I had in weeks. I made sure I took things slowly, having days off if I felt too tired, to reduce my risk of experiencing a relapse of MS symptoms. Still, I felt my energy levels growing and soon I was doing three workouts a week.

Getting more active also spurred me on to focus on my weight loss again. I lowered my target weight to 10st 10lbs and returned to making some of my favourite Food Optimising recipes like chicken biryani, spaghetti bolognese and braised steak and potato pie. Four weeks later, I was taking part in my virtual group when Lisa announced that I’d received my bronze Body Magic award. As I heard my fellow slimmers clapping and cheering through my laptop speakers, I was beaming with pride. I’d done it!

Living through lockdown has given me the confidence to tackle any challenge that comes my way. I’m aiming to get my silver Body Magic award next, and I’m determined that I’ll come out of the current situation feeling fitter and healthier than ever before. I feel unstoppable.

This is such an incredibly inspiring story. It’s wonderful to see Kim loving her new-found passion for moving more. When you join Slimming World, you’ll find loads of inspiring Body Magic ideas in My Slimming World Virtual Groups and our Online Community, as well as unbeatable weight loss support and access to over 1,000 healthy recipes to help you on the road to slimming success. You can also find great online exercises sessions for people with varying levels of disability and mobility at the MS Society and Activity Alliance.

We’d love to know how you’re keeping active – share your at-home Body Magic ideas with us on the blog or on social using #theSlimmingWorldblog.

If you’re planning to start a new exercise programme, we recommend you check with your GP first –especially if you have an existing health condition, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma. If you’re pregnant, check the suitability of the exercise with your midwife.

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