In this concluding part of our interview with the remarkable David Lyons he tells us about his life changing MS Fitness Challenge project, his book and also what has kept him pushing on through such a debilitating condition.
Q. Encouraging people to overcome MS through fitness and nutrition. Your MS Fitness Challenge (www.msfitnesschallenge.com) is a huge part of this, please tell us about it…
It is the mission of the MS Fitness Challenge to provide certified fitness professionals to people with MS nationwide in an effort to educate and train them in the benefits of exercise and nutrition in winning the battle against Multiple Sclerosis. MSFC pays for these professionals to work with the person signed up for a 12 week “Challenge” program and a membership for that person at a host fitness center through the donations of its supporters.
Our main focus is on individual 12 week Challenges held at host gyms in cities nationwide (soon in other countries) and our own OptimalBody Personal Fitness facility in Murrieta, CA with funds raised going directly towards the cost of providing a personal trainer, gym membership, nutritional supplements, and ongoing support for each participant with MS during the 12 week Fitness Challenge program. Our 12 week challenges provide one-on-one individualized personal training with an experienced trainer certified in working with people with MS.
MSFC has developed the MS Fitness & Wellness Specialist trainer certification for fitness professionals with American Fitness Professionals & Associates (AFPA), an internationally recognized accredited organization that has certified nearly 100,000 fitness professionals since 1994. The MS Fitness & Wellness Specialist Course provides trainers, coaches & health professionals with the necessary guidelines, exercise protocols, lifestyle recommendations and resources to be successful in helping clients with Multiple Sclerosis achieve a healthier lifestyle!
This specialized certification prepares trainers to work with people who have Multiple Sclerosis and who are looking to control their disease through exercise and nutrition. It is promoted as well by AFAA, ACE and NASM, three of the largest fitness organizations in the world. MSFC helps connect these trainers with people with MS nationwide through our association with the Medical Fitness Network (MFN).
Q. You wife is very much involved with this. Her support must be invaluable…
I could never do the things I do, accomplish what I have or train has hard as I do without Kendra’s love, support and encouragement. When I have bad days with the MS or just feel overwhelmed by all on my plate, she is there to remind me that I can do it.
I am not the most patient person to deal with as I want everything yesterday and I can sometimes forget to be empathetic since I push myself so hard. Kendra keeps me grounded! As I stated, the charity was Kendra’s concept to help others. She is the backbone of the cause and makes sure it is run effectively, efficiently and compassionately. Kendra is very involved in speaking with every person that reaches out to MSFC.
Q. Your wonderfully titled book ‘David’s Goliath’ is about your life and battle to take on MS through fitness and bodybuilding challenges and – as the title suggests – your faith plays a big part in this…
It wasn’t a goal of mine to write a book and tell my story but when I was asked to write about my journey for Leafwood Publishers, a faith based publishing company, I knew this was my opportunity to give the glory to the one who deserves it…God. It is my relationship and faith in Christ that has given me the strength to battle an incurable disease like MS and never quit.
I never want people to look at me and see a powerful man who is overcoming odds. I want them to look at me and see Jesus and know that He is my strength and I am just the body He is using. I live my life following scripture and God’s word from the bible. On my arm is tattooed, 2 Timothy 4:17 “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength…”
Q. How does your condition affect your training and what allowances do you have to make?
MS makes training very difficult at times for all the reasons I expressed in my symptoms. I have torn several muscles due to the lack of feeling an injury coming on and my worst tear almost stopped me completely before I made it to the bodybuilding stage when I tore my right pec almost in half during heavy bench pressing. It could not be repaired but I still kept going and train around it today. It will never look like a full chest muscle again.
I also recently broke my foot by dropping a 45 lb plate directly on it as I could not feel the weight in my hand moving it off a machine. Kendra will not let me workout alone any more for safety reasons and I use wrist straps and other means of support to stabilize body parts that no longer coordinate like they did before MS.
Q. Your life is motivation and inspiration enough to those who know about it, but do you have specific message to people facing their own battles?
I might never win a bodybuilding contest with multiple sclerosis but I will win the battle against MS. My journey is not about me winning contests, it’s about motivating others with MS and other challenges to take control of their lives, get fit and beat the odds in every way possible. Not everyone has to compete in a contest to win.
You win by just getting up and fighting.
We all have a choice, no matter what trials we face, to either lay down and lose or challenge the obstacles ahead and win. I choose to win. I encourage you to do the same.
Q. Tell us about your new book
I wrote ‘Everyday Health and Fitness with Multiple Sclerosis’, published by FairWinds Press, to help people with MS or other challenges maintain a healthy lifestyle.
I included anecdotes and instructional photos of real people exercising with limitations and how they followed this plan to reach their fitness goals. The book is endorsed by fitness icon Tony Little, neurologist Jacob Sloane M.D. and others and the foreword written by Daymond John from the hit TV show Shark Tank who is an avid fitness enthusiast.
Q. Everything you are doing in the realms of health and fitness – your training, writing, presenting, public speaking – would probably be more than enough for perhaps two or more people. But not you! You also have other interests and activities particularly your own successful Hollywood production company. You must have mastered the art of time management and work/life balance. How do you do it?
I have to laugh at that comment about mastering time management! Most people with MS take long naps and sleep a lot to combat the relentless fatigue. It’s a smart thing to do so they can not overwork the nervous system. I am lucky if I sleep five hours a night. There are times, at the end of a day, that I still have a list a mile long to get to and it needs to be pushed into the next day or so.
I do make lists and try to check off the things I have completed but there are projects or events that pop up, like answering your questions, that take me down a new path and side track me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I love the activity and it keeps my mind off MS and onto more important things like making a positive impact on people.
And as far as my production company, Bishop Lyons Entertainment (www.bishoplyons.com), I have the greatest business partner you could imagine with Andrew Bishop who takes on the work of 10 people so I can do all I do. I also have great partners in the fitness and MS worlds like Lisa Moore, Mark & Jackie Mueller and others who also work harder than most to help support what I do.
And of course, Kendra who is my wife, nurse, business associate and best friend. It takes a team to build anything worthwhile. I am only one soldier in the Multiple Sclerosis Marines, full of support, with God as the Commandant!