Lisa Walsh, 45, is store director at Specsavers Liffey Valley and director of three more businesses.

Diagnosed with MS

Having grown up in Aberdeen, Lisa now sees herself very much as a Dubliner and she lives in Rathmines with her husband Gerry and daughter, Ella, 13. Twelve years ago, Lisa was diagnosed with MS and her mindfulness of her condition informs her approach to diet, fitness and how she manages her time.

Liffey Valley

There’s not really a typical working day for me — it depends on which business needs me at a given time. The majority of my work time is spent in Liffey Valley.

MS symptoms

Before I go in, though, I’m at the gym three days a week on Baggot Street. I’m not a gym person I don’t ‘enjoy’ exercise and would be intimidated going in to a gym on my own but I now go to a personal trainer, Rob, at New You and I swear by it. I really see the difference from it in my MS symptoms, in my energy levels. It wasn’t about losing weight and I would have been anxious about bulking up because I do love my Victoria Beckham dresses but that’s not how it works at all!

Management team

With the MS, I looked like I’d had a bottle of wine when I tried to do them. Now, with practice, that has improved massively. When I get in to work, there would be meetings with my management team; or I could be on the shop floor dealing with patients directly, which I love to do. It gives a great understanding of the business.

New business

Being a new business — we’re just open in Liffey Valley 12 months — mindfulness of her condition informs her approach to diet, fitness and how we’re still trying to find the patterns of the business.

Business opportunities

On another day, I could be in the office looking at PR, events or business opportunities. Food-wise, things are a bit more predictable since I’m on this five days/two days plan that Rob has set for me and that really works for me.

Family

I try to be home at about 6.30pm or 7pm to spend the evening with my family. My daughter is fairly active with hockey, she won her league in the Leinster championship! We like to eat out a lot at the weekend, and I enjoy a glass of wine. There are so many amazing restaurants on our doorstep in Dublin, I love it. Our favourite would be Dylan McGrath’s. Ella’s very adventurous with food — she’ll order the likes of rare steak or sushi!

Mental health

For relaxation; for my mental health, I just love to walk. Slowly. It’s not a power walk! I just walk around the city at night and have a look. I do a bit of yoga from time to time. But really, spending time with my family is the main thing, just hearing all about their days is lots of fun. I love to shop — it’s my drug of choice and I do it when I’m happy and when I’m miserable! I’m really into clothes and fashion. There’s great social life in the city, and we try to get out on a Saturday, whether it’s with Ella or just ourselves.

Progress

I don’t tend to work weekends because of the MS. When I was diagnosed, Ella was little and I didn’t know how the MS was going to progress and I made the decision that if I worked at weekends I may have missed time with her. I can’t say that I never work weekends, but my general rule is Monday to Friday.

Healthy diet

It’s true to say that MS hits everybody differently. It has had an effect on my life, but I try to let it have as small an impact as is possible. I do that by trying to educate myself about the illness, by following a healthy diet and by listening to my body.

Mindful

I know the signs. I know when I’m about to have a relapse. It’s been years of learning. I’m very mindful of myself and if I didn’t have MS I don’t know if I would be that way. So in some ways, there’s a positive. I know what I did to my body prior to being diagnosed and I know what I do to it now.

Lucky

We push ourselves these days far too hard and stress has a lot to answer for. Maybe, by being diagnosed when I was, it meant I was able to be more mindful of my body — I could have got to 40 working 65 hour weeks before I’d taken stock and paid attention to my body. So in many ways, I feel I’ve been lucky.

As told to Thérèse McKenna at the Irish Daily Mail

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