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Trainer Christina Hooper “My Biggest Fear is Multiple Sclerosis.”

Christina Hooper is the owner of Backcountry Fitness & Conditioning, where she runs Boot camp classes, offers online training influences hundreds of clients to live a better lifestyle, and teaches health and wellness programs.

Her love for fitness started at a very young age. Christina through her fitness journey fought innumerable health issues to become a role model for many. She experienced asthma in her junior years, which kept her from running long distances. But after months of training and growing out of having asthma, I eventually grew up to run and complete over 10 half marathons.

After having been diagnosed with Endometriosis she suffered from an iron deficiency and had to receive iron infusion every couple of months.

In November 2022, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Her will to fight towards an even bigger fulfilling life. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation, or balance. It’s a lifelong condition that can sometimes cause serious disability.

She is a wife and a mother to 5 beautiful children & an obligation to her family to stay healthy and fit and to be able to keep up with them as a positive role model. Christina Hooper has over 20 years of experience in weight training, competition, marathons, one on one personal training, boxing, and kickboxing. 

Women Fitness President, Ms. Namita Nayyar catches up with the amazing fitness trainer and role model, Ms. Christina Hooper who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis & continues to guide women to achieve the best in health & fitness.

Ms. Namita Nayyar:

In November 2022, you were diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis but you could experience the symptoms since the August flare. Please throw some light on the series of events that helped you realize that something was wrong.

Ms. Christina Hooper:

As I entered the season of harvesting garden my escape to work in my garden beds became my Oasis. Over the summer, I lived for the moments of my hands in the dirt, tending, and praising the fruits of my labor. 

My passion for gardening came from my dad. Learning how to grow vegetables and plants. He taught me how to appreciate the work that goes into growing, our own food.

September of 2022, came and I began to process the Harvest of the vegetables and fruits for the winter months for our family of 7. I suddenly felt something odd. While canning a batch of fresh pickled green beans, I suddenly felt like I had burnt my fingertips, and of course, brushed it off as part of the kitchen prep. I ran my fingers under cold water for a couple of minutes and continued on.

 A couple of days later, the numbness on all ten of my fingers progressed up into my hands over the course of the month. I began to experience, numbness in my feet and legs and suddenly was hit with the MS girdle.

For three weeks, I experienced extreme tightness and pain, and numbness around my chest and entire abdomen. I knew that motherhood and homeschooling our two, younger children managing my fitness coaching business, and keeping up with our farm animals and gardening; were catching up with me terribly fast.

I continued to push through to the point where everything became much more difficult in the middle of November.  I suffered all weekend from a severe migraine suddenly I woke up with a small blurry spot in my left eye that quickly worsened.  I experienced a loss of vision color blindness and severe blurriness.

That next week through a routine optometrist appointment. Immediately, I was diagnosed with acute optic Neuritis. The surgeon was on the phone with a neurologist at the emergency department within 10 minutes,  and he rushed me to the hospital.

 Through a series of tests, including an MRI and CT. Infuse Scans, and blood tests, found over 40 lesions in my brain and multiple active lesions up and down my spine. The cognitive struggles, bladder issues, random pain, and extreme exhaustion, loss of balance and stability during my workouts and daily life were confirmed. 

My biggest fear is multiple sclerosis.

Ms. Namita Nayyar:

We as women tend to ignore body signals & symptoms that something is wrong. What is your input on the same? How careful one should be when it comes to one’s health?

Ms. Christina Hooper:

As I have trained over the years for 13 – half marathons and multiple 5 and 10-km races, this is what I have learned. 

The discipline that it takes to push through 22 km of terrain, had toughened me to push through the pain both mentally and physically. Taking that same training regime into my everyday life, I believe that we as women will challenge ourselves to push through or dismiss any alarming signals we may encounter. Throughout my experiences, I have learned how important it is to recognize these alarming signals, and symptoms and take more of an active approach toward advocating for our own health and wellness.

Ms. Namita Nayyar:

Being a fitness coach, mother to 5 kids, and owner of Backcountry Fitness & Conditioning, where you run local fitness Bootcamps classes how are you able to cope with your personal and professional life? Tips for women on highly significant fitness to overcome any health challenge?

Ms. Christina Hooper:

Five things I have learned about managing my professional and personal life:

Balance is achieved over time not each day. That there is no perfect work-life balance but strive for a realistic one.

1.) Some days you might focus on work while other days you might have more time and energy to pursue your hobbies or spend time with your loved ones.

2.) Find a job that you love. I recommend finding a job that you are so passionate about you would do it for free.

3.) Prioritize your health your overall physical emotional and mental health should be your main concern. If you struggle with anxiety or depression and think therapy would benefit you fit those sessions into your schedule and make them a priority. If you are battling a chronic illness don’t be afraid to take a sick day on rough days overworking yourself prevents you from getting better and possibly causes more health issues down the road.

4.) Don’t be afraid to unplug. Cutting ties with the outside world from time to time allows us to recover from weekly stress and gives us space for other thoughts and ideas to emerge. Unplugging can mean something as simple as a run or hike in the backcountry. Taking the time to unwind is critical to success and will help you feel more energized when you’re on the clock.

5.) Make time for yourself and for loved ones. While your professional life is important it shouldn’t be your entire life. You were an individual before you begin your career and family life you should prioritize the activities or hobbies that make you happy no matter how hectic your schedule might be you ultimately have control of your time and life.

Ms. Namita Nayyar:

How would you define fitness for women at every age no matter what your physical challenges build up to?

Ms. Christina Hooper:

Fitness is the condition of being physically fit and healthy and involves attributes that include but are not limited to mental acuity, cardiovascular endurance muscular strength endurance body composition, and flexibility. 

As we take on physical challenges at any age I would recommend that women keep fitness as an important part of their lifestyle and modify their levels of fitness accordingly. Making the necessary changes as we age will not only keep us positive but will also set our focus and commitments to the long-term quality of life.

Ms. Namita Nayyar:

According to you ” I have dealt with a lot of health obstacles in my life. I have also been diagnosed with Endometriosis and suffer from an iron deficiency and receive iron infusion every couple of months.” Please elaborate.

Ms. Christina Hooper:

I have dealt with many health obstacles in my life. At an early age, I got the Epstein-Barr virus and then mononucleosis at 21 years of age. A month into having severe symptoms of tonsillitis extreme pain, fatigue, and an immune system that was extremely low; I was rushed to the ER with pancreatitis and spent over a week that changed the course of my life.

Facing many other health challenges I was given no other choice than to drop out of my second year of University. 

In the coming months and years, I made many trips to the hospital with acute gallbladder attacks chronically on pain medications, suddenly rushed to the hospital and surgery for appendicitis, and later on a hernia surgery repair. Recently in the last 10 years in between all of my professional success, I’ve battled with postpartum depression and anxiety. 

A sudden surgery with the diagnosis of endometriosis and a severe iron deficiency, resulted in iron infusions every couple of months for the rest of my life.

The most recent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis has been the most challenging battle yet. 

With the growing list of challenges that I am facing with MS,  

I reflect on this quote by Maya Angelou:

You may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, and how you can still come out of it.”

Ms. Namita Nayyar:

How have you modified your diet & lifestyle routine to overcome these challenges and stay healthy & fit?

Ms. Christina Hooper:

My focus is to educate myself on this illness and find out the triggers of inflammation on the damaged nerves.

Cutting out gluten and dairy products from my daily intake has been the primary focus on getting the inflammation in the lesions down. Also, focus on my gut health and consume plant-based foods along with incorporating fermented and prebiotic items to heal my body. 

As far as my lifestyle routine,  I have been working on achieving small goals as I face the day. Heading out for a walk, working on strength training and functional fitness, resting accordingly, and staying thankful and strong in my faith is crucial in this journey.

And the most important thing?

Mindset is everything.

Ms. Namita Nayyar:

Your daily fitness routine would include? How significant is strength training for women?

Ms. Christina Hooper:

My goal each day is to create a balanced routine. Some days or weeks may look different from others depending on if my symptoms progress. My daily routine usually begins with stretching and prayer. 3 – 4 days per week, my focus is to incorporate 30 – 45 minutes of exercise that can look different each time.

My focus since my diagnosis is not to dwell on what types of workouts I used to design but make modifications to accommodate my level of function as I go. For example, I have been an active runner for my whole life, and for the last couple of months, I have moved to lower-impact aerobic activities such as walking and snowshoeing in the winter months.

Since I am dealing with symptoms of numbness and tingling sensations in my hands, it makes it difficult to hold heavy Dumbbells. So using resistance bands has been a great experience to still incorporate low-bearing resistance training.

I have also changed my aerobic training to low-impact options due to my balance and coordination issues.

My strength training routine is currently focusing on modified exercises, that are low impact and the focus is on endurance, balance, and stability. Strength training is extremely important for women. As we age, our muscles will actually lose density after the age of 35. Sarcopenia, which is defined as age-related muscle loss—can begin at around age 35 and occurs at a rate of 1-2 percent a year for the typical person. After age 60, it can accelerate to 3 percent a year. The loss may be mild, moderate, or severe or muscles can remain in the normal range.

 Weight training not only strengthens muscles but also increases bone density. This reduces the risk of fractures and broken bones. It also builds stronger connective tissues and increases joint stability which, as a result, helps prevent injury.

Ms. Namita Nayyar:

5 Exercises appropriate for women suffering from Multiple sclerosis? Things to avoid and watch out for?

Ms. Christina Hooper:

When it comes to workouts, fighting through the exhaustion of MS fatigue is no easy task. I am often asked how fatigue affects my training and how others with multiple sclerosis (MS) can get great workouts despite this common problem.

I wish there were a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but since we all have different MS symptoms and limitations related to our MS, and we’re all in different places in life’s journey, I will do my best to give you some general guidelines and suggestions to help you maintain a regular exercise program.

Exercises that I have been focusing on are low-impact exercises such as walking or cycling. Keeping your workouts short such as doing a Tabata Style workout, so that you are able to go for shorter periods of time and still benefit from the rest and recovery in between.

Using resistance bands to still continue your strength training is a great idea for women who are dealing with symptoms of numbness and tingling and electrical currents in their limbs, so they won’t have to risk their safety by dropping a Dumbbell or struggling to hold them in your hands.

When considering how your workouts will look, you will need to evaluate how you are feeling, how your body responds, and most importantly how you feel after a workout. 

There may be an adjustment period where you are trying to understand the struggles that your body is experiencing, so this may be a trial period for you.

If you are dealing with imbalance, stability, and balance issues, try to limit your movements to stationary and low-impact options. Avoid quick movements that could cause you to trip or fall.

Be mindful of strenuous workouts as putting your body under too much stress can result in a negative impact, and can cause symptoms to flare. 

3 important tips to focus on:

1.) Set up a consistent workout schedule.

With many of the challenges we face with this disease, the ability to control your workout and your mind is a game changer.

2.) Listen to your body. Work out for no more than 45-60 minutes at a time. Unfortunately, the fatigue that comes from Multiple sclerosis can be extremely difficult, so setting some limitations related to our workouts is important; to prevent any more added stress to your body.

3.) Find a supportive network and community to join. When you are surrounded by like-minded people, the support of others will help keep your morale up and keep you encouraged. Find your tribe and you will be unstoppable.

Ms. Namita Nayyar:

Significance of mental health?

Ms. Christina Hooper:

This one should be your number one priority. The level of your mental health will dictate your day-to-day activities. 

Your mental health is everything, prioritize it.  It is important because it will help you cope with the stress of life, be physically healthy, have good relationships, and realize your full potential.

Mental health I just as important as physical health. Remember that.

Ms. Namita Nayyar:

5 foods you must have and 5 foods to avoid?

Ms. Christina Hooper:

5 foods you must have:

5 foods to avoid:

Ms. Namita Nayyar:

You are a mom to 5 kids. How has motherhood helped you grow as an individual? Share some smart tips for working mothers.

Ms. Christina Hooper:

Motherhood has changed my life. I spent my entire 20s watching my friends settle down, get married, and have kids.

So when I met my husband Joe at age 30, who was a single dad. It didn’t take long for me to become an instant mom to his 3 children. We soon had 2 more children together and our family was complete. 

Motherhood makes you stronger. It gives you a true sense of worth and purpose. Motherhood means family, happiness, love, and commitment. Motherhood is lucky and a gift that not all of us get. It brings out the best and worst in you. Some days are hard and some days are easy but ultimately the joy of raising small humans is so powerful.

Smart tips for working mothers:

Moms, you are doing an amazing job!

In the midst of all the craziness of motherhood take the time to stop and smile.

But moms you need to pay attention. You need to lift your heads up and know that you are doing a great job, and please take it from me it’s a great job. 

We focus on everything that we ‘DON’T’ get done in a day so of course we will focus on the negatives. 

Turn that around and look at the little people in your life.

Between full-time jobs and kids’ sports and activities, we simply don’t take enough time as moms to just sit and enjoy what we have right around us. 

Remember moms, you are the most important person to those little people in your life, and trust me, they want your attention.

Ms. Namita Nayyar:

Your message for females suffering from Multiple sclerosis?

Ms. Christina Hooper:


If I had a dollar bill for every hard time that I have been through in my life, I probably would have saved up a lot of money at this point. But when we are in the ‘worst’ moments in our lives, it feels impossible.

I understand.

Life is not all about rainbows and lollipops, and it definitely has its dungeons and dragons too.


The famous question:

Why do bad things happen to good people?

And my response?

We have to stop asking why these things keep happening to us and are ultimately how we respond to them.

 What will we do now that it’s happening?

We know that we can’t stop it, but let’s focus on how we respond to it and how much energy goes toward the dragon.

There is always something worse. Period.

Over the years have learned a couple of things that I would like to share on how to change your mindset in these times:

1.) Pain in life is inevitable. Change your response.

2.) When things in your life become something that you can’t control, put your hand over your heart.

Your heartbeat is your purpose for today.

We forget that waking up each day is the first thing we should be grateful for. Thank you, God.

3.) Fill your cup every day. You can’t pour from an empty cup so focus on taking time for yourself each day.  It is not selfish. Period.

4.) Focus on helping others. It will give you joy.

Helping one person may not change the world, but it could change the world for one person.

5.) EMBRACE who you are and DO IT ON PURPOSE. Embrace the glorious mess that you are.

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