21-day fitness challenge

I’m starting a 21-day fitness challenge for those who want to be healthier, lose weight or get shredded! It’s only three weeks — you can DO it! I just finished my meal prep and grocery list for the FIRST week! I have two more weeks to work on. I must admit, it was hard work and I put A LOT of hours into meal prepping for just the first week — researching clean eating recipes, calculating my caloric target and counting the colored containers given to me by the 21-Day Fix Extreme Program.

Thank goodness for Microsoft Excel!!! I have an entire spreadsheet of what I’m exactly going to eat each week for the next 3 weeks and portioning the food out in advance. So Saturday I start grocery shopping and Sunday I will prepare the meals for the entire week. I’m super excited for this adventure and look forward to seeing the outcome of my health, my Tourettes, my body and my mind.

NO CHILD SHOULD BE SECLUDED!

This link absolutely disgusts me. NO child deserves to be secluded. I remember when I was in elementary school with extremely severe Tourette’s. I was locked in a small room for hours and hours, left there wondering why they forgot about me. School was hard enough because my tics were so painful and harmful that I couldn’t focus in school.

As a child that went through this, I am grateful to have a supportive family — especially my mom, who decided to stay with me at school every day to protect me and ensure me that everything will me all right and that I will get the education I needed in a way that I deserve despite of my Tourette’s.

 

What Tourette has taught me

Tourettes has taught me to feel compassionate toward those who are judgmental and narrow-minded. It has taught me to understand that perhaps they’ve never been or haven’t been exposed much to different types of abilities — that they are only afraid of what they don’t know. It has taught me to view the world with mindful conscientious — to be gentle, caring, kind, and honest.

Tics & Fitness

Hi! My name is Megan and I’m 23-year-old student with Tourette’s Syndrome. Tourettes is a neurological condition where one has vocal outbursts and/or physical spasms. I firmly believe that eating healthy and exercising helps reduce Tourettes. If exercise can help with Tourette’s it can help with ANYTHiNG. Exercise is your best medicine. Visit my Facebook page!

Tourette’s is a battle I deal with every day. I bite my lip and tongue until it chaps and bleeds, I wear a mouthguard to protect it but have tics where I spit out the mouthguard and it falls to the ground. Embarrassed and disgusted, I put it back in my mouth. Desperate time comes for desperate measures, so without a sink nearby I have to put it back in my mouth or wait.

I jerk my neck back repeatedly until I feel a certain pain. Not until I feel the pain I will never be satisfied. Once satisfied, the tic happens again — an ongoing cycle. I can’t write. Although I have beautiful hand writing, the beauty is useless because I either cramp my hands or throw my pencil at someone’s face.

There are so many more tics I experience that makes everyday a battle. But I am thankful. Thankful for the people who do love and understand me. Thankful for my family, friends, fiance, acquaintances, and kind strangers who give me a smile. I continue to strive in school. I continue to exercise and practice to be a personal trainer.

I still have the ability to save up money to attend the University of Washington to major in International Studies because I want to help the world. I am thankful. And all I ever want is to pay it forward.

Learn about my Ugandan adventure!

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to go to Africa to work with children, to volunteer. When I started attending the Primary Teachers College in the Netherlands four years ago, that dream changed into teaching children in Africa. But there was always this little voice in my head that said, “with my Tourette’s, I will never be able to go to Africa for a long time.” A few weeks, maybe, but not for months.

I was always so envious of people who said they were going away for a few months, or even a year, to experience a new country, a new culture and to volunteer for a good cause. I never thought that could be me. It would be too exhausting, there were too many ‘new things’. I would be out of my comfort zone, without my house, parents, sister and friends. I wouldn’t have the basic things I thought I needed.

Last year I got the opportunity to go to Lira, Northern Uganda, for two weeks, with a Dutch organization called Edukans. It was a trip in which student teachers from the Netherlands and Uganda would work together. That I could do, I thought to myself, it was only two weeks. But being there, it hit me: there is no reason why I can’t do this for months! There is no reason why I couldn’t be happy volunteering and working with children, here, in Northern Uganda. I even realised that there was no reason why I couldn’t live here forever.

So I made a decision. I took a leap of faith and went back to Uganda. This time without a group. It was just me.

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If you can dream it, you can do it!

Hi everyone! Here is an article on an interview I did earlier this month. Hope you enjoy it and get the message! 🙂

Once you meet Laura, you will always remember her. She is an amazing teacher not only because she loves her work but also for the path she travelled to become one with Tourette’s Syndrome (TS). She refuses to be limited by her disability and believes it has been the driving force behind her desire to achieve things.

For Laura there was only one career objective – to help children with their disabilities. Studying psychology was her original plan, but the academic schedule was not compatible with her TS, so she had to give up this choice. Her determination made her continue and in April 2014 graduated as an elementary school teacher. She says: “I have my goal and might have to go around to reach it…but I will get there!”.

Do her students treat her differently? Actually no. Her students do not seem to care or notice her symptoms. She explains that because of her TSLaura  can relate to pupils with learning disabilities and also identify herself with them “I have something too, it’s called Tourette’s” she tells them. As a teacher she is very creative and gives her pupils this motto “If you can dream it, you can do it”. Laura passionately believes that teachers should focus on student’s abilities and not their disabilities, give encouragement, look at the positive side of things and inspire pupils to be positive.

Laura’s commitment to helping children extends beyond her own country – Laura is now a teacher supporting education in Lira, Uganda. Through Edukans, an organisation that helps disadvantaged children in developing countries attend school, Laura is helping Ugandan teachers to improve their lesson plans, create class materials and support pupils.

Source: http://www.tedxamsterdamed.nl/interview-laura-beljaars-teacher/

A look back at the success of TSelfie Day!

A few weeks ago, on June 7, it was European Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day (or ETSA)! This day we use to attract as much awareness as possible for Tourette, especially from te media. I know in America you have the entire month, but we are very happy to have this day — it’s only the second time, and we wanted to make it as big as possible!

This year, we decited to work together and try to come up with a great idea to attract awareness. First we were with three organizations in the Netherlands and Belgium, but later we pitched it in the European meeting in Paris and everybody loved our idea and so the TSelfie was born and made into a huge success!

In case you’ve missed it: we invented te ‘TSelfie’, the Tourette Selfie (conviniently spelled with TS at the start. 😉 This is a selfie taken with a wink, one of the most common tics! This way, we wanted to attract attention and also focus on the fact that Tourette is more than just swearing, there are a lot of other tics too!

We’ve worked very hard in attracting publicity and local celebraties, to attract even more attention. We also made a website, www.tselfie.eu, were we posted all the TSelfies and gave the public some explanation about Tourette, as well as links to all the different associations in Europe.

On the day itself, it turned out to be a HUGE succes with TSelfies from lots of celebraties and a LOT of people from a lot of different countries! I’ve seen TSelfies from America and India and almost every country in between! We even got a TSelfie from the Hungarian waterpolo team (in bathingsuite, of course…!!!), who were the Olympic champions from 2000, 2004 and 2008!

In the end, we got about 824 TSelfies from all around the world, which I made into a collage! I know there are more of them, but there were so many, there is no way to know for sure whether we got them all! I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished and I can’t wait for next year!

All these people supporting our cause: Tourette Awareness! It’s very humbling to see how this many people who I don’t even know, support us by posting a TSelfie, which we invented in a impulsive and creative group right here in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Besides the TSelfie, I was also on national TV on June 7! They taped here at my house and the shops nearby and at 11 p.m. I was on TV! I was very nervous, because I thought (for no reason, of course) that they weren’t gonna air it, but they did and I got a lot of great messages from people about it!

You can see it here (it’s Dutch): http://www.hartvannederland.nl/top-nieuws/2014/leven-met-tourette/

And this past Monday (June 23) I was  in a magazine about being an educator with a disability and today I will finally officially graduate and get my diploma! More on all of that soon!

Are you ready for #TSelfie on June 7?!

It’s been awhile since you’ve heard from me. That’s because, since November, I’ve been working nonstop to graduate collage! Last month, on April 24, I graduated and I can finally really call myself a teacher!

It was hard work. I had to go to my internship three days a week and work on my final paper as well. And that for seven weeks straight, after the months of hard work I had done already. But in the end it was all worth it, because I can now finally say that I’ve graduated from college! And I actually graduated early, as the graduation ceremony is on June 26, so I had until then to finish.

Right now I’m trying to rest as much as possible because I’m very tired. And I finally get to work on the Tourette-related things I’ve been wanting to work on for months, but I didn’t have the time or energy to do it up until now. I have quite a lot of meetings scheduled for TV shows and other media-related things, which is very exciting. I’m not going to be in all of them, but in my role as volunteer for the Dutch TSA I give them info and try to make sure it will be a nice and respectful show and it won’t be all about swearing.

Right now, I’m busy making plans for the European Tourette Day, which is June 7. Together with other organizations from the Netherlands and Belgium, we’ve thought of an amazing idea to spread TS awareness and I hope you can all help by joining in (all European organizations will!)!

We’ve invented the TSelfie: Tourette selfie. This is a selfie while winking (with one eye) and you have to post it on your social media accounts (Twitter/Facebook/Instagram) on June 7! Put #TSelfie and the website www.tselfie.eu in the same post and we hope we can get the attention of the media and of course, spread as much awareness as possible!

On the website, you can find info on the TSelfie and on Tourette, so it’s very important to add the website to your post. A lot of celebrities join us and post their TSelfie on June 7 and we hope to get a lot of Tourette celebrities to join in as well.

Call all your friends and tell them to post a TSelfie on June 7 and support Tourette awareness! You can follow us at Twitter (@TSelfie), Facebook (facebook.com/TSelfie) and Instagram (@TSelfie2014) for more updates on the TSelfie!

“With Tourette, your dreams can come true as well”

Last week, I was in the biggest newspaper of the Netherlands — again! I finally got the time to translate the article, so here it is! The interview was done because a journalist saw the videos of my speeches in Athens, so I’m very proud of that. 🙂

Happy Holidays!

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I’M ALIVE! – ‘With Tourette your dreams can come true as well’

Laura Beljaars has Tourette Syndrome. Her goal is to show other young people that with this disorder, your dreams can come true as well.

By Marion van Es

Many people think that all Tourette patients constantly swear, while in fact it’s just a small part of Tourette patients who have this tic. There are tics that are way more common, but those are apparently not interesting or ‘funny’ enough. Which is too bad, because Tourette is different for every person.

For me it’s hard to filter all the things that go on around me, I have concentration problems and most of the time I’m very tired. When I was twelve, I had about 300 tics every 15 minutes, mostly twisting my eyes and tensing my muscles. Luckily I have never been bullied, probably because I’ve always been very open about my Tourette. Everybody can ask me anything they want.

I’ve always thought that I had to accept that I just couldn’t do everything. I wanted to help children so I started to study psychology, but I had to stop, because it was too much for me at that time. Later I realized that there are a lot of different ways to achieve a goal. I can do anything I want, I just have to take a detour sometimes.

At the moment I’m almost graduating college, to become an elementary school teacher. I would love to help children who have a difficult time at school, for instance because they have Tourette, ADHD or autism. I want to show them, that even with a disorder like this, your dreams can come true.

In April of this year, I had the opportunity to speak at an international conference about Tourette Syndrome. You can see the videos of those speeches at www.tourettelaura.nl. It was very special to show the human side of Tourette like this. Of course it was a bit scary to speak in front of this many important researchers in English, but the message I had, was more important than my nerves.

A lot of young patients hate their Tourette. That’s too bad, because that means you hate something within yourself. There is way more possible for you, then you might think.

I’ve taught many different grades at elementary school, but never did someone make a problem of me having Tourette. If you don’t make a problem of it yourself, most others won’t do that as well.

A lot of people think live is over when you have Tourette, even my mother thought that, back when I was just diagnosed. She says I taught her that this is not true.

Applying for Social Security Disability with Tourette Syndrome

There are many symptoms that an individual with Tourette’s syndrome may suffer from that can prevent that individual from maintaining full-time work activity. The inability to work can lead to significant financial distress. Fortunately, in some cases, Social Security Disability benefits can help alleviate some of the financial stress caused by the condition.

Qualifying for Disability Benefits with Tourette’s syndrome

In order to be eligible to receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, you must meet the SSA’s medical qualifying criteria. When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, the SSA will compare your condition to a listing of conditions known as the Blue Book. This publication contains all of the conditions that could potentially qualify an individual for Social Security disability benefits, along with the criteria that must be met for each condition.

Unfortunately there is no specific listing for adults with Tourette’s syndrome in the SSA’s Blue Book. Individuals who suffer from Tourette’s syndrome may, however, be able to qualify under a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) Evaluation.

The SSA will evaluate both your physical and mental residual functional capacity. The physical RFC will evaluate your ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, climb, etc. The mental RFC will evaluate your ability to mental and emotional work-related activities such as interacting with co-workers and getting along, ability to follow direction, etc. People with Tourette’s are more likely to qualify through the mental RFC since the symptoms of Tourette’s are frequently disruptive and can have an adverse impact on an individual’s ability to interact and be productive in the work place.

Children, on the other hand can qualify for by meeting the listing for tic disorders in the blue book. The child must experience: Continue reading