About ten months ago, I made a decision to change my habits. I spent weeks crafting a system tailored to fit my particular needs that included goals with food, water, exercise and meditation. I created charts, motivational visuals, and rewards to give myself when I succeeded. I wrote myself a letter to remind myself of why I wanted to make these changes in my life, and this is what stood out:
“I want to be alive and thriving and not just surviving.”
I am pretty sure fibromyalgia is going to be a lifelong partner of mine. I just couldn’t stand the way it made me feel so helpless. The feeling that this was going to be my life for the next twenty or thirty or even forty years was the most depressing, hopeless feeling I have ever experienced.
A year later, everything has changed.
I am no longer a slave to my fibromyalgia…I won’t say I have it in check, because I do have some fear that it is lurking, waiting for a moment of stress, or grief or illness to make its comeback…but I have successfully improved my quality of life by at least 40% by learning to change my habits to work with my fibromyalgia.
A year ago, I felt my quality of life with fibro was about 45% (out of 100%). During the worst phase, some months I felt like my quality of life was at 20%. That hurts just to type really…20%. It was not just the pain, it was the lack of energy, it was the hyper sensitivity, the digestive issues, the asthma…all of it together ground me into a pile of dust. The thought that this was my life and that nothing could really be done, was unbelievably defeating and depressing.
Today, I am around 85%. I feel like I am definitely thriving and fully alive again. I am actually looking forward to being alive in the future again. I lost 30 pounds and around 70 inches all over my body. I have made real habit changes in the way I exercise, eat and view my body.
And all of that sounds standard, but training yourself to make habit changes when there is a monster hiding in your central nervous system, is tricky. I often felt impatient and irritated with the slowness of my results, but I was also grateful that I hadn’t triggered any major flares which would set me back.
It took longer than I expected and I still have goals to achieve, but I no longer feel helpless. I no longer hate my body (the way it failed me, the way it felt). And I am no longer at the mercy of my sensitivities and corresponding anxiety.
It really has been a massive transformation. I feel like one of those people who has “found a cure” that I always roll my eyes at. I know that I haven’t found a cure, but I have stumbled into a space of healing for myself, a place where gentle exercise and proper nutrition are a habit today which makes stress and anxiety so much easier to manage.
A few months into this transformation, I read an article on Fibromyalgia News Today’s website (LINK) detailing how a small study of FMS patients using a health coach improved their quality of life by 35%. It was easy for me to believe after making some changes myself, and the article planted a seed. I decided to look more into what a health coach does.
Basically health coaches are a bridge between you and your doctor or registered practitioner. For example, your doctors might tell you, “get more exercise, eat healthier foods”, but they don’t tell you how to do that; how to ease into exercise without injury or flare; how to make exercise a habit; how to make healthier choices and fight cravings when you are in pain, and they certainly don’t tell how us how to empower ourselves through achieving daily goals. And I get that they don’t have the time to do that, but wouldn’t it be nice if someone did? Enter a health and/or wellness coach.
So today, I am looking forward to my life again and thinking that I might actually be able to do something with it. I have been toying with the idea of becoming a health & wellness coach with the goal of helping others with fibromyalgia. I’m sure there are plenty of health coaches out there for regular people, but they might not understand the limitations and needs of a person with fibromyalgia.
And I do think a health coach can improve the life of a person with fibromyalgia who is at a place in their journey where they are feeling better (aren’t in the deep thick of it), but need help and direction to keep moving forward. For me, I could recognize that I was getting better. I had controlled the anxiety which reduced the muscle spasms. I was walking regularly. But finding yourself on the brink of health and pushing yourself through to find that health on your own, is extremely difficult. I have been completely obsessed with my health and spent countless hours immersed in finding motivation and information throughout 2017. In retrospect, it might have been easier to have a health coach!
So I had been actively researching the idea for six months and then, two weeks ago, I just jumped in. I enrolled in the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute to become a Master Certified Health Coach. It is a 27 week course, starting in January, that will teach and enable me to help others reach their goals by coaching them to transform their habits.
I am a little terrified and excited! I love that particular feeling…so wish me luck friends!