defyingfibromyalgia

My journey from CAN'T to CAN – one workout at a time.


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Motivation

Aunt Pat and MommaI know we all have things or people that motivate us to work hard to achieve our goals.  People that push you.  People that inspire. I wanted to give you all a look into what it is that motivates me.  To be fair, there are many things and people that push me to work hard, but there is one situation in particular that I think of daily.  It involves 2 very special people and they, along with many others in my life, push me to be better and do more each day.  It just so happens that today happens to be the birthday of one of these people.

Sisters

In 1989, both my mother and my aunt were diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  And, let’s be honest, it’s really not a great situation for a family to be in.  My aunt is someone that I’ve always felt a special bond with.  Someone that understood me, gave me crap when she needed to, and always, always told me how much she loved me.  My mother is, well, she’s my mommy.  And this disease is super scary.  I won’t go into all the details, but suffice it to say MS works quickly and tends to destroy everything in its path. It takes resilience and fight to get through each day.  And that’s what these two women have always had.

My Health Scare

Fast forward many years – I began exhibiting symptoms of MS.  For several years, I ignored it, but I knew I had to take care of it.  I had every single test to diagnose MS – two MRIs, a million blood tests, a spinal tap, and a whole mess of other crap.  It was my worst nightmare.  The best day ever was the day my spinal tap results came back negative for MS.  It was just fibromyalgia.  And what a relief that was.  Now, FM is no picnic.  BUT, it’s no MS either.

Aunt Pat as Little GirlThe End

After more than 20 years of fighting and struggle, late last year, my aunt succumbed to the affects of MS.  She had fought for as long as she could.  She was finally at peace.  Finally free from the pain.  Every single day, she motivates me.  Every single day, I think of her.  I think of her struggle and I think of how hard she fought this horrible disease.  My mother is still fighting the fight.  She exercises daily, in spite of her obstacles.  That motivates me.  These two women—these sisters—make it obvious what I have to do.  I have to fight.  I have to overcome.  I have to think of my aunt each and every day and honor her memory by never giving up.

Today is my Aunt Pat’s.  She would be 71 years old.  I loved her tremendously and I hope, wherever she is, she knows that.  I hope she knows she is one of the main reasons I fight so hard.  I’ll never give up.  Mostly because I know if I did, she would kick my ass.


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Facing Your Fears

All too often, fear paralyzes us.  It prevents us from taking chances, from growing, from becoming a better version of ourselves.  What I’ve learned is, when you face your fears, you become stronger and more resilient.  Your confidence goes through the roof and you reflect on the experience thinking, “I can’t believe I just did that!”  And what a great feeling that is.

IMG_3564Let Fear Motivate You

Since I began my journey, I’ve been on a mission to squash every fear I have.  My fear of failure.  My fear of being unable to do something.  My fear of making my condition worse.  It’s always been about my mindset.  It’s a sort of a “What have I got to lose?” situation.  I mean, really.  What do you have to lose?  If you start out in unbearable pain – constant pain.  If you start out exhausted and unable to enjoy life.  What do you have to lose by pushing yourself?  In my mind, not much.  And so that’s where I started.

As I’ve made progress, I’ve been able to accomplish things that truly seemed impossible.  So much so that I’ve never even considered doing them.  And then, all of a sudden, I find myself doing them.  There have been so many achievements of which I’m proud in this journey.  My first HIIT workout – that was a WOW kind of moment.  The first time I found myself able to do burpees – it was like, how in the world am I doing this?  And the first time I was able to reach a summit.  Now that was really something.

Getting to the Summit

So, the first summit wasn’t exactly planned out.  We just sort of went hiking and there we were – at the top.  At the beautiful, breathtaking, emotional top.  At the 13,000-foot top.  At the 3 ½ hour hike top.  It was AMAZING.  And at the time, it was certainly the most difficult thing I’d ever done.  That is, until the following week…

IMG_3680Mount Audubon

August 25, 2013

Mission: Mount Audubon

Elevation: 13,223

Feeling: Determined

Start time: 8:21 AM

With dogs in tow, we set off to reach the summit. James (my significant other) and I had no idea what kind of adventure we were in for.  But, as we climbed, we found out it was a bit more of a challenge than we’d expected.  As we ascended the mountain, we were taken aback by the views.  The ever-changing landscape of the mountain.  It was truly stunning and impossible to capture in photos.  We climbed.  We went from dense forest to rocky paths.  And I mean rocky.  We weren’t really tracking the time – we just IMG_3672kept going.  We reached the switchbacks and that’s when things got interesting.  We didn’t think the views could get better, but they did.  And better.  And better. We also didn’t think the path could become more treacherous, but it did.  And it continued to do so all the way to the top.

The Final PUSH

We sat down right before the final push to the summit and looked up at the path we had to conquer.  We had a light snack and tried to compose ourselves.  The fear was building up inside me and I was having one of those conversations with myself.  “You can do it”, “You can do anything”. Thinking of the things Chalene Johnson yells at me during my workouts.  The “trail” was entirely made up of rocks.  Boulders really.  I had never done anything like this and I WAS TERRIFIED.  It was time to go.  I came to get to the summit and a bunch of rocks weren’t going to stop me.IMG_3728

I stood up and looked at where I’d spend the next hour.  It was less than a half-mile, but it would take us an hour to get to the top.  It was wobbly rock after wobbly rock.  Fear was building.  I stepped, looked for something to grab, hoped my dog wouldn’t fall, and honestly thought several times that this would be how I would die.  I was okay with that because I was doing something impossible.  I was happy and proud that I was even trying.  And I was pretty sure no one with Fibromyalgia had ever tried this before.  I was also sure that 95% of “normal” people would never consider trying this.

IMG_3724Finally, we were at the top.  I sat on a rock (there were plenty!) and wept.  Happy tears. Tears brought on by relief and adrenaline.  I just sat there.  I looked around at the incredible views and thought “holy sh*t, how did I get up here?”  Then came the tough part: the descent.  After being so scared, how was I going to get down the mountain?  Time for another conversation with myself.  This one consisted of, “There’s no other way down.  You have to do this. You have no choice.  You can do this.”  And then we set off to descend the mountain.  To somehow get down these rocks.

Mission AccomplishedIMG_3735

8 hours and 19 minutes after we started our hike, we made it to the bottom.  I had never been so happy to see cars, other people, and a place to sit.  On our way down I said to James, “I really don’t think this was worth it.” When I got to the bottom I said, “I’ve never been more proud of myself.  It was totally worth it and I’d do it again.  Just not anytime soon.”

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Fibromyalgia and the Beachbody Challenge: Why it Works

bb_challenge_lg_horiz_light_high_resI’ve talked a lot about my experiences with various Beachbody programs.  In doing so, I think it’s become pretty clear that these products have changed my life.  But, what I want to emphasize is this: there’s nothing special about me.  Nothing super-hero-esque that makes me able to do something you aren’t able to do.  I am just a person with FM that decided to fight back.  Each one of you has that same power – that same choice.  The reason I became committed to Team Beachbody is this: I truly believe these programs can change the lives of every single person that commits to them.  I see it and hear it every day.

So, what’s with the Beachbody Challenge?

Well, in case you didn’t hear about it, I’ve decided it’s time to host a Challenge Group.  It’s open to everyone, but my main focus is connecting with people that felt like I did a few short months ago – helpless, hopeless, and defeated.  I want to prove to you that you CAN feel better; you CAN fight back.  And there’s no better way than this environment of support.  So, why will it work for Fibromyalgia?  So many reasons….

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  1. Shakeology: When you’ve got the healthiest meal of the day in your arsenal, you’re truly set up for success.  Each Beachbody Challenge Pack comes with a 30-day supply of Shakeology – the best nutrient-packed meal replacement shake on the market.  The nutrients in Shakeology are the foundation for health and wellness, which is your key to overcoming FM.
  2. Support: By participating in a Challenge Group, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people that are facing the same challenges as you.  Group members will be there to encourage you on tough days and celebrate with you as you succeed.  The support available with Team Beachbody is the stepping stone to results and success.  When you feel hopeless, someone will be there to say, “you can do this”.
  3. Accountability: Being a Team Beachbody Coach means I’m going to be there for you every step of the way to hold you accountable and encourage you to achieve your goals.  More i6ff1f-foodfuel3mportantly, your group members will be there waiting to hear about each day’s workout.  That accountability is what will help you stick to the program and get the results you’ve always wanted.
  4. Meal Plans: Each program comes with an awesome meal plan. This totally takes the guesswork out of getting the nutrition you need to be healthy and get fit.
  5. Results: What can I say?  BEACHBODY GIVES YOU PROVEN RESULTS.  The programs work.  And, more importantly, getting fit is your BEST defense against FM or any other health condition.  This is how you fight back.  This is how you get results.  Physical exercise has been proven effective in fighting pain, fatigue, and other FM symptoms.  For more info on that, check out my post, “Why Physical Exercise for Fibromyalgia?“.

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What are you waiting for???

So, whether you have FM or not, it’s pretty clear that these programs are going to unlock your hidden potential.  It’s time to STOP letting people tell you what you can and can’t do and START proving them wrong.   I want everyone out there that is living with something like this to know one thing: you don’t have to settle for this life.  You CAN create the life you deserve.  Whether you’re ready to take the challenge or not, now is the time to improve your nutrition and get active!

Do something every single day to make tomorrow better.  You CAN do it!

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How Do You Defy It?

Slide1We all have obstacles. Yours could be fibromyalgia.  It could be obesity. Or diabetes.  There are infinite possibilities.  I’ve been asked several times how I defy fibromyalgia.  Trying to answer that in simple terms is difficult – there are so many things involved in this process. So I figured, why not devote an entire blog post to this complex, yet all-important question?

Mental

When you have something like FM, it’s easy to focus on the physical.  The pain, the exhaustion, the feeling that you CAN’T do what other people can.  Well, I’ve learned something that has changed the course of my journey: the MENTAL is much more powerful.  Defying Fibromyalgia is about 80% mental / 20% physical on most days.  Sometimes it’s more like 95/5.

The easy answer to how I defy it is this: I decided to.  It’s a decision you make.  A decision to fight back.  Whether you’re fighting FM, diabetes, obesity, or some other obstacle, your mental state is the key to your success.  Without the right mental state, none of the other elements are possible.  Maintaining proper nutrition, sticking to a workout schedule, getting through those tough workouts – none of that would be possible without making a mental commitment first.Slide1

Anytime you decide you’re ready to tackle that obstacle that’s been controlling your life for far too long, you’ve already taken the first step.  Defying FM – or anything else – is tough.  It requires determination, tenacity, stubbornness, and FIGHT.  Deciding to do it means you have those qualities.

Emotional

Like all big accomplishments, there is certainly an emotional side to my ability to defy FM day in and day out.  In the early stages, it was incredibly tough to remove my emotional self from the daily decision to fight.  Every accomplishment was an emotional high.  Every time I had a tough day, it was an emotional low.  Those tough days made me feel like I was crazy for trying.  That I couldn’t do this.  Those days reminded me that I have FM.  Luckily, the emotional investment made when I committed to this journey was more powerful than every negative thought I had.

Physical

beachbody ultimate resetThe physical aspect of my journey has been critical to my ability to keep moving forward.  I am motivated by my pain, my exhaustion, and my symptoms.  When I began the journey, I completed the Beachbody Ultimate Reset.  This was a HUGE part of overcoming my physical symptoms.  It was a huge part of making a physical commitment to changing – of believing change was possible.  For me, there was the necessity to have things get worse before they could get better.  The first few days pushed me into horrific pain, but somehow I knew it was the end of it all.

As I moved through the process of defying FM, I entered the physical challenge of cardio exercise – which I honestly believed was impossible.  Each day that I pushed play, I was retraining my mind and body to believe I could do this.  Defiance enters the picture when the workout gets tough, when you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning to workout, and when you push through the pain to find your way to feeling better than ever.

Defy It!

The moral of the story?  All things are possible.  I NEVER thought I could overcome my symptoms.  I NEVER imagined being able to put FM in the backseat.  I NEVER knew I could live a life that wasn’t filled with pain every minute of every day.  But, here I am.  I’ve done just that.  By continuing the fight, I’m achieving things I thought were impossible. That makes it possible for you, too.  There’s nothing unusual about me.  I just decided to try.  You can too.


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Think Like a Warrior

Slide1“You have to think like a warrior” ~ Chalene Johnson

Anytime you face a challenge, your mental state is the key to your success.  Even with a fitness challenge – without the right mindset, you will fail.  When I took the first step in this journey, I knew my mindset would have to change.  I’ve always been strong.  I’ve always been a fighter.  But that wasn’t enough.  I really had to become a WARRIOR.  That’s the only way you can survive life’s real challenges.  You coach yourself through those tough parts.  You tell yourself, “you can do this”, and you keep fighting the fight – warrior style.

How Do You Get There?

I think the hardest part in facing something truly CHALLENGING is getting started.  Once you get going, once you put one foot in front of the other, you’ll have some forward mobility.  The simple act of “deciding” is the key.  Making that choice.  Saying to yourself, “I can do this”, is really what it takes to get you started.  A lot of the other skills – the fight, the drive, and the determination – already reside in you.  Otherwise, you wouldn’t even consider facing the challenge in the first place.  Either you’re a fighter or you aren’t.  But only a true fighter can become a warrior.

What Keeps You Going?

There are many days – MANY DAYS – when I absolutely do not want to get up at 6 am and face this ridiculously challenging workout.  Just the other night, we arrived home after a weekend away.  It was Sunday and all day I’d been thinking, “YOU HAVE TO WORKOUT WHEN YOU GET HOME”.  Still, when we finally got home after driving for 9 or 10 hours, I almost convinced myself it was okay to skip it.  To put it off until another day.  It was 8pm and the workout was an hour long.  Heck, I wanted to be in bed at 9.  But, you know what? I did it.  And I felt SO AMAZING afterwards.

What keeps you going?  YOU DO.  You decide to do it.  Or you decide not to.  Whatever the challenge is – it’s up to you.  Yeah, it’s nice to have someone cheering you on, but really it’s all on you.  That’s the true test of life’s biggest challenges.  You have to face them on your own.

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Recap: TurboFire Beachbody Challenge: Week 5

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5 weeks down, 15 to go! This week, we’ll do something a little different with my recap.  Now that I’m 5 weeks in, I can say I love each and every workout.  I get excited each night before bed when I check my calendar to see which workout I get to do in the morning.  My workouts are ALWAYS scheduled.  They are non-negotiable and that structure is encouraging and somehow comforting.  I love TurboFire.  I love being strong.  And I know this is the best thing I’ve ever done for MYSELF.

Improving

Facing this challenge head on has been pretty remarkable thus far.  Steadily, I am improving.  I am growing stronger and more confident in my abilities.  Steadily, fibromyalgia is getting further and further away.  My thoughts don’t surround it any longer.  I think of other things.  Things I can do now.  Things I couldn’t do before.  I think of the possibilities.  The world of possibilities that didn’t exist until I took this risk.  This challenge.  This journey to awakening the fighter that I’ve always been.

Overcoming

Even with such great strides, there is the old “habit” to overcome.  You know the one.  The years in the making habit of thinking “there’s no way I can do that”.  During this week of TurboFire, that habit made itself known.  There were certain things – things that would be challenging for anyone – and I thought “I shouldn’t even try that because I know I can’t do that” – CAN’T?!?!?!  And so I tried it anyway.  To my amazement, I CAN do that!

It’s all about overcoming those things.  Facing those challenges head on.  Finding out if you can, rather than assuming you can’t.  Sometimes you fail.  But sometimes you surprise yourself.

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Get more info on Beachbody products here:

beachbodycoach.com/WendyGordon

myshakeology.com/WendyGordon

myultimatereset.com/WendyGordon