defyingfibromyalgia

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


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The Truth About Overcoming Fibromyalgia: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It

I’ve written about this several times, and I’m sure I’ll write about it several times more.  The thing is, most people out there aren’t quite hearing what I’m saying.  My journey has been nothing short of amazing.  But here’s the kicker: every single person out there could experience results like this IF they were willing to TRY.  That’s where I lost most of you.  But, I’m not one to give up that easily.  And so I’m going to lay it all out: what I did, how I did it, and how you can do it too.

The Decision

This is step one.  First you DECIDE you want a better life.  That you DESERVE a better life.  For me, this came during a serious ROCK BOTTOM situation.  In bed for a couple of weeks, in excruciating pain (as usual), and completely SICK of feeling that way.  That’s when I knew this wasn’t the life for me.  That I had to do something about it.  Now, no one can make this decision but YOU.  Just like no one can do the work but YOU.  This is all up to YOU.

Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition

Can I say it again? NUTRITION!  Few things are as frustrating to me as seeing people that claim to want to feel better posting about their fried chicken dinner or McDonald’s excursion with the kids.  THIS IS NOT GOING TO MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER.  THIS IS WHY YOU FEEL LIKE CRAP ALL THE TIME!  Seriously folks, you will NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER feel better until you CHANGE WHAT YOU EAT.  EVER!

Where do you start?  You start by eliminating processed foods, fast foods, and soft drinks.  YES, REALLY.  Why? Because they are poisoning your body.  Then you identify the foods that are making you sick by keeping a food journal.  Then you eliminate those foods.  The end result is a largely plant-based diet – that means, lots of fruits and veggies with lean, healthy protein.  I personally am vegan, but you can get healthy protein from animal products if you make SMART CHOICES.  Since I don’t eat meat, I can’t really help you identify the right meats to eat, but a little research will steer you in the right direction.

Shakeology helped me get my nutrition on the right track and it helps me keep it there.  It has been one of the single biggest factors in my transformation.  Send me a message if you’d like more info on that.

Fitness is HARD WORK

I know what you’re going to say: I CAN’T workout because I’m in pain all the time.  Guess what?  So was I when I started.  But I did it anyway.  You have to be willing to FIGHT to make progress. Once I corrected nutrition and started using Shakeology, I was able to get moving and start working out.  As you get fit, lose weight, and build strength, that’s when fibromyalgia starts to lose and that’s when you start to win. If you aren’t willing to work hard, fibromyalgia will always win.  ALWAYS.  It’s really that simple.

There is No Magic Pill

If you’re waiting for me to tell you about a magic pill, you’re in the wrong place.  If you’re waiting for me to tell you about a cure, I just did.  Fitness, nutrition, and HARD WORK.  That’s your cure.  I HAVE NO SYMPTOMS.  NONE.  Your cure is fitness.  Your cure is nutrition.  YOU CAN FEEL BETTER.  YOU CAN HAVE YOUR LIFE BACK.  Put in the work and you too can feel better, look better, and be FREE FROM FIBROMYALGIA.

I’m not saying the only way to do it is with the programs I’ve used.  I personally believe Beachbody products are the best out there because I am living proof.  BUT find what works for you and stick with it.  DO SOMETHING. MAKE A CHANGE.  Find your way out of the grips of this horrible condition.  Be willing to FIGHT.  Be willing to COMMIT.  Be willing to WORK HARD.

Complaining = USELESS

I used to complain all the time about my condition.  USED TO.  And a lot of you insist upon complaining day in and day out.  I understand that.  Really I do. BUT, until you STOP COMPLAINING and start focusing on POSITIVITY, nothing will change.  Change your mindset, change your life.  CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE.  Shift your focus.  Don’t let fibromyalgia be the center of your life anymore.  CHANGE IT.  Focus on your goals.  Focus on the things you want to do when you conquer your symptoms (not if, when).  Make the choice.  Change your life.

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A Negative Mind Will Never Give You a Positive Life

brian tracy quoteI want you to take a minute and really think about this quote.  REALLY think about it.

I can tell you from experience – truer words were never spoken.  So, what does it mean?  Well, what does it mean to you?  To me, it means what you think, you become.  If you focus on negative things, you’re more likely to have a negative life.  If, on the other hand, you choose to focus on positive things, your life can become positive beyond your wildest imagination.  How do I know?  I’ve experienced this for myself.  This is the foundation for my life change.  Let me explain.

If someone were to ask you to describe yourself using three words, what would they be? For many of you, I’m guessing “fibromyalgia” would be in there somewhere.  I understand. That’s how I used to think.  Used to think.  What if you tried something new?  What if you replaced negative words with positive words?  What would happen then?  How long would it take for you to create a habit of positive self-talk?  How long would it take for that to change your entire way of thinking?

Not as long as you might think.

negative mind

When I started this incredible journey, my three words would have been: fibromyalgia, pain, disgusting.  Yes, really.  I was SO GOOD and negative self-talk. Years of practice, you understand.   Today? It’s tough to pick just 3.  Some of them would be: fit, fighter, determined, hilarious (seriously, I’m hilarious), positive, strong, compassionate, beautiful, and on and on.  So how did this happen?  I made a choice.  And I went through a little program called “The 30 Day Push” by Chalene Johnson. I HIGHLY recommend this if you’re ready to change your mindset and focus on positivity and goals, rather than negativity and obstacles.  Oh, and it’s FREE.

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In all of my accomplishments –in completing the Ultimate Reset, Turbo Jam, Turbo Fire – in losing almost 30 pounds and countless inches – in gaining self-confidence and building a positive life – there is one thing I have yet to conquer – I WANT TO HELP YOU CHANGE YOUR MINDSET.   Now, I can’t do it for you, but one of my greatest frustrations is that so many of you STILL insist upon being negative, complaining, and dwelling in your problems.  Don’t you realize that I’VE done this?  Don’t you understand that I’m not any different than you?  Don’t you want to be free from your obstacles – whether it be fibromyalgia or obesity or something else?  Aren’t you tired of living like this?  Well then, why won’t you listen?  Why won’t you try?

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Okay, I’m done with my rant now.  My point is this:  YOU ARE POWERFUL, but you don’t know it.  YOU ARE STRONG, but you don’t yet see it.  YOU CAN DO THIS, but you aren’t ready to believe it.  Aside from my goal of continuing my fitness journey with ChaLEAN Extreme, my goal over the next 90 days is to CONVINCE YOU TO TRY.  Change how you think.  Change your reality.  It’s up to you, BUT I’m here to help you get started.

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Courage

Slide1As I was writing my last post, “No, You Can’t” | “Yes, I CAN”I started thinking about the things that influence this choice we make to shut down the voice that tells us we can’t.  I thought about the courage involved in making the changes necessary to these types of challenges and the things most of us must face along the way.  One thing stands out above all other choices: relationships.

Who’s In Your Life?

Do you ever think about the kinds of people you surround yourself with?

Do they lift you up? Do they inspire you?  Do they motivate you to push through obstacles to achieve your goals? Do they make you feel as though all things are possible?

Or, do they bring you down?  Do they say “No, you can’t” when you talk about your dreams and aspirations? Do they bring negativity everywhere they go?  Do they suck the positive energy out of the room?  (I call them energy vampires)  Do they make you feel as though your goals are unrealistic and/or impossible?

I believe if you surround yourself with the latter, you’re more likely to listen to the inner voice that tells you “no, you can’t” than the positive one.  Think about it.  If you’re around negative people, don’t you become more negative?  Don’t they put you in a bad mood?  Don’t they bring a note of pessimism to all things?  Then why are they in your life?

Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative

Okay, this is where courage might come in handy.  When you have this revelation — this reality check that you may need to rethink some of your friendships and other relationships — it’s time to take action.  The way I see it, you have two choices:

  • Have a heart to heart with the person in the hopes that they are unaware of their negativity.  Sometimes, that’s all it takes to change a person’s life.  Maybe they’re longing for someone to help them turn things around.  Maybe you could be that person.
  • Remove them from your life.  Sounds harsh, right?  Well, what’s more harsh: allowing someone to ruin your positive moods and encourage you to give up on your dreams OR having the courage to surround yourself with people make life better?  Sometimes your only course of action is to move on.

Become Who You Really Are

It’s amazing to discover the difference in your life when these changes are made.  After many years of hard work, and a LOT of courage, I can honestly say I surround myself with people that inspire me.  People that make me strive for better.  People that support me no matter what.  People that tell me “yes, you can” even when I’m not sure if it’s possible.  Sometimes I’m astonished by just how great that feels.  I think about the things my friends are accomplishing right now and I think, “how did I get so fortunate to have someone that amazing in my life?”

These are the kinds of people you need in your life, if you don’t already have them.  This is how you find the courage to take risks that could truly change your life for the better.  The courage to face a challenge head on and find out what might happen if you try.  It’s true, this kind of determination comes from within, but there’s a lot to be said for having a group of people cheering you on along the way.

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“No, You Can’t” | “Yes, I CAN”

IMG_3064We’ve all got ‘em.  Those opposing inner voices.  There’s the good one.  The one that believes in you.  Then there’s the naysayer.  The one that thinks you’re a quitter.  When you’ve got something like FM, those voices are always at it.  Especially the naysayer.  Whether you’re walking the dog or just trying to get out of bed, that voice is always trying to get you to give up.  To admit that you just can’t do it.  And, man, how do you shut that thing up???

Well, I wish I could say I have the answer.  But I don’t.  That voice has developed over many years — over a lifetime of experiences — negative and positive.  She has been “trained” to tell you “you can’t do this”.  That voice is still in my head trying to convince me to give up on this journey.  To believe I shouldn’t be doing this.  To go back to being unable to do anything.  And, well, she doesn’t get to win.  Ever.  Again.  Nancy Naysayer already had several years, now it’s time for Polly Positive to get a chance.

So, how do you ignore that voice?

How do you push past the negative images, feelings, words, and beliefs to find your inner strength?  To find the voice inside you that believes you can?  It’s not easy.  And it’s something you have to focus on always.  Like all things, it’s a choice.

  • You choose to believe. 
  • You choose to try. 
  • You choose to hear positive words rather than negative ones. 
  • You choose to motivate yourself.  
  • You choose to overcome.

How do you get through a HIIT workout when you have FM? 

How do you choose to tackle an intense 20-week fitness challenge when you could barely walk up a flight of stairs just a few months back? 

It’s all the same.  You make a choice.  You either try or you give up.  You either listen to Nancy Naysayer or Polly Positive.  Believe me, I’ve got the “I can’t” voice SCREAMING at me during some of my workouts.  But I also have Chalene Johnson yelling at me to PUSH harderAND I have ME.  I have the person that I choose to be.  I have the person that I am becoming.  I have the will to be healthier than ever and to continue to strive for more.

You’re not alone.  Everyone hears “no, you can’t” – sometimes it’s from within, sometimes it’s from friends or family.  DON’T LISTEN TO ANY OF THEM.  Only YOU can decide that.  It’s up to you.  Shut down the negative, elevate the positive.  You can do this! ‘Nuff said.

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Food = Fuel

FOOD IS FUEL.

The sooner you start believing that, the healthier you’ll be…

I figured in this journey of mine, it wouldn’t be fair to go on without addressing nutrition.  It has played a HUGE role in my ability to transcend my condition and become stronger, happier, and healthier.  To overshadow it with talk of fitness routines and challenges would be leaving out what is the main reason I am able to do it at all.

Giving it Up

As soon as I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I was reading as much material as possible so that I would feel empowered and in control.  I read up immediately on the dos and don’ts of FM – largely diet and nutrition.  Of course, the top 5 things I could not have were the top 5 things I would NEVER give up – or so I thought at the time.  Here’s what I found on the list of foods to avoid for FM sufferers (also note my reaction to the list when I read it several years ago – before I changed my diet):

  1. Caffeine (Hello, my name is Wendy and I’m a coffee addict)
  2. Aspartame (Hello, my name is Wendy and I’m a diet coke addict)
  3. Gluten (Do they really expect me to give up beer? AND bread?)
  4. Dairy (What would life be without cheese?)
  5. Nightshade plants (Seriously? No tomatoes?)

Okay, so after years of pretending none of this applied to me, I came to realize this line of thinking was ruining my life.  So I started to change.

The first to go? Diet Coke.  Seriously, the stuff is basically poison.  I gave it up in 2008 and haven’t had a single soda since.  And I don’t miss it at all.  Goodbye aspartame.  It’s been nice knowing you.  The rest of the list took some time.  Like YEARS…

How to Give Up the Rest?

Slowly, I began to connect more with my body, how I felt, and what was making me feel that way. I was seeing a clear connection between what I ate and how I felt.  Seems pretty obvious, right?  Well, do you really SEE the connection?  Or do you eat things that are really, really awful for you because it’s too hard to eat healthy?  Uh huh.  We became vegetarians sometime in 2010 or 11.  Cheese-loving vegetarians, but vegetarians nonetheless.  At least it was an improvement.  The next thing to go was gluten.  This happened thanks to James.  He was reading up on how it affects FM and said, “Maybe you should think about giving up gluten”.  At the time, we were regularly going to our favorite pub to sample the latest craft beer offerings.  And what he was saying was we should think about giving up gluten.  And so we did. And things started to get better.  Slowly.

Shakeology & Ultimate Resetbeachbody ultimate reset

This was KEY to my transformation.  I can’t stress enough what the Ultimate Reset experience did for me.  For both James and I really.  We started it March 3, 2013 and finished March 23.  What does it do?  It retrains your mind and body.  It redefines how you see food, how you feel about it, and what you choose to put in your body.  You don’t starve.  In fact, you eat a LOT.  Week one, you’re still eating some dairy – you’re alsShakeology_logo_with_tag_LRo GIVING UP COFFEE.  Yes, that’s right.  This confirmed coffee addict gave it up.  AND I haven’t had it since.  Week 2, you’re going vegan baby.  I thought it would be SO difficult.  And yet, here we are – July 14, 2013 – STILL vegan with no plans to EVER go back.  We’ve NEVER felt better.  I’ve never been healthier.  And without this change, I would NEVER have been able to do the rest.  No Turbo Jam, no TurboFire, no hiking, no conquering FM.  Diet is KEY.  What you fuel your body with is key.  Shakeology is a part of every single day and it truly FUELS my body.  Amazing stuff.  Truly.

Food is FUEL, Not a Reward

Food is not a reward.  Food is how you prepare your body for the things you want to do.  Food is how you prevent disease.  Food is how you prolong your life.  IF you choose the right foods.  It’s not easy.  But it IS worth it.  I never thought I would go vegan.  I never thought I would give up coffee.  I never thought it would make a difference.  But you never know till you try.  And I’m so glad I did.  Because, before I gave those things up, I NEVER thought I could hike, workout, or ever be active again.  Here’s to eating healthy.  Here’s to being healthy.  Here’s to make the right choices for your body.

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Defined

Slide1How do you define yourself?  If you had to pinpoint the one (or two) thing(s) that make you so very you, what would it be?

I suppose this connects to the previous post (Workout Moments of Enlightenment).  I suppose this also connects to the feeling that many of the people I know or have known seem to want to box me in or fit me into a specific definition.  Sometimes, it’s as if they want me to be limited in my abilities still or have a specific set of guidelines by which I operate.  Well, the thing is, I believe we are constantly evolving.  At least those of us with self-awareness and a desire to be the absolute best person we can be.  So, how can we remain the same?  How can we always be defined as X when we are evolving into Y?

I know it must be tough for loved ones when you see a person you care for struggling with some illness or condition.  In fact, I really do know – my mother has Multiple Sclerosis.  But what I’ve noticed as I’ve taken back my life and decreased my FM symptoms dramatically is that there are times when loved ones fall back on your previous limitations.  For example, before my transformation I couldn’t carry much of anything and felt a bit like an invalid at times.  Now, my strength has grown dramatically and I’ll basically carry anything I can.  I’ll do anything I can.  Sometimes, I’m asked “Why are you carrying that?” or Why are you doing that?” My answer? “Because I can.”  So I suppose even throughout my evolution(s), one label remains.  One word will always define me: fighter. 

Today, during my workout, I was amazed at a new achievement.  As usual, it might not seem like much to most people.  But, to me, it was thrilling.  What I’m noticing day after day is that I really am eradicating “Can’t” from my vocabulary.  I can remember when I was unable to do this specific thing on one of the TurboFire workouts and I said “I’m not able to do that yet” – YET.  And what happened?  Now I can.  That’s a fighter for ya.  I just thought, hey maybe I should try this again and see if I can do it yet.  And there you go.  Sometimes you just have to keep trying.  Try every day until can’t becomes can.  It’s a pretty remarkable feeling.

So think about it.  How do you define yourself?  Do you let others define you?  Take control – you own this.  You set the rules.  Make it positive.  Make it empowering.  Define yourself in a way that motivates you to do better; to be better.

There are no excuses.  Just try.  Just give it your all.  And you just might be surprised.

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Workout Moments of Enlightenment

Sometimes, mid-workout, you hear something you’ve heard a thousand times but for some reason – today – it just resonates with you.  And, today I was doing a TurboFire workout with Chalene Johnson.  For those of you who are unaware, she is basically amazing.  She says exactly what you need to hear, when you need to hear it.  She knows when to say “push yourself”and when to say “you’re doing great!” So today, I had one of those moments.  I’d heard it before, but today I thought “I need to write about this”.  So I am.   Here is what she said:

“Never give yourself negative labels.  Give yourself labels that are positive.

Seems simple, right? Well think about it. Really think about it.  How often do you give yourself negative labels? Me? I used to live in a perpetual state of negative label-dom.  Fat. Stupid. Worthless. Not good enough. Weak. A lot of them were learned; drilled into my subconscious by a less than great parent until I started to believe they were true. But, they’re not true. None of them. And that’s one of the many things I’ve realized throughout this process.

One of my biggest labels? One of the things that has been hanging over my head, negatively impacting my life for years? Fibromyalgia. When you say “I have fibromyalgia” it really is just a simple fact. But when it becomes all that you are, it’s a label. A very negative one at that. In years past, saying “I have fibromyalgia” was the equivalent of saying “I’m weak”, “I’m a quitter”, or “I’m just not good enough.”  Today when I say it, I’m saying “I’m a fighter”, “I can”, and “I am good enough”.

Some labels you can’t change. Some labels you choose. Choose positive ones. Force the ones you can’t change to become positive ones.

Never give yourself negative labels. You are good enough. You can do this. You are worth fighting for.

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