living life as a coach with fibromyalgia

February 18, 2013

The winter months have been busy with coaching activities. I am an assistant coach with 3 teams, 2 soccer and 1 basketball. It sounds a bit crazier than it really is. Most days it is helping navigate young female sport players around the field or court. I enjoy the physical activity and interacting with players and coaches in a healthy atmosphere. There are usually several girls who enjoy having a female coach around (most of the other coaches are male), though I tend to be structured and disciplined, I also connect on the emotional level. My favorite thing about being a coach is connecting with the players and building them up. My second favorite is the team dynamic, and strategizing on how to create a stronger team by building on the strengths and working through the challenges of the individuals.

My biggest challenge tends to be dealing with the mental processing and dealing with conflicts that arise. Since I don’t know the game of basketball real well, it takes a lot out of me to learn the fundamentals and think about what I can do to help. Though overall the conflicts with players and coaches are pretty mild, issues still arise. As a coach, I want to make an impact on the individuals, and when I say something I wish I hadn’t said, or missed an opportunity to build a player up, I feel disappointed in myself. With about 15 coaches in the 3 teams, it is a lot of personalities to deal with, especially when I prefer to please. There is some simplicity with men, in they appear to be more direct and move on, I also realize we can be a different species, and find myself longing for a girls’ night out. Any stress (whether real or perceived) or mental challenges can zap my limited energy, and increase my pain level.

I have also been trying to build a health coaching business. I absolutely love coaching people, but don’t care for the networking aspect. I am constantly battling inner conflicts of my own values and insecurities. I believe in the food program/healthy living that is the core of the business I am trying to establish, but also realize it isn’t for everyone trying to lose weight/become healthy. I personally have felt better as I am trying to change my eating habits, and am able to do things like coach 3 teams. I love being fit and healthy. Because I am uncomfortable promoting to people, I feel like a failure because I don’t know where to find people who would be interested in such a program, and don’t want to overemphasize weight loss because it can imply that I am criticizing people. I find myself completely shutting down, and realize this has little to do with my current reality. I will keep attempting to deal with the inner conflicts so I can see more clearly what direction to move here.

I am grateful to be so involved with my family. Did I mention my husband is a coach on two of the teams? It really is a family affair in the coaching world. I think back to 7 years ago when I spent a great deal of time on the couch resting from the daily activities and energizing myself so I can connect with those around me. Though I was still involved with my family, it was much more difficult to engage in the outside world. There is no magical cure, and it takes a great deal of soul-searching each day to determine where to invest my energy. Some days it seems to work, other days, not so sure. I will keep trying, keep searching, keep praying, to find the balance and build those relationships.  In the meantime I will keep making those memories on the field and on the court.

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Now I am a Health Coach

November 19, 2012

I am excited about my own journey towards greater health and being part of this journey with you.  When I began a new food plan in October of 2012, I had three hopes for myself.  1.  To become a health coach as I love coaching other people.  2. To lose 10-15 pounds, as I carry all excess weight in the middle increasing my rate for heart problems (which run in our family).  3.  To reduce my symptoms from Fibromyalgia – lesser pain and greater energy. 

My particular plan consisted of both vegetarian and gluten-free options.  I have always wondered if certain food items could contribute to my health problems.  Though I am not yet sure whether it is the change in the food choices and/or the nutrition in the products, I am certain that it is changing my life.  My energy has increased drastically, and I am on my way to being drug free because of the reduction in pain.  I can’t wait to edit this section with “I am not on medication”.  I have found hope after years of struggles.  I also have lost 8 pounds so far and have about 5 pounds more to go .

I love the simplicity of this program.  I can take things step by step – making changes and learning as I go.  I have never cared for cooking, so the easy meals work.  I have learned how to cook fish for the first time, and prefer this over chicken any day.  My favorite meal is the cappuccino drink once I learned to use the blender to stir the mix with boiling water.  I also enjoy the puddings, the shakes and the brownies.  I eat the cereal for my “to go” food or emergency food, since the bars have gluten in them.  I always liked cereal. 

I have spent the last month trying to incorporate the program into my life.  I strive for a life of integrity, and desire to live out the words I say in my personal actions.  I have read through the book and utilized the study guide to learn some nutrition fundamentals I thought I knew.  I have also enjoyed listening to numerous support calls to understand some of the challenges we face and ways to work with them. I was surprised how the simple things could make a difference, and how much there is to learn.  Fortunately I can take all these lessons step by step, which is the best way for me to make changes.  Much of my hesitation regarding a program switched to amazement at how much wisdom and support was offered to aid me in becoming healthy. 

My biggest struggle is social situations.  I am still learning how to deal with eating around people and managing the peer pressure I feel, or think I feel.  I miss my skim milk and still crave breads and pizza.  Fortunately, these situations are limited, and most of the time I am grateful for my new health, less pain, more energy, and that my jeans aren’t tight. 

More about the program can be found at http://healthcoachelissa.tsfl.com/.  You can also send me an e-mail at bugzy@aol.com with any questions or if you want me to send information your way.  The idea of this program is to achieve greater health through changing your habits.  This could include losing weight, reducing health problems and medications, being more fit, understanding healthier living, learning about nutrition and more.  I have been greatly impressed by what I have learned so far, and am excited to share it with you. 

On a personal note – I have been married almost 20 years and have 2 middle school daughters.  I have a degree in sociology with a minor in psychology.  I love reading memoirs, blogging, learning, planning and researching.  I enjoy traveling – whether camping, visiting relatives or going to Hawaii.  My favorite fitness activities are coaching soccer, racquetball, weight lifting, yoga, and running. 


New food plan experiment

October 26, 2012

Next week, I am planning on trying a vegetarian and gluten free plan to see if it affects my symptoms in any way.  I have heard various people share of miraculous recoveries because of a particular diet plan, yet have been skeptical.  Even though I don’t expect drastic results, I believe I will feel better if I make some improvements in my food choices.   Anything that has the potential of helping me, especially with little cost, is worth trying.  I have most of my food ready to go!

I have been continuing with the 15M plan most days.  I have been able to do some form of exercise each day for at least 15 minutes.  Most days I do more than this.  On the days that I have really struggled, I utilize Netflix to watch something of interest.  I do best being consistent when I schedule something with a friend, other days I have to result to more procrastination tactics on my part.

I am also trying to make my top 5-8 items I need to accomplish each day.  I find it is really important for me to feel a sense of progress, especially when life feels more routine.  The check-off sheets remind me that I am doing well, making progress, even if I can’t do everything.


Plan 15M – A life of adaptation

October 1, 2012

Last week I was really sick with some stomach bug.  I am hoping it is just the flu and not some new chronic condition.  Fibromyalgia has a way of stealing my innocence.  I am aware that many chronic conditions seem to take place after regular illnesses and stress.  This was the case for me with fibromyalgia.  I initially had a cold virus and was dealing with some stressful situations in my life.  The antibiotics might have also contributed to my body shutting down.  Unfortunately now when I have an illness that lingers, I go back down memory lane (somewhat like pstd) and feel fear.  Though I have recovered somewhat (meaning I can leave the couch), I still am struggling to eat.

Often when I start some exercise routine, I seem to get sick.  Though if I probe closer, I generally fight infections regularly anyway, and have many allergies that can bring me down.  A regular cold may hit me a bit harder than before fibromyalgia.  I could pretty much function ok, but scaled down some.  Because my life is already scaled down, and my body running with less energy, a cold can knock me out.  I decided my body needed some rest, and limited my exercise last week.

Fortunately life always has many plan Bs to choose from.  This week I will go with plan 15M.  My goal is 15 minutes a day of some exercise even though I still feel sick.  My neighbor needs her dog walked as she is recovering from surgery.  This is a great place to start.  I will also continue the P90X plan.  As I anticipate more illnesses in the future, whatever time I miss for illness, I will extend to my plan.  The P90X plan is geared for making changes every 3 weeks.  So if I miss a week for illness, I will spend 4 weeks in that particular area.  I might add a few sprints into my dog walking, but will take it easier on the running for now.

The good news about having stomach aches is I am forced to eat better.  It seems I do better with healthier food – who knew?  I even cooked up some tofu that didn’t taste too bad.  Next time I will google how to cook tofu before cooking it.  I don’t know why there isn’t instructions on the package like every other food you buy.

There is a good possibility the stomach pains are partly because of my medication reduction.  Though I haven’t reduced my medication in weeks, it feels similar to what I experienced when going off other narcotics.  For now I will continue to maintain my current level of medication.

Well off to call my neighbor about the dog walk.  Wish you all a great week…..


Another day…..let the scales tip

September 23, 2012

In my dream land I would find the balance – perhaps that would be all too boring.  I am happy to report I did great on my exercise this week – yoga class, P90X yoga, cardio and 3 resistance training at the beginner level, 3 days of running/walking and 2 days playing racquetball.  Ok – perhaps I am over the top, and paying for it.  For this I take the weekend off – well sorta – 4 games this weekend where I am the assistant coach.

I look at the piles on the coffee table.  At least 20 books waiting for me to read/review.  About 6 of them I haven’t returned to the library because I want to blog about them.  Thankfully with renewals I can have about for about 12 weeks, unless others are requesting the book.  The laundry is in the dryer, so some housework is being done.  My husband even made the bed, something in which is on my “what’s the point” list.  I hate tucking my blankets in anyway.

I hate the idea of scaling back on the exercise.  I feel really good as far as energy level and outlook on life.  There are some moments I feel really up, bubbling with energy, talking a bit excessively, and radiating joy where I go.  Love that!  Fortunately I can keep up – though my skills in racquetball need some work.  On the down side, my poor knees are going in revolt.  What is preventing me from forging ahead isn’t fibro but my pathetic knees.  I tried to limit the hill running, though I think when the endorphins kick in I can’t feel the pain, so what I do is push myself a little too much. Ooh yeah, love the sprints too.  Doing the squats that seem to strengthen my knees, may not help either.

My dream of being medication free is still on the back burner for now.  I am hoping to reduce again, if I can keep myself active enough without putting myself in bed for a week with illness and/or injury.  I am content with the level for now, but in the general health outlook, the exercise and food seem like the best place to focus for now.

I am learning to use my laptop as intended – on the lap. This is helpful when I continue my ice and heat treatment.  The ice really helps with the healing especially in my knees.  I am trying to ice and heat 3x a day, though 2 seems to be more accurate.  A great way to gain down time.  My cat Jet, loves it.

One other benefit to exercising with fibro, is it forces me to eat better.  It appears that my stomach can tolerate less unhealthy food when I am more active.  I crave food like salads, which to me is a rare thing indeed.  Still love ice cream, but tends to make me sick the next day.

So the week ahead awaits me.  Another opportunity for balance in the life of the fibro patient.  I may need to attempt some modifications to my exercise routine this week, such as more walking and less running.  If I am not able to have enough cardio, I may want to try some swimming one of the days.  I will need to push myself a bit to do the needed but less thrilling chores.  Though at times I feel a need to rest, other times I just hate cleaning the kitchen every day.

Thanks for reading – time to change the ice.  Like everything else, moderation isn’t always my forte.


Exercise for people with fibromyalgia

September 17, 2012

It seems that many experts on fibromyalgia do not recommend intense cardio exercise.  Perhaps the assumption that more jarring on the muscles will increase the pain.  This may be the case for some people, but has not been my personal experience.

In general my favorite ways of exercising have been running, weight lifting and aerobic classes.  When I began experiencing chronic pain I tried yoga, more walking and swimming.  Before chronic pain, my philosophy was to make the most of my time and the more intense the cardio the better.  When doing weight lifting, I would lean towards less reps and more weight, versus a lighter workout.  I was surprised that yoga was not as relaxing as I had envisioned, much more physically demanding when my body wasn’t prepared for it.

Regardless of what exercise I do, if I push myself beyond my fitness level in any capacity I will generally experience pain later on.  I have experienced this with running, walking long distances or with lots of hills, light or heavy weights, yoga, or even gardening.   When I didn’t have fibromyalgia I would also ache the next day, but it feels more intense when I have fibromyalgia.  My body can take longer to adapt to new exercises.

The advantages of doing a higher aerobic exercise is that the endorphins also help in reducing my pain.  I have noticed that many times after a run my pain is drastically reduced for the 3-5 hours.  I also have increased energy to do other activities and my mood is elevated.  I have started to add some sprints into my run to produce more endorphins and raise my fitness level.  Sometimes the increase in exercise may bring a crash if I overdo it.

Personally I prefer a variation of exercises to keep myself fit.  I am trying to increase my higher aerobic exercise to keep the endorphins kicked in.  Currently I am aiming for 5 days a week of running or racquetball (15 minutes at a higher intensity), as well as other strength training like weights and yoga.  I find that warm up and cool down are important as well as icing and heat to calm the muscles.  Lots of walking and stretching seems to help prevent more pain later.

Last week I checked out a book, Bring It, by Tony Horton on the P90X exercises.  I have the videos on hold at the library, but it could be another 6-9 months before my turn comes up.  I have heard many people rave about this program, and figured it could be helpful since the beginning routines are geared at 20 minutes of exercise at home.  They have cardio, resistance and yoga routines.  They have some great exercise routines for all levels of fitness.  Though according to the quiz in the book, I am more intermediate, I thought it would be better to start at the beginner routine until I can develop the consistency.  This is a great book for anyone as it gives great illustrations on different exercises and routines to follow.  I put the page numbers for the exercises on a sheet of paper (don’t know them all by name yet) so I can quickly go through the routines.  Having a book allows me to go at my own pace (longer or shorter) and tends to be more relaxing than a video. If an exercise is too painful I can modify or skip it entirely.  I will eventually purchase the book for my own library.

Well I think I am awake enough now to attempt some exercise.  I will start with a run/walk then maybe do some resistance training.  Eventually I will need to find some time for the laundry piles and mopping the floors.  When I figure out how to keep the house clean and exercise I will let you know.  There is always tomorrow :).


Time Management

September 10, 2012

School is back in session for my two middle school daughters.  We have had a great summer, and I miss them already.  I love the carefree summer days, and the extended family time.  September brings us back to schedules, homework, more soccer and routines.  It is a time I start evaluating my priorities and thinking about what to do with my extra time.

I have been doing well with my new exercise routine.  I am trying to do something at least five days a week.  I coach soccer in the evening, though this entails less physical activity most of the time.  I am trying to walk/run 3 days a week, and play racquetball once or twice a week.  I hope to make yoga class once or twice a week and do some weight training.  If I am able to keep up with this routine I know I will feel better.  I will have more energy, feel more positive, have less pain generally, be more fit, and look better.

The ice and heat routine has been helpful.  I am typing today with a heat pad on my back. I find that the ice and heat are reducing my pain level, and I have been able to continue to run a few times a week without too much knee pain.  In order to cover most of my body it takes about 3 hours a day.  If I am lying around, I will add in more time.

As much as I am enjoying my healthy life and the benefits it brings, I am wondering about how I can keep up with my other responsibilities as well.  It can be hard to keep up with family members and do the daily chores at home.  I also have a couple of opportunities that have come up that I am considering.  One would involve a significant amount of time but could make a huge impact for many.  The other could possibly improve my health.  Much of life seems to be about making decisions on the best course of action that balances taking care of myself and being with others.   I was looking forward to this period of health focus, but perhaps there is something else in store for me.

Wishing you all a good week…..

 


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