Episode 30: Where Do I Start? Ask the Coach

Where Do I Start? Ask the Coach

When the Options for Improving Your Fibromyalgia Become Overwhelming

  • There are so many ways for you to start feeling better! How do you choose?
  • Fibromyalgia is complicated and affects so many areas of your life. It can often be difficult to know where to begin on the road back to health.
  • Learn four ways to approach finding the best place to start (or continue) your personal fibromyalgia healing journey.
  • The four questions you should ask yourself to determine the next best step for you.

Thousands of fibro patients are dispelling the gloomy prognosis that once came with fibromyalgia. The good news is there are so many ways for you to start feeling better! With so many options to take back your health and your life, the new challenge is figuring out where to begin. Do you start with cutting out sugar? Adding a supplement? Improving your sleep hygiene? Trying new techniques for pain remediation? Relax. Now smile. Tami offers expert guidance with four simple questions.

Links & Resources

  • Get free copies of Tami’s books here
  • Tami will be teaching LIVE, one class each month, for the entire year 2020. This is the same information that she teaches her Coaches, clients, and students. These classes will not be recorded, so we hope you can join us LIVE. Go to FibroWorkshop.com to find out what Tami is teaching next.
  • Below you will find both a full transcript and video of the episode, with the studies mentioned in the show linked in the transcription.
Play Video


You are listening to the Fibromyalgia Podcast with Tami Stackelhouse, Episode 30. 

Welcome to the Fibromyalgia Podcast! I’m your Coach, Tami Stackelhouse, and today is our third Ask the Coach episode.

[00:58] Before we dive into that, I’ve got this week’s listener shout out. This one is from iTunes, and it was posted by Trumpet042002.

She says, “My 17-year-old was just diagnosed after years of trying to figure out what was going on. Your podcast is exactly what I need. I started on Episode 1, and I’m listening to all of them. Thank you for your compassion, advice, and skill at addressing fibromyalgia in a complete way. I love this so much.”

[01:36] Thank you so much for your review, for posting that on iTunes and sharing your experience with us. For those of you who don’t know, we have had a couple of episodes actually on… I’m sorry, I’m trying to look this up while I’m talking to you!

[01:52] We’ve had a couple of episodes on juvenile fibromyalgia. The first one was Episode 16 with Dr. Melissa Congdon. We talk about how she diagnoses fibromyalgia in adolescents, what to look for, some things like that. We also have Episode 25 with Jara Halfen. Her daughter was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in her early teens and is doing awesome now. If you want to check those out, again, that is Episode 16, so FibromyalgiaPodcast.com/16, and then Episode 25, so FibromyalgiaPodcast.com/25, and you’ll find both of those episodes.

[02:40] If you have a child that is starting to exhibit some of the signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia, I highly recommend listening to both of those episodes. They will give you the tools and the resources you need to know what to do next, to know how to help your child best. There are even some tips on how to handle school and a few of those other things. I hope you’ll check those out.

[03:04] I also have a quick announcement for you guys. We have our next monthly workshop coming up in a few weeks. This will be on Tuesday, March 24th. It will be at 3 PM Pacific time / 6 PM Eastern time. Our March workshop is going to be all about working with your doctor. It’s going to be things like: 

  • How to find a new doctor if you need a new doctor
  • What to look for in a good doctor
  • How to communicate with your doctors so that they really listen to you and understand what you need
  • How to advocate for yourself as a patient
  • What your responsibilities are for following your doctor’s instructions
  • And all of those kinds of things. This is to help make sure you get the best care possible.

[03:54] If you’re interested in being part of that workshop, they are totally free to attend. They are open to anyone, but they are limited for how many people can actually be on the call at once. You will definitely want to RSVP for this. You’ll be able to do that and get all the information at FibroWorkshop.com. That will have all the details for you. Just RSVP there, and we’ll get you all signed up. I hope that we see you on March 24th.

[04:26] All right! Are you ready to dive into today’s question? I love this one, and this actually has come up on several of our workshops that we’ve done so far this year. 

One of the questions I get asked all the time by clients, by students, by my coaches even, is “Where do I start? How do I know where I should start?” Especially with something like fibromyalgia, when it’s complicated and affects so many areas of your life, it can often be difficult to know where to begin.

[05:06] There are four areas that I like to look at. There are four sort of “approaches” that I take with my private clients when we are trying to decide the best place to start.

[05:21] My personal favorite place to start is with what’s easy. As you’re thinking about the things that you might need to do to improve your fibromyalgia symptoms… You might need to find a new doctor. You might need to improve your sleep. You might need to manage your energy better. You might need to change some of your bad habits. You might need to change your diet. There are lots and lots of things that you could possibly do. What feels easiest? There is nothing wrong with going for the low hanging fruit. If there is something easy that you can do to help yourself feel better, do it. Start there.

What will happen is you’ll get that tiny little success. You were able to do that easy thing, and that will motivate you to do something maybe a little bit harder. It’ll also help you feel better, right? If there’s an easy thing that you can do to help you have more energy or to reduce your pain or to have less brain fog or better sleep, by doing that easy thing that will actually give you more energy, more brain space, less pain, so that you can then add something else to that. Starting with what’s easy is my number one choice for most clients.

[06:52] The second thing is looking at what feels the heaviest to you, whatever your biggest challenge is. When you think about your life, when you think about your fibromyalgia, if you think, “Oh my gosh, if I could just get a decent night’s sleep, I would feel so much better.” Maybe it doesn’t feel easy, but it’s the thing that you dream of. It’s the thing that makes you the most frustrated. It’s the thing that makes you the most anxious. By all means, start there, because you’re super motivated to do something about it, right? You can start with the thing that drives you the most crazy, the thing that makes you the most frustrated. That’s the second option.

The third thing that you can do is start with the thing that feels the most fun or the most enjoyable to you. Maybe the idea of going to bed an hour earlier sounds so not fun. Maybe it triggers your inner two-year-old to stamp her foot and say, “No, I don’t want to go to bed on time!” That’s totally fine. Don’t start with that. Find what would feel fun or what would feel enjoyable.

Maybe it would be fun for you to do some coloring. Coloring has been found to be very similar to meditation. It can be a kind of meditation. Maybe instead of going to bed an hour earlier, maybe you spend that time coloring, right? Think about what might feel fun or enjoyable. Maybe taking a cooking class so you can learn how to cook healthier food might feel fun. It’s totally up to you for what this thing is.

[09:05] To recap: 

  1. What’s easy? 
  2. What makes you the most frustrated? What is your biggest challenge? 
  3. What feels like the most fun? Where would be a fun, enjoyable place to start?

[09:19] Fourth on my list for where to start when you are starting to work on your fibromyalgia symptoms, or if you reach a plateau and you need to find a new way to start improving your symptoms, the fourth thing that I look at is: what is going to give you the most bang for your buck? What’s going to make the biggest difference?

I’ll just be totally honest with you guys. This one is really hard for you to figure out on your own, because you don’t know what’s going to help you the most. You don’t know how a particular supplement might help you. You don’t know how your body might respond to a particular treatment. This fourth one is really for those of you who have good doctors you can ask, who have coaches that you’re working with. You can ask your coach, “Where should I start?” Those kinds of things are usually where this fourth option comes into play.

[10:22] I do this a lot for my clients. My clients will often ask me, “Well, where do you think I should start?” I will often tell them things like, “Well, if you could change this one thing here, it will change all of these other things, and it will actually give you more bang for your buck.” I might say, “Well, I would actually start with this thing here because we’ll know right away if it works or if it doesn’t work. It either works and it’s awesome, or we know right away it doesn’t work, and we can try something new faster.” This is another way of making the biggest difference for you. Instead of waiting six months to find out if something works, if we can find out in a couple of weeks if it works or not, then you can go on to either adding something on top of that or trying something else.

[11:20] Again, just to recap: 

  1. First, for knowing where to start, is just thinking about what’s easy. What feels easy? What is the next tiny little baby step that you can take to just start moving forward and making a change in your life?
  2. The second thing is: What is your biggest challenge and frustration? What are you super motivated to change or fix or add?
  3. The third option is: What feels the most fun? What would be enjoyable? What would you love to do? What would you add in or change? Usually this is more of an “add in” kind of thing, because doing something that’s enjoyable usually means adding something in.
  4. Then fourth: What is going to make the biggest difference for you? What is going to give you the biggest bang for your buck? Ask somebody who knows enough about you and your situation, and about fibromyalgia, and about what it is that you might try, to be able to give you a really good, educated, expert opinion on that.

[12:32] Now, in part of this question of “How do I know where to start?”, I know there’s also a real practical aspect to that question too. Which is: Do I start with improving my sleep? Do I start with reducing my pain? Do I start by changing my diet? Do I need to cut out sugar? Do I need to add this supplement? Like, how do I know which of these things I should do?

[13:01] That I can’t tell you on a podcast, because I don’t know your situation. Right? Like, I’m here in my office recording this, and there is nobody else here with me. I can’t ask you questions. I can’t look at your medical history. I can’t ask you how you’ve responded to other things, to know how you might respond to this new thing. Right?

[13:28] If you are looking for that kind of specific, practical advice for literally, “What should I do next?”, then I would recommend that you schedule a consultation. This is exactly what we do with our clients.

[13:45] If you’re interested in doing that, you can go to FibromyalgiaPodcast.com. You’ll see the Find a Coach link in the upper right hand corner. You just fill out that application, and you can schedule a time to talk to someone. We now have coaches — I’m just so amazed at this — we now have coaches in nine countries around the world, now that our most recent class has graduated.

[14:10] I have space, at least at the time that I’m recording this, I have space for a few people in a new class that I’m doing. It’s actually for patients, helping patients, educating them on fibromyalgia, and teaching them how to manage their illness. It’s based on the work that I’ve done with my private clients, but also with the coaches and advisors that I’ve trained. We’ve got space in that class as I’m recording this.

[14:40] I also have all those coaches, all over the world, many of whom are taking new clients. If you really need that one-on-one, “Here’s my medical history, what do you think I should do?”, we would love to have that conversation with you. We aren’t doctors. We can’t prescribe. We can’t diagnose. I can’t run lab tests for you, you know, things like that. However, I can look at the things that your doctor is doing and give you my expert opinion, based on my own experience of 11 years now as a coach, working with clients. I can also give you a pretty good idea of how I think your body is going to respond to things, based on your past experience and what I’ve seen with other clients.

[15:37] For instance, if someone has a hard time with meditation, sometimes — there are other questions I would need to ask, to feel this out a little bit more — sometimes that can be a good indicator that certain other types of therapies, like potentially even acupuncture, aren’t going to work as well. We might want to try something else. There are other kinds of meditation we can also try, right? The more we know about you, the better recommendations that we can make.

[16:13] There are other tools that we use as well. Different types of assessments or quizzes we might have you take can kind of clue us in on how your brain is working, or what your body might need, and educate you on what some of those options might be. Supplements to talk to your doctor about, potential tests to run that maybe your doctor hasn’t thought of that might indicate that your body is processing certain things in a different way and that it needs a little bit of additional help. There are a lot of things like that, that we can educate you on and give you advice on, in terms of what direction you might like to go.

This question of: “How do I know where to start?” is such an awesome question, because fibromyalgia is such a big thing, and honestly there are so many things that you can do to feel better. There are lots of places you could start. That’s the good news. You have so many options, and there are a full range of prices. Some of them can be covered under insurance, some aren’t. Depending on your situation, we can help guide you there.

[17:28] The most important thing is, if you are looking for general guidance on: How do I make a decision for myself? Where do I start? I recommend asking yourself those four questions. 

  1. What feels easiest? 
  2. What is driving me crazy right now? What do I want to fix the most, my biggest challenge? 
  3. What feels like the most fun? What would be the most enjoyable? 
  4. What is going to give me the biggest bang for my buck? What is the thing that is going to make the biggest difference?

[18:03] If you’re looking for more specific advice on literally, “What should I do next with my specific situation, my medical history, my symptoms and challenges?”, then I recommend that you schedule a consultation. We can talk about what that might look like, because working with a coach is exactly that kind of very specific advice that you are looking for. Again, you can go do that at FibromyalgiaPodcast.com. Look for the Find a Coach link in the upper right hand corner, and you’ll be able to do that.

I also just want to remind you: take advantage of my monthly webinars that I’m doing, those monthly online classes. I know we’re not recording those, and we’re doing that for a reason. They’re interactive, and I want you to feel comfortable sharing about your situation, so that I can give you specific advice for you. Just know that you have to be there live for that. For that reason, we’re not recording them, so that your private medical information stays private. That’s also why we lock the calls at five minutes after, so that we know who’s in the room, and everybody feels safe. Do take advantage of those. We do those once a month, as I mentioned at the beginning. The next one is on Tuesday, March 24th. Go to FibroWorkshop.com to get all of those details.

[19:41] All right, you guys! I’m going to go ahead and wrap it up for today’s episode. It’s a little bit on the shorter side, but that is what I can tell you about knowing where to start with treating your symptoms and managing your symptoms. Just know there are so many things you can do, and you can feel better. That is what this podcast is all about, educating you, teaching you, and empowering you with the tools that you need, so that you can live your best life possible.

[20:16] All right, you guys, I will see you back here in two weeks. I am so excited. We are going to have the ChronicBabe herself. Jenni Grover is going to be here for Episode 31. She is going to be talking about her new venture. She’s going to be talking about Creative Resilience. I just love that! Creative Resilience. I have my idea of what I think that means, and I’m so excited to talk to Jenni to hear more about her idea of exactly what that means. I hope you guys will join us back here in two weeks as I interview Jenni about Creative Resilience.

[20:59] All right, you guys! See you here then, or online in one of our free classes. Don’t forget to go to FibromyalgiaPodcast.com for all the links, all the resources, for the free books, to schedule that consultation, and all the goodies. See you two weeks. Bye!

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