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Interviews

Episode 132: Advocating for Fibromyalgia Research Funding with Melissa Talwar

You’re probably aware of the need for more research funding to help us develop new treatments for fibromyalgia. You’re probably also aware of the lack of training most doctors have when it comes to fibromyalgia. But did you realize that the two are connected? Research not only uncovers new potential treatments but also shapes how and what medical schools teach our providers.

Right now, the exact causes of fibromyalgia are unknown. We’ve uncovered many aspects of how it presents, but not enough for it to be definitively classified by medical institutions. That means we don’t even know what specialists to see when we need a diagnosis.

How will this change? More research and advocacy for funding. Advocacy is so important, and in order to advocate for yourself well, you have to be educated about your illness and know yourself well. The better educated you are, the better you can advocate for your needs. This is a significant reason why Tami has created so many episodes of the podcast on Fibromyalgia research and also why she’s so passionate about sharing her experience and the experiences of other people who have fibromyalgia.

Today, Tami is joined by Melissa Talwar, Executive Director of the Support Fibromyalgia Network, a national nonprofit dedicated to empowering individuals with fibromyalgia. In this conversation they discuss why the Support Fibromyalgia Network was formed and how it’s evolved since its founding, what federal advocacy looks like, tackling the lack of funding for fibromyalgia research, the need for systemic changes and research to be able to change the way medical providers are trained, the power of collaborative efforts and patient involvement in driving these systemic changes, the impact of research funding on developing effective treatments and classification for fibromyalgia, current challenges in classifying fibromyalgia, how you can get involved in fundraising and advocacy efforts for fibromyalgia funding and research, the process of going to Capitol Hill to meet with our representatives, how the Support Fibromyalgia Network supports and trains people who want to get started with advocacy, the need for preparedness in sharing our personal stories and experiences, the significance of obtaining governor proclamations and its impact on creating awareness and recognition, the power of a unified voice and collective advocacy, Melissa’s message for anyone who feels like there’s no progress despite the advocacy, being open to experimenting and layering different modalities and tools, exploring a holistic approach to improving your quality of life, upcoming initiatives for the Support Fibromyalgia Network, how a Certified Fibromyalgia Coach® can advocate for you and help you to advocate for yourself, resources you can access to learn more about fibromyalgia research and advocacy, and more.

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Episode 131: GLP-1 Medications with Dr. Isabelle Amigues

GLP-1 medications like Wegovy, Ozempic, and Mounjaro are all the rage right now. Originally marketed as drugs to help diabetics with insulin resistance, they were later discovered to help people lose weight.

With those possibilities, GLP-1 meds are positioned to revolutionize health in the US since about two-thirds of the population is either overweight or obese and at risk for conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

But there’s been another new discovery—GLP-1 medications also have anti-inflammatory properties. Several different studies have since shown that GLP-1 medications help to reduce inflammation in the liver, kidneys, heart, and even the brain (which is of particular interest to fibromyalgia patients).

Today, Tami is joined by rheumatologist Dr. Isabelle Amigues to talk about GLP-1 medications and how they can potentially help those of us with fibromyalgia. In this episode, Tami and Dr. Amigues discuss the unusual way Dr. Amigues is incorporating GLP-1 medications in her practice, what you need to know about GLP-1 medications, the anti-inflammatory effects of GLP-1 medications and the implications, the link between inflammation and adipose tissue, the potential impact of GLP-1 medications on aging-related complications and inflammatory conditions, GLP-1 medications as a tool to get you over the final hurdle to fibromyalgia remission, utlizing mindful eating to help you make better food choices, tapping into the virtuous cycle of weight loss, breaking the stigma and releasing the judgment around our weight, factors to consider before taking GLP-1 medication, who should avoid these medications, putting the horror stories of bad experiences and side effects into context, next steps if you’d like to consult with your doctor about taking a GLP-1 medication, why it’s crucial to work with a qualified specialist, the affordability of GLP-1 medications medications, and more.

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Episode 129: Whole Body Vibration for Fibromyalgia with Sarah Aboody, T-Zone Vibration

Exercise is one of the foundational pillars of health, but with fibromyalgia, we have extra sensitive bodies and nervous systems, and we need to be gentle. That means finding the right exercise to meet our needs can be tricky.

Today, Tami is excited to introduce you to a tool helping her feel even better and that she’s recently been obsessed with: a T-Zone Vibration machine. These machines use whole body vibration, a modality used for decades to increase muscle strength, bone density, and more. In fact, several studies have shown the benefits of whole body vibration for improving fibromyalgia symptoms.

To explore this further and share the results of a small informal study with our students and coaches, Tami is joined by Sarah Aboody, the Owner and General Manager of T-Zone Vibration. In this conversation, Sarah and Tami discuss how whole body vibration works and its uses for improving muscle strength, bone density, flexibility, mobility, and circulation, why oscillating vibration works best for fibromyalgia, benefits and uses of whole body vibration, the results of the informal study on the use of the T-Zone Vibration with Tami and some of our students and coaches, exercise as a pillar of health and how the T-Zone Vibration machine can help to build the habit, guidance for optimizing the use of the machine, why pain and fatigue might temporarily increase after whole body vibration, adapting whole body vibration for different needs, benefits of T-Zone Vibration machines, comparison of the smaller and larger vibration machines, special offers if you want to try a T-Zone Vibration machine, guidelines for getting started with whole body vibration, important considerations and precautions for individuals for whom whole body vibration may not be suitable, and more.

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Episode 125: How To Handle Health Discrimination and Harassment with Meredith Holley

“Taking action and being clear about what we expect does not have to be disrespectful.” – Meredith Holley

It’s very common for people with invisible disabilities like fibromyalgia to experience workplace conflict and discrimination because of it. From snide remarks to outright harassment, it can feel so isolating and even make your symptoms worse.

Despite that, most people don’t want to file a lawsuit. While it sounds so noble to have civil rights litigation, it’s a stressful process that often damages everyone involved. People want the tools and support to create a healthy workplace culture where issues are resolved so people can keep their jobs and receive the medical care they need.

In this episode, Tami is joined by attorney Meredith Holley to talk about speaking up for your needs and handling harassment and discrimination respectfully, whether it’s happening at work or at your doctor’s office. They discuss Meredith’s journey into workplace conflict mediation and communication coaching, her experience with sexual harassment in the workplace, arming yourself with tools to empower yourself at work, how workplace conflict can worsen your fibromyalgia symptoms, the three pillars of empowered communication and how you can use them to handle workplace harassment and discrimination, acknowledging the impact of harassment and our tendency to minimize its effects, the weight of experiences that our cultural values label as “little”, the concept of internalizing blame and responsibility for others’ actions, the importance of setting boundaries, the emotional impact of carrying labels and experiences related to disability, recognizing the choice to embrace or limit yourself in response to your health situation or workplace experiences, the initial steps of noticing and acknowledging harassment, the three steps for bystander intervention, strategies for handling harassment and discrimination with respect and self-focus, listening to your body and taking actions to ensure personal safety in challenging situations, the value of understanding the best ways to communicate with your healthcare providers, navigating challenges with requesting workplace accommodations, embracing open-mindedness and flexibility and a focus on desired outcomes, navigating the balance between self-advocacy and collaborative decision-making with healthcare providers, using professional expertise as a tool, resources you can access, Meredith’s message for you, and more.

If you’re experiencing workplace conflict, know you are not alone and did nothing to deserve it. There are steps we can take to ease the pain and energy drain. This is a problem that’s worth solving.

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Episode 124: One-Year Breakthrough To Fibromyalgia Healing With Kim Osborne

We often underestimate what we can accomplish in a year. The goal can seem so massive that we think we’ll never get there and don’t even bother to try.

That’s why it’s so important to hear stories of hope from people who have been where you are. There is so much you can do in a year; whether or not you go for it, the year will go by. It’s up to you to decide what you want to do between now and then.

Today, we’re having a special bonus episode where Kim Osborne, a current student in our Certified Fibromyalgia Coach® training program, joins Tami. In September 2022, when Kim came to Tami, she was struggling. She was at the end of her rope and didn’t know what else to try. Many of the things that used to help her cope weren’t working for her anymore, and even with her training as a health coach and yoga instructor, she was still feeling miserable. In this episode, Kim shares what worked for her and how her life transformed over the past year.

In this conversation, Tami and Kim discuss Kim’s fibromyalgia diagnosis and the start of her journey, her experience with prescribed medications and struggle with the recommendations from her rheumatologist, the downward slide many of us experience where our lives get smaller and smaller, why Kim decided to explore alternative solutions including seeking a fibromyalgia coach, the decisive moment when you realize life can get better, the feeling of finding hope and support in a community who truly understands you, the powerful impact of being coached by the right person, surprising lessons that came from working with Kim’s fibromyalgia coach, Robin, the drastic difference between a trip Robin took a year ago and again this year, being open to changing goals and expectations when we recognize what our bodies need, Kim’s progress in the past year, the importance of taking action between now and the future, recognizing the real role of a coach, why seeing a functional medicine doctor was game changing for Kim, the subtle difference between wanting to fix fibro and wanting to help yourself feel as good as possible, why Kim decided to take the Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor® course instead of only working with a coach, Kim’s plans for the upcoming year, her experience working with clients during her Certified Fibromyalgia Coach® internship, remembering that each person’s fibromyalgia journey is unique, Kim’s message of hope and encouragement if you’re struggling with your fibromyalgia journey, and more.

If you don’t have your own hope, borrow Kim’s. You can find ways to feel better, and we would love to help.

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Episode 123: Revealing Hidden Diagnoses Beyond Fibromyalgia with Dr. Isabelle Amigues

“You can only truly heal once you’ve accepted what’s going on.” – Dr. Isabelle Amigues

When you’re able to reflect on your fibromyalgia as a teacher, you stop fighting your body and put yourself in the best position to heal. Tami often describes fibromyalgia as the biggest gift life has given her. It’s a sentiment that can be difficult to understand when you’re struggling with getting through each day, but there are things you can do to move forward on your fibromyalgia healing journey.

For too many of us, when we received our fibromyalgia diagnosis, the doctor simply gave us the news and sent us on our way. What is omitted in that process is the fact that several rheumatological conditions can occur alongside fibromyalgia, and by treating those, you may experience significant relief.

If you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and your treatment is not working well, that’s a sign that something else may be going on.

Today, Tami is joined by rheumatologist Dr. Isabelle Amigues to talk about her journey from doctor to patient and why it’s crucial to have the correct diagnosis. In this episode, Tami and Dr. Isabelle discuss Dr. Isabelle’s struggle with early parenthood and recognition she was feeling sad and unfulfilled in her life, her stage three breast cancer diagnosis and how it changed her approach to medicine, reframing cancer as a gift that’s here to teach her something, why her diagnosis taught her to live with meaning and intention, the self-love that came out of Dr. Isabelle’s cancer journey, looking at fibromyalgia as a teacher and why Tami believes it’s the biggest gift life has given her, Dr. Isabelle’s appreciation for her patients and why it’s important to her to empower them, why she created a holistic practice, common conditions associated with fibromyalgia, symptoms that suggest something else may be happening in addition to your fibromyalgia, challenges patients face when seeking a proper diagnosis, why it’s often a good idea to have at least one visit with a rheumatologist, Dr. Isabelle’s message for you, finding the right doctor for you, a doctor’s role as a coach, listening to what your body needs, and more.

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Episode 122: Generational Trauma with Ruschelle Khanna, LCSW

Family stories play a crucial role in shaping our beliefs about health, work, and other aspects of life. In previous episodes, we’ve talked about the way traumatic experiences can impact your health and fibromyalgia. Today, we’re taking it a step further and exploring how the traumatic events that happened to your ancestors can affect your wellbeing.

You may have a family story about a great-aunt who is always sick and uses that to escape family obligations. Or maybe you watched your grandfather work himself to the point of illness. Even positive stories can get twisted over time; either way, they matter. They impact our relationship with our bodies, health, money, and even the world around us. The important thing is we can change those stories.

Today, Tami is joined by Ruschelle Khanna, a licensed clinical social worker and executive coach, to share her expertise on generational trauma. In this episode, Tami and Ruschelle discuss how Ruschelle came to do this work, how generational trauma can impact fibromyalgia and overall wellbeing, why Ruschelle decided to write her book, the concept of inheriting memories and traumatic experiences, Ruschelle’s experience with fear stemming from her mother’s early memories, the impact of family stories and peripheral experiences on generational trauma, how trauma affects the fascia and its connection to fibromyalgia pain, a recent example from a client of Ruschelle’s demonstrating the release of stored emotions through somatic therapy, how trauma affects the body’s flow of energy and information, looking at whether the muscular system, hormonal system, and energetic systems are flowing correctly, parallels between money management and fibromyalgia symptoms, the connection between strained family relationships, childhood trauma, and the development of chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia, what to do if your family isn’t supportive, why you need fo focus on and cultivate the areas where life is supporting you, talking to your body and acknowledging the thoughts and sensations in different body parts, why tapping is an excellent modality for working on the physical aspects of generational trauma, tracing family narratives and rewriting memories, where to find a genealogist or family constellation therapist for help in addressing generational trauma, the difference between coaching and therapy, healing through writing and connecting with ancestors, and more.

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Episode 121: A Gentler Way to Exercise with Fibromyalgia with Katarina Lotrič

For a lot of us with fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses, working on our fitness comes in bursts. We’re told exercise is good for us, but when we go out and do what ordinary people do, it’s too much, and we crash. Then, that cycle repeats itself over and over.

Tami has found a tool that helped her and many of her students and coaches to shift away from this up-and-down cycle and into a healthy relationship with being active. It’s an app called Gentler Streak, and she’s been using it over the last year, during which it’s proven valuable for managing fibromyalgia symptoms while increasing fitness levels.

One of the things Tami loves most about Gentler Streak is that it’s more accurately in tune with how she feels and her normal versus a standard that might apply to someone who doesn’t have fibromyalgia.

Today, Tami is joined by Katarina Lotrič, co-founder and CEO of Gentler Stories, the creators behind the app. Katarina and Tami talk about the story behind the creation of Gentler Streak, recognizing that everybody’s normal is different, the unique features of Gentler Streak that make it suitable for individuals with fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses, the evolution of Gentler Streak to focusing on a holistic approach to activity and wellbeing, challenges with existing health and fitness apps, making room for balance and self-compassion, launching the Gentler Streak app, privacy and how the app works with your Health app, the metrics that are tracked in the wellbeing section of the app, why the decision was made to use sleeping heart rate, the limitations of heart rate variability on the Apple Watch, factors that can impact your sleeping heart rate, how Gentler Streak determines when you’re doing too much activity, insights that can be drawn from heart rate data, the ongoing improvement of the algorithm and the app, tracking other activities and exercise minutes, why it’s important to log your activities at exercises, the special offer you can take advantage of for two free months of Gentler Streak, the important of getting good data in the app, feedback from Tami’s students and coaches about the app, becoming your own companion, how Gentler Streak can help you to treat yourself with kindness, why there isn’t an Android version of the app at the moment, why Tami checks the wellbeing tab in Gentler Streak first thing in the morning, how Tami tracks activity in Gentler Streak, Tami’s goal for using the app, and more.

Tami is so excited to share about Gentler Streak because it’s a gentle and fibro-friendly way to track physical exercise and body movement, and it does it without making you push too hard or feel like you’re not doing enough.

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Episode 119: Menopause and Fibromyalgia with Jeanne Andrus

“No woman is going to get to 90 years old without having gone through menopause.” – Jeanne Andrus

As women, society has trained us to be afraid of menopause. To view it as yet another trial we have to suffer through. The truth is that if you learn to accept it, menopause is a gift. And to take advantage of it, you need to support yourself through it. This is the time when we get to put ourselves at the center. After decades of people pleasing, it allows you to take yourself from the periphery and make decisions from a point where you are considered a priority.

Today, Tami is joined by The Menopause Guru, Jeanne Andrus. Tami and Jeanne discuss how Jeanne became the Menopause Guru, her purpose and passion for helping women navigate this period of their lives, the technical definition of menopause, symptoms and indicators of menopause, the potential connection between perimenopause and fibromyalgia, how hormone levels change from perimenopause onward, the adjustment period at the start of postmenopause, why menopause should be viewed as a journey with unpredictable experiences and changes in the body, testing hormone levels to determine menopause status, special considerations for identifying where you are in the menopause journey if you’ve been on hormonal birth control, why Jeanne suggests working with your doctor to taper off your birth control gradually regardless of menopause status, Tami’s experience with suddenly stopping her birth control pills, how the pituitary and thyroid glands work together to regulate hormone production, why it’s crucial to remember that menopause is a natural process, supporting yourself naturally through the menopause transition, the overlap of fibromyalgia and menopause symptoms, how hormone replacement therapy can help, the shift in perspective that many women experience in their early 40s, how biology influences our roles in life, Jeanne’s resources for women on the menopause journey, why you should start thinking about menopause in your mid-30s, embracing menopause as a gift, how fibromyalgia can impact menopause symptoms, and more.

For those of us with fibromyalgia, many symptoms of menopause overlap, like insomnia, brain fog, pain, and fatigue. You cannot blame all of your symptoms on fibromyalgia because they can be coming from many other places, including hormones. If you’re a woman who’s 30 or above, it’s time to start thinking about menopause.

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Episode 118: More Energy with the Adrenal Transformation Protocol with Dr. Izabella Wentz

“The big rule of thumb is to do things that make you feel better.” – Dr. Izabella Wentz

Adrenal dysfunction is a significant contributing factor to fibromyalgia, and over the years, we’ve never met someone with fibromyalgia who didn’t also need to heal their adrenals. For Tami, supporting her adrenals and correcting her adrenal function resulted in her feeling much better.

For today’s episode, Tami is joined by Dr. Izabella Wentz, author of the new book Adrenal Transformation Protocol. Tami and Dr. Wentz discuss Dr. Wentz’s experience with adrenal dysfunction, how she found solutions at different stages of her life, why it’s essential to address both thyroid and adrenal health together, the interactive relationship between cortisol and thyroid hormones, the distinction between between adrenal fatigue and adrenal dysfunction, sources of stress that are often overlooked, dealing with medical gaslighting, the frustrating but common pattern of disrupted cortisol levels affecting sleep, how to regulate cortisol production and optimize your circadian rhythm, why we need natural light exposure where possible, Dr. Wentz’s passion for empowering people to take charge of their health, the Adrenal Transformation Protocol, different ways you can send your body safety signals, making time to minimize stress triggers in daily life and add pleasurable activities, different patterns of adrenal dysfunction, when exercise is beneficial versus detrimental for individuals, strategies for building resilience, the value of positive affirmations and the need to address unresolved trauma, the impact of self-talk on inflammation and stress in the body, the cumulative power of small changes, Dr. Wentz’s message for you, and more.

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