I’ve followed Tami Stacklehouse for years, so when I saw that her book was available on Amazon I snatched it up. The idea of being a health coach is something that has appealed to me at times. When I had to give up the idea of completing a graduate degree and pursuing counseling in that way I gave a lot of thought to life and/or health coaching. It’s something I may still consider at some point. But, at the moment I have enough on my plate. However, health coaching is exactly what Tami Stacklehouse does, in fact she has dubbed herself the Fibromyalgia Coach because that’s her focus as a health coach. Her focus is on helping people with Fibromyalgia take back their life.
Thus the name of her book, Take Back Your Life: Find Hope And Freedom From Fibromyalgia Symptoms And Pain. The book is well laid out with instructions on how to use it provided first. Tami makes it clear that while you can read the book from back to front, you can also simply “choose your own adventure” and focus on the chapters that you deal with the issues you want to address.
So, what are the chapters?
- What it means to have Fibromyalgia
- Can I get better?
- How do I stop the pain?
- How can I have more energy?
- How can I get better sleep?
- How do I work with my doctor?
- how can I help myself?
- Would working with a health coach be helpful?
Each chapter contains a number of sub-headings that helpfully break things up and make it easier to read. Tami has Fibromyalgia so she understands that we can’t focus in big chunks. That’s clear from the way this book is laid out and I certainly appreciated it.
Each chapter contains a wealth of great information and this book has helpful advice regardless of where you are in your Fibromyalgia journey. For those who are new, the first chapter is going to be a great help explaining things like “Fibromyalgia varies from patient to patient”. She explains the current science and how while science is continually advancing, they’ve not yet found us a cure. She explains how we process pain differently, the typical symptoms, and how a Fibromyalgia diagnosis is made. And, even that “a diagnosis isn’t the most important thing”.
What really matters is whether or not we can get better and that’s what she addresses in chapter 2. She points out that “many factors influence your ability to get better” The first is your willingness to make it happen, to do the work. There’s no cure but there are ways to feel better. She shares her approach and how you have to attack all the symptoms at once to feel better. And that the path to feeling better isn’t a straight line. You might feel worse before you feel better.How much you improve is directly influenced by your willingness to do the work. Click To Tweet
The next couple of chapters provide ways to improve the specific symptoms of Fibromyalgia. She explains the pain cycle and how you need to reduce the various sources of the pain. She explains why you might need pain medications (at least initially) to get things under control. She explains that pharmaceuticals are just one piece of the puzzle but a piece that shouldn’t be ignored. She also provides many other helpful treatments that may be helpful in getting your pain under control.
You can choose to spend your energy worrying about all the things you can’t accomplish, or how messy your house is. Or you can choose to let that go and focus on what really matters: your family, work, friends, loving, living” – Tami Stacklehouse
I love the quote above. We do spend too much time and energy worrying and that worry leads to stress. We could be spending our time and energy on things that matter. She explains the “push and crash cycle” and how we can stop it and learn to pace ourselves so that we can do what we want to do. She talks about how you need to understand your body’s rhythm and know when it works best and plan accordingly.You have to practice saying No and speak up for your own needs. Click To Tweet
She also has some amazing bonuses that are part of this book. Things to help you really assess your own situation and learn to pace and live life within your energy budget.
She discusses the importance of getting a sleep study to rule out other possible causes of sleep disturbance. I’m always amazed that this isn’t one of the first things that doctors order when they diagnose Fibromyalgia (or even before they diagnose it). It shouldn’t be something we have to ask for, yet it is. She also discusses sleep hygiene. I love this quote:
But sleep hygiene isn’t about doing specific things on a professional’s checklist; it’s about finding out which things work for you, and building a habit of doing them.” – Tami Stacklehouse
This sums up everything about what she says throughout this book. Fibromyalgia treatment is personal. We are each unique and our symptoms are unique, therefore what it will take for us to feel better is unique. Reading her book and her blog, that’s what I get from her. Fibromyalgia coaching is all about learning what YOU need to feel better.
In the chapter on working with your doctor she points out that ” it’s unlikely that one doctor will be able to meet all of your needs.” This is so true. We need a team of doctors that are willing to actually communicate with each other. She has some great advice on preparing for your doctor appointments, talking with your doctor, and even firing your doctor when needed.
The next time you have a bad doctor experience, treat it like a bad restaurant–post a review and don’t go back! By doing this, we can change the face of health care. Bad doctors will go out of business and good doctors will thrive.” – Tami Stacklehouse
Of course, my favorite chapter is “How Can I Help Myself”. Tami discusses self-care and explains what it really means. It’s so important for us to treat ourselves the right way. She defines self-care as “The act of treating yourself the way you would treat someone that you love.”You should treat yourself the way that you would treat someone you love. Click To Tweet
She shares the importance of showing others how you want to be treated, by treating yourself the way you want to be treated. We often forget that we are setting examples for others. When we tell them that we want to do certain things or be treated a certain way but we don’t stick to what we’ve asked for, we are telling them what we’ve asked for doesn’t matter. So, why should they do as we’ve asked?
Others will learn how to treat you by watching how you take care of yourself. Click To Tweet
Show others how you want to be treated by taking good care of yourself. Take a minute and let that sink in: Others will learn how to treat you by watching how you take care of yourself.” – Tami Stacklehouse
I love her idea of a Joy List and taking the time to discover what really makes you happy, then finding ways to actually do those things, even if it’s a modified version. She also reminds us that asking for help is giving a gift, and allowing others to give to you. I also loved that she reminds us why we should avoid having expectations and how doing so can lead to resentments. She also talks about learning to listen to your body and what it does and doesn’t like.
Finally, in the last chapter she addresses health coaching and whether or not it is right for you. The best part of this chapter is when she explains how to find the right health coach for you. I’d never really thought about how different coaches are right for different people. Obviously, I knew that not everyone would be able to help everyone and that you have to be able to click with the person you are working with. But, she gave some excellent advice on finding the right coach for you.
The most amazing thing about this book is that I never felt like she was selling anything. She is after all a health coach – The Fibromyalgia Coach – and while she mentions her coaching multiple times in the book and even suggests contacting her, it’s never a hard sell. The same is true in this last chapter. You’d almost expect her to be selling her services there. But, she doesn’t. She makes it clear she’s an option, but she makes it clear she’s not the only option.
This is a great book for anyone with Fibromyalgia, whether brand new to the diagnosis or even if you are like me and feel like you’ve got it “in hand.” There’s still something to be learned and I learned quite a few things from this book. It’s not expensive so I do suggest grabbing a copy.