Contrary to popular belief, I am not superwoman ... I’m so far from it.
I am Katie Pink extraordinaire, though ... that works for me. It’s taken me a long time to figure that out. My path has had many avenues and many dead ends, paths that were laid out for me, and paths I forged on my own.
I’ve grown from all of it. What I’ve learned is that I need to keep functioning at my most extraordinary. I don’t like the alternative.
Life is hard. Life is always full of stress. Life is about how we learn to navigate the challenges. I deal with a bad hip and short leg, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, asthma, irritable bowel, and a few other diagnoses.
I’ve lived with pain all my life. Having strong muscles to support my body equates to less pain. When I workout, I feel strong. Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally too. I am better able to function.
Activity can be pain medicine
As a child athlete, I’d always been in decent shape. I didn’t realize all those years of soccer, gymnastics, skating, tennis, biking, hockey, etc. were actually like pain medicine. When I stopped doing all of those activities, the pain increased, I didn’t know why.
I was young and didn’t think about how my body worked. I didn’t think about the everyday function of my body. I didn’t think that all those activities were keeping my muscles strong and functioning.
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at 25, just weeks before starting nursing school. I was told to decrease my stress and exercise more, hahaha.
That was an oxymoron, knowing what the demands of nursing school were going to be. I didn’t workout, but I did work, as a waitress - the physical demands of the job helped to keep me strong in some ways but sure didn’t help that back pain. I was functioning, but barely.
I’ve learned a bit since that initial fibro diagnosis. I’ve struggled with my pain, my sleep, my stomach, my hip, my anxiety, my ADHD, and that little voice in my head that doesn’t always believe in me (she’s not nice).
Loss of function, and opportunities
I made sacrifices. I missed opportunities with loved ones. I missed opportunities to learn. I missed opportunities to enjoy my life ... because I wasn’t functioning.
I’ve learned that the secret to dealing with chronic disease is maintaining function.
So, my goal is functional fitness ... What does that mean? It means keeping my body functioning the best it can with all the stress that life brings.
Life is not going to stop and allow me to regroup and take breaks, it just keeps on happening. If I’m not happening with it, I’m losing. When I’m losing, I’m not functioning at my best. See the circle there?
So, what do I do? Strength training, core training, yoga, pilates, workouts that keep my body functioning. When I say functioning, I mean, full range of motion in my joints, no pain (or very little), a digestive system that absorbs nutrition and eliminates toxins, a sleep schedule that doesn’t leave me tossing and turning at night, a life that I can enjoy with the people that I love. That isn’t the way it’s always been, and it’s not fun to not function.
Non-functional means pain
Non-functional means pain. Non-functional means sleepless nights. Non-functional means exhausting days. Non-functioning means missing important events and milestones.
Non-functioning to me…means not living. It’s depressing and demoralizing, and I didn’t like it. That’s why I speak out about my health and how I’ve started to save myself.
In saving myself, I’ve saved my marriage and my family. In saving myself, I’ve also learned how to make my family healthier and happier. I’ve learned how to help them avoid chronic illness and disease, or at least how to make it more functional and that’s not easy.
Time to share and help others
Today, I wanted to share all this with you. The ones who believe in me. I want you to believe in yourself, too.
I’m an example of what you can be. I’m also willing to help you figure out the secrets I needed to figure out. I share a lot of those secrets in my health and wellness articles.
I also share a lot as a health coach because I enjoy helping people feel better. It helps me believe there is hope in the world. If I can help one person feel better, I can help two. And, one by one, we can make our world a happier and healthier and more functional place. That works for me, and I think it just might work for you too.
Enjoy the journey, friends…that’s what it’s all about!
Editor’s Note: Katie Tolley is a Cambridge resident. She is a mother, wife and pediatric nurse practitioner who coaches holistic health and wellness. Her website is katiepinktolley.com.