Written by Teresa Giordano
At 47, I’m known by my friends and colleagues for my energy and enthusiasm for life. (Some clients call me ‘feisty little T’!) However, my success today is due to the struggle I have endured throughout the better years of my life and the commitment I made to myself 19 years ago.
Growing up, I was taught that hard work and perseverance were the keys to success. Unfortunately, from the same home where I learned such invaluable lessons, I was also surrounded by feelings of stress, tension, anxiety, sadness and fear.
Trying to make a name for myself, I decided to start a home-cleaning business. Through my hard work ethic and sheer determination, I soon developed a booming small business. For 15 years, I worked with chemicals on a daily basis cleaning houses with little regard for the
long-term effects of such products.
The First Signs of Decline
In 1993, at the age of 28, I had reached a point of exhaustion, complete fatigue and a body pain unlike I had ever experienced before. I assumed my symptoms were simply from being a single mom and working two jobs but the fact was undeniable: my body was shutting down.
Coincidentally, I began studying Nutrition, Personal Training and weight management at a local community college during the end of my cleaning career. My independence allowed me to understand the importance of making a decision for myself as well as my health, and I took a risk and switched career paths.
A Long Road to Recovery
Around the same time, I was fortunate to befriend Lili Gray, a personal trainer. She was instrumental in my recovery for many reasons other than cementing my love for fitness. Firstly, I found encouragement in finding my sense of self-worth. I was nourished and supported in my efforts to become stronger, healthier and smarter. Yet, the most important product of this friendship was her suggestion to see a Rheumatologist, my first step in finding hope and answers to what doctors would soon call Fibromyalgia.
The Rheumatologists informed me that my exposure to toxic chemicals from home-cleaning products had only exacerbating my symptoms, and my diagnosis with Fibromyalgia would not mean the end of my struggles.
Unfortunately, the treatment program assigned was unresponsive to my body. Modern medicine had never been my first choice, and the year of unhelpful anti-inflammatory medication and unsuccessful trips to the doctor only frustrated me more.
I sought out solace in friends and family and attempted myriad methods of healing. The path that brought the most comfort to my severe aches and pains was Eastern medicine and holistic healing. To heal myself I also worked with acupuncturists and massage practitioners and have found serenity with yoga in coming to terms with my condition and healing my body.
Through my own research, I have also learned that much of Fibromyalgia comes from the trauma and stress of life as well as possible arsenic contamination in well water. In the most recent years, Reynaud’s Syndrome, a Fibromyalgia co-condition, has become part of the challenge that affects your hands in cold temperatures and can cause a great deal of pain.
Achieving More Than Good Health
Although my road to physical and mental fitness has been a struggle, I am proud of what I have accomplished through my chronic pain and fatigue. In 2001, I built a personal training studio and named it The Power of Fitness, a reflection of my belief that exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help to cure any illness. In 2009, I expanded again by writing and publishing my very first cookbook. With the love and support of my clients, all being my ‘taste testers’ along the way, I published The Power of Healthy Eating, and am currently in the progress of publishing Fiber-liciously Fit, expected to release in early Fall 2012.
Although my exercise routine has varied over the years, I have grown to accept what my body can do physically so I can continue to feel my best. Knowing when to rest has been key in order to prevent inflammation.
Another key component to my health routine has been diet: I removed sugar and dairy years ago and eat minimal gluten. I have noticed a decrease in the more chronic daily pain, which I owe to strict diet.
I do, however, believe that you must be realistic and have joys in life. Yet joys that I have come to find have been fitness oriented, like hot vinyasa flow yoga, acupuncture, and massage. The heat of vinyasa feels comforting, it helps my body move more freely and I have found it helps to increase flexibility and decrease inflammation (not to mention I sleep much better).
The final key in healing is embracing the love and kindness from family, friends and clients. Any form of stress or exhaustion when living with Fibromyalgia can start a cycle of pain, so it is important to love yourself and others and find comfort in healing yourself from the pain mentally and physically. My journey through life and struggles with Fibromyalgia so far have reaffirmed that you never stop learning and becoming a better person, and I am grateful for every day I have to teach others what I know and do best.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teresa Giordano is a 47-year-old healthy mom, wife and small business owner of The Power of Fitness in Annapolis, MD. She is a certified Master Trainer, boot camp instructor, kickboxing instructor, TRX and Pilates Phase 2 certified. After 15 years of running a successful housecleaning business, she began to realize that the toxic chemicals she worked with had a negative effect on her daily health. Teresa’s struggles with Fibromyalgia have taught her much about health and fitness and what she has learned about the condition she enjoys sharing with her clients. Photo Credit: Debbie Woodcock Photography.