I contemplated titling this MY fibromyalgia and MY fitness, because I do believe each individuals pain and recovery journeys are very unique.  I also believe it’s important to share my journey because it has become increasingly positive and inspiring to me and I hope to spread even a little of that to anyone who may need it.  I started having pain about 12 years ago.  I was 24 at the time and had been in fairly good health and active my entire life.  I had even been working part time as a professional go-go dancer for the past couple of years prior to that! I was young, fit, and feeling great-until I wasn’t.  I had begun noticing little things, like a little catch in my hip mobility or aches that seemed a little different than normal and lingered a little longer.  This quickly snowballed into waking up every day terribly stiff and sore and developing areas of extreme pain and inflammation.  I remember one afternoon after cleaning my apartment both of my knees flared bright red and ached so badly I immediately made a doctor’s appointment.  I was prescribed pain medication, steroids and given a referral to physical therapy.  This began a nearly 8 year cycle of doing very little and taking the pills to feel better while my  mental and physical health suffered and bursts of motivation where I would do the physical therapy and self care to try to get off the meds and get back to my normal life.  Somewhere during this timeline I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  I also broke my right leg, developed a ganglion cyst in my left wrist that lead to me having to give up my decade long career as a massage therapist and was found to have torn cartilage on both of my knees and an intraosseous cyst on the head of my right tibia. This was an awful time of my life.  I stopped dancing, I stopped feeling normal, I stopped caring.  I gained nearly 70 pounds in those 8 years and constantly felt like shit.  Then about 3 years ago I guess I’d had enough.  I tapered way down on the medications I was on and started going to see a mental health care provider regularly.  She helped me understand and accept that some of my symptoms I had to learn how to manage as there was no clear and direct way to make them go away.  She helped me change my thinking which helped me change my lifestyle and eventually lead to me signing up for an Intro to pole class!  That first class was 10 months ago.  I’m now in Advanced 1, have lost 40-50 pounds (depending on the day lol), wake up a little stiff every day but with a ton of joy and peace in my heart.  Finding a physical activity I actually enjoy and that doesn’t aggravate my injuries has been absolutely crucial to my success.  Being able to enjoy that activity with a group of like-minded, strong, beautiful, supportive, intelligent, fun, talented and generally bad ass sisters at Aerial is just icing on the cake.  I have so much to live for and look forward to and I am so grateful for every step of the way that has gotten me to where I am now.  Life can really throw some curveballs.  It’s not all sunshine and roses.  Sometimes it’s storm clouds and thorns.  And that’s ok.