Q&A: Sue Ingebretson, Author of "FibroWHYalgia"
Part Two of "Get to Know Sue, Our Fibro Community Expert"
By July 31, 2012 2,756 1
Sue Ingebretson has recently joined Fibromyalgia Connect as our Q&A expert, where she's answering questions from community members. Sue is an author, a certified holistic health coach, and the Director of Program Development for the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Research and Education Center at California State University, Fullerton.
Despite her busy schedule, Sue made time to answer a few questions about lifestyle and diet changes from our community advocate Lana Barhum. Sue also shares details about her book, "FibroWHYalgia: Why Rebuilding the Ten Root Causes of Chronic Illness Restores Chronic Wellness," and her work as a health coach.
Read part one of this series, "Get to Know Sue, Our Fibro Community Expert."
Q: There is a particular quote from your book that stands out to me and that continues to stand out as I make better food choices daily. You wrote: “Food can be our enemy or our ally.” Can you elaborate on this quote so that others can understand the crucial value of making good food choices?
Absolutely! We often make things far more difficult than they really are. There’s a reason why we do this, but that’s a discussion for another day!
Food choices are actually rather simple. We either reach for foods that build us up, or foods that tear us down. We all know that we need to eat more veggies – that’s not really news. The question is, do we do it? Are there other things going on that prevent us or inhibit our good food choices? That’s where the rubber truly meets the road. I love getting into this in more detail and do so with my workshop attendees and one-on-one clients.
Once we truly grasp the benefits of whole, living foods, we begin to see how our choices really do have a huge impact on our health and healing. It’s not an overnight process. People want to generalize and say there are those who eat well and those who don’t. Nothing is ever that black and white and eating well is a matter of looking at the small picture – not the big picture. It’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking that we “have” to make good choices for the rest of our lives. That’s a long time. Instead, how about focusing on the food choices you make with your very next bite?
Q: In" FibroWHYaliga," you also talk about how self-education is the key to successful health. What factors should fibromyalgia patients consider as they educate themselves?
First of all, they should understand that no one else understands them better than they do themselves. We often underestimate our own authority and knowledge of who we are, how we feel, and what makes us feel better or worse. We are, indeed, our own Team Captains and we need to embrace that position.
Looking for solutions is easier once we understand the importance of respecting our own opinions and ideas. Then we can begin to read books, listen to podcasts, and look for online articles, teleseminars, and ebooks (just for starters). There’s an abundance of information available and much of it is free! Look for information from those who seem to speak to you — those who give information in a way that makes sense to you. It’s OK to like the way some give information and dislike the way others do. We each have our own learning styles and it’s important to respect that.
We often second-guess ourselves based on the perceived authority of others. Keep in mind that a healthy practitioner and patient relationship should be more of a mutual working connection. It should be a learning relationship where you feel educated, validated, and enriched by the experience.
Q: You often talk about working towards stress management as part of an overall wellness plan. What types of activities can help with stress reduction? How do these complete an overall wellness plan?
This is my constant mantra: "Self-care is NOT selfish!" Stress relieving activities need to be part of an entire self-care routine. And, I love how you say “completes an overall wellness plan.” Stress relieving activities are like the bookends to a healthy lifestyle.
We all feel the effects of stress, but taking action to relieve the stress is essential. Practicing (regularly!) activities such as prayer, meditation, journaling, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy), humor, massage, imagery, fitness (yoga, tai chi, qigong, etc.) will provide lasting and beneficial results.
Q: Please tell us about your other work as a professional speaker and as a children’s book author.
While children’s writing was my first love, I’ve learned that speaking is also a whole lot of fun! I love speaking to adults and students alike when it comes to sharing healthy ideas and concepts. I love using humor and a lot of props and displays in my talks. When I do school workshops, I find the teachers are every bit as engaged as the students. I couldn’t be happier than when I hear, “Your lecture has helped me to make healthier choices!”
Many years ago, I worked as an editor and writer for an educational children’s book publishing company. I wrote several books for them and edited many more. I enjoyed that job immensely. My favorite title I’ve written for them is my children’s book, Fabulous Food Detectives which teaches students to discern the differences between whole foods and processed foods. The books come with supplemental resources for the classroom including science experiments, word games, and social activities. You can find out more at www.Playbooks.com.
Q: What do you do as a health coach? How can others connect with you discuss personal health challenges and working to find a plan that works for them?
Becoming a health coach for me was an organic process. Like many other things in my life, I did things backwards. I got well and then researched to find out why the things that I did worked. I did speaking engagements and then wrote a book. I coached and connected with people for many years before realizing that I should add that opportunity to my list of services. Connecting with people directly has always been a valuable part of what I do. I enjoy the interaction of seeing change happen for those who seek solutions.
Coaching in itself is an organic process. Because everyone I work with is so unique, the programs and activities I create for them are also unique. Each program is tailor-made for my one-on-one clients. Because our health – on a wider scale – is so interdependent on who we are and what we do, coaching is not just about foods. For example, I have clients who initially wish to work on menu planning for their families, and over the course of several months, they may decide to work on their business goals to help alleviate the stress that’s keeping them from eating well. That sort of chain reaction is common.
With coaching, I assist my clients to find success with all sorts of goals from personal development, to fitness, to foods. Another reason why health coaching is successful is that it allows the client the time necessary to implement and adjust to change. It’s not a fast or quick-fix process. It’s a process that allows for lasting change.
To learn more, simply email me at Sue@RebuildingWellness.com to schedule your own free health evaluation to determine if health coaching can be a good fit for you.
Q: You often refer to yourself as a “former” fibromyalgia patient. Can you explain what this means?
I call myself a “former” patient since I’m no longer seeking major fixes for my condition. I use a variety of methods to stay well, and am very thankful to live nearly pain free most of the time. I realize (and recognize!) that keeping the body healthy is a constant journey, and I’m always open to learning something new. As my body changes, my needs change also. When it comes to personal health, there’s no such thing as “arriving at the finish line.” I’m happy to continue on this journey and ready, willing, and able to keep up the pace!
To learn more, read this post from my blog entitled: I Do Have Fibromyalgia!
Ask Sue your own questions! Visit the "Ask an Expert" page in our "Living with Fibromyalgia" section.