Tammy Silva Q & A
An Endometriosis Fitness Coach is here to help.
Tammy Silva is a certified personal trainer that lives her life with the often crippling disease endometriosis. It can surface without warning and effect everything from sleep to appetite and energy levels, all of which would understandably impact your overall health and fitness.
It's reported that over 800,000 women, girls and gender-diverse people suffer from the disease and with no real clear treatment options outside of surgery it can be an intimidating reality day to day.
In an effort to better understand the disease and how to live with it day to day we spoke with Tammy about her personal story and how she approaches it.
PTP: Hey Tammy, thanks so much for talking with us. Can you just tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
TEF: Sure, my name is Tammy, I'm a personal trainer, holistic counsellor and wellness coach. I am originally from Chile. I moved to Australia about 15 years ago and I decided 3 years ago to convert my hobby of sport and exercise into my fulltime job with a special interest in Endometriosis and Chronic pain.
PTP: If you don't mind me asking, when did you find out you had endometriosis? And how did that knowledge impact how you viewed fitness and health?
TEF: Like many females with endometriosis, I suspected that I have endo since I was 17 but I was not properly diagnosed with endometriosis until I was 35 when I experience the rupture on a chocolate cyst in my left ovary. This led me to the ER and this helped me to finally be diagnosed with Endometriosis.
Endometriosis is such a hard disease that it takes an average of 7 years for a proper diagnosis, but this number has improved in the last few years. When I had my issues, many doctors didn't even understand this condition very well.
In terms of fitness and health, it definitely forces me slow down my training. I had to reconsider the volume and reconnect with what my body was able to do. I mean I went from doing an easy 80km bike ride in the morning to none, due to high levels of pain. Health wise it was not such a change because I been focus on my health since a really young age. Over the years I just been fine tuning my health approach.
PTP: How do you find the motivation to work out when you’re in pain? And are there any workouts or tips/tricks that help the pain more than others?
TEF: I really think that when it comes to your health, the commitment that you have towards yourself should override motivation. You know what they say. Motivation is another feeling that comes and go and when it comes to health, we need to show up even on the days we don't really feel like or want.
Tips? Yes, I think it is really important to focus in dropping pain levels. Nobody is the best version of themselves when they are in pain and your central nervous system doesn't like it. So setting up a good pain management plan is essential. This can be done through a number of things, but I would definitely say that is a teamwork between;
You (the person taking responsibility over your life),
Your GP that can guide you into painkillers,
Your naturopath, that can guide you into healthier options for pain relief,
Your nutritionist, that can support you with food,
your Personal trainer - That can help you to move in smart ways
and your friends, partner and family around you that needs to understand and readjust their expectations about you.
All of this might translate into you not going out as much because you need to prioritize your training and rest.
You might laugh, but one of my motivations is not needing help to move around when I am 80. I don't want someone helping me to squat in the toilet seat when I am old. I want to squat myself.
PTP: There are so many diets out there but what do you believe in? And what has worked for you?
TEF: I know!! There are so many diets and only one you so eat what works for you.
I have studied nutrition and to be honest, just like with a good training program. This needs to be tailor to the person. I can't eat broccoli, for example and other foods like; Cauliflower, lentils or beans (and I am Latina so I love black beans) so I had to step away from a plant based diet because I was in need of more protein and iron.
I always say, you are an adult. Eat like an adult, not like a 5-year-old at a birthday party. Ha, ha. This means, you might have to eat things you don't like but are good for you.
Try to go for the healthier options but leave room for enjoying food too.
PTP: Night-time routines can really set up the start of a great following day, how do you unwind after a long tiring day and prepare for the next?
TEF: I do a few things. I alternate between them. I like to do a short yoga Nidra session at night, a mobility session at the end of my day, or a self-massage gun session, I also like to leave the clothes ready for the next day, so I am not looking for things at 5am. If I am sore, I like to watch documentaries and read. I love all sport biographies. I am crazy about cycling but also females in sport. I watch ALL docos on sport available. YouTube, Netflix, etc. From Tennis, rugby, trail running, triathlons, CrossFit to F1. I love all things sport.
I cook my dinners ahead, so I don't really have to spend times in the afternoons cooking dinner. When I have a gap during the day (normally between 12 noon and 3pm - I prepare lunch and dinner)
PTP: Do you think endo is a taboo topic or are people just not as educated about it? Are there any misconceptions that people have of those suffering from it that you’d like to clear up?
TEF: I don't think that Endo is a taboo topic on its own I think that the process of healing endometriosis might have some taboo topics. Things we don't talk enough about it is our vagina's, sexual experiences, toilet experiences. There is a lot of constipation around endo and that's something most people don't want to talk about. My clients open their eyes when I have my first consult with them because I ask about EVERYTHING. If they sleep well, if they enjoy having sex, what kind of sex, pelvic floor pain, back pain. Toilet issues. Food. Etc.
My initial screenings are mandatory for all my clients, they tell me what we are REALLY dealing with. Some people come to see me because they have lower back pain but that might not be the only thing we need to improve. I am a trauma aware coach, so I work a lot with the emotional part of my clients. The body hold traumas, to find them and to work on them is another story.
Personal training is call Personal for a reason. :)
PTP: What advice would you give to people out there with endo?
TEF: Probably what a lot of people with endo do not want to hear. Face the music! It is pain. Don't run away from it. Confront your pain, explore your pain, explore the limits and boundaries of your pain and don't let it lead your life. You are the person in charge, and you are the person that can change your story by being PROACTIVE rather than REACTIVE.