Amberly Lago is an extraordinary human. There may be no one else more qualified to be an expert and champion of physical pain and resilience than the inspiring Lago. She lives with an incurable disease, Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), dubbed the “suicide disease.” Lago is outspoken, upbeat and transparent about her life trajectory that was forever altered when she was involved in a near-death motorcycle accident in 2010. The best-selling author, TEDx speaker, podcast host and thriver overcame 34 surgeries to save her leg from an amputation. She was a professional athlete, dancer and trainer who wanted to do all she could to save her leg–the result created her formula to cope with the pain.
Lago shares her “True Grit and Grace” formula for resiliency, through or by which she impacts hundreds of thousands of people across her motivating platforms. She dives deep into the tools that have helped her obtain the power to defeat her obstacles and she shares how she also found joy in living once again. Her unbelievable journey is about finding peace and hope in the storm, while giving back to help others who might be experiencing a resiliency deficit.
HOW TO FIND JOY DESPITE THE PAIN
Amberly Lago: I was a former professional dancer and athlete. I’ve been in the fitness industry for 26 years, but everything changed when I was hit by an SUV while riding my motorcycle. I had 34 surgeries to save my leg from amputation. I thought things would just get better. However, I was diagnosed with CRPS, which is a nerve disease that leaves you in constant chronic pain. It’s a disease of the sympathetic nervous system, also known as the “Suicide Disease.”
At first it took me down to my rock bottom. I was at a place where I really didn’t want to continue living anymore. I remember thinking, “How am I going to live the rest of my life with this pain?” I had ketamine infusions, spinal blocks, radio-frequency, a spinal stimulator and nothing seemed to work. Also, I began drinking every day to numb the pain, but that didn’t work either. I got sober and turned my life around in 2016. I believe what we all really need when we’re dealing with any kind of pain is hope.
I had a brief glimmer of hope left in me, so I reached out for help and shifted the way I viewed my pain. Once I started practicing gratitude every day and shifting my perspective, things changed. Focusing on what I could do, instead of what I couldn’t do and what I had, instead of what I didn’t, allowed me to slowly get my life back.
After my motorcycle accident I completely reinvented myself and became a Speaker, Peak Performance Coach, and Podcast Host that’s ranked Top 1% Podcast Globally on Apple called “True Grit and Grace”.
Pain has been my biggest teacher. Now I’m just inspired to help others, whether they’re living with CRPS, chronic pain or any kind of tragedy or trauma.
When the motorcycle hit me, everything came to the forefront. I used to run away from all my problems. But then I felt stuck in a hospital bed; I had to develop new tools to deal with all the trauma. I’m inspired to help others process their trauma so that they can live a life of joy and happiness, even if their circumstances have been narrowed by their possibilities.
Building With Grit
Amberly Lago: I started with 122 followers on Instagram to growing to 155K followers and having a bestselling book. I am passionate about showing people how you can start with nothing and with grit you can build your business and your brand.
Also, I have been featured on the Today Show, Hallmark and The Doctors, TED, Forbes and USA TODAY. My secret sauce to Resilience is the PACER Method that I explain in my TEDx talk that is featured on TED.
UNTWISTING THE MISCONCEPTION
Amberly Lago: I’m glad you asked that because I did an interview with some doctors on TV and you basically have two-and-a-half minutes to tell your story. Then you talk about how you handle it. That’s not enough time to talk about what happened, your story or the disease. They only got a portion of what I’ve tried to do to manage my pain. Unfortunately, that led to many people in the CRPS community to be outraged because they saw me on TV smiling at the doctor, and I didn’t get to talk much about the medical terminology of CRPS.
First, I’m not a doctor. Second, if you’re looking at Travis Stork, you’d be smiling too. He’s dreamy. But also, people see me and they think I don’t struggle. And that’s so far from the truth. I still have a hard time every day, but I just choose to not suffer from it.
I think that there lies the key, which is that pain is inevitable. Whether you have CRPS or not, we’re always going to have situations that are uncomfortable. You choose whether to suffer from it. It’s your choice. You can choose to look for the blessings, hunt for the good and find gratitude. You can choose to focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t do. I think that we all go through trauma. We all go through struggles. The minute that we realize that we’re not the only ones going through it, we look for ways that we can thrive.
Resilience isn’t a fixed trait, it’s something that we have to work on every single day. And that is something that I really want people to know. For people who are struggling, I don’t want them to think that it’s an easy road. It takes a willingness to do the work, and it’s showing up for yourself every single day.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
Amberly Lago: Well, you never know what the future holds and that’s why I try to focus on the present moment and just be grateful for this day. In the future, I would love to share a message of hope and inspiration in as many ways as possible, whether that’s through another book to continue to grow my message of inspiration and resilience or on my podcast.
I would love to do more workshops and to continue speaking at conferences and maybe even have my own events. It’s really hard to travel with CRPS, but my favorite part about my journey has been connecting with other people. Besides giving people hope, I now show them that it’s never too late, you are never too dumb, and you are never too old to reinvent yourself.
There is true magic when you can connect with other people who have gone through similar experiences. You can fan each other’s flames and support each other. You can lean in on each other. You can grow and thrive together. That’s where the magic is.