How to Stay Encouraged When in Chronic Pain

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
3/30/2012 10:00 AM   :  119 comments   :  18,610 Views

See More: ~indygirl, moivation,
For those of you who believe there is nothing you can do when you have chronic pain, take it from me: there is hope.
 
I weighed 460 pounds and with all of my chronic medical issues and disability, I managed to baby step my way through my thus far of journey of 6 years. I’ve lost almost 200 pounds to date.
 
Lately I feel like I can do nothing. I have some extra medical issues getting in my way and need a few surgeries.  Part of me, the old me, wants to give up in a chocolate oblivion and couch-sitting frenzy. I got up to 460 pounds the last time I caved in and decided that not trying was better than failure.  At that point, I gave away my own rights to run, work, play, and walk on the beach. I literally handed over my freedom with full consent with each bite and every minute I sat sedentary. It seemed easier and freeing at the moment. I mean, what else could I do?
 
Well, let me tell you! I discovered that baby stepping is powerful. Something is not nothing. Even if you walk around the house with difficulty, you do it in preparation for your next steps in life. The real problem is that we have grown up in an “All or nothing/ No pain, no gain” world.  What about those of us who do have pain and are prone to gaining weight?  Push yourself without pushing yourself down. See a medical profession first and ask them what you CAN do. They can tell you how not to exacerbate your particular issues.  Then, armed with knowledge, go gently into your journey.
 
Support can be very hard to come by for those of us with chronic pain or disabilities. Still, it can be done-- just see my Spark Page!  I’ve lost almost 200 pounds despite my conditions. Forget those who call you lazy and give you advice like the artichoke and water pill diet.  There is no fast track. There is simply the journey, and I have found it to be one of the most introspective and joyous times of my life. You can educate yourself through SparkPeople and make a real lifestyle change.  Read, try different foods and activities and ignore the haters.
 
Never hold yourself up to Barbie girl working out next to you, on the TV, or in magazines.  You are unique. Go at your own pace and challenge yourself against your own accomplishments.  NEVER forget to reward yourself with some non-food item.  Things that I like to reward myself with are clothes, jewelry, and manicure/pedicures.  Someday, a massage sounds good.
 
Find what motivates you. Fill your life with supportive people, even if they are just your online Sparkfriends.  My Sparkfriends mean the world to me. They keep me going when I feel down. Lately I’ve been struggling because I need surgery and I feel like a rolly polly bug. It frustrates me terribly, the fatigue, pain, and just general lethargy.  If it were not for all of you, I would feel so lost. I read things people write to me and smile.  I feel better. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for keeping me going. 
 
Find your calling. For me, as soon as I lost 100 pounds, I knew I was supposed to get the message out that nobody need lie in their bed their whole lives, as I did. I was merely living, not existing. Once I found my calling, I wanted to pay forward everything SparkPeople and my journey had taught me. I found myself pushing harder to be ABLE to do that.
 
Another great tip is to redefine yourself. I used to be a 460-pound, fat, disabled woman.  Now, I’m me.  I’m more positive, spontaneous, and determined. Yes, I’m still disabled and overweight, but I feel mentally different. 
 
When I started trying to get in exercise, I had in-home physical therapy. Then I did light housework with many breaks, using a sweeper to steady me. Then I started using an arm cycle. That seems to be my most standard piece of workout equipment along with my wheeled walker, “Freedom.”
 
Don’t give up. Talk to you medical professional about what is right for you. They may refer you to other doctors and there may be a few hoops to jump through, but you are worth it. Do whatever you can to enable yourself, one tiny step at a time. If your medical professional is too aggressive toward you because of your weight, find a new one. If your medical professional does anything less than sincerely care, that is not the right one for you. We hire them. We can fire them.
 
So the good news is: YES!  You can get fit, lose weight and have a better life, even if you feel like you can’t do anything. I will be fighting the good fight with you!
 
How do you stay encouraged?
 


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Comments

  • 119
    Thank you for these words of encouragement. I woke up this morning challenging my mind to get up and walk, then I thought of the pain I will feel after. Now I am getting up and going for that baby step walk to start things rolling again. I had surgery recently and the fear of not hurting or causing any distruption to my healing was getting me down. I am glad I took the moment to log in this morning, thank you and you are a winner all the way!!! - 4/19/2012   9:22:40 AM
  • ROGERSBABE1
    118
    You are extremely encouraging. Even though I don't have chronic pain, your blog was highly motivational. Keep up the good work and I'll be praying for your upcoming surgeries. - 4/11/2012   12:55:32 PM
  • 117
    This was a great blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. How do I stay encouraged? For the most part, I have to keep encouraging myself. Outside of the gym, there aren't many who are truly interested in their health. They will complain and continue to fill their prescriptions, but it's still not enough to want to do something about it or make a change -- and they don't even have the issues that you've had to deal with. I am thankful for this site and people like you who are open to sharing, motivating and encouraging others. Congratulations! I wish you continued success! - 4/10/2012   10:35:21 AM
  • 116
    I'm in a pretty bad way right now. I am facing back (cervical) surgery and am very depressed and unhappy. I also have clinical depression, bipolar and fibromyalgia. I realized today that it's been over a week since I took any of my medication, even my thyroid pill! It stinks hurting every single day. Your blog could not have come at a better time for me. I will be taking my pill in the morning, and the rest of them tomorrow as well. I just ordered a light box with the hopes that that will help the depression. I will keep working to better myself and lose the weight and keep myself up as much as I possibly can, cause the other option is to just quit and I can't do that. - 4/6/2012   12:58:38 AM
  • 115
    Thank you for this! I deal with a lot of chronic pain from my colostomies and my atonic bladder. I often loose focus and not do much and this needs to end, I no. - 4/5/2012   4:57:12 AM
  • HAYZELKAE
    114
    This sent off a lightbulb off in my head. I am very much an all or nothing person. That if you don't know you can complete it, then what's the point in trying? But baby steps make bigger steps possible. Of course I can't remember learning to walk, but I know I didn't just stand up and strut down a runway. I tripped, fell, bumped my head, cried, got frustrated but I kept going and now I can walk. This is a great application to just about anywhere in life. - 4/4/2012   6:45:33 PM
  • 113
    Don't give up!!! Best days are coming. Pain is h--- but you will get thru it. - 4/4/2012   1:55:01 PM
  • 112
    Thank you. For me it was setting an impossible goal and having a friend who believed in the tiniest of baby steps starting "now". I walked the entire Rideau Trail (through the Canadian Shield). It took me 5 years and asking for a lot of help for drives, a knee replacement, and accountability to my spark friends. It showed me that anything is possible even though at first I would need 2 days recovering in my easy chair after walking 50 steps. Today I can walk 5 km (although I am slow and at 2 km I still feel ready to pack it in). It is progress and I can ONLY compare myself against my own abilities. - 4/3/2012   11:30:51 AM
  • 111
    How do I stay encouraged?? By reading your blogs which to me are inspirational. I find your perserverence under so many adversial life circumstances so motovational. Thank-you so much for the time you take to keep us all going. - 4/3/2012   2:00:42 AM
  • 110
    Every response is wonderful! No one knows unless you are living with it 24/7.
    Thanks everyone - 4/2/2012   7:13:44 PM
  • 109
    I recently had surgery and am finding the lack of energy a bit depressing. I have constant nagging pain that meds do not help - also discouraging. But I am holding on to hope that in a couple more weeks (when I return to work) I'll be well on my way to feeling like my old self. The energy will come, the pain will go away, and I'll be back to my way too busy routine, enjoying life. :)

    Thanks for the encouragement. - 4/2/2012   6:12:22 PM
  • 108
    "You are unique. Go at your own pace and challenge yourself against your own accomplishments."
    "Baby stepping is powerful."
    "Redefine yourself."
    Thanks for this! - 4/2/2012   4:31:48 PM
  • 107
    Again, when I am at my lowest low and feeling like giving in - someone from Sparkpeople relites my flame. "Ignore the haters" and "fill your life with supportive people" - very inspirational to me. Thanks! Keep up the good work. - 4/2/2012   11:26:25 AM
  • 106
    I too respect you so much. I've been so tempted to give up and eat myself to death but in the back of my mind I hope I will come to my senses soon! You have inspired me today to keep going on. Thank-you and for sharing your journey. - 4/2/2012   10:51:45 AM
  • 105
    That is awesome! Keep uo the good work! - 4/2/2012   8:35:18 AM
  • 104
    What a great blog. Congratulations on losing 200lbs. Amazing!
    I've had bad back pain for the past month and my exercise regime has gone out the window. Thanks for giving me the motivation to not give up!

    - 4/2/2012   5:19:45 AM
  • 103
    Thank you, thank you, thank you for a much needed blog. I haven't exercised in nearly 2 months due to pain, and needed this to remind myself that there is life in the future - not to give up! - 4/2/2012   12:48:48 AM
  • 102
    You'd be a wonderful addition to the Baby Steppers Spark Team! :)

    Thanks for sharing!!! :) - 4/1/2012   10:40:13 PM
  • 101
    Thank you - 4/1/2012   8:26:44 PM
  • 100
    Beth, you are truly a Wonder Woman! I'm sorry that you're going through a rough patch, but after what you've already been through, I'm confident that you can pull through this one. Take good care of yourself, get your surgery taken care of, and let us all know how you're doing. - 4/1/2012   5:24:41 PM
  • AUGUSTA777
    99
    Very inspiring!! - 4/1/2012   4:06:24 PM
  • 98
    AWESOME! You have become my hero. It is so easy to make excuses for not exercising - in fact no problem whatsoever. You tap into incredible inner strength and determination. Even with stumbling blocks you are succeeding! On those days that I don't want to exercise I will think of you and this blog, hoping to find strength too.

    Best wishes for continued success and good luck with your operation.
    Carol - 4/1/2012   3:11:22 PM
  • 97
    You wrote this article straight off my tongue. Well most of it. I havent lost as much as you, but I am getting there. i know what it feels like to be so huge and depressed. I had to get myself to a breaking point and cry before i changed what i was doing. Thank you for your blog, I love it! - 4/1/2012   11:32:34 AM
  • 96
    Beth, you are an inspiration. Congrats on your success and keep up the great work! :) - 4/1/2012   7:58:27 AM
  • 95
    You are awesome & brave -keep it up-you will do this! - 4/1/2012   7:31:22 AM
  • 94
    How right you are! Hang in there!! - 4/1/2012   7:11:27 AM
  • 93
    I giggled when I saw your diatribe about the doctors who diss you - "We hire them - we can fire them!!" I learned that in one of my childbirth preparation classes, and I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here, but there is POWER in knowing and believing this! The doctors wouldn't have a job if it wasn't for our needs... Some of them get a bit too big in their britches, and act as if we exist to serve them! - 4/1/2012   2:21:34 AM
  • 92
    thank you for sharing this beth. I am in chronic pain and have spent the last year going nowhere but dr's and pt. I had a failed back surgery that made me worse. I've had multiple surgeries on various body parts. my weight loss has slowed to a crawl but every day i exercise. there are so many things i wish i could do but i want to focus on being grateful i can go on walks. baby steps and gratitude! oxox - 4/1/2012   1:54:22 AM
  • 91
    Thank you so much Beth, you are an inspiration and so motivating. I understand the pain and frustration of multiple health problems. All the very best in your continuing journey to better health. - 4/1/2012   12:24:55 AM
  • 90
    Hey Beth~
    You are awesome and thanks so much for sharing! Now just look at how many spark friends you have, huh? ................ We are all with you and know you will make it~Keep writing ok? ............ Best to you! Jan - 3/31/2012   11:18:32 PM
  • 89
    Oh Beth, don't give up! You are such an inspiration to all of us. When I get discouraged, believe it or not, I think of you. I'll pray that your surgeries are a complete success, and for wisdom an guidance for your surgeons so they make the correct decisions regarding your care. - 3/31/2012   11:06:05 PM
  • 88
    You have been through so much, and you are proving to yourself every day that YES, you CAN DO IT. Perseverance, true grit, determination...like Larry the Cable Guy says, "Get er done!" Good work, girl! Keep on Sparkin'. - 3/31/2012   10:52:10 PM
  • VWILEY2886
    87
    Hi Beth, A very inspiring blog. My daughter is also a "Beth", suffers from fibro, and many other chronic pain disorders. She is considered disabled also. I've told her that sugar can cause inflamation, which can cause pain to be worse. You have certainly made great progress. May you continue to do well and may your surgeries go as easily as possible. Thank you for sharing.
    - 3/31/2012   10:18:09 PM
  • 86
    Thank You Beth, this is what i needed to read to day. i know if you can do it so can i. take care with your surgey. - 3/31/2012   9:57:41 PM
  • VANANDEL
    85
    Beth: I'm praying for you and that your surgery goes well! I always look forward to your posts - they mean as much to those in maintenance as for those still on their weight-loss journeys. You have such a wonderful attitude! Best wishes for your surgery and a speedy recovery. - 3/31/2012   9:24:52 PM
  • 84
    This is just the kind of inspiration I need at times. Sometimes I feel like throwing in the towel or giving up on some exercise when I don't lose or when I am in pain, but my pain isn't as much as a lot of the people's. When I see how much you have done I think that I just need to get up and push through as much as I can without making things worse. Thank you for your blog. - 3/31/2012   8:57:44 PM
  • 83
    I admire you Beth for how far you have came and your attitude is positive and uplifting.
    Chronic pain I can identify with. With the obesity, back pain and knees with no cartilage , I could not get around. I could not push a vacuum to clean my house. I had to use a walker to get from one room to another. I had to sit for everything I did.
    Exercise, what exercise.??? It was just a chore to get up out of bed.
    When I asked my doctor for help in getting an electric chair to get around and out of the house.( I didn't have the strength to manage a wheel chair. ) The doctor told me I would die in a few years if I didn't get some of the weight off. So no chair and instead I started on a weight loss program under doctors supervision. I lost weight, because I want to live. I was not living before , just existing, taking up space.
    I still have pain in different parts of my body. But I am working on that. Had knees replaced, getting ready for hand surgery. In the mean time I will exercise what I can, monitor my weight and eat healthy. Rely on my Spark friends to inspire me, encourage me. For together there are so many of us all striving for a better life.
    There is strength in numbers. That's why Spark is such an important part of my life.
    When ever I think of my ailments and hurts. I read about someone who is struggling with more issues than me. I then think how far I have come, and I know there are better days ahead. You just have to be positive and believe in yourself. - 3/31/2012   8:55:13 PM
  • MAURER54
    82
    You go lady! You are on the road to success. Slow but steady wins the race! - 3/31/2012   7:27:28 PM
  • 81
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am returning here after a two-year absence, and I've been dragging my feet doing it because I am so discouraged about the fight. For me, it's a constant battle against depression and the fatigue and other problems it brings. Most days are a battle to get out of bed for reasons that are emotional, physical, or some combination of the two. Days I do get up, I am so tough on myself. I compare myself to others, ideal (and probably unrealistic) standards, and even myself when I am healthier, and I can't seem to give myself credit for being the best I can be for that single day. Every day we get up and try, though, is a victory. Thanks for reminding me and others of that. Best of luck in your continued journey! - 3/31/2012   6:53:10 PM
  • 80
    Just adding my good wishes for you. You really are an inspiration. I've been watching your story unfold and I am very happy for you. Living with chronic pain IS a challange and you are a good example of coping and doing your best to overcome it.

    - 3/31/2012   5:35:31 PM
  • 79
    Very well said- 1 lb at a time! It's never so bad when I look at the big picture and see what others are struggling with. - 3/31/2012   4:51:14 PM
  • 78
    Your words are an inspiration to all of us with disabilities and pain issues! Thank you, and Best Wishes.
    ~Kim in NV - 3/31/2012   2:51:33 PM
  • BBOOTS1
    77
    One of the things that's almost never mentioned in relation to chronic pain is how it can contribute to weight gain. I spent the last 30 years in terrible pain. I often overate, because eating was one of the few things I could do that gave me a sense of physical pleasure and a moments respite from pain. Of course, because pain limited my mobility, those calories turned into fat. And as I gained weight, unsympathetic doctors insisted that my weight was causing the pain and arthritis. My insistence that the pain came BEFORE the weight went unheeded.

    By 2009, my pain was unbearable. I could no longer walk. And doctors told me my life would never get any better. But I was blessed to find Professor Brian A. Rothbart, a surgeon that spent 40 years looking for a cause and a cure for chronic muscle and joint pain. I recently finished his therapy program, which did not involve drugs or surgery, and for the first time in 3 decades I have NO chronic pain. None. Professor Rothbart recently published a letter I wrote to him about my therapy here:
    curingchronicpain.com/a-patient-
    describes-how-rothbart-propriocepti
    ve-therapy-ended-her-chronic-pain

    One of the important things I learned form Professor Rothbart is that being overweight does NOT cause pain or arthritis. He restated this to me throughout my therapy and wrote an article about it here. curingchronicpain.com/does-excess-w
    eight-cause-chronic-pain
    (You may need to copy that address and paste in into your browser.)

    Now that I am out of pain, I no longer crave foods like cookies and cake. I have no urge to overeat. And I'm losing weight without thinking about it or working toward it. I've lost 16 pounds in the last month and a half. But I'm still over 200 pounds, on a very small frame. So if being overweight causes pain and arthritis, why am I pain free? Why don't I have arthritis? I'll tell you why. Because my pain was caused by an abnormal foot structure which put me into a bad posture. When Professor Rothbart corrected my posture, the pain went away. Gone!

    For everyone here struggling with chronic pain and weight gain, my advice is this--don't settle for a doctor that blames you for your pain and other health problems. Change doctors, and change again, until you find one that is willing to dig deep and find the actual source of your chronic pain and cure it. DEMAND this! If your doctor isn't referring you to appropriate specialists, including physical therapists that can help you work out an exercise program you can actually do, then speak up! Tell your doctor what you want and expect. If you still don't get help, change doctors and change again until you find one that is actually committed to healing.

    You must rise above pain and fatigue and find the strength to be your own advocate for better health care. And each one of you can do it! After all, you have already shown a tremendous amount of personal strength and courage simply by getting up each morning and living though another day of pain. So without a doubt you have what you need to confront your doctors and demand a higher level of care than just being blamed or drugged. - 3/31/2012   2:06:13 PM
  • 76
    You truly are inspirational. Thanks for sharing your story. When I see that others have gone through a lot to lose weight, it lets me know that I can do it too. I hope that you reach your goal. - 3/31/2012   1:54:57 PM
  • 75
    this is the first response to a blog ever. i have felt this way for so long and feel like i am so alone in this journey. i havent utilized spark the way it is intended so as usual i feel like i havent done my utmost best. i do however keep striving. i have been reading all the articals, keeping some receipes and basically just that. i am at my highest weight ever and just had a partial knee replacement jan. 9. so im just right at 3 months getting well. i still have major pain. also because i have needed this done for so long and my body is back properly aligned now, my hip and back hurts. not to mention all the other usual hurts. and then there's the depression from being so big now and that hopeless feeling. reading this today has somehow touched me personally more than any other one i've read. this has helped me understand more of the journey i will have to take and dont be so impatient. thank you. - 3/31/2012   1:44:41 PM
  • HEALTHYBOOMER
    74
    Dear Beth, Thank you so much for sharing such encouraging words with everyone - how brave you are! And congratulations on your weight loss.
    From the rest of the comments it's easy to see how inspiring your story is for others in the same boat. You are absolutely right that baby steps are the way to go. Did you know that even the MAYO clinic now recommends ten minutes here and there throughout your day instead of attempting to do a 30 minute (or more) exercise program! There is much that we can do for a few minutes here and there which absolutely DOES count. I often recommend things like marching in place while brushing your teeth, one extra walk around the kitchen table, etc. And for all of those suffering from Chronic Pain there is a new book out by Dr. Mark Hyman with lots of good information on food triggers for pain and allergies, etc. It's called "The Blood Sugar Solution." If you can get to your local library, check out this book. You may find more simple, easy solutions to help relieve your chronic pain.
    I am also proud of you Beth! - 3/31/2012   1:34:28 PM
  • 73
    Thank you. Now I am going to get off my butt and go for a walk. - 3/31/2012   1:09:40 PM
  • CLAYLADY01
    72
    Hello, today we are having some friends over for dinner and I am cooking a belated St.Patty's day menu.Lots of good healthy vege's.
    I suffer from osteo arthiritis and am in pain throughout the day but am taking a combo of MSM and GC and that seems to help relieve the pain.I wake up in serious pain but as the day goes on I feel a little stronger but am not currently exercising,don't have a friendly and supportive Dr.so have to do this on my own.Really enjoy reading the comments,they are inspiring.Good luck to all of you out there and keep on doing what is best for you, CLin Oregon - 3/31/2012   1:00:14 PM
  • 71
    It sounds like you are having some challenges you are always such an inspiration and have such a positive impact on so many. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I greatly admire you for keeping your eye on your successes rather than taking a "woe is me" approach. Thank you for sharing all of your insights you have gained. - 3/31/2012   12:58:58 PM
  • 70
    Beth, you continue to inspire with your honesty and determination - thank you so much. - 3/31/2012   12:41:25 PM

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