Health & Wellness Articles

"I Stopped Medicating Myself with Food"

How AQUAGIRL08 Learned to Manage Her Chronic Pain with Diet and Exercise

One of the things Cyndi (AQUAGIRL08) has learned during her journey toward better health is moderation in all things. She's dealt with several medical conditions that have forced her to learn to live with pain. A positive attitude, learning new eating and activity habits and a commitment to making every day the best it can be turned her misery into opportunity. We asked Cyndi to share how her commitment to healthy living has reduced her pain and depression while giving her a new purpose in life. We know her journey will show others what can happen when you work hard and make a commitment to your healthy living plan.
What kind of pain issues have you dealt with in your life and how did that affect you?
I have congenital stenosis of the spine (a narrowing of the spinal canal) and a variety of orthopedic issues as a result of old athletic injuries. I've had twelve orthopedic surgeries in the last eighteen years. I'm allergic to aspirin and NSAIDs so I have difficulty treating inflammation and pain. I have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), which makes me prone to weight gain, fatigue and joint pain. I was used to being very active and I worked out 4-5 days a week doing running, interval training, aerobics and team sports. That came to a sudden halt. I had a knee replacement and a spinal fusion which changed my life forever. The first year, I gained over 100 pounds. I had to retire from teaching and totally revamp the type of activities I could do on a daily basis. Between the weight gain and the activity change, I became depressed and overwhelmed. The weight and lack of activity made the pain so much worse. At first, I decided to ignore it all, which didn't work. I felt desperate to find relief from pain and I loathed the way I looked from my weight gain. I felt sick most of the time. Pain and my weight made me miserable. I had no quality of life.

How has adopting a healthy lifestyle helped you improve your life and pain management?
I stopped trying to control my pain by medicating myself with food. I decided to take control of my diet and make food work for me instead of against me. I started to choose foods based on how they could nourish me and heal me. By controlling my sugar intake, I found I could reduce the inflammation that a diet high in sugar can cause. I found what I like to call "power foods" that could help reduce inflammation and added them to my eating plan. I looked for ways I could work out without stressing my joints and spine. I discovered that exercising in water can be very healing and healthy. The end result was a big reduction in my pain and a large increase in mobility. My depression lifted and I had a new purpose in life--to make me the best I could be!
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