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"I Stopped Medicating Myself with Food"

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

-- By SparkPeople Editorial Staff
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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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Member Comments

  • You have truly inspired me! I too am hypothyroid due to Thyroid cancer, and have severe spondylolisthesis in my back and a fellow teacher to boot! - 9/10/2013 9:28:44 AM
  • Sound to me like you ARE medicating yourself with food. Though in a different way. You've stopped feeding your emotions with all the unhealthy choices and started taking care of your medical problems by eating the healthy things your body needs to take care of itself!! - 5/24/2013 9:54:44 PM
  • Thank you. I live with chronic pain. You are an inspiration. I have found a hot therapy pool and giving up sugar/sweeteners to be life changing. I continue my journey. Thanks for hope! - 5/18/2013 9:02:40 PM
  • Way ta go! Nice lifestyle changes! - 5/18/2013 4:00:28 PM
  • I have found that being positive and leaning on the strength of the Lord is most important! When I started this journey, I used food to solve all my problems! The stress here at our home is unbelievable sometimes, but the good Lord will work that out in time. I took small baby steps and each day I got stronger and stronger. I started to look in the mirror and realize I can do this! It is about setting small goals and being positive! I think that is the most important aspects of being healthy! Also, realize you are worth a lot! God didn't make no junk! - 5/18/2013 2:50:41 PM
  • A very timely article for those of us struggling with pain. Some elements of this story is me. I was a martial arts instructor - something obliterated the cartilage in my hips - had a double hip replacement, had to learn to walk all over again. I am slowly coming back from my 2007 operations and with spinal stenosis. Thank you for showing the way to better health with pain and injuries. Bless you! And thank you SP for your help on our road to wholeness. - 5/18/2013 1:48:22 PM
  • I thank you for writing this. Words can't begin to express how motivating it is to me, personally. I was in 3 auto accidents (with othering hitting ME) in 14 months and was temporarily totally disabled after the 2 wreck. I'm mobile, but most days have a lot of back pain. Having gained weight doesn't help. That's why I am here. YOU are an INSPIRATION!!!! - 5/18/2013 1:03:39 PM
  • I am having trouble figuring out what exercises I can safely do without ending up back in therapy. I've tried working with 3 different trainers and each time had to quit for months from injury. How do you go about finding someone who will help rather than hinder. - 5/18/2013 11:42:00 AM
  • Actually, it wounds like you STARTED medicating yourself with food--the healthy, anti-inflammatory foods with all those important flavenoids--and quit poisoning yourself with the junk. "Let food be your medicine" Hypocrites. - 5/18/2013 11:23:17 AM
  • Great blog and very inspiring! I live with chronic pain also, I have bone mets from stage IV breast cancer. I can't exercise the same way I use to to before I had cancer, but I have found ways to exercise to adapt to my situation. My cancer is not curable, but I won't give up trying to be as fit and healthy as I can, to make the years left the best quality that they can be. I was first diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in 2003, and just last month, I passed my 6th year of surviving stage IV so far, so I must be doing something right! - 5/18/2013 10:47:32 AM
  • All the suggestions for dealing with pain naturally on page 3 of the article has come in handy for me as I am now in chronic pain with tendonitis of the elbow. Reading these suggestions has been helpful and let me add one~ ! Add PINEAPPLE to the list of what to eat TO REDUCE INFLAMMATION as pineapple contains bromelain and that helps reduce the inflammation. - 5/18/2013 9:31:05 AM
  • By exercising and eating better. Watching my intake. - 5/18/2013 8:23:45 AM