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!
"I Stopped Medicating Myself with Food"
How AQUAGIRL08 Learned to Manage Her Chronic Pain with Diet and Exercise
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