How to Stay Encouraged When in Chronic Pain

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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Thank you! Report
CECELW 4/8/2021
WOW! Good for you! Congratulatons on your weight loss Report
REDROBIN47 3/21/2021
Good information. Thank you. Report
I needed this message so much this morning. I have quite a few disabilities and I struggle everyday to stay motivated and change. Been doing lots of small baby steps. After reading this it has helped me to realize that I am doing the right things. Thank u Report
PATRICIAANN46 2/11/2021
Thank You............. Report
LAURAC1031 1/13/2021
Thank you so much for sharing. Report
CARD512002 10/11/2020
Thanks Beth Report
RBARNES27 9/3/2020
Thank you. As I am reading your blog I am sitting here thinking "is she telling the world my story!???" It is informative to know that there are other people like me and you, battling severe and chronic pain and disabilities while trying to lose a significant amount of weight. Let's keep going!!! Let's beat the odds!!! 😍 Report
AQUAGIRL08 8/5/2020
Great! Report
Great article! Report
this article is so informative . Thank you so much Report
Thanks for the encouragement to keep at it one baby step at a time - doing what I can until I can do more. Report
Thank you for sharing! Report
Thank you for sharing. You have made me feel so much better. I am very proud for you Report
thank you for sharing you story... it encourages me to keep moving when I can. I have been dealing with a bulged disc and sciatica pain for well over a year... but I make myself move even if it is just in the house for at least 10 min. yesterday i got our for a 40 minute walk... today the pain is worse but I believe this is going to get better... postive attitude can change alot as well as faith in God... wishing you all the best on the rest of your journey... you are a success... keep on keeping on... looking forward to hearing more from you as continue down to your goal weight... All the best to you Beth... and thanks again!! Report
We can all do this Report
Well, the message has resonated across pop culture and it is still valid: Yes, we can.
There is no mystery to our need to press forward no matter our situation. Report
What a great message of hope and inspiration ❤️ Report
Thanks Report
Thank you Report
You just described me. I just hope I can realize the loss you have. Thanks for the motivations.

Red Report
Absolutely great l Report
Good article, good need-to-know information! Report
Thank you for sharing your story. You are very encouraging. I have been at this a long time and have recently been struggling with not making the progress that I would hope to make. You say a lot of the things I think but you are actually continuing to make progress. I lost 100 pounds but with some life interference I gained most of it back. I'm trying to relose it but have been struggling more than what I remember from the first time. Please keep sharing. ☹💪👏👍 Report
Thank you for continuing to be an inspiration in spite of your facing surgery and dealing with chronic pain. I've read this article before and will probably read it again. Prayers on your behalf. Keep on keeping on. Report
I have suffered from first RA, at age 6, then other diseases all my life. Movement has always been my best pain, stress and depression reliever. When surgeries and flares lay me up so I can't move I find solace in enjoying the little things in life. Sitting out in my Mom's gorgeous garden overlooking the river and hearing the birds and watching the squirrel's antics. When I am mobile, getting out in natures is tops. I have been fortunate to live close enough to a beaver family to watch them live life through the years. Never lose your sense of childlike wonder at the world. There are still amazing things to witness. Report
...Beth...thank you for this blog...i am sure many were encouraged by it...
3/25/18 Report
"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 we can fire them."

That was so timely and important for me to read. Thank you for another good article.
Awesome! I love your writing! You are someone who has experience with this and it shows throughout the blog! You have compassion and encouragement! Thank you! Report
Thank you for sharing this great advice Report
You epitomize the philosophy of not giving up! Report
You are amazing. Right now I am at a similar place. One knee/leg is being problematic but the funny thing is that it hurts more when I go to bed than when I am up and doing things. So I will keep on doing! Report
Great article! Report
This is a very inspiring blog. Thank you for pointing out that we need to find doctors who are truly supportive of us. I've had the other kind of doc to my detriment. Now, I only align myself with good and kind docs. Life is too short for a doc that passes judgement on you. Report
Thank you for your inspirational comments. You're right about being able to fire a doctor. I did, and my dear husband is safer now. She hadn't done the right tests. The new doc did. He has prostate cancer, in the mid-stage. Thank God it didn't keep growing inside, going to a stage 4.

SP makes us smarter, gives us the tools. It's up to us to use them. You did well. I really admire you. Report
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!!! Report
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. Report
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! Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
Don't give up!!! Best days are coming. Pain is h--- but you will get thru it. Report
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. Report
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. Report
Every response is wonderful! No one knows unless you are living with it 24/7.
Thanks everyone Report
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. Report
"You are unique. Go at your own pace and challenge yourself against your own accomplishments."
"Baby stepping is powerful."
"Redefine yourself."
Thanks for this! Report
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. Report
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. Report
That is awesome! Keep uo the good work! Report