three reasons why resolving chronic pain is challenging

Posted by on Mar 26, 2014 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief | 4 comments

Resolving Chronic PainI recently saw a Facebook post by another massage therapist who specializes in working with people in pain. He noted his top three reasons why people don’t get out of pain for the long-term. The reasons were:

  • Lack of proper communication with the body
  • Poor mindset “fix me” mentality
  • Lack of personal responsibility – there is always something else to do

These are his words not mine. And they got me thinking a little bit. My immediate reaction when I read these reasons was, “I know I respect him, but this guy has clearly never lived with chronic pain.” I felt this way not because his points were wrong but because of the way he phrased them. Maybe I was just having “one of those days,” but the post sounded so darn judgmental.

This list also made me think about what makes a client’s experience different when they work with a therapist who has experienced chronic pain of their own. Here’s how I might have phrased these ideas differently because of my own experiences with chronic pain.

My top three reasons why people find it so challenging to resolve chronic pain:

  1. A lot of my clients have never had anyone guide and teach them how to re-connect with their bodies. Most of us who live with chronic pain find that we separate mind and body to some degree some of the time. This comes from living with the intensity of pain, and is an instinctive coping mechanism. Some of us started using is coping mechanism decades ago, so reconnecting to our bodies takes time, healthy methods, and a very patient teacher. It can be done with a teamwork mentality: the client, their body and a trained therapist (MT, PT, etc.).
  2. The world of medical care that we live in fosters a mentality of “quick fix,” especially if a pill can be given to “solve” a problem. Many people who live with chronic pain have lived inside this approach and system for many years. And yet they often find it to be unsatisfying and frustrating – mostly because the pills don’t always work. People with chronic pain also turn outside the medical system to alternative healers. And many healers in both systems encourage an approach where they want to be responsible for someone’s well being. Frankly, it’s job security … even if it might not help the client or patient escape the “fix me” mentality. There are also many patients who want to participate in the healing process. They have found that being present and working together with the healer brings better results in the long-term. But it takes a mindset shift – coming from the patient – to start this process. If you think you might be ready to start this shift, check out a blog I wrote about mindset and chronic pain.
  3. Most people who live with chronic pain would do almost anything and pay almost anything to find a solution and return to normal life. Many of them can’t even remember what their former “normal” life was like. I can’t tell you how many different healing ideas, devices, therapies, and diets I have tried over the last two decades. Some have helped significantly for a long time. Other methods have cost a lot and needed an extensive time commitment, without bringing much result. Friends and family (plus the occasional complete stranger) often suggest types of treatment to me. And honestly it can be exhausting and draining to try everything. My advice is to keep your eyes and ears open. Trust your gut when you hear about a new idea. Don’t overtax yourself trying too many things at once. But never, never, never give up. You can find relief. It is ultimately up to you. And never ever let someone else make you feel guilty because you haven’t yet found the right treatment plan yet. Take a break from searching if it wears you out. Get help and use your support system.

<rant over> Thanks for listening! And more importantly, I hope I was able to give you some good ideas and express the compassion I truly feel for people (like me) living with chronic pain.


Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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resolutions mindful of living with chronic pain

Posted by on Jan 1, 2014 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief, Wellness | 10 comments

Your Desire to Change Must Be Greater Than Your Desire to Stay the Same

For the record, I think resolutions are fabulous—but the middle of winter and living with chronic pain make this a challenge for me. I know I’m thinking like a Northern Hemisphere, cold climate girl here. So if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, please forgive me. I like to make resolutions in the spring, when the world is waking up from winter. It’s a time of year when I feel renewed and hopeful. I just don’t feel that kind of positive energy on January 1st. But I’ll play along since it’s on people’s minds!

Resolving to make change is a wonderful thing. Be specific about your goals. And don’t over promise because you’ll want to have the ability to actually deliver on those goals. These thoughts are nothing new. You’ve heard them before – probably many times before.

And what do people living with chronic pain do about resolutions? I would like to resolve not to have any chronic pain this year. I’d like to resolve not to make any visits to my physicians this year. Unfortunately both of these feel like they fall into the category of over promising. So what are some of the things I might resolve?

1. I resolve to keep trying to find the delicate balance between self-care and selfishness. To work on understanding how self-care isn’t selfish, but a matter of survival—even when I’m busy reaching for the stars.

2. I resolve to make thoughtful food choices that support my desire to live with less pain and inflammation. To research and try new things, as long as they seem wise and feel positive rather than restrictive.

3. I resolve to find ways to relax, to laugh and to connect with people I love and enjoy.

4. I resolve to be easy with myself while not being lazy, so that I take breaks and recovery days with less guilt than usual.

5. I resolve to find communities of people (especially those living with chronic illness and/or pain) with mutual support and respect.

And finally, I resolve to wait until the weather warms up to commit to resolutions. Winter is a great time to hibernate and percolate the “how” of these resolutions. I’ll choose whichever resolutions come naturally while honoring this darkest time of the year. Will you join me?


Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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would running a mile in a pool help with chronic pain relief?

Posted by on Nov 25, 2013 in Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief, Wellness | 8 comments

Water Aerobics Helps to Relieve Chronic PainThe other day, I said something that I still think was brilliant. “I may not ever run a marathon, but I think my whole life is a marathon. I have to pace myself and work hard at today’s race, so that I can make it to the end in the best shape possible.” Now, by “best shape” I didn’t mean a certain dress size. I meant living in a healthy and active way – choosing to live the way I want to instead of having my chronic pain dictate my limitations.

Having lived with pain for most of my adult life (which I confess is now a couple of decades or so), I’ve developed some chronic pain relief strategies. In my twenties and thirties, one of my key strategies was getting regular exercise. But as my pain progressed, my old exercise styles didn’t suit me anymore. They actually generated more pain instead of helping to create relief.

During this time, my aunt kept telling me how much she loved getting into the pool for her water exercise classes. But my perception was that those classes were only filled with 70+ ladies … and that I would feel out of place. Boy, was I ever wrong! Okay, there are a bunch of ladies (and a few brave men) from many different decades of their lives including some over 80 years old. But the class includes people in their thirties and forties too!

I started taking water exercise classes a few years ago, and it has been a fantastic experience! I was reminded how much I love it this week because as I hopped in the pool after several weeks of feeling crummy, I felt like I was home. But why is water exercise so great when you live with chronic pain?

My friend Janet Hartlove says it so well in her recent blog, Aqua Woman. She says, “As 90% of our bodies are buoyant in water, the joints take less stress with movement, which can help people with painful conditions such as Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. Hydrostatic pressure; the constant weight of the fluid acting on our bodies in all directions, (think full body shape-ware), provides 12-14% more resistance in a pool, strengthening muscles with every movement we make.”

There are many benefits to water exercise. Lots of articles will tell you about the way it strengthens our muscles, but I also want to point out that it makes us more flexible. After ten years of working with many massage clients, I have learned that you can’t trade flexibility for strength. You need both!

I’ve also found that water exercise benefits my mental health. Maybe it’s the reminders of my childhood summers in the pool, but I just feel happy in the water. And when I’m busting a move in the pool, I’m also generating my body’s own feel-good hormones. People living with chronic pain, are more likely to live with depression. For me, getting in the pool helps combat those feelings! And all those other students are just so lovely – I’ve really enjoyed the social connections too!

So, would you give it a try? Would you run a mile in a pool? Let me know!


Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!


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investing in new cookware for holistic pain relief

Posted by on Oct 30, 2013 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Cooking at Home, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief, Wellness | 10 comments

oos350-614470-847__1Several months ago, Barbara and I decided to replace our non-stick cookware with stainless steel. Why? Very simply, another step in our path of holistic pain relief. Plus, there’s mounting evidence that the chemicals used in non-stick cookware, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), may contribute to the alteration of natural hormones that influence inflammation, cartilage repair, and other criteria associated with arthritis. As Barbara has rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it was a no-brainer for us to move forward with this endeavor.

Understand this…Barbara thinks I’m cheap; I think I’m frugal, thrifty, and practical—great attributes for a COO! Nonetheless, since I am the primary “chef” in the family, we decided I would be in charge of researching and selecting which cookware set to purchase. No problem. They’re all the same, right?

On our next trip to the local warehouse store, I was excited to find a 14-piece stainless steel cookware set for $99.00. It included all the pieces that I needed for preparing my culinary masterpieces. What a deal! I promptly looked up reviews on my iPhone while at the store and was chagrinned that the set was poorly rated. Hmm, I guess they aren’t all the same. Phooey.

For the next week or so, I endeavored to learn what I needed to know about buying safe cookware. I digested a dizzying number of articles that covered types, manufacturers, and cookware SKUs along with many reviews, both user and expert, from varying sources—Amazon to Consumer’s Reports.

Well folks, this is what I found out:

First, I wanted to find support for the negative health affects from PFOA and PFOS, particularly as it pertains to arthritis. I’m a very logical person and soon realized that finding non-biased information about health-related topics was like trying to get neutral political opinion from both FOX and MSNBC. This is one of the articles that I read—“Teflon component linked to arthritis” based on a study featured in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Obviously, this ruled out non-stick cookware.

Next, I wanted to find a synopsis of what’s available. I viewed this slide show on the Huffington Post about the different types of cookware. Yeah, I know. It’s a liberal site…but this is a very non-political blog post!

  • Copper
  • Non-stick
  • Aluminum – we ruled out aluminum because of the possible correlation between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Anodized aluminum
  • Stainless steel
  • Cast iron
  • Enameled cast iron
  • Carbon steel
  • Enamel on steel
  • Green pan (a ceramic-based non-stick material)

Wow, that’s a lot of choices. After considering the above materials, we decided upon stainless steel. But, what’s the difference from one stainless steel set to another? After reading around a hundred reviews on Amazon and other sites, I learned that it was the thickness of the steel and whether or not it’s “multiclad/tri-play” or aluminum layered in the stainless steel both on the bottom and sides of the pot/pan. This is important since stainless steel is not a good conductor of heat.

Now, what brand? There were basically three manufacturers with models that rated well, 1) All-Clad, 2) Cuisinart, and 3) Tramontina. They all have multiclad styles.

I knew it wasn’t going to be cheap, but $1500.00 for a 14-piece All-Clad set was a bit too rich for our blood. The Tramontina set I considered was only available through Sam’s Club and we’re not members. Therefore, we decided upon a multiclad Cusinart set.

But wait! Where to buy it? The Cuisinart MCP-12N MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set available at Amazon was priced at $299.00. Now, this is where my cheapness, frugality, practicality comes to play.

Drum roll please. While looking at the Costco website, I noted they had a Cuisinart® 12-piece Professional Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Cookware. It was Cusinart. Check! There were no discernible differences. Check! It was “tri-ply”. Check! It also had glass lids that the Multi-Clad Pro set did not have. Yay! The set at Costco cost $199.99 or a hundred bucks less than the set at Amazon.


P.S. Since then, we bought a stainless steel steamer set for steaming vegetables and we also determined that we needed to make one concession for using non-stick cookware—frying eggs. However, once the non-stick surface starts to show signs of wear, we’ll trash it. Oh well. Not perfect, but pretty close to it.


Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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happy diagnosis anniversary to me?

Posted by on Oct 24, 2013 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief, Wellness | 8 comments

I had every intention of sharing today about what it was like to travel with my blender last week. To show you exactly how I was able to make myself fantastically nutritious smoothies each morning. And then I looked at the calendar … and realized that this is my anniversary week. No, not one of the anniversaries I share with Cris. This Sunday is the anniversary of my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis. It’s been four years since the rheumatologist confirmed that indeed I did have this disease. What an amazing experience it has been!

Female Doctor and PatientThat first winter I was in so much pain and discomfort. We had several 12”+ snowfalls, and I really felt every barometric pressure change of the storms. I also had to learn all about pacing myself. I couldn’t just go out and shovel snow with Cris the same way I had the year before. I learned about the price we pay when we live with chronic pain—that even when something feels doable in the moment, you can have a LOT of unexpected pain afterwards because you actually did too much.

Because the pain, swelling and stiffness that started the diagnosis process had started months before, by then I had also experienced the business consequences of RA. But you’ve heard me talk about that before!

I learned what the stiffness was REALLY like when you have RA. I remember saying to people, “I am flexible to snuggle myself into some crazy positions under that winter blanket, but then I can’t get myself out!” We would watch a movie at home and I started taking a few “intermissions” just to stand up and move around. If I didn’t, moving around again at the end of the movie was excruciating.

The winter was also my time to adjust to the medications involved in RA. I had to wrap my mind around what the doctors told me—that I would “take them for the rest of my life.” This was a completely new experience, and NOT easy. Then I had to deal with the way they made my body feel—from just a little queasy to full blown gross. Thankfully my body “settled into” the meds and side effects were minimal within a several weeks. But the meds really didn’t provide enough relief. My pain levels when down some, but medication didn’t give me my energy back. And that was what I needed MOST!

With every year that passes since that diagnosis, I take this anniversary as a reminder of how far I’ve come! RA has brought me into the world of holistic health and holistic pain relief. As a bodyworker, I was skirting around the edge before and now I sit right in the middle of that world as a Holistic Pain Relief Coach. My goal today is to serve people living with chronic pain (especially entrepreneurs)—to offer them practical tools and a lot more HOPE! I want you to have less pain and more energy—the same things I started to gain back after that first difficult winter four years ago.

If you’ve been here at before, you already read a lot of the things that I do to relieve the chronic pain my body wants to deliver to me. Here’s a quick recap of some essentials:

  • Going gluten free made an unbelievable difference in my pain levels.
  • I work really hard to be sure I get truly restorative sleep every night.
  • Clean eating to make a big difference in how I feel!
  • My fabulous husband cooks easy but aMAZing, anti-inflammatory meals for us.
  • And I believe that mindset—the way we think about chronic pain in our lives—can make an unbelievable difference in what we experience every day.

Four years ago, I believed that managing a chronic pain condition was all about doctors and medications. Since then I have learned that a much larger percentage of the treatment plan is up to me. I am grateful to have gained this knowledge (and the pain relief it brings), and even more thrilled to be sharing these practical, every day tools with you! Thanks for celebrating my Diagnosiversary with me this week!


Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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