I’m in a Family Circle article
on chronic pain relief

Posted by on Mar 18, 2015 in Holistic Pain Relief, Kick Pain in the Kitchen, Wellness | 0 comments

Big excitement over here in my world!

Barbara in Family CircleI’m honored to be included this April in a wonderful article by Rachel Rabkin Peachman  about pain management. More importantly, the article tells inspiring stories of four different women’s journey from pain (fibromyalgia, migraines, scoliosis and arthritis) to pain relief. You can find it in the April 2015 issue of Family Circle – on the stands now. (I’ll add a link when it’s available online.)

Rachel does a great job of capturing my story of living with chronic pain and arthritis, but there are always more details to tell. Here’s a bit more about me:

When I decided to get certified as a massage therapist, I wanted to leave the stressful world of advertising behind. I thought my favorite clients would be people who “just wanted to relax.” It wasn’t long before I learned that what really connected me to my clients was the chronic physical pain I’d experienced. Because they asked for my help relieving their pain, they were glad to know I understood how it felt to hurt.

It wasn’t long before I realized that helping people relieve chronic pain was my true career thrill. Holistic pain relief coaching combines three elements:

  • My own experience
  • Working with clients as a massage therapist
  • Health and nutrition knowledge and certification

Last year I decided to capture all this stuff and move it from my brain (and my heart) to a book. That’s Kick Pain in the Kitchen: Holistic Pain Relief You Can Eat, published last October.

I hope you’ll also take advantage of my free offer. It’s a report on my favorite 17 ways to start relieving your pain TODAY! It’s a lot of small, easy changes you can make that will start adding up to gains in pain relief. Did I say it’s free? Just fill in the form in the upper right corner of this page.

If you’re finding me because of the Family Circle article, why not look over some of these blog posts to start understanding my coaching approach?

7 holistic changes that improve pain relief

nutrients for holistic pain relief: a 3-part series

3 skills you can learn from 
living with chronic pain

anti-inflammatory diet for holistic pain relief

three reasons why resolving chronic pain is challenging

relieving chronic, systemic inflammation (a 4-part series)

using recovery days to help relieve chronic pain

Welcome to our community – please comment and join in the conversation!


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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I’m not going to “unlove” you

Posted by on Jan 29, 2015 in Ask the Coach, Healthier Choices, Wellness | 2 comments

I'm Not Going to "Unloved" YouLast year at this time, I was struggling with my health. It was hard to feel like myself at work, at home, and there was no “at play” in my life then. Physically, I was dealing with unexplained vertigo, hearing loss, and disequilibrium. While not actually painful, it made me nauseous, irritable, and was accompanied by deep feelings of fear and depression. (If you’ve read my book, you may remember some of this story.)

One day, I was trying to explain to my husband Cris how sorry I was that I couldn’t be the wife he married and the wife who had enjoyed nearly two decades of togetherness. Of course, I was crying and it both hurt and made me mad to be in this situation.

And my best friend, companion, and husband just looked at me and said, “I’m not going to ‘unlove’ you because you’re sick.” His words still brings tears to my eyes as I write this. I can’t tell you if he thought about those words much before he said them. I can tell you that his words lifted my soul in that moment and chased some of the fear away.

Now imagine you’re a person with chronic illness or chronic pain. You might not really have to imagine – this could be you already since over 100 million people in the U.S. have experienced chronic pain. And according to one study in 2013, nearly half of all Americans have at least one chronic illness. This means many of you have felt what I was feeling that day last winter.

Has my health improved since then? Well, yes and no. Have I cried more tears? Definitely. Have I had some priceless moments of joy and happiness? Absolutely. And every SINGLE day I think of that one precious phrase, “I’m not going to unlove you.”

I realize this is a unique and amazing gift from my spouse. And so are all those nights when he’s not only cooked dinner but also done the dishes – all because I needed to get off my feet and rest. It’s not uncommon for a spouse to feel burdened by the challenge of their partner’s chronic pain. Many relationships and marriages struggle and even fail because of it.

Do Cris and I have the secret to a happy marriage despite chronic pain or illness? Well that bin of magic fairy dust was empty at the store this month, so I have no fail-safe secret. I will however, give you my top three strategies for enriching your loving relationship even when you have chronic pain or illness.

  1. Choose to be happy and find happiness in all the little ways you can. Each of those little choices add up to a big difference in how you approach each day. And research shows that optimism and a sense of hope (which go hand-in-hand with happiness), play a big part in improving your health. What makes you happy will be completely individual­—maybe it’s a child’s laughter, a bright sunny day, or some yellow roses. It could be the comfort of a warm meal shared with someone. Or bubbles in the bathtub. You choose!
  2. Let them know how much it means to you! Don’t forget the “thank you” moments, even if you think you’ve already said it a few times today or this week. Do what you can when you can. When you have a good day, use some of your energy to do something nice for your partner even if it’s just emptying the dishwasher. But most of all thank them more than you think necessary.
  3. Hug your partner every single day—more than once! Being heart-to-heart in a hug is healing for you both. It improves blood pressure, lifts your mood, and generates pain-relieving endorphins too. It reminds you both that you’re the most important people in each other’s lives, no matter what pain and health challenges your family is dealing with.

Love them because they love you. Face the challenges together, hand in hand, heart to heart.


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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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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relieving chronic, systemic inflammation (part four of series)

Posted by on Feb 26, 2014 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief, Wellness | 2 comments

Inflammation Series Part 4We’ve talked about how chronic, systemic inflammation can be generated (see parts one and two of this series). And in part three we started to discuss what holistic pain relief solutions are available to us in our every day lives. In the last part of our series, we’ll talk about what we can CHANGE in our lives to create a more anti-inflammatory approach.

Please remember, these ideas are not meant to replace anything recommended by your personal physician. You should discuss the addition of any complementary therapies with your physician to ensure they are a good fit with your current treatment plan.

Hopefully you’ve started to add in some of our ideas from last time: vitamin D, anti-inflammatory herbs, meditation and even creativity! Take a minute and comment on what you’ve learned in this process, okay?

1. In your kitchen you have an array of options. But today’s typical pantry, fridge and dietary choices are full of inflammatory choices. Some of the biggest culprits are:

  • Trans Fats (watch for “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” on ingredient lists)
  • Sugar (this means all kinds of sweeteners including agave nectar and honey)
  • Gluten (a protein contained in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, oats and used extensively in processed foods)

Consider starting to remove these inflammatory choices from your diet. Replace them with whole foods like vegetables, fruits, quinoa, organic meats, and dairy. You don’t have to make all the changes all at once. Just start reducing them, and the improvement in how you FEEL will help motivate you to keep going!

2. Increasing exercise has been studied in relation to inflammation. And the studies show that more exercise equals reductions in inflammation. The good news is that the studies don’t require huge amounts of exercise to show results. Nor does the exercise have to be extreme. It just needs to be moderate and consistent.

So what can you do today that moves your body more? Can you park farther away from your office or the shops? Can you walk up and down your stairs more often instead of grouping tasks together? Is there a way to get outside with your kids and run around with them for a bit?

3. Earthing is a concept that’s been part of human life forever. In its simplest form, earthing is the idea that we need to return to the habit of getting outside in our bare feet.

What Earthing connects is the nature of the earth to the nature of our bodies. The earth is an electrical object – almost like a big battery. It gains energy from things like lightning strikes and the sun. And then it puts energy out in waves. It’s actually these electrical waves that our bodies feel.

And our bodies are electrical beings as well. We are made of substances that conduct zillions of electrical impulses every day. It’s what makes us GO! These two things – the earth and our bodies – are meant to be connected. If you think back in history, people didn’t always have shoes or sleep in beds and houses. In fact, many places in the world don’t use these “modern conveniences” even today. This is a basic principle of Earthing – that connecting our bodies to the earth every day is a perfect system of charge and discharge, feed and clear.

So what do you do to take advantage of this idea? It couldn’t be simpler or cheaper. Just take your shoes off and sit, stand or walk with your skin connected to the grass, sand, dirt, or concrete every day. Find 5-15 minutes to do this consistently throughout your week. The results are amazing—this can reduce pain and inflammation. It can make you feel more peaceful and relaxed.

4. Reaching out to your family, friends and entire support network is vital to holistic pain relief. But sometimes it feels so challenging to explain what it’s like to live with chronic pain. Even though MILLIONS of people live with chronic pain every day, that doesn’t always mean that those closest to us understand our experience.

There are lots of great resources online to help explain chronic pain to our supporters. One of my favorites is The Spoon Theory at ButYouDontLookSick.com, written by a lupus patient. And if you’ve ever had those frustrating comments from others about “easy” things you could do to relieve pain, you might enjoy this article from The Huffington Post.

Share both with those your love and don’t be afraid to ASK for the help you need!

I truly hope that all four of these articles have given you a good start on practical steps for holistic pain relief. Will you take a moment to comment below and let me know you questions? I promise to use them as topics for the future. Thanks!


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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what causes systemic inflammation? (part 2)

Posted by on Jan 29, 2014 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief | 0 comments

Anti-Inflammatory Series Pt2In part one of this series, we covered why chronic, systemic inflammation matters to your holistic pain relief plan. It’s one of the big factors we want to work to control, so that we can reduce our chronic pain. Of course, it’s also important to our health in many other ways but we’ll just focus on the pain relief here.

We covered three of seven reasons previously:

1. Poor sleep quality

2. Environmental factors

3. Poor diet

There are many factors to be considered in chronic inflammation, and here are four more.

4. Gut/digestive issues: Your gut (which is another way to say your intestinal tract) may not be a place you think about having inflammation. But since your gut contains 60-70% of your immune system, an inflamed gut can wreck major havoc throughout your whole body. Many things can damage our gut’s natural bacterial balance: antibiotics, food allergies/intolerances, toxins, and toxic buildup resulting from constipation. When your gut bacteria is out of balance, it creates inflammation both in the gut and leaking outside the gut into the rest of your body.

5. Chronic stress: You probably know from your own experience that chronic stress (lasting at least 3 months) makes it hard to stay well. As of 2013, a study found that chronic stress actually changes our genes. It changes the immune cells into “fighter” cells before they enter the bloodstream. And it does this whether or not there’s actually infection or trauma for that immune cell to fight. Having these “fighter” cells in our bloodstream then leads to inflammation throughout our bodies.

6. Lack of exercise / sedentary lifestyle: It’s no secret that exercise is critical to our long-term wellness. Sometimes when we’re living with chronic pain, exercise seems like the most impossible thing (we’ll talk more in a later blog about ideas to approach this). In fact, when your skeletal muscles perform work, they actually produce and release anti-inflammatory substances into the blood. So staying still and not exercising is a big part of chronic, systemic inflammation. Getting moving (even just a little), will make you feel less pain and inflammation.

7. Carrying extra weight: Studies show that even a 5% weight loss can reduce inflammatory markers in blood tests. The good news is that if you make changes in some of the other items in this list, you will naturally give your body the opportunity to release weight. For example, better sleep and high quality food are both associated with weight loss. Small changes work together in our lives to make a big impact on our pain levels!

Let me say that again … SMALL changes work together in our lives to make a BIG impact on our pain levels! Next time, I’ll be talking about some ways to make those small changes. Feeling better shouldn’t be excruciating. My goal is to share ways to feel better that you can incorporate in your life RIGHT NOW.

In two weeks, I’ll give you more ideas! (In the meantime, please take advantage of my free offer by clicking the link below. There are some great ideas in there too!)

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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