I get lots of questions and emails about chronic pain and how to workout and stay healthy through it. I am not able to answer these with much wisdom as I am not personally experiencing it, however, my friend Stacy from “Finding Purpose in the Pain” knows! I met Stacy from when I was an editor over at Candace Cameron Bure’s online magazine, Roo. She is also a fellow Ohioan! I think you will be encouraged by her words!
Have you ever reached a critical point in your life? A time when you knew everything needed to change? That was me in February 2012. I had been living with severe chronic nerve pain (fibromyalgia) throughout my body and debilitating fatigue for 18 years since I was 11 years old. I had tried every medication my doctors prescribed as well as every form of treatment you can imagine from acupuncture to chiropractic to massage and I only got significantly worse with each passing year. And yet, I knew God didn’t want me to give up hope that one day I could be pain-free. That month, I made a decision to trust God like never before and pray big for total healing. It’s been an amazing journey the last almost 2 years one that I attribute entirely to the power of God. I know there are millions of people in the world living with chronic health challenges and while I know my story isn’t exactly like yours, I do believe we can learn from other journeys so today I wanted to share some things that helped me improve my health.
If today you find yourself struggling with pain or a chronic health condition, what can you do to see a change in your health?
1. Seek God
As Christians we seek God in every other area of our lives but why do we think our health is somehow exempt? Clare does a great job on this site of reminding us to include God in our eating and exercise regime. And once I began to seek God for my health everything changed. I felt God calling me to go off my medications, which is something I had tried before with bad results. But I took a risk anyways, stepped out in faith, went off all my medications and started using essential oils and supplements and not only have I been off my medications for the last 18 months but my pain is significantly better. And while I don’t tell anyone to necessarily do exactly what I did I do encourage people to seek God for their own health. And be mindful of your attitude in seeking God. If you believe nothing will ever change you are putting God in a box and saying He is not able. God calls us to take Him at His word. He says to remain in Him (John 15:5) and with His strength all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).
2. Don’t Do It Alone
I highly recommend for everyone to get a prayer partner. Not just to pray for you through your health journey but to pray for every aspect in your life. We weren’t meant to live this Christian life alone. There is such power when people come together to pray for one another and sharing your struggles with another person helps you stay accountable to doing what God is calling you to do. I’m so thankful for how God has used my prayer partner in my health journey.
3. The Weight Battle in Won in the Kitchen
Oh friends this is a lesson I have to remind myself of daily because I love to eat! I’ve found, particularly when you have a chronic health condition weight can be struggle. Until I started using essential oils and supplements I was on medications for years and every one of them had a side effect of weight gain. At one point I gained 40lbs in 6 months after starting a new medication. Because I was in such extreme pain at the time even simple exercise was hard for me and I knew if I was going to lose weight it had to come from eating differently and I was able to lose just under 50lbs just through diet alone without exercise. Although I think exercise is hugely important (see my next point!), I also know as a person with a chronic health condition I can’t workout intensely enough to burn that many calories so I have to be extra diligent in watching what I eat to keep my weight in check. This is where prayer and accountability is huge! I exercise for my mental health and increased strength and flexibility. I consider my exercise days successful if I meet these goals and any calories burned is just an added bonus. It helps me to not be so hard on myself to set realistic expectations for why I exercise which leads me to my next point.
4. Focus on What You Can Do Physically
This has been huge for me. I will go on Instagram and see friends doing marathons and mud runs and get so frustrated because my body can’t do that-at least not right now. Even though I’ve seen huge healing in my life, I still struggle with occasional vertigo and running or any high impact activity is a trigger for my dizziness and pain but instead of dwelling on my body’s limitations I focus on what I can do. I know particularly when chronic pain is out of control it’s a challenge to exercise at all but any movement of any kind is better for you than doing nothing at all. Just remember to pace yourself, do what you can and stop the comparison game! Be proud of yourself for exercising at all with your limitations. Not sure where to start with exercise?
Best Exercises for Those in Pain
Sure it doesn’t burn a lot of calories but it’s low impact and walking some is better than doing nothing at all.
I happen to love yoga. It’s a great workout because it’s slower and won’t be hard on hurting bodies. I know it can be a bit controversial in Christian circles but there are other options like Holy Yoga or just focusing on the positions themselves without the meditation component if that bothers you. Learning breathing exercises has also been great for pain management and stress reduction in my life.
I just started embracing this but again it’s a great way to tone your body in a low impact way.
4. Water Aerobics
Want a higher intensity workout but without the impact on your joints and muscles? Do it in the water! It allows you to workout your body in ways you never could on land and is perfect for those in pain.
5. Do Higher Intensity Workouts with Frequent Breaks
I have an elliptical and will do very high intensity sprints for a minute followed by two minutes of rest. These short bursts of activity followed by rest allow me to raise my heart rate without aggravating my vertigo and pain, which cannot handle long periods of intense, or even moderately intense movement.
5. Lastly, Celebrate Your Weakness!
We live in a society that celebrates strength and self-reliance but we serve a God who tells us to embrace our weakness because in weakness we get a chance to be dependent on God and rely on His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). While it’s taken many years for me to get to this point, I now see what a gift it is to have struggled for 19 years with pain and fatigue because it’s taught me to fully depend on God, moment by moment, and in that I’ve had the chance to see the strength of God enable me to do things I never could have done on my own. Anything that keeps you depending on God and relying on Him fully is a gift worth celebrating! On the surface your health situation may look impossible, mine did, or you may lack the ability to make changes. Great! God’s strength is made perfect in your weakness so remain in Him, seek Him for your health and see what He will do.
After this long health journey with God, one that I’m still very much on with Him today, I wrote a devotional book called 21 Days to Finding Purpose in Pain. It tells my story of finding God’s purpose in the midst of struggle. I would love to giveaway a paperback copy to one of you! To enter leave a comment sharing how you stay healthy while living with a chronic health condition. And since this devotional deals with so much more than just physical pain, I want to make this giveaway open to anyone. If you don’t have a health challenge and want to enter, leave a comment sharing how God has helped you through a difficult time. Clare will randomly select a winner from the comments on Wednesday, March 19th. I look forward to hearing your stories!
Stacy lives in Central Ohio although she’d like to be somewhere warmer half the year. She loves Jesus, traveling, the ocean, essential oils, seeing God answer prayer and encouraging others! She currently works as a writer for her online ministry, health coach specializing in natural healing options and sometimes nanny and virtual assistant. She is the Creator of Finding Purpose in the Pain. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook! Or check out her devotional 21 Days to Finding Purpose in Pain!
I love that you put these into words for those that suffer with Chronic pain. I can honestly say, though I never truly thought about it, I have put every one of those points into practice as I started a health journey last January and now lost 97 pounds, while dealing with the chronic pain of Fibromyalgia and MS. It is one day at a time, one step at a time lifestyle change. I knew when I started it was not going to be just a short term goal, but needed to be a change for life. Admittedly, it is hard, on those days when you hear about how intense workout a friend did, or how many miles someone ran and your struggling to get a mile in increments just to try and move your body. Even harder to deal with those that think I should not be doing as much as I am. Its a day to day goal to focus just on what God is telling me my journey should look like for that day, for my best health.
Congrats on losing so much weight and making such huge progress toward your health goals! That’s an amazing achievement!
Thanks for reading my post,
nd lots of other health issues. I asked my family Doctor for help in loosing weight. I tried many diets and failed. I was scepteable but as a final attempt to loose for improving my over all health I started the PQ diet. I am now 26 pounds away from being where my BMI chart saids I should be, I have lost a total of 82 pounds all still while having to have the same knee replaced yet again due to a reoccuring infections. This replacement is thethird one on the same knee since 2011. I am healthier then I have been for years. I was on 8 different medications a year ago and now with all this weight I have lost my medications are half as many as they were a year ago.
My struggles with my health has been for years.
I now can do limited exercise due to recovering from my recent knee replacement. I am so much skinnier then I have ever been and because of the healthy eating weight loss and watching of my carbs.And the awesome coaching and team support that I have and still recieve has helped me to be healthier then I have been in years.
I am considring replacement number three on the same leg, but I am really terrified of doing it. Each time, after about two years, the knee becomes stiff and painful. I am at a point now where I can’t even walk one block and my knee is stuck in a bent position of about 15 degrees. Did you gain full range of motion after the third one?
Thanks for the great tips!
My daughter is 14 and is now dealing with chronic migraine pain.
I feel so terrible for her. She is missing her first year of high school and was
Unable to try out for soccer. She is definitely isolated
and feeling alone. I know it affects our entire family too.
With Gods help we can find some help for her and she
can be a kid again.
I can totally relate to your daughter’s struggle as I was 11 when I started dealing with chronic pain. It is a challenge for sure but she is blessed to have such a supportive family (as I am too) and that will help her more than you know.
Thanks for reading my post,
4 years ago, I lost 90+ pounds after a 15 year struggle. However in the last 6 months I’ve found I cannot workout like I did. I’m in constant fatigue & aching. I’m getting really down on it to be honest & wondering if there is something going on with me. I do still workout & pay attention to my diet because I see both areas of a way to honor GOD. I don’t see any area where I’m allowed to take off CHRIST but instead use my choice to continue to workout as an opportunity to worship. I’m not saying every day is easy: I’m so worn out, but HE is faithful, I want to honor HIS holy temple & I think moving everyday & being careful to not let unhealthy strongholds back in my life is how to do it. Despite this fatigue & aching, I so want to seek GOD for comfort not anything else.
So sorry to hear you are struggling with constant fatigue and aching. I pray you are able to find relief soon but what a blessing to look on this time as a chance to find comfort in God!
Thanks for reading my post,
Thank you so much for these tips! I was diagnosed with RSD last year (a chronic nerve condition with symptoms such as neuropathy, foot drop, pain, swelling). I’m very interested in the 50 pounds you lost thru diet alone.
Honestly I don’t have any great tips other the usual. I just counted calories (which I know isn’t for everyone) until I reached my goal and it took me about 9 mths to lose 35lbs through diet alone without any exercise. And then I lost another 15 lbs over the next year. Something like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig may also be helpful too.
Thanks for reading my post!
You may want to look into GeneSmart, an anti-inflammatory eating plan and guide.
I am currently participating in the Made To Crave Action Plan on-line Bible study and Dr. Ski Chilton is the developer…..very truth and fact based…it may be of interest to you.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I read this today after a painful sleepless night. So this is food for my weary soul. I find diet (eliminating) certain foods and adding more things helps my pain. A lot of my pain is worse the 2-3 weeks before my periid. You have inspired me with your article and story. I can’t wait to read the book!
Thanks so much for reading my post Kristin! Have a great day!
I cannot express how grateful I am for this post. This week I was doing the good morning girls devotional and the whole week was about our body. Honesty I had a very hard time. I was angry at my body and felt like I hated it. Like God somehow handed me the wrong one. I kept praying but was very discouraged. And then. I got the email from peak313 and all of sudden I have hope in my heart again! I cant wait to read the devotion im going to get it right away 🙂
Desiree this makes me so happy! Glad you were encouraged and blessed today:)
Have a great Sunday,
I’m on this journey. God is teaching me that must seek Him through this time in my life. I am so grateful that I now have another resource to encourage my heart about the VERY thing I’ve been struggling with. God loves us so uniquely. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks for reading Angie!!
Oh my goodness THANK YOU!!!!!! its hard to find someone who understands within the health and fitness community and pointing to God too!!!!!!! Love it!
Thanks so much for reading Heather!!
I have been dealing with joint pain and general fatigue for a couple of years now. Doctors have been unable to figure out why. To stay as healthy as possible, I eat as well as possible. To keep from giving up on fitness altogether, I try to remind myself of what I can do and not think about what I can’t do. I appreciate what you are doing, Stacy.
Thanks so much Dede! I pray you are able to find relief soon!
I’m not even sure what to say. I feel like I have lost hope. It feels like I love a God who may have more important things to think about than me. I am thrilled that you and others have found ways past chronic pain. I feel I’ve tried it all to no avail. Sorry to be the debbie-downer. I’m just feeling done in.
I completely understand how you feel. I felt the same way for many years…18 in fact! It’s only by the grace of God that my mindset and my health was changed. Don’t be afraid to take all of yourself to God-even your frustration over feeling overlooked by God. Ask in His mercy to reveal Himself to you. The Bible says one of God’s names is El-Roi, the God who sees. He does see the pain that you are in and He deeply cares for you. And while it’s hard to understand why He allows pain, I also know that in Him is only goodness. So while we don’t understand the why always, He does have a plan that is good for us even when it seems like it’s bad at the time. I pray that God will wildly show His grace and power to you and intervene in your life.
Thanks for reading my post,
My daughter is 23 and was diagnosed with fibro. when she was 11 yrs. old. She was later diagnosed with Lyme, which I feel was probably what she had all along. She also has other health issues. As a parent, it is so hard to see your child in pain and not feeling well most of the time. Don’t see how people can live without God to talk to and ask for help. I would like to give my daughter a copy of this book.
I was also 11 when I was diagnosed with fibro so I can relate to your daughter’s struggle. You are a great mom for being there for your daughter!
Thanks for reading my post,
A heartfelt thank you to both Stacey and Clare. And, may God bless all those who have shared in comments. I really needed this message this morning.
So glad to hear that Sue!
What a great article! God has taught me so much through my fibromyalgia, arthritis in my back and through my ruptured disc. At the end of last year I spent four months in bed due to a ruptured disc and ended up having surgery in November. God has taught me to rest in Him and not stress the small stuff. I know I can’t do it all and should have realized that before but God had to bring me to the place of total inability to make me realize how unimportant some stuff is…like having a perfectly clean house all the time. I’m so thankful for His love and patience with me.
I completely relate. The biggest thing 19 years of pain taught me is complete dependence on God-and for that I consider it a gift!
Thanks for reading my post,
Thank you for your thought’s. The devotional sounds wonderful. I’m currently dealing with food intolerances that have left me lost & clueless. I used to love to exercise & cook. No I no longer exercise because I’m always cooking. I’ve known I needed to realign my priorities. Looking forward to learning more about trusting God to bring me through this challenging time!
Thanks for reading my post Christy!
I needed this today… I have struggled with immobility and pain from myasthenia gravis, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus for a few years now. Having regained a bit of mobility through medication, I’m trying not to be discouraged as I start moving and walking again. My heart goes out to all of you I these comments! Praying God’s peace will envelop us all.
Praying God’s peace for you too Jacqueline!
I was diagnosed with cervical dystonia in 2010. I have found relief in much the same way you have…gentle exercise including yoga, rebounding, water and walking.
Glad you are finding relief Marya! Thanks so much for reading my post!
Grateful to the Lord who has given me two children, despite what the doctors said. Although pregnancies were not easy, my children entered this world via c=section. Bouncing back after my first at 32 was relatively easy. Bouncing back after my second, ten and a half years lately has taken five years. Throughout this time the Lord has blessed me with peace in knowing He works all things together for His good…and my good is always His good!
Lana what a blessing when we realize God truly does work all things together for good! Thanks for reading my post!
Thank you for this timely article. I’ve been praying for answers as to how to workout while having Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is difficult, but moving is so crucial in not producing further degeneration. I’d love to read your book as another source of help and encouragement.
God’s blessings on you as you continue on your journey, Stacy!
Thank you so much Tracy! May God richly bless you too!
Severe neck & shoulder pain affects me day & night for the past 15 years. I know l need to start exercising even though it’s the last thing I feel like doing!
I totally understand! Start slow and small and over time will see benefit. I pray you find relief soon. Thanks for reading my post!
I have been dealing with chronic pain, headaches and fatigue all of my life. Five years ago things got worse and I ended up having a brain MRI, where it was discovered that I have Chiari I Malformation, a brain disorder where the cerebellar tonsils are pushed into the top of the spinal column causing headaches, neck and upper back pain, balance and so many other issues. Less than a year later, I was diagnosed with Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which is a connective tissue disorder.
I had brain decompression surgery in 2010 to try to alleviate the pain from the Chiari and did incredibly well for about 18 months. Two years ago I had to give up driving because of the symptoms.
I have brain fog, inability to concentrate, joint pain, sublaxation of my joints and so many more. My spinal cord is tethered. They think I have cancer in my left leg.
I have connected with so many other women on Facebook. Women who also have EDS and/or Chiari. Some whose families have abandoned them because of their illness, some who are financially broke and both spiritually and emotionally broken.
I believe that my purpose in my pain is to help others through their journey. I encourage those who need encouragement, because every trial God sends our way is an opportunity to show His power and strength to the world!! God Bless!!!
What a beautiful heart and perspective you have. I too have found sadly that many people that suffer physically are also isolated from friends and family which is the last thing we need! May God richly bless you as you encourage those who need encouragement.
Thanks for reading my post!
Loved your post; and would love to read your devotional.
Thanks for reading my post Dana!
I would love to hear your encouraging words of hope for those of us with chronic pain, as I truly need the encouragement. I am struggling with many health problems that all involve pain and decreased mobility and many limitations and changes in my life. I eat very healthy, but am having difficulty maintaining an exercise program. I do not take pain medicine, but am thinking about it in order to exercise more, but I am not sure if this is the right choice to make. I am currently praying for the Lord’s direction. I turn 54 tomorrow, but sometimes I feel like I am 84. I get depressed alot about all of this. Thank you for your understanding.
I do understand and pray you find relief soon Diane. Thanks so much for reading my post!
My sister has fibro myalgia. She loves to work out but is frustrated by the limits of her body sometimes. She could really use a resource like this to center her and remind her what’s important in life.
So sweet of you to want to win it for your sister. Thanks for reading my post!
Wonderful article. Lived with pain for most of life… fibro and then cancer. every day is a gift from GOd!!
Thanks for reading my post!
This article was such an answer to prayer! Thank you for sharing your story and being real! I have lived with several autoimmune diseases for 15 years now and am in the middle of a painful flare up now. I’ve grown through these last 15 years in ways I don’t think I would have otherwise. I’ve learned to rely on Him and to count it all as joy (which can be very hard some days)! I went and read almost all of your blog entries and felt you were telling my story. Can’t wait to get this devotional! Your struggles are being used in wonderful ways now to give glory to Him!!
Thanks so much Camrey! It blesses me so much to know you were encouraged!
I have lived in pain for as long as I can remember.I know I have arthritis & scoliosis, plus a squished disk or two. It seems to have gotten worse over the last few years.I have lost 20+ lbs.> changed my diet> changed my sedentary lifestyle ( AS much as I can in pain) still I have all this pain… I would love to find purpose for it. I guess maybe it’s to show the world even in pain God is good to me? He is!! I am blessed beyond measure with love,family,friends & good intentions. My faith in God is what gets me out of bed each day to “manage” my pain. To not give up. To get to work. To try each day. To find ways to show my friends & whoever will listen >> trust God >> He is strong when we are weak. I imagine your book will help many. Blessings on your journey & thank you for sharing it with us.
Thanks so much for reading my post! I pray you are extra blessed today!
Thank you for this. I developed CRPS in my left foot this past October. I’ve certainly learned a lot about pain since then, but I still have a long way to go. I used to be extremely active, and I’m still struggling with all of my thoughts that say, “I used to be able to…” It’s time for me to figure out what I CAN do. I’ve started that journey, and began tracking it on my blog just today. (http://www.disciplineandgrace.com/my-fitness-journey/)
I’d like to say that your decision to go off your medications is a story I’ve heard a lot recently. I think there is definitely merit in considering God’s plan for our pain, and following him even when it doesn’t appear to make sense. For me, I refused the oral pain meds, and I’ve seen big results from that choice. In fact, recent research indicates that people with my condition often fair better if they don’t take medication right away. (Disclaimer: I did have a topical gel, and I was crippled with pain for months. The pain meds are a necessity for some people. Absolutely.)
This is far too long, but thank you for your encouragement today!
So glad you were encouraged! Thanks so much for reading!
I’ve just recently started to have a lot of pain and body aches. I’ve also been extremely fatigued. I try to remind myself that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Thanks for your words of encouragement!
Thanks so much for reading my post!
This is so timely. 2 1/2 weeks ago, at my wit’s end, I caved. I prayed crazy to God that I couldn’t take it anymore. I know that sometimes the only way to deal with the pain is to push through it (gently!) in order to strengthen my body. A low-back injury has left me with permanent sciatic damage and I have gained 80 lbs since my injury because I have been afraid to exercise. Even walking can be torturous some days. So I have started with cutting out glutens & sugars, increasing veggies & fruit, began a stretching & weight lifting regiment and my elliptical arrives today. Thank you immensely for your encouragement! Be blessed!
Heather so glad you were encouraged by the post! Just remember slow and steady wins the race…just keep working at it and you will see results!
Wow, I needed this today. I went to the Y for the first time in months. I did the seated elliptical for 22 min and left. At first I was feeling bad that I was there for such a short time, but then reminded myself that it was better than sitting on the couch. I have Rhuematoid Arthritus and Fibro as well as two knee replacements and somedays it hurts just to get out of bed. Thank you for the encouraging words of keeping God first.
So glad you were encouraged Nona & way to go on going to the Y! Just remember doing anything no matter how small is better than nothing at all. Praying you are blessed today!
I am new to this chronic pain horror. It has been less than three years that I am dealing with this. So far I have been diagnosed with Fibro, myasthenia gravis, and possibly fifth nerve disease. I really don’t know how I am dealing with this. I feel very lonely and isolated. I know you wanted to hear encouraging words but right now I can’t. All I know is that I feel kind of numb, almost like the world is still moving along and I’m just there watching it all go by. I know I need to exercise but I am so afraid of making the pain worse. Any help is greatly appreciated.
I completely understand how you feel. The best advice I can offer you is to be kind to yourself. Treat yourself as you would treat a friend going through chronic pain. Cling to God and know that somehow someway He will carry you through and work all things together for good. The hardest thing about chronic pain can often be how lonely and isolating it is. Sometimes just realizing we aren’t alone makes all the difference in the world. We have an online facebook support group for people going thru challenging times (many of them chronic pain). We’d love to have you join us if you want. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/118803118318382/
I was diagnosed with brain Cancer, 6 weeks after my second daughter was born. It was devastating news, but truly, God has shown himself to be taking care of every little detail. He encourages me in even the tiniest thing that works out a certain way, even when it doesn’t need to. I have felt so cared for by him and those around me. Family, friends, acquaintances (who are now friends). I will be done with treatment at the end of next month and from there I will have MRI’s (I think for the rest of my life) to watch for the Cancer trying to return. It’s hard not knowing what the future holds, but the truth is, I really have no control over it, other than doing what my Doctor’s tell me to and most importantly, praying and trusting God to work it all out for his good.
Wow Sharon what a journey you have been on and so beautiful to see you full reliance on God. May you be richly blessed!
Thanks so much for this article! I am just restarting this journey – AGAIN – for the umpteenth time. I am a fellow fibromyalgia sufferer who needs to start moving again and eat well. I have about 70 lbs. to lose and right now that seems like an extremely daunting task. I downloaded MyFitnessPal 2 days ago on my smartphone and have a couple of friends who are going to be accountable with me. The pain in my life has kept me close to God – that and a difficult marriage – and I can honestly say has been for my benefit. But hopefully I have learned enough and now have enough faith that I cam head North!
As the chronic pain became challenging it raised the pain management jobs . The information regarding this job and treating it is well described above. It also take several types or combinations of treatments before you find relief. It also better to take early treatment to prevent this problem.
What an encouraging post! I love the “Focus on What You Can Do Physically” tip as I believe that positive thinking can really make a big difference. Better to look at the brighter side of things and appreciate what we can still accomplish rather than dwell on what we can’t and be miserable. Thanks for sharing!
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