Weight and Pain

http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/fibromyalgia/articles/obesity-fibromyalgia.php

I recently wrote a blog piece about my lowered pain levels, or remission state, from my fibromyalgia pain. In that piece, I concluded that a year-long illness I went through, which resulted in a large weight loss was the contributing factor, so I have decided to follow it up with some actual research into this connection. And indeed, losing weight has had medical validity in pain intensity for many years now (see above link). My doctors always told me to lose weight, and to exercise. The discussion of  exercise also been a popular thread among my peers in online support rooms. Most stating it as helpful, if not with weight, at least with a healthier, happier state of mind.

I was always conflicted about this idea. I would come away from the doctors or the thread feeling shame and anger. It’s easy to tell someone with constant pain that they should get out there and walk, or swim, but it’s not so easy for that person to do. I know that just walking the dog could trigger pain for the entire next day; a very large price to pay! I want to interject here that while that is “not” occurring for me right now, it is apples to apples that it will start happening again soon (I have never experienced a remission of pain for this long, not in all my 17 years of living with fibromyalgia). Another point, in my current relief condition, is that I do still have medium pain every several days and a flare-up of pain large enough to send me to bed for the day every 7-9 days, so as I write this I am clear that this piece on weight and exercise applies to me as well as my peers. I felt shamed because I simply couldn’t create a routine of regular exercise, not with the pain threshold I live with. Anger followed because it was easier to project this feeling onto the doctors and my peers then it was to look deep inside myself and take personal responsibilty for my choices.

After losing all the weight and feeling the relief of waking up everyday at a pain level of 4 instead of the years of 5-6, I now feel ashamed that I didn’t try harder a long time ago. Lately I walk my dog farther every day then I did before, even when my pain level is at a raging 8. I make time to walk a slow three miles at least once a week. I am getting a donated recumbent exercise bike for the winter and will be applying for a low-income monthly membership to my local YMCA where I intend to use the swimming pool, take water aerobic classes, and indulge in some gentle and light weight lifting.  I am also looking into finding a free, local Tai Chi group.

I have not turned into an overnight super athlete, far from it. With the evidence of research and my own, personal experience it is obvious that the adage, “no pain, no gain” is true.  I certainly can not do all of these items weekly, but I can integrate them into an alternating monthly schedule. I will need to start slowly! My upper body is triggered very easily, simply driving the car for more than hour creates triggers in my shoulders, neck, and then head muscles (just typing this is aggravating my trapveious muscles). I am planning to begin exercising in chunks and in no more than 20 minute intervals. I will track what I actually do in my journal and then track how I feel immeaditely after, that night, and the next day. After a month or two of alternating exercising styles and journaling the resulting pain or no pain increase, I should be able to create a program that is tailored to my needs. Losing weight has definitely helped both my pain and my attitude, I am sure my seretonin levels are higher than they were, what a blessing it is for any of us to gain this important nuerotransmitter back. Despite the gift of this gain, losing so much weight has left me with wasted muscle mass (as we age we “useit or lose it”). I am keenly aware  that if I don’t start now, I may never start.

I try to share healthy, successful, positive living ideas in this blog. It would be hypocritical for me to share them and not live them myself. Besides, I love the hope of staying in a state of less pain! Try to find your weight loss path. Decide which exercise routine fits for you. Then, start tomorrow. XX

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In-depth Research Information for Fibromyalgia Survivors

Hello Peers,

I felt that this informative piece should be posted for a overview of everything associated with our pain syndrome. It addresses all the nuts and bolts.

http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/fibromyalgia

XX

Social Workers who Believe in Fibromyalgia and Started the Concepts of Helping the Peers with our Invisable Pain

2007 Link to Article on Social Work Today

Good Day Peers,

I found this very interesting. I am, currently, a non-practicing Social Worker/Therapist, so this interested me quite a bit. I am actually moving in the same direction with my work concept as these social workers have already; actually, I went to back to school for 10 years to find a way to integrate psychological, advocacy skills, to stop stigma and to create and implement programs for our invisible disability. From this article, I found that there are centers around the country that have created programs just to assist us.

I also read about the early thoughts, (I say early as items like exercise are just now becoming mainstream medical processes for us), stating that there were many factors needed in order to address us living Well. Most of these are now in vogue, although they do not help all of us. I know firsthand that assistance like exercising to build body strength and getting our endorphins going (the happy neurotransmitters) are not for everyone. We all experience our symptoms and capabilities differently. However, with that said I do agree that we should all try our best to practice all of these methods. We should not just rely on medications.

I hope you enjoy this article, it has keywords in it that can give you further help if you Google them as also.

Lucinda Tart, Fibromyalgia Peer Advocate/Life Skills Coach

Begining to Retrain your Thoughts from Negative to Positive

Hello Peers,

I stated in my post, about our need to know what items to bring with us in situations that arise unexpectedly, that I would add links above it. I was able to find a good link for basic mediation learning. Emotional retraining, not so simple. Most links I found were actually advertisements for their various learning courses; sneaky.  I understand the basics of emotions and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, since there are no reliable links to add for your own research, I am going to post a simple process I have used with both myself and with others.

The first thing our brain does is  latch onto a thought. Negative thoughts might be thoughts such as, “I am a failure”, “I never accomplish anything”, “I can’t handle this situation”, “I am just going to give up” or worse. In using these specific examples I am trying to recreate thoughts I have had, and have, because my daily life has changed from living with Fibromyalgia. Despite my ability to live Well with chronic pain, I am not perfect, I am human.  Our brains will always default and take the most used pathways. Once a pathway is established as our usual belief, our thoughts, emotions and behavior becomes automatic.

In our situation these thought paths can effectively create behaviors where we just stop trying to accomplish it in order to not fail. We know we can’t handle it, we won’t complete it, so we don’t. This example is fairly clear; thought creates behavior. Negative behavior is based on negative thoughts. This automatic process is one that we are not conscious of. We become stuck in a cycle that hurts us.

You can begin to recreate pathways that latch onto positive thoughts, emotions and behavior. You can  retrain your brain. Start simply. Begin to notice your thoughts, emotions and subsequent actions. Drawing a circle with three headings each equally spaced around the circle; Thought—->, Emotion——>, Behavior—–>, with the circle completed when you reach Thought again. You now have a closed circle with the three key words waiting for you to use in retraining your pathways. Make the circle large enough that under each heading you can put your automatic thought, emotion and behavior. Pick one after a week of practicing noticing your automatic negative thoughts. Write them under the headings in the circle, then add a positive Thought, Emotion and Behavior under the negative ones. For instance, you first thought, “I am a failure”, now you add underneath it, “Doing the Best I can”, followed by the new emotion and behavior that accompanies it. Use this basic circle as a new tool that will begin to change your negative, self-defeating brain. Put this somewhere where you see it every day.  If that is too much right now put a note on your mirrors with the new positive thought. Watch as your behavior begins to move forward.

*Update: 10/2015. This is also a good worksheet to keep in the front of your organization binder, or, tuck into your daily reminder book/memory book.

This is a very simplified explanation of what CBT can assist people with. Right now, keeping it simple is all we need. Actually, keeping it simple is all anyone ever needs!

Lucinda Tart, Fibromyalgia Peer Advocate/Life Skills Advisor

*As always, this blog is in no way a therapy site, I am not offering professional advice and I advise anyone experiencing new or unusual problematic thought processes or behaviors to immediately contact their doctor.