No Pain, No Gain Meaning | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

No Pain, No Gain Meaning

Happy Mother’s Day and a heart to heart on getting the most out of suffering. “No pain, no gain” has annoyed me for years. So, what does it have to do with Mother’s Day? I can’t wait to tell you.

No pain, no gain lies and truth

I guess my biggest objection to the saying no pain, no gain is that most people seem to imply that pain is always beneficial. A destructive painful disease should be able to convince anyone that’s not true! Pain from suffering we don’t deserve is never good. Period.

A lot of life falls into an uncontrollable category (even the weather). And some of it can be overwhelming. Rheumatoid disease can be both. It’s not fully controlled in anyone because it always progresses except in the mildest cases. And many of us live with completely uncontrolled disease 24-7-365. Most find it overwhelming.

But the question is what CAN you control? And how CAN you gain from suffering unfairly?

Making no pain, no gain work for you

Your response to challenges is the thing that you can control—and what no one can take from you. No one ever wanted RD or any disease or obstacle. But let’s look at exactly how we can let it be beneficial anyway.

Jeff Cavaliere is a physical therapist and trainer I sometimes listen to. Jeff talks about “getting comfortable being uncomfortable,” which reminds me of when I wrote ten years ago about how RD makes us more compassionate. As Jeff says, life’s not necessarily comfortable, and accepting that life IS uncomfortable helps you to overcome.

It often works just like a workout: It feels impossible to do something, but we accept that we have to, so we push through. Later we realize, “Hey if I can get through THIS, then I’m definitely strong enough for the next challenge.” We gain confidence and feel truly empowered because we chose not to give in.

Others have to create character-building challenges in the gym or on the track or whatever, but for us, it’s often just getting out of bed or every step we take through the day that’s a built-in challenge.

no pain no gain meaning

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Others create character-building challenges @ the gym or whatever but for us, just getting out of bed & every step is a built-in challenge #rheum Click To Tweet


My Mom and no pain, no gain

Actually, the no pain, no gain saying can sound pretty uncompassionate to people suffering from a terrible illness. It seems like a heartless way to say, “just look on the bright side.” I’m so thankful my mom never gave me advice like that. Instead she took this approach: “You can get through this. See how strong you are.”

Did you know it’s actually biblical? In Genesis 50, Joseph tells his brothers that even their scandalous mischief was meant by God for good in the end. Knowing that made a difference to Joseph. And this is how my mom has encouraged me over the years and I have never stopped looking for the good that can come from my struggle. It can make us stronger if we let it.

Happy Mother’s Day, MOM!

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT NO PAIN, NO GAIN? CAN FIGHTING CHRONIC ILLNESS MAKE A DIFFERENCE? CAN ANYTHING GOOD COME FROM HARD THINGS?

Recommended reading

Kelly O'Neill Young

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked over 10 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly by on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over thirteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

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25 thoughts on “No Pain, No Gain Meaning

  • May 11, 2019 at 10:32 pm
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    Ha, if my life were no pain no gain, then I would be the incredible hulk by now. I suspect that many people let this roll off their tongue with little thought.

    Reply
  • May 12, 2019 at 11:41 am
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    Most people are full of shit when it comes to empathy. Some run a mile in the other direction when faced with someone who has a serious disease. At the end of the day, the one person you can truly rely on is yourself. If you’re very, very lucky, you’ll have a long-term partner who will do their best to understand and to care.

    Reply
  • May 12, 2019 at 3:11 pm
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    Those who embrace no pain no gain obviously aren’t dealing with RA. I suspect my Mother had RA but lived her life undiagnosed. She set the example by always smiling and just loved people. When I am struggling, I remember her telling me to be kind to others but take time to be kind to yourself also. Thanks Mom, I love you and miss you.

    Reply
  • May 12, 2019 at 3:31 pm
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    I have always hated the no pain no gain statement even before RA . I have had RAD for over 20 years. I wish people actually knew what they were talking about when they try to give advice. I have been through lots of different treatment & surgeries. We just have to keep fighting one day at a time. That’s the only way I know how to do it !

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  • May 12, 2019 at 6:26 pm
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    Like Joseph, my mama also taught me there is pain in the world but there is good in the end. She helped me to learn to push through my pain & endure as best I can. She also taught me to look to a person’s heart and try to understand them because everyone has some type of pain in their lives but we can’t always see it. This knowledge has helped me to endure criticism from those who cannot see or understand my pain and to have compassion for others.

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  • May 12, 2019 at 7:38 pm
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    My mother taught me to try to focus on what I DO have, not on what I don’t have. She taught me so much…things I could never enumerate but things things that have made my life better.

    I miss you Mom!

    Reply
  • May 12, 2019 at 7:55 pm
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    The last time I tried no pain, no gain I ended up laid up for 3 days with ice packs in an attempt to reduce the swelling in my knees and ankles. Nobody saw that part of the adventure. You’re right, our challenges are getting through our days with a semblance of grace.

    Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 12:39 pm
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      Beautifully said, Pat. And we walk that razor’s edge all the time—trying to do the most we can, pushing past being uncomfortable, and knowing when to stop because we’re causing more damage.

      Reply
  • May 12, 2019 at 7:59 pm
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    Happy Mother’s Day Kelly! Hope you’ve had a great day.

    Thank you so much for all the time, research and writing you’ve done on behalf of those with RA!!

    Reply
  • May 12, 2019 at 8:40 pm
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    When I used to lift some fairly heavy weights (200 lbs on Leg Press) , etc., I believed in the No Pain, No Gain. Since having my RA go out of remission and rear it’s ugly head, that statement no longer has that meaning to me. Pain is my body’s way of saying there is a problem and I need to take heed and get help. I’m still trying to figure out what to do. My regular doctor left a couple of years ago (his wife has RA and they found that she was able to go off all her meds when they moved to Las Cruces, NM. He was a major help to me when trying to figure out ways of helping my RD. Now, my RA doctor that actually understands what is going on is retiring in August. My stress level has increased and I don’t know what to do anymore. Tears are my latest normal. Definitely not a No Pain, No Gain person and I worry that my sons may follow right down my path so I need answers so I can help them should it happen.

    Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 12:37 pm
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      Hi Melinda. I’ve never had a remission or break in symptoms since it went full-blown every joint in 2006. It was a great shock to a person used to being very physically strong—it sounds like you were too. And I think that seems typical.
      Finding a good doctor is such a big part of the battle with RD. I hope you can find another one soon!
      The best answer for your sons to is test early especially if there are any suspicious symptoms.

      Reply
  • May 12, 2019 at 10:30 pm
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    My pain is intense every day. No one has ever said no pain no gain to me. My family knows I do the best I can’t worry about others. I love this site Kelly. Thank you.

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  • May 13, 2019 at 3:46 am
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    Happy Mother’s Day, Kelly. Thank you for this website…it has been a lifesaver! No pain, no gain may work for gym trainers but in the real world of RA/RD, we face pain head on and become stronger inside. Each day is a gift from God, that’s why it’s called the present. Have a great day!

    Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 12:34 pm
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      Thanks, Pam. I’ve always hated that saying, but RD makes me stronger every day whether I wanted it or not. That’s why I made this t-shirt a couple years back that says: It didn’t get easier. I got stronger.

      Reply
  • May 13, 2019 at 5:43 am
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    I dropped out of the rheumatologist and her medications methotreaxate, enbrel, humira 6 years ago and I am in the care of a Integrative doctor. What no pain no gain means to me is that though I am medication free I am not pain free, it means that i have occasionally a bad flare up which will immobilise me. No pain no gain assumed a very much different meaning since being diagnosed with autoimmune rheumatoid arthritis 17 years ago nowadays pain means I have slow down and do gentle yoga and meditation and when the energy comes back I tend to my garden and veggie patch. I don’t give up to RA I just keep going some days are better than others but I don’t ever give up.

    Reply
  • May 13, 2019 at 9:26 am
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    While I am an extremely compassionate person and would never say “no pain, no gain” to someone who is suffering, for myself I tend to live by the theory of what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. Although I have a high pain tolerance, when I’m in severe pain and brought to tears, I still make myself push through the pain. In my head, I think if I don’t give in I will get through it. Since I don’t have much assistance at home, it’s always been more of a necessity than a choice. As I age and the disease ravages my body more thoroughly, that mindset may and will probably change. For now, it is how I deal with my own situation.

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    • May 15, 2019 at 12:29 pm
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      Thank you for sharing Karen so people may understand better. I think we are similar.
      I could never have thought of a better word for us than warrior if I had tried for the whole 10 years.
      I thought I should make a t-shirt that says: I win because I never quit. But I don’t know if everyone would understand it.

      Reply
  • May 13, 2019 at 6:12 pm
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    Thanks for always sharing with us and being so knowledgable and a unique source. ❤️In your research about the genetic component, did you have cases where The mother gets RA after the children are born, and what are their chances then? I was first in my family, and started very serious and acute (blood poisoning and very infected hips,
    Knees and shoulders, and my RA is a very very rare and commonly unknown one. My teenage daugther is scared she’ll get this awful disease and I Can’t quite answer…

    Reply
    • May 15, 2019 at 12:25 pm
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      I don’t know numbers, but I think since an average diagnosis age is 40, I’d say most women have their children before diagnosis. Childbirth is also a known “trigger” for symptoms although many have infections like you did.
      However, people do seem to have symptoms for years before diagnosis, so the disease may have started much earlier than 40 in many people.
      The most important thing your daughter can do is not be exposed to smoke or breathe any toxins, according to some studies. Also she should be tested for antibodies and signs of inflammation if she has any suspicious symptoms.
      More info on triggers: https://rawarrior.com/what-causes-rheumatoid-arthritis-to-trigger/

      Reply
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