• Ask the Fitness Expert-
    What is CrossFit?
  • Recipe of the Month–
    Mom's Zucchini Soup

I was reading about CrossFit on “Heroes of Healing” last month. Being in pain makes it hard for me to move easily and I have a great deal of joint swelling and stiffness. What is CrossFit? Is it safe for me to do, and how can it help my pain?

Wondering, New York

Dear Wondering,

The definition of a CrossFit workout is a “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.” Basically, CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program designed to improve flexibility, stamina, balance, coordination, cardiovascular endurance, and strength. It does not matter whether a person is sedentary or is an athlete—the CrossFit program can be adapted to fit each person’s individual needs. It is all about regaining function and increasing overall physical wellness.

If correctly scaled and monitored by certified CrossFit trainer who not only understands the physiology of the body but also the magnitude of your pain and condition, CrossFit is a safe and effective training tool. In fact, I follow this program for some of my own clients who have pain-related issues. I believe CrossFit has many health benefits; one of which is the ability to boost confidence, morale, and inner strength.

Accomplishing a movement that once seemed impossible changes a person’s perspective on life and living. CrossFit can help those living with pain regain self-esteem, and discover anything in life is possible.

Again, as I do not have your medical record in front of me, it is always wise to ask your doctor if this type of exercise is okay to do. Please keep me posted on your success and if you have any other questions, send them to Rick at nicole hemmenway @nicole hemmenway.com.

—Rick Dyer, MS, CSCS, CPT, CrossFit Certified (FIT, Los Altos, CA)

Just to make you Laugh


This romantic comedy just makes me laugh. It is humorous and a nice distraction from every day life. If nothing else, “Hitch” will make you giggle!

My Thoughts

Last month went by so fast! I participated in Triumph Over Pain’s Second Annual Run-Walk-Roll, and I attended the Global Healthy Living Foundation’s Taking Charge of Pain. Both of these events were inspiring, informative, and empowering. Being able to connect with others dealing with the same issues as myself was important to me. I truly believe there is a power and energy that vibrates within when coming together. As a community, we are stronger and our voices become louder.

Triumph Over Pain’s Run-Walk-Roll took place in McKinney, Texas. This event benefited RSD/CRPS awareness and research. When I first learned of the event in mid-January from Tricia Scott, founder and Executive Director of Triumph Over Pain, I immediately knew that I had to attend. Through my own battle with pain, I used to think about how I would feel if I knew there was a walk that promoted chronic pain research and awareness. I used to wonder how I would feel to know others cared about my well-being and were committed to helping the pain community find answers.

This was my dream – to have national walks that supported those living with chronic pain. Therefore, I had to be present at this year’s Run-Walk-Roll. I wanted to witness the victorious moments of other chronic pain survivors, and share in their accomplishment and achievement…it is true that we are all inspirations to each other.

Even now as I have had time to digest the significance of the event, I still find myself at a loss for words. My trip to Texas was short – I was there less than twenty hours – and yet, it was filled with much hope, meaning, and pride. Days after the race, I still felt excited, alive, and joyful. It was indeed a perfect day and a life changing experience for me. To read more about the Run-Walk-Roll and the courageous individuals I met, please visit Triumph Over Pain.

I also attended the Taking Charge of Pain event in San Francisco. Taking Charge of Pain is a national, grassroots public awareness campaign. Its mission is to provide a better understanding of pain treatments to the public and those living with pain. By educating patients about their options and rights when seeking care, Taking Charge of Pain hopes to empower those to take positive actions in order to find treatments that work for them.

The event was a success. The speakers were terrific, and the information was well presented and very helpful. Listening to the audience members’ share how this event changed their mindset and affected their lives for the positive gave me chills. I was directly witnessing individuals’ life transformations. It was obvious that I was not the only one hearing and understanding the message of hope and empowerment that Taking Charge of Pain was imparting on us. I definitely recommend anyone who lives in near the final four events to attend if possible. To view the cities Taking Charge of Pain plans to visit, please click here.

To all my friends, keep holding onto hope and believe in the unimaginable. Know that you matter and I am thinking of you … together, we are going to keep growing and finding answers. Remember, you are strong and powerful – you are a warrior.

Believing in Miracles,


The Empowered Patient Coalition is a non-profit organization committed to helping the public improve the quality and the safety of their healthcare. Part of The Empowered Patient Coalition’s mission is to inform, engage, and empower the public to assume a greater role in his or her own medical treatment and in becoming a driving force for meaningful health care reform.

Two amazing advocates, Helen Haskell and Julia Hallisy, who each have experience dealing with the medical system, formed the coalition. Both share the deep loss of a child, and both believe strongly that we need a health care system that is safe, effective, and transparent.

I admire this organization and fully support its efforts to make a difference in the medical system. Recently, The Empowered Patient Coalition along with the Consumers Union Safe Patient Project launched a patient reporting survey for the public to report adverse medical events including medication errors, infections, etc. The goal of the survey is to capture a glimpse of the impact of medical events from the patient’s perspective.

Since the survey is designed to answer questions most important to patients, it is divided into sections. You can simply check boxes, or you have the option of writing answers that are more comprehensive. Personal information will remain confidential, and all findings will be made available through The Empowered Patient Coalition’s website. Please follow this link to report your medical event.

The Empowered Patient Coalition said it best when they wrote, “Sharing your story will ensure that your experiences will assist us in collecting data to be used to identify the sources of medical harm and to look for ways to keep patients safe in the future.” I invite each of you to take the time to fill out this survey so others do not need to suffer needlessly. Here is our chance to make a difference and have our voices heard.

Nicoles Recipe of the Month

Mom's Zucchini Soup

This is the easiest soup I have made and it is delicious. Hope you enjoy; bon appétit!


  • 2 Strips of Bacon – can be turkey bacon too!
  • 1 Medium Onion chopped
  • 4 small Zucchini chopped
  • 1 large Carrot chopped
  • Chicken Broth


Stir fry bacon in pan. Add onions, carrots, and zucchini. Allow vegetables to simmer with bacon for a few minutes. Add chicken broth or water to cover vegetables. Cook 30 minutes on low heat. Puree in blender and serve.


facts on pain
Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.
-2006 National Institute of Health Statistic

Chronic pain is often defined as pain that lasts six months or longer.

More than 50 million Americans experience chronic pain that interferes with daily activities, according to the American Pain Foundation.

The American Pain Foundation describes pain as the fifth vital sign after blood pressure, pulse, respiration and temperature.

The American Academy of Pain Medicine states that the annual cost of chronic pain in the United States, including healthcare.

Helpful Links to Pain Resources

Motivational Song Lyrics

This song has always uplifted my spirits. Whenever I hear it on the radio, I begin to think of family and friends who stood by me during the roughest days. It also reminds me that as a pain community, we are all here for each other … we must remember that it is okay to ‘lean on’ one another. Hugs and Healing—

I'll Stand By You
Lyrics by: Chrissie Hynde, Tom Kelly, Billy Steinberg
Sung by: The Pretenders

Oh, why you look so sad?
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now
Don’t be ashamed to cry
Let me see you through
'Cause I've seen the dark side too
When the night falls on you
You don’t know what to do
Nothing you confess
Could make me love you less

I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you

So if you’re mad, get mad
Don’t hold it all inside
Come on and talk to me now
Hey, what you got to hide?
I get angry too
Well I'm a lot like you
When you’re standing at the crossroads
And don’t know which path to choose
Let me come along
'Cause even if you’re wrong

I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I'll never desert you
I'll stand by you

And when...
When the night falls on you, baby
You’re feeling all alone
You won’t be on your own

I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you

I'll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I'll never desert you
I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you