Meet Joni Nicole. This young lady went to school and goes to work every day just like everyone else did and does. She also lives with chronic back and spine pain (just like everyone else here too, right?) and doesn't let that stop her.
Not only does she farm and sell her produce at local farmers markets, but she also has two businesses—a mobile spray tanning company called Truly Tan and the other, a professional organizational cleaning service where she visits her client's homes and literally color codes their closets.
It is her dogged determination and diligent efforts she puts not only in her personal well-being but also in others around her. That's why we're here to get the dirt (pun intended) on why the holistic way of life is considered the better way in the fit farmer's opinion. Let's dive in.
Q: Hi Joni. Can you introduce yourself and share the cause of your chronic back pain?
A: Hello, BackerNation! My name is Joni. I'm a keep to myself kind of person and a fourth-generation farmer who has a passion for growing healthy fruits and vegetables for me, my family, and the local community. I love clean simple spaces and being surround by good people.
As for pain, I believe the structure of our bodies when we are born partly contributes in having a “bad back.” I believe that partly because my entire family suffers from back and hip pain, so it's in my genes. I was predestined for this chronic pain. For me personally, I fell from parallel bars onto the bare ground when I was quite young. I think that, combined with strenuous physical work on the farm for years on end, has caused most of the daily pain I experience paired with bad genes, of course.
Q: Have you ever tried opioids for pain management? If so, what was your experience like?
A: Yes, I have. This is a great feeling and far better in short than natural pain relief, but it is a band-aid, not a cure. When I took opioids for pain relief, yes, my pain temporarily was indeed relieved, but they simply cover the pain.
As soon as they wear off the pain is worse. You are basically experiencing quick false relief. Luckily, there's always a holistic option.
Q: Today, if you had to choose between opioids or marijuana for pain management, which one would you prefer and why?
A: Marijuana, hands down. Unfortunately, without medical extraction companies and dispensaries readily available, I believe it’s difficult to self-medicate and find true marijuana.
There are so many options available that treat varying conditions differently. Without those companies available to everyone—due to legal issues—I feel options are generally limited, which is maybe partly why there are so many people addicted to prescription painkillers.
Also, the everyday consumer doesn't always know what they're getting when buying “weed” from a local grower. While you may be treating one condition, you could very well be aggravating another without knowing. And knowledge is power especially when it comes to health care and pain management. It's so important to know what you are putting into your body.
Q: Why do you prefer a more holistic approach to health care instead of the Big Pharma way?
A: I believe natural options should be utilized and exhausted before turning to over-the-counter medication or prescription pain relief. They tend to end up causing more harm in the long run. Yes, initially you may feel better but more times than not, dependence, addiction, and withdrawal occur that can throw someone's body more out of whack and cause a whole other set of issues.
I believe every person is different. We all should take the proper time to explore these wonderful options to see what works best for us. What works for me may differ for what works for the next person. I support any kind of herbal medicinals that work for that individual. I believe this should be second to a clean diet.
Q: What does holistic health care mean to you?
A: Holistic health care refers to the integrated approach that treats the whole person, rather than symptoms or a disease because our minds and bodies are one and essentially inseparable.
Being holistic means eating clean whole foods—foods that nourish our bodies instead of those that harm us with sugar. Keeping it simple. It's looking at the whole picture to find a solution. It's doing things that are good for us—whether that's for fun or medicinal purposes. Holistic health care means massage therapy, aromatherapy, reiki, cannabis, reflexology— the list goes on.
Q: You mentioned nutrition, which is important for back pain prevention. In your opinion, what's the link between chronic back pain and someone's food choices?
A: Inflammation equals pain. Hands down. Salt, animal products, refined and processed food always turns into increased inflammation, which always equals more pain.
Q: Did you always live consciously like you do now?
A: No, I have not always eaten clean or lived this healthy lifestyle. I fought serious bulimia from seventh grade well into my 20s. I'm happy to say my current diet changed my life. I no longer struggle with this issue because of this style of eating. I knew if I didn't do something drastic, I was going to die and this is how I got started on this journey.
Q: Was finding your way back to a healthy life a linear journey forward, or were there times when you faced new health and internal challenges that forced you to take a step back?
A: There will always be complications in life—with every experience and with every stage. We have to accept that before we can do anything else. Life is not perfect but perfection isn't real. Happiness is truly a state of mind.
If your brain is set on moving forward, I believe you will. Accepting that setbacks exist is the first step. It's all a part of the process. That's what life is, a process. It's a journey. And, it's all about the journey.
If something doesn't go according to your plan and you are suddenly forced to change the direction, go with it. I've found that when we do things we are uncomfortable with or afraid of that's how we grow. As the saying goes, "life begins at the end of your comfort zone" and I truly believe that.