Dealing with migraines

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I started have migraines when I was in my early 20s and they are so painful. I just had one yesterday and it inspired me to do a post. I wanted to talk about migraines here because I know a lot of people get them and it’s hard to really understand what it’s like unless you’ve had one. Although they present in different ways for everyone, it’s a pain that only migraine sufferers know.

For me, I usually start having symptoms several hours before the migraine starts. I feel tired and confused. I can’t think straight at all. I will have a touch of nausea, but never actually get sick. Then the pressure starts. I get unbelievable pressure on my head, specifically the right side above my eye. I also feel slight numbness on that side as well. That’s the point that I know I’m definitely going to have a migraine. Then eventually the pain starts. It’s a stabbing pain right above my right eyebrow that is so persistent that it makes you feel like you will do ANYTHING to make it stop.

My mom gets migraines as well and she suffered from them really bad when I was in high school. Over the years we have tried to figure out exactly what triggers them for each of us. The only thing we have in common is that they seem to come on when the barometric pressure is high right before a storm. They can also be caused by hormonal fluctuations for me.

Obviously, I’m not a doctor, so if you think you are having migraines it is best to talk with your doctor about what is right for you. I just wanted to share my own personal experience with what helps me.

Below are a few things that I always do when I feel a migraine coming on.

  1. Take two Excedrin immediately. Taking medicine at the first sign of a migraine can help to keep it under control. Not always, but it can. Excedrin is better than any other medicine I’ve tried.
  2. Drink a glass (or two) of water. Sometimes even the slightest bit of dehydration can make the migraine worse. I drink a lot (read: too much) tea every day, so I often don’t get enough water.
  3. Take a hot bath. Nothing is worse than a migraine hitting right in the middle of a work day, but if I am lucky enough to have it happen at home this helps. I’ve found that taking a really hot bath helps to relax my muscles and alleviate some of the pain. I usually throw in some Epsom salts, too.
  4. Lie down. I’ve found it is best to lie down and close my eyes if I can. Just staying still and trying to find a comfortable spot can help a lot.
  5. Wait it out. Once I’ve done everything I possibly can, there’s nothing left to do but wait it out.

Do you have any tips or advice for dealing with migraines?

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My health and fitness relationship

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My relationship with health and fitness is rocky at best. I was a pretty active child and I was always healthy and skinny. Growing up in the country I often played outside, rode my bike, etc. My mom also made a homemade dinner every night, so I wasn’t being fed unhealthy restaurant food.

I’ve never been a fan of organized sports or working out. Once I got to high school I wasn’t running around as much as when I was a kid. I was eating more unhealthy food at school and going out more with my friends. I still remained a normal weight until I reached my early 20s. The freedom of college and the availability of drinking made me gain weight and often left me bloated. I lived on Mexican food and cheap beer for most of college.

After college I lost a little weight and even joined a gym, but I could never stick with it. I steadily gained weight for the next three years. When I moved to Pittsburgh and started grad school I lost a little weight because I was more active and eating less, but once I got comfortable I started drinking more and eating out. Over the past two years I have definitely gained a substantial amount of weight. I’d say probably 20 pounds. Much of it is in my stomach and love handles. I feel uncomfortable and unhealthy.

About a year ago I found Tone It Up and really liked how personable Karena and Katrina were. They didn’t seem overly intense and mean like some trainers who made at-home videos (side eye, Jillian Michaels). I liked that they had a loyal following and posted a lot of positive lifestyle stuff. I participated in the Bikini Series challenge and really saw a difference in my confidence and even lost a little weight. Then I started an internship that left me stressed out and sitting down for most of the day. I stopped working out and healthy eating went out the window.

So, you can see the cycle. I’m definitely an emotional eater and I eat when I’m bored. I also eat out because it’s convenient most of the time with my schedule.

Just a few weeks ago I decided I was tired of not likely the way I looked and feeling uncomfortable in my clothes. I started eating better and trying to walk more. I’ve been going to the park and walking a couple miles a few times a week. I am participating in the Bikini Series challenge again and I started tracking my eating with the My Fitness Pal app. So far I’ve been doing pretty well. I still have a meal or two a week that isn’t great, but I try to balance it out with my other meals that day. I also stopped drinking alcohol. I’ve lost five pounds so far and I feel way less bloated.

I know this is something that will always be a challenge for me because I love going out to eat and enjoying not-so-healthy food. I’m trying to find balance and treat my body better because I do notice a big difference in how I feel when I’m eating real, whole foods instead of fast food crap.

Here’s hoping it will stick this time!

How I deal with anxiety

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I’ve struggled with anxiety in some way or another since I was a kid. However, since my early twenties I have had an increase in panic attacks and general anxiety. I think it has come as I have gained more responsibility and gotten older.

I think when some people hear the word “anxiety,” they tend to associate it most by being afraid to be in public or antisocial. And to be honest, that’s not what I experience at all. Anxiety is different for everyone.

I am now able to work through panic attacks fairly privately because I know the symptoms right away. My heart starts to beat faster and/or irregular, I feel a sinking feeling in my chest, I have trouble swallowing and I feel like I’m disconnected from myself. I know when I start having these symptoms that I need to breathe deeper, get up and walk around and get something to drink. If I do those things, I can usually keep the attack at bay.

My anxiety typically comes from fear of the unknown. Starting a new job, project, etc. always brings it on. Another thing that always triggers it is being put in stressful situations, such as work deadlines or financial stress.

I also fear the loss of a loved one or friend and have an extreme fear of having a medical emergency or life-threatening illness.

I also always assume the worst has happened. If I don’t hear from someone when I’m supposed to, I worry they have been in a car accident. If I bump my head or have a pain in my body, I fear the worst.

I am by no means an expert on this, but there are some things that I know to be helpful. However, it’s always best to speak with your doctor if you feel like you have concerns about anxiety and how to manage or treat it. Below some ways that help me.

Continue reading “How I deal with anxiety”