THE MADNESS OF MIGRAINES
A million years ago when I was in middle school, I began getting searing headaches that had me getting sent home and missing school. My parents took me to the pediatrician who diagnosed me with migraines. It was right around the same time that my hormones started changing, which is what he chalked it up to. They gave me medication, and eventually they started going away. After that brief episode, I only dealt with the occasional killer headache in my adult life – until recently.
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with epilepsy after suffering a major seizure followed by a few smaller ones. Just before this happened, I had been dealing with some pretty serious migraine headaches and had been seeing a neurologist about them. After the seizures, my neurologist and I had to work to find a balance of medications and homeopathic remedies to keep both at bay. Up until recently, we had done that, but the migraines are back with a vengeance, and I’m on a quest to find a more natural remedy to fight back.
So the first thing I wanted to know is, what exactly IS a migraine? I think we all know in general broad terms it is a whopper of a headache, but I wanted to dig a little deeper than that. Here’s how the Mayo Clinic defines a migraine headache with more in-depth information:
Migraines may be caused by changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway. Imbalances in brain chemicals — including serotonin, which helps regulate pain in your nervous system — also may be involved. Researchers continue to study the role of serotonin in migraines. Serotonin(*) levels drop during migraine attacks. This may cause your trigeminal system to release substances called neuropeptides, which travel to your brain’s outer covering (meninges). The result is headache pain.
There’s also hormonal changes in women. Fluctuations in estrogen seem to trigger headaches in many women with known migraines. Women with a history of migraines often report headaches immediately before or during their periods, when they have a major drop in estrogen.Others have an increased tendency to develop migraines during pregnancy or menopause.
There were other triggers indicated as well: foods, drinks, stress, sensory stimuli, physical factors, changes in the environment, and medications.
(*)As a gastric bypass post-op, there’s always a malabsorption concern, particularly with seratonin, and in my case I happen to also be an insomniac, so that makes things even trickier. Add to that I am 44 and in perimenopause, and I’m like a walking petri-dish for a migraine, the perfect storm just waiting to be unleashed – and in fact, it has!
The past two weeks have been almost unbearable, keeping me from rehearsals and needing to stay in my room with the door closed, lights off, and battling tears. I went to Facebook and the internet to ask for suggestions. I got many suggestions for medications, but also some more homeopathic and – interesting – ones that I thought I would share:
I know in this day and age it’s silly to be weirded out by the thought of the little needles, but I am. Still, this was by far one of the MOST suggested relief tactics. Even a quick search on Google shows the NY Times and Huffington Post listing it as a tried and true migraine relief answer.
Some people believe that migraine pain originates in the spine, and that getting a proper alignment can help. There are days that I will try ANYTHING that will help. If you tell me lining up my spine will do the trick, fine, let’s do it.
This one was new to me. I’ll be honest: I’m not so sure about this one, but I heard about it, so I’m putting it out there for you to decide on your own. The folks who told me about it SWEAR BY IT, and there were quite a few of them. Essentially it works a bit like acupuncture: it’s a small ear piercing in the innermost cartilage fold of the ear. Apparently it helps with migraines by targeting pressure points on the body’s surface to ease discomfort. And if it doesn’t? You can just take the piercing out and let the hole close up, just like any other ear piercing. Still, I checked snopes.com and found it’s not confirmed either way, so I’d suggest doing some reading first.
This is a supplement that’s a medicinal herb that’s used to treat migraines and digestive problems (but it should not be taken by pregnant women). Some people take it as a preventative treatment as well.
The first thing my neurologist recommended and the go-to on the internet. Most people who suffer from migraines and constant headaches are magnesium deficient and it’s generally recommended to boost your intake by 200 mg per day.
Many people wrote in and talked about the benefits of peppermint tea, peppermint essential oils, and peppermint candies. I haven’t personally tried this, but it was suggested so often that it definitely needed to make the list.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2):
Another one my neurologist suggested. I saw no difference once adding this, but it’s often suggested as some people are deficient.
The older I get, the less medication I want to put in my body and the more “real” alternative I want. If you’re like me and you’re also dealing with migraines, hopefully you’ve found something in this list that you can talk to your doctor about and work with. Here’s to a pain-free head for us both!
Taunia Soderquist is a professional musician, music educator, and radio host located in the Greater Los Angeles area. She’s also a seven and a half year gastric bypass post-op living a healthy lifestyle after losing and maintaining 150 lbs. Now a passionate cook, but not-so-passionate about exercise (eh, she’s trying). Check her website for live shows and more info: www.divataunia.com.
Boy it sure would be nice if losing weight was simply that easy, right? Well it might not be quite that easy, but along with a proper exercise regime (among other things) it seems that eating lentils, peas, beans or chickpeas daily can aide in weight loss.
FIBER + PROTEIN = FULLER LONGER
The Simple Science Research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that simply eating ¾ cup (not even a whole cup!) per day correlated to study participants losing a ½ pound over a 6 week period. This was partly due to the fact that these high fiber foods can cause you to feel full for longer periods of time which can negate snacking. These “pulses” of food can also help reduce bad cholesterol!
The great part was that by adding these pulses into your diet you can achieve significant weight loss effects without making huge diet changes and reductions. The lead author of the study Dr. Russell de Souza explained “Despite their known health benefits, only 13 per cent of Canadians eat pulses on any given day and most do not eat the full serving. So there is room for most of us to incorporate dietary pulses in our diet and realize potential weight management benefits.”
These pulses of beans, chickpeas, lentils, and peas are a low glycemic food that breaks down slowly and can help fight hunger and cravings.
For instance, Dr. de Souza explained that, “This new study fits well with our previous work, which found that pulses increased the feeling of fullness by 31 per cent, which may indeed result in less food intake.” It’s all about helping people feel full and therefore eat less!
So are you going to run out and start eating 5 cups of beans per day? Well, I feel sorry for anyone around you if you do… flatulence typically follows. The point is that by adding high fiber foods into your diet (along with a home exercise regime) you can potentially lose weight in a sustainable fashion and keep it off. By adding things like hummus, bean dip, roasted chickpeas, peas, edamame…etc. into your daily diet, you can fight hunger!
For instance, here is my favorite homemade hummus recipe:
* 1 can (15oz) garbanzo beans
* 1/4 cup tahini
* 1/4 cup lemon juice
* 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 2 cloves of garlic
* Cumin, salt, and pepper to meet your tastes
* Blend all ingredients in a food processor until it is a paste and enjoy with pita bread.
* You can add tomatoes or red peppers to try different flavors.
* Experiment with different flavors and have fun with it.
It’s all about simple, easy to implement steps that you can add to your diet that will culminate in a new healthy you! As Dr. de Souza helped summarize, “Though the weight loss was small, our findings suggest that simply including pulses in your diet may help you lose weight, and we think more importantly, prevent you from gaining it back after you lose it.” There you go! Start today, one small bean-filled step at a time! Happy eating!
For more of the latest and greatest fitness tips, be sure to stop by DIY Active!
Who doesn’t want to look great when they are single? Well, honestly who doesn’t want that all the time? The point is that when we are single or just dating we tend to pay more attention to our health, or at least our fitness. Find the right one, settle down, get married, and more than likely your health will start to slip.
Now, this could be a combination of life getting busier. As we get married / older, with family and a career we can be pinched for time, but this is also related to the fact that since we found the one we love, we aren’t as “worried” about looking sexy. It’s the whole mentality of “I have no one to impress!” Before you know it, you wake up one day and you are 20 pounds overweight with decreased muscle strength – wow that snuck up fast, huh?
Never fear, it’s time to grab the hand of the one you love and start getting healthy again. This isn’t just about looking good either (which is a nice reward), it’s about improving your overall quality of life!
The Monthly Calendar
Grab a fresh monthly calendar and grab a pen – it’s time to create a plan! How many days are you going to exercise? How many days are you going to get outside and be active (walking, jogging, yardwork)? Basically, try to at least workout or get outside walking each day and mark that down on the calendar. Oh yeah, you will be doing it together as well – nothing like building bonds, right?
Create a Functional Space
One of the main reasons people don’t actually exercise is because they don’t want to drive to the gym… it can be annoying. Plus, you don’t want to deal with the people there. Well, create your own functional gym space right at home. Just find an area large enough for both of you to spread out (living room floor?) and designate that as your workout area. Grab some mats, stability balls, bands, dumbbells…etc. and you will be ready to go. You may be able to cancel your expensive gym membership too and save some cash.
TV Time Issues
Look, I know you just want to relax when you get home from a long day of work, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit like a zombie watching reruns of Friends. Grab a book, play a board game, or just talk with your loved ones. While this isn’t a physically active tip, it is a mentally active tip and if you want to improve your overall health you need to be of strong body AND mind!
Clean Up the Kitchen
Head to the kitchen and give it a makeover. How much junk food do you have packed into the cabinets and fridge? Doesn’t that make it incredibly easy to constantly snack? It’s time for an intervention. It’s time to ditch the junk food. It’s time to replace it with healthy, wholesome, natural foods. That is step #1 when it comes to eating healthy and therefore getting in shape.
Home Cooked Goodness
This goes with the above suggestion. Many of us dine out at least 2-3 times a week because it’s convenient and delicious but think of all those extra calories you are slamming down in those big meals. Anyways, do you actually know if they are using natural, healthy ingredients? It’s time to cut back on this and only dine out once a week. That’s what we do and it makes that weekly dinner a more special occurrence. On top of that, by making your own meals (while more time consuming), you actually know what you will be ingesting. Plus, by thinking ahead you can make bigger dinners in order to have healthy left-overs you can take to work for lunch!
More than anything, your partner could be your biggest motivational source by holding you accountable to live a healthy life (and you do the same for them). By holding each other accountable, you make sure you both stay active and cut down on the junk food. That in itself will help you both enjoy a healthier life together!
There doesn’t have to be a fitness plateau when it comes to your marriage. By vowing to be healthy together (which means you can give more back to each other) and implementing just a few tips, you can help each other overcome any obstacles!
If you are looking for more fitness and nutritional tips, head on over to DIY Active: “Fit.Food.Life.”