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Someone who knows me well just saw that title and did a double-take! “Huh, Hajel? Making a case for exercise?” I know, I know, but hear me out, I am now a convert and I’ll tell you why.

I suffer migraines and sometimes they are quite severe; head pounding, shoulders tense and knotted up, feeling nauseous and eyes hurting from too much light (translate that to wearing shades indoors at work because the light from the computer seems to dart inside my brain and tries to pull it out. I’m not being dramatic, that’s how the migraines feel for me). Anyhow, the last migraine I suffered was 2 weeks ago and it was terrible and I declared that it was my last migraine, there’s no way I want to live life expecting this pain to show up every so often.

So imagine my dismay when I woke up yesterday with the beginnings of a migraine (the aura it is called, it usually precedes the migraine itself) and I thought “oh no, this can’t be happening!” I had already planned to exercise in the morning and normally when I start to feel the pain, it’s almost debilitating, all plans go on hold and I shut myself in a dark room and take my meds. But yesterday, I thought, enough is really enough. I can feel this pain but I’m not allowing migraine win. So I’ll go on a walk but only do 10 minutes instead of one hour.

So I set out. As I started to walk, every step felt like my head would explode, 5 minutes in, I thought “I can’t do this anymore”, then I saw this tree (photo above), and I thought it’ll be nice for Instagram, so I stopped to take a photo. Somehow doing that encouraged me, so I thought I’ll try to walk another 10 minutes.  As I continued to walk, I thought “how can I battle this migraine in an intelligent manner because I can’t continue to suffer it!“, I remember watching a TED Talk where a doctor spoke about exercise and how if exercise was made into a pill, it would cure most illness… So I decided to focus on that thought for the purpose of dealing with the pain I was in, I started to think, when you are stressed your body produces cortisol (stress hormones that “poison” your body and aid the creation of visceral fat) but when you exercise, your body releases endorphins and endorphins are good hormones that aid wellbeing and happiness. So I thought, if I’ve walked for 15 minutes, my body is probably only just warming up (I was walking quite slowly because I was still in pain), I need to keep at it until my body starts to realise “we are moving” which will then cause it to start to release endorphins. I hoped that if I got to 30 minutes, then the good hormones would outweigh the bad.

Anyhow, by the time I had walked for 30 minutes, I thought further that  my muscles would just be getting warm from walking and imagined that having warm muscles instead of tense, cold and knotted ones, will cause my shoulders and neck to loosen up and reduce the overall pain I was in. That thought helped me manage to keep walking for over an hour. I swung my arms and must have looked a little cray-cray as I walked but hey, I had gone past caring what other people thought, this pain just had to go…

After walking for an hour, I got home, took a shower and went to work. Honestly, it was the next day that I remembered I started my previous day’s work-out with a migraine! It was gone, no meds, mind had won over matter this time.

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My pedometer showed slightly over an hour, I had walked 6915 steps and covered a distance of 4.49 kilometers

 

So why did I tell you this long story? Two things, I finally learnt today that “until the pain of living with a problem outweighs the pain of solving it, you won’t solve the problem”! And that, relates to everything, if you want to lose weight, you want to make more money, whatever it is, until it becomes more painful to stay in a situation than it is to do the work it takes to change it, you will not change it. The second lesson I took from this experience was that “knowledge is not power, applied knowledge is power”, I suffer migraines quite often and I usually just take the meds to deal with them, I have been told by doctors that exercise and a change in diet will help improve them in the short run and with consistency, will stop them in the long run, but it has always been more convenient to take the meds because I am always too busy… Now the meds don’t seem to work as quickly (probably because my body has gotten used to them) and the migraines seem to be getting worse, so the fear of the pain, and the intense desire not to live with it anymore, is causing me to apply the knowledge I have (Are you judging me? Don’t judge me, in this respect we are alike, we all don’t apply knowledge until we need to, for example, the whole world is dealing with an obesity problem, what is the solution to maintaining a healthy weight? Eat less, move more. Simple, are we all applying it? No! What about the secret to wealth; spend less than you earn, save, invest and create more wealth. Why are we not all wealthy? The secret to healthy relationships? I could go on and on… but you get my point, it is applied knowledge that is power!)

 

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Now my diet contains ingredients I scuffed at in the past, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, celery, carrots, spinach, pumpkin and chicken. Because I am a grazer (hardly sit to eat but I eat all the time), I just throw all of these together in a pot, bring to the boil, season and put in my blender. I make a soup (thick like your cream of mushroom soup), and portion it into bowls that I carry around. With this and my different smoothies (sweet smoothies for morning, green for later in the day), I manage to eat mainly good food through out the day and keep my carbs or other non-live foods to a minimum.

 

I learnt these 2 lessons anew and wanted to share them with you. First because I believe that my pain has to have a purpose that is beyond me and second, because I do want to encourage us all to make the decision in favour of our health by embracing a healthy lifestyle. If the vanity of looking better does not motivate you, be motivated by the fact that you give yourself a chance at a better quality of life and old age by investing in yourself now by making small changes daily.

Ciao, here’s to your health this week! Stay awesome, let’s make everyday count!

Hajel! 

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