Many people ask me how I can exercise even though I have chronic migraines.  This isn’t a simple question.  My ability to exercise depends on the day.  Frequently I wake up with the intent to do a full Beachbody Insanity workout, but due to my migraine or predisposition to one that day, my plans may change.  Getting fit and staying fit when you suffer from any sort of chronic pain is no small task.  You have to be committed AND resourceful.  I have an array of workouts that I can pull out from day to day so I can keep as fit as possible despite the migraine.  In the rare case a migraine keeps me from doing ANYTHING physical in a given day, I try my best to add that workout to the next day, but NEVER go beyond adding 1 workout or 1.5 to the next day or it will risk becoming overwhelming and you won’t finish.  My personal tips for staying fit despite a migraine are below:

1) Listen to your body.  Sometimes I get in a groove and I WANT to reach a certain goal.  I’ve been out running at midnight with no flashlight because I couldn’t run fast enough due to my headache to get done with my allotted miles before dark and NOTHING was stopping me.  Unless you want to end up on the side of the road or on the floor with a raging headache, I’ve learned LISTEN to YOUR body and I have also been on the side of the road before, having made a poor choice to push myself!  Learn from my mistakes and f you wake up with a migraine that pounds when you move too fast, then don’t move fast!!!!  This means most likely no running, Insanity workouts where you’re going from standing to on the floor quickly, or any strenuous cardio.  This doesn’t necessarily mean sit at home on your butt!  It just means you need to move more responsibly!

2) Don’t just sit around!!  When your head hurts, if you can get out and move then DO IT!!  Even if your plan was Turbo and you can’t do that, then go for a walk.  If you’re going outside take a friend or cell phone in case you get in trouble, then you can always call for help.  I always tell the guys my migraine status and where I’m going just in case I need them to perform a roadside rescue!  I know this sounds crazy, but if you can get moving there is a chance you WILL FEEL better.  At the very least, you won’t feel as though you were just a lump on the couch all day and will be less likely to be discouraged at your lack of exercise when your migraine passes.  I read a great article from someone else who has found that exercise helps their migraines, check it out at: http://www.relieve-migraine-headache.com/headache-and-exercise.html.

3) Eat right!  I don’t know about you, but the biggest issue I have with migraines is that its difficult for me to eat right.  Its simpler to get something pre-packaged or from McDonalds.  If my stomach is acting up then salty or sweet foods beckon to me.  Sometimes its nearly impossible to resist the draw of eating unhealthy, but I find that if I keep some easy to prep healthy foods readily available then I’m less likely to stray.  Good options are berries, Shakeology (this has been a life saver!!), whole grain crackers, and mineral water.  I mineralize my own water, which makes it taste a bit salty and helps when my body thinks it wants salt.  I’ve found that certain food plans seem to affect my migraines, not that food triggers them, but rather that a strict diet seems to decrease the intensity/frequency just a bit (more on this later).  The biggest thing to remember is that if you mess up and eat a bunch of junk, it is NOT the end of the world.  Don’t figure you’ve messed up your eating and look at it as a free pass to eat badly.  It isn’t!!!  Start right back where you left off as soon as possible and don’t let it get you down.

4) Avoid sit-ups and crunches.  I don’t know about you, but even when done in perfect form this exercise quickly tenses my shoulders and neck leading to a migraine.  If you’re doing a workout plan that calls for this exercise and you have migraines, I would skip it.  There are many other exercises that you can do and still get awesome results (such as the hover).  I would avoid any exercises that put unnecessary weight on the neck or shoulders.  This wouldn’t mean you can’t lift weights, but it does mean no squats with the bar across your shoulders.

5) You’ve seen me mention this multiple times already, but DO NOT give up.  Even if you’ve been off healthy eating and exercise for 5 days or a week, its NOT TOO LATE to start again.  Remember, you ONLY FAIL when YOU STOP trying!

If you have any tips for how YOU keep fit despite your personal hardships, please feel free to share.  I’ve been a migraine sufferer for over 12 years and the above five suggestions are just based off of my personal experience.  I hope you are enjoying your summer and that your migraines are being better behaved than my own.

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