Archives for category: Health

So today we bought a chia pod. Apparently they come in a couple different flavors and the one I bought was vanilla bean. John and I sat down because I have to take my allergy meds which is not good on an empty stomach and we tried to eat it. We knew this would be interesting so we made a video of our initial impressions of this incredibly odd product.

We decided the texture was odd , but we liked it. Our friend got the banana version and said it rocked. Although it is a strange food we highly recommend it.

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A few months ago I heard about a new product called The Ultimate Reset.  It was released and reported results included decrease in cholesterol, increase in energy, and weight loss of up to 12 to 21 pounds depending on sex and body type. All of these things were desirable to me, but what drew my attention the most was the 21 day time frame that the diet included as well as the emphasis on organic and natural food.  I’d also turned into quite a caffeine addict after my child was born, anyone who has had a baby knows the amount of sleep I experience. The Ultimate Reset also included a period of abstinence from caffeine.  Also, the Ultimate Reset diet requires that you don’t exercise heavily during the 21 days.  Since I was going through a bad bout of migraines, the idea that I could do something good for myself and not have to worry about when to fit in cardio.

So, I bought the pack and it came with a cookbook, variety of supplements, and a DVD on cooking for the diet.  The DVD was awesome and my roommate did the diet with me, for different reasons of course, but he even became a great cook compliments of the cooking DVD.  The program lasts 21 days and it takes you from being a carnivore to a mostly gluten-free vegan.

The first week you have some fish and chicken, but by the second week you’ve given that up.  It introduced me to a type of bread called Ezekiel bread, which is made from sprouted whole grains and is also gluten free.  This bread has become a staple across the household including some extended family interested in eating healthy.  I began eating quinoa which is a great item, which I’d never eaten before.  Since the diet ended I found lots of great uses for it.  I learned a lot of great recipes that have become staples of our family diet and we’ve shared the food with our friends who also love!

On the diet, I developed a taste for many new and great foods/recipes.  I also lost about 9 pounds.  I didn’t eat much meat before hand, so the transition wasn’t overly painful for me and by week three the horrible migraine cycle I’d been in.  I’ve been keeping parts of the diet in my every day plans.  I’ve become more aware of organic and processed food as well has having developed a taste for Quinoa and Vegan Sushi.  I’ve also found I have more energy AND my headaches have been less.  My fitness and work revolve around my migraines, so its great when they aren’t as bad.

I’m pondering on doing the diet in its pure form again, but I have found that if I keep eating similarly to the Ultimate Reset AND my Chocolate Vegan Shakeology.  What keeps me from keeping the diet is that I only have 21 days of recipes!  I hope that Beachbody comes out with some additional recipes to go with our Ultimate Reset.  It would be great if there was a follow up cookbook.

If you want to find out more about the Ultimate Reset and Shakeology you can check it out at www.myshakeology.com/meiz and www.myultimatereset.com/meiz .


Migraines!  Horrible beasts.  Today I’ve got a corker of a migraine.  My right eye feels like it wants to pop out of my head like something from a Tim Burton movie  and the light hurts like heck.  Luckily, its raining buckets, so the clouds are covering the sun.   I know my migraines are frequently weather related, but I also know I brought this one on partially myself.  As a mother and full time IT worker, my days are booked 24/7.  I have to fit in “my” time when everyone else is in bed.  Consequently, I don’t get much sleep some nights.  So, although I exercise, avoid red wine, eat organic, drink my Shakeology like its a new found religion, and try to stay LOW STRESS, sometimes I still manage to make things worse.  My downfall is the sleep schedule.

I’m sure you can identify with my plight.  It seems these days like there is more and more to do, but with less and less time.  How can I work 8 hours, drive 2, be a mom, get homework, housework, and my workout done in the allotted time and STILL go to bed?  The answer?  I don’t think there is one, except to choose your battles wisely.  There are many days when I go to bed with the laundry undone, dishes still in the sink, and occasionally kids homework unfinished.  In the latter case, I usually will send a note explaining to the teacher that I got home late and wasn’t able to address the issues with the assignments.

According to studies we need to get a solid amount of sleep, eat at regular times and eat well.  Medication use is up in women.  I believe that we do have issues with migraine intensity and duration based on our sleep patterns because when I was pregnant and sleeping poorly I had so many migraines it was awful. Finally the doctor gave me something to help me sleep (not a sleeping pill), and ordered me to do that 3 nights in a row and it worked after weeks of having a migraine, I finally was migraine free.  If you want to read more sleep/eating patterns with migraine there is a great little article on WebMD (http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/guide/20061101/improve-sleep-habits-to-cut-migraines).

Three things to focus on  to STOP giving MYSELF Migraines:

  1. Realize that I am only human and that somethings are not going to get done in the time frame I feel they should.  I accept that (most days) and go to bed.  I work.  My mom did not, so our circumstances are different.  It isn’t fair to myself to measure my daily progress in the house against hers because she didn’t leave for 10 hours to work an outside job only to come home and keep a perfect house.  Get OVER IT is my mantra, sometimes it works better than others!

I know that I have to focus on getting better at sticking to my schedule.  I need to stop obsessing about getting this done or that done.  Focus on more fun…and getting some much needed R & R without feeling guilty.  It really comes down to time management and prioritizing what do I really want/ need to do in a day and what can happen tomorrow.

  1. Frequently I have issues with getting all my meals in at work and at home due to the hectic schedule. I find if I don’t get those meals in then my migraines are more often AND intense.  My solution is to stock the house with healthy alternatives.  For the last couple of years a staple in my family diet has been Shakeology.  It can be used as a meal replacement or as a snack.  In my office at work, I keep packets of Shakeology and a container of PB2 (Powdered Peanut Butter).  Coupled with a shaker cup and a banana and I have a great instant meal. PLUS there’s tons of other essential nutrients and pro-biotics in it that I wouldn’t get otherwise.  I make protein bars and frozen cookies out of the Shakeology as well.  There are nutrients in it that help with cravings, antioxidants, blood pressure, cholesterol, and memory. My theory is anything that helps with memory is a good thing when I have migraines and frequently forget things!  They say you should avoid drastic changes in your diet AND eat foods that are unprocessed, which makes it especially important that you better plan healthy meals.  There are also studies on migraines and dairy, watching cheese intake is also recommended.

    In addition to Shakeology, I also have pre-prepared meals in the freezer.  They are frozen in mini Pyrex dishes.   I can grab one of them for myself, the kids, or the family.  They are great for on the run.  For extra fiber and omega 3, I also mix a water full of Chia seeds and fresh lime once a day. Chia is an awesome superfood and one you should look into incorporating into your diet as well!  It gives me an extra boost of energy, fills me up, and helps keep me hydrated.  Plus the fiber and Omega 3’s are good for the brain!

  2. Exercise at appropriate times.  I used to exercise at night after the kids go to bed, but I find I’m fanatic about getting in that last mile of my predetermined amount of miles.  In fact, I’m so determined that I was running at 1 in the morning when I had to be up at 5 in the morning for work!  If I fell asleep with the kids and woke up at 3 am I would go down and get a few miles in to curb the guilt.  Now I exercise as soon as I get home from work.  I’ve found ways to incorporate the kids.  In fact, this fall we might start a kids fit club for my son and his friends. I think its great that we all do it together because it helps him establish a healthy lifestyle early on.  Kids love to get out and do things.   The more they see you do, the better reinforced the importance of a healthy lifestyle is for them!

Its also interesting to note that people (including myself occasionally) report having triggered a migraine during/because of exercise.  I find that if I exercise SMART and don’t to a lot of height changes or if I feel as though I’m more prone to a migraine that day, I don’t try pushing myself if I feel like a may get one or if I feel that twinge of one while doing a particular program.  The bottom line is that you NEED to exercise AND eat AND sleep and ALL these things are good in moderation.

Interesting Links on Migraines and Exercise:

http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/health_stories/migraines_exercise_study/2011/10/08/410822.html – a study comparing exercise and medication at a Swedish headache clinic

http://www.dailyspark.com/blog.asp?post=migraine_sufferers_may_benefit_from_aerobic_exercise (migraines and aerobic exercise, from Spark)

Links on Migraine and Diet:

http://www.relieve-migraine-headache.com/diet-headache-migraine.html

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400666/AntiMigraine-Diet.html

Links on Migraines and Sleep:

http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/features/do-your-sleep-habits-trigger-migraines

http://www.achenet.org/resources/sleep_insomnia_and_migraine/


My research into my migraines ebbs and flows like the tides. Sometimes I want to know more and other times, I just want it all to go away. My quest for treatment also follows the same pattern. Recently, I heard an interesting tidbit concerning a link between fat and inflammation. As a medical person and an IT person, my brain started mulling the idea over and I thought “Wow, there could be something there.” If you’ve read my About page, you’d know that I was pregnant for 3 years. Being pregnant for 3 years equates to being heavier than I am accustom to. In the last year or so I’ve been experiencing a change in both migraine frequency/intensity AND some symptoms. While it isn’t unusual for me to have changes in my migraine symptoms every few years, the dramatic increase in migraines was markedly different.
In my most rudimentary of explanations, a migraine is most likely some sort of brain inflammation. So, I got out my most trusty source of information, the Internet. According to my readings there are two main types of fat. The first type is subcutaneous, the type they extract during liposuction. The second type of fat is visceral, the fat located directly around your organs. While information I found said this second type of fat CAN be extracted, it is risky to do so and extraction is only done in the most necessary of circumstances. Although extraction of subcutaneous fat equates to looking better in your bikini, the fat extraction that really makes health bounds is visceral fat.
What is the difference between these types of fats? It seems as though the visceral fat excretes more IL-6 and C-Reactive Protein (CRP), which are key in the inflammation process. The more visceral fats you have, the more IL-6 and CRP you have in your circulation and hence the more susceptible you are to different types of inflammation. According to one study I read they did check on the correlation between migraines and visceral fat composition and find a relationship.
Interestingly enough, this could prove from my experiences to be a cyclical experience. I find when I have more migraines I eat less healthy and cannot exercise as much. I become increasingly tired and lethargic. When you eat bad, exercise less, and sleep poorly you put your body under stress all of which lead to increase weight gain. I think the information linking fat and inflammation clearly marks the overall picture of the migraine sufferers plight. How can you avoid fat AND feel terrible at the same time? I don’t think there is an easy answer in this for us.
Although, my migraines don’t seem to have a “food” trigger, I do believe I have a weather trigger. SO I find the best way to set myself up for success is to plan around the times of year when I KNOW that I will have issues. The following elements are included in my plan for success at times of migraine duress:

1) ALWAYS place certain items in predetermined places whether there is a migraine or not. Then you can find them and not risk overlooking them while searching during a migraine episode. For example, I ALWAYS put my iPod in the right hand pocket of my jacket and my shoes by the door. SO when I go to run I KNOW where I can find it. Don’t give yourself ANY excuses because in the middle of a migraine, it is too easy to use them!!
2) Have an exercise alternative. If you were planning on running, but have a migraine, make sure you can easily substitute in yoga or a Tai Chang DVD. If you already have the plan in place, it makes it easier to enact it because you won’t have to think about what to do next.
3) MOVE MOVE MOVE. If my get up and go has gone up and went, I go for a walk anyway. It might be a slow walk, but I go at least 2 miles. I think knowing that fat is going to make my migraines worse makes it even easier for me to justify this walk or my other scheduled activity. Long term management of migraines is key in my life!!!
4) Support System, let someone in your life know that you have migraines and that going for a walk will, if not in the short term, in the long term help you overcome them. Tell them they need to help get you out of the house and moving, whether you want to or not!

Sometimes being a migraine sufferer it seems as though the odds are stacked up against me. I’m on call and I have kids. PLUS somewhere in there I have a life. My greatest fears include my migraines and some untimely occurrence of the really bad ones. However, I just keep informed of the latest in research AND I stay aware of what my body is telling me and I look inside myself for the strength to keep the smile and drive going! I know you can do the same.
How do you keep positive in the midst of migraines? I’d LOVE to hear your story!

If you’d like to look up more about fat and inflammation, here are some links:

http://newsblaze.com/story/20051101224906nnnn.nb/topstory.html

http://blogs.webmd.com/integrative-medicine-wellness/2007/04/fat-and-inflammation.html

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2009/02/migraine-suffer.html


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.