One of the things I ask clients to think about is what they want to do once they have reclaimed their health. Or said another way, what is the number one thing that your poor health is keeping you from? So many of us are severely limited when we're sick so I frame this conversation around a declaration that you have to fill in: "When I'm living my life to my peak potential, free from chronic migraines, I will ______."
When my migraines were at their worst they limited every area of my life. My work slowed down tremendously, my personal life was completely neglected -- I was basically a miserable lump on the couch. But the one thing I craved most on those long miserable days was to exercise, or more specifically, to run. I live right near a big park in Brooklyn, NY and there is a beautiful track that goes through the whole park. Every day there are thousands of runners, walkers, and bikers that circle the park to get in their daily exercise, relieve stress or simply to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of city life. Running had become all of these things for me and so much more. On the rare occasion I would make it to the park I would envy the runners as they passed me by. They looked so free and I realized I desperately craved that freedom too: freedom to do whatever I wanted to do - not whatever I could find the strength to do in my migraine filled day.
The goal of being able to run again was a very tangible thing to go after and really became the driving force to do whatever I needed to do to get healthy. I took it a step further and declared that as soon as I was free from the migraine prison I was in, I would sign up to run the New York City marathon.
This experience taught me a few things that I try to pass onto others:
1. When faced with a major challenge, be very specific about something you want to accomplish when you get out of your rut. When you're as sick as I was for as long as I was, it's tempting to just try to get through that day (and indeed, some days that's all you can do). But having something bigger to strive for keeps you focused on the future and not on the current state of your misery.
2. Once you're out of your rut, hold yourself accountable and find your tribe that will help you reach your goal. I knew that going out and running which at the time seemed like an impossible 26.2 miles was going to take some help. Luckily, I hooked up with a local running group, which was composed of the sweetest bunch of super athletes I could have ever asked to train with. They were a constant source of inspiration and almost quite literally pushed me over the finish line.
3. Never take your health for granted. This one is so hard because we often don't appreciate something until it's gone. But once I had my health back I made it a point to really appreciate the good days. If I get up one morning and don't feel like running, I try to remember back to the days when I physically couldn't run and then push myself to get my ass up and lace my sneakers. I know all too well that the freedom to do so is precious and I can't take one minute for granted.
On November 1st, 2015 I am proud to say I ran the New York City marathon. It was a beautiful fall day and the experience is something I will never forget as I ran through the city streets past thousands of spectators. Besides the accomplishment of running all those miles, I will remember it as a symbol of my newfound freedom from chronic migraine hell. It will forever serve as a symbol for what I can accomplish when I have the ability to strive for my peak potential.
So, now I'll turn it around to you...what do you want to accomplish when you're free from migraine pain and striving for your peak potential?