How to Help Someone When They Have a Migraine

How to help someone with migraines

Migraines are an incredibly painful neurological event that can cause a whole range of symptoms. But what is pretty universal is the significant interruption most experience in their day-to-day when they are in the midst of an episode. Migraines can make even the most basic tasks impossible, let alone big responsibilities like taking care of children or going to work.

If you know someone who experiences migraines, you may feel bad for them and helpless because you can’t understand their pain. But there are incredibly helpful things you can do that will lessen their misery. Here are a few nice things you can do that will provide some non-pain related relief:

1.    Make sure they have access to migraine relief

“How can I help make you more comfortable?” is a great first question. The migraine may have come on so suddenly that the sufferer may not have taken the necessary steps to help ease the pain. That’s where you come in. Ensuring the migraine sufferer has all the things that help alleviate the migraine or at least make it more bearable is an important first step. Here’s a quick set of questions you can go through:

-       Do you want to take anything for the pain? Can I get it for you?

-       Do you want an ice or heat pack?

-       Do you want me to close the shades?

-       How’s the temperature in here? Do you want me to make it hotter or colder?

-       Do you want me to take your phone off the hook?

 

2.    Make sure they are fed

A migraine sufferer may be so nauseous that the last thing they want to think about is food. However, it’s important that they don’t go too long without eating, as low blood sugar can only add fuel to the migraine fire. Providing food for a day or two would help ensure that the migraine sufferer has one less thing to think about, while also providing important nourishment that would likely otherwise be neglected. Feel free to bring over one of your signature dishes or, if you're not much of a cook, order take-out from your favorite neighborhood restaurant.

 

3.    Help them take care of their kids (or dog, cat, etc.)

The basic needs of a child or pet do not stop when someone has a migraine, which can compound a migraine sufferer’s misery. Relieving them of the responsibilities of those that are most dependent on them will be an enormous help. For children, you can offer to drop them off or pick them up from school, arrange a play date so they are out of the house for a few hours, or hire a babysitter to take care of them. If they have a furry friend, you can offer to take their dog for a walk or arrange for a dog-walker to drop by. They key is to help the migraine sufferer outsource this responsibility so they can get back to resting as soon as possible!

 

4.    Accompany them to the doctor

Sometimes the migraine sufferer might be so sick that they need to go to the doctor (or the ER, chiropractor, masseuse, acupuncturist, etc.). But it might be extremely difficult for someone with a migraine to get out of the house, let alone get to a place that is a drive or taxi ride away. Accompanying the migraine sufferer to make sure they safely get to where they need to go and waiting with them will alleviate a lot of stress for that person.

 

5.    Hang out with them if they want company

A migraine episode, particularly one that lasts for multiple days can be incredibly isolating. Most of the time the sufferer may want to be alone, but chances are, at some point, they will want some company to distract from the migraine misery. Offering to just sit with them on the couch or watch a show with them (if they can open their eyes) is not only comforting but will really help the time go by!

 

6.    Help through the migraine “hangover”

I call the day after a migraine episode the migraine hangover because the migraine sufferer likely emerges from the episode in a hazy fog. Plus they will have to catch up with everything they missed out on while they have the migraine, which can be very stressful. If you weren’t able to help the migraine sufferer during the episode, don’t underestimate how much help you can provide after the pain is gone. See if you can lessen the burden of their pent-up responsibilities by helping out with the suggestions above. Having dinner ready to go or the kids picked up from school will go a long way in helping someone recover quicker from a migraine haze!

 

Inevitably, sometimes the migraine might be so bad that there is nothing you can do to help the person you care about. But sometimes just the fact that you’re making the effort is enough to make the person feel a tiny bit better. Have any other suggestions of how you can help a migraine sufferer? I would love to hear it!

 

 

 

Migraines Are My Body’s Alarm: 4 Times My Migraines Were Trying To Tell Me Something Was Wrong

As much as I hate my migraines, I have learned in some ways they are a blessing. A cruel and obnoxious blessing, but a blessing nonetheless. Why would I say such a crazy thing? Because I’ve learned that migraines are my body’s way of telling me something is “off” and it needs to be addressed IMMEDIATELY. I wish my body and I had a better way of communicating, but I guess you can’t control these things.

Here are four times my migraines were telling me something was wrong:

1.  When I needed Eyeglasses – As a kid I would have regular eye exams and never had anything abnormal come up. But as got older, eye exams became infrequent and eventually were phased out of my annual check-up routine. When I was in my mid-twenties and working long hours in front of computer screens, I started to notice my eyes would be exhausted at the end of the day. I finally woke up to the major clue after I watched a movie at home, which triggered such a horrible episode that I ended up in the ER.

I decided to go to the eye doctor the next day and get checked out. Turns out I was straining ever so slightly to be able to see things at a distance. This strain was putting a lot of pressure on the muscles around my eyes and would eventually become so tired that they would trigger a migraine. A pair of glasses (and eventually contacts) with a low-level prescription was enough to stop the strain and eliminate migraines caused by my blurry vision.

 

2.  When I need to improve my sleep hygiene – I’ve never been a great sleeper. Even when I was a teenager, I would have a lot of trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep. This led to developing some really bad habits because I told myself I could function perfectly fine on little sleep. Boy was I wrong.

Eventually, my bad habits of sleeping too little, oversleeping on the weekends, inconsistent bedtimes, and waiting too long to wind down at the end of the day became a reliable migraine trigger. I tried for years to solve my sleep problem with prescribed sleep aids but that only made the problem worse.

It wasn’t until I took a real hard look at my sleep habits and started to clean them up, that I was able to minimize this potent migraine trigger. Now I know I have to prioritize getting enough and good quality sleep. It’s easier said than done these days with a young baby, but I just have to work that much harder to make it happen!

 

3.  When I needed to better manage my stress – Chronic stress is one of the most common things that plague my fellow New Yorkers. Everything is so fast-paced here: we’re always over-scheduled, working long hours and not spending enough time relaxing. Things were particularly stressful for me when I first moved to New York and started my first job, as I would stress over every project I did at work and constantly worry that things wouldn’t be perfect.

Turns out my migraines were telling me that I needed to chill out. Anytime I would stress out for a long period of time, my migraines would knock me out, forcing me to take day-long breaks from the unnecessary insanity I was putting myself through. Nowadays, I still have periods where I’m stressed out. But I think I’m much better at putting things in perspective, letting go of everything needing to be perfect, and being action-oriented on the things I can control.

 

4.  When I needed to heal my gut – When your gut is screaming for help it is not always obvious. As a child growing up in Mexico, I mostly ate delicious, whole foods cooked at home. But when I moved to the US at the age of 11, my diet changed drastically and I became a huge fan of the usual demons in most American children’s diets: processed foods, sugary snacks, and fast food. For years I dealt with constipation, bloating and gas, but I was so used to these symptoms that they became part of my “norm”.

It wasn’t until a particularly horrific six months of non-stop migraines that someone recommended I look at my diet as the culprit of my migraine misery. At that point, I had cleaned up my diet substantially and thought I was fairly healthy eater. But I worked with a nutritionist who diagnosed me as having a “leaky gut.” As she explained, I had been putting things in my body that were causing damage to the lining of my gut, which allowed particles to leak into my body and cause chronic inflammation. I eagerly went on an allergy elimination diet and within 2.5 months, my symptoms disappeared. It was an incredible transformation and didn’t regret having to say goodbye to gluten and soy for good.

 

Even though I still struggle with migraine episodes, I try to look at the bright side and know that I have to introduce a positive change to help keep them at bay.  Do you feel like your migraines are trying to tell you something? If so, I would love to hear what you have learned!

5 Ways a Health Coach Can Help Cure Your Migraines

5 Ways a Health Coach can Help Cure Your Migraines

If you suffer from chronic migraines, chances are you’ve seen dozens of doctors and practitioners to try to get rid of your pain. However, if all this time spent hasn’t yielded satisfactory results, maybe it’s time to give a health coach a try. A certified health coach is someone who works with clients holistically and examines all aspects of a person’s health – from the food they eat, to how much they sleep. 

Rarely are migraines brought on exclusively by ONE thing; more often than not, you’ll have a unique cocktail of triggers contributing to your misery. A health coach can help in various ways to tackle your migraines:

1.  Sometimes you just need to vent – Suffering from chronic migraines can be very isolating, especially if you have one for multiple days. It’s normal to feel frustrated to talk to your loved ones about it if they can’t relate to the pain. Or even worse, you may feel embarrassed to tell your friends that you had “yet another migraine” and you might worry that they just think you’re just a hypochondriac. A health coach is an incredible resource to vent your frustration/anger/sadness about your situation. Knowing you’re not alone in your quest to get healthy can be incredibly empowering.

2.  Time to talk things out – It’s rare that you’ll spend more than 15-30 minutes a few times a year with your doctor. These limited appointments leave little time to talk about your unique circumstances and troubleshoot. That’s where your health coach comes in: typically you can meet with your health coach weekly or biweekly for up to an hour, which leaves ample time to go deep into what you’re going through.

3.  No such thing as “one size fits all” – One of my biggest frustrations as a migraine sufferer was the feeling that my doctors would just prescribe the go-to drug of choice without much thought into my unique circumstances. Health coaches take the time to consider all the aspects of your life that impact your health, from your nutrition to your career to your stress levels and recommend a plan that is unique to YOU. Migraine triggers vary from person to person and so should the treatment of each individual’s migraines.

4.  If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor – I believe Doctors can play an incredibly important role in curing a migraine sufferer of his or her pain, especially when it’s done in partnership with a health coach. In some cases, doctors may prescribe preventative medications that can be taken every day or abortive migraine medications that are to be used on very bad headache days. Whatever the regimen, a health coach can help implement the doctor’s plan and maximize its effectiveness by introducing complimentary lifestyle and nutrition changes.

5.  Holding you accountable – Even when we know the right things to do for our health, it can sometimes seem impossible to stay motivated to make the right decisions. A health coach understands your goals, helps create a plan to achieve those goals and then makes sure you are taking the necessary steps to make those goals become a reality. Just knowing that you have to check in with your coach in the next few weeks is an incredible motivator to make the right decisions for your migraine health!

 

So whether you’ve hit a roadblock in your migraine treatment or simply want to reduce the number of headache days you experience a month, a health coach might be the key to ending your migraine misery. If you have any questions about health coaching or about my practice, in particular, you can always reach out to me directly.

5 Ways to Reboot Your Workout Routine

You don’t have to be a new mom get into a workout funk. At various points in my life I have gone long stretches without seeing the inside of the gym and it’s always a struggle to get back into a rhythm.

Since I wasn’t able to workout throughout most of my pregnancy, I was itching to get back into my routine as soon as I gave birth and was medically cleared to exercise. This was my first goal in the list of 12 things I want to accomplish in this next year.  Now that I’m finally in a groove, I’ll share what worked for me:

1.  Forgive yourself

There are many reasons we get out of shape. Maybe you got really sick. Or things got busy at work. Or you got injured. Or you couldn’t find the energy at the end of the day.

Whatever it is, forgive yourself. Everyone can get out of his or her rhythm, but the last thing you should be carrying around with you is tons of guilt and embarrassment about how “far you’ve fallen.” It’s hard not to obsess over what you used to be able to do, but what’s important is to just get moving again and you’ll catch up in no time.

 

2.  Connect with your motivation

We know we have to exercise because it’s good for our health, but how many of us truly connect with our deeper motivation for working out? Personally, I want to workout so I can be my strongest self and:

  • Play with my growing daughter
  • Run a marathon
  • Clear the mind on a daily basis
  • Continue to go on active vacations where I hike, run, bike, kayak and (maybe one day) surf!

Before you do anything, it's important to know what drives you!

 

3.  Find the exercise style that fits your taste

You don’t have to worry about keeping up with the latest fitness trends (it’s OK if Crossfit is not for you!). Just find a way to move that YOU genuinely like. If you prefer to workout alone and in private, there are great programs like YogaGlo that you can do from the privacy of your own living room. Or does a group dynamic motivate you? There are great sports leagues like Zog Sports or charity-driven teams like Team In Training, where you can train for a major event like a marathon. I personally trained for the NYC Marathon with Team in Training because I knew I needed the camaraderie of the team to get up everyday and run all those miles!

 

4.  Put it in your calendar!

If it's important to you, it should be scheduled! Whether you're interested in a group class at the gym, or you plan to do a 20 minute yoga workout at home, it should be written down in your planner or calendar. If it's written down, chances are higher that you'll prioritize and honor that commitment.

 

5.  Keep track of your progress

If numbers drive you, don’t be afraid to keep track of some metrics that are important to you. For a lot of people, it will be weight, but I personally love keeping track of things like number or pullups and pushups I can do, as well as how fast I can run a mile. Find what will give you that extra motivation and keep track of it!

Got any other tips that helped you get back into shape? I would love to hear it!

12 Things I Want to Accomplish in the Next 12 Months

Image credit: QuotesGram

Image credit: QuotesGram

 

I celebrated my 31st birthday on August 18th. I skipped the usual big celebration (a joint party with my husband, Greg, whose birthday is one day later on the 19th) and opted for a low-key dinner with some good friends.

Birthdays in recent years are like my New Years: a lot of reflection and usually some big “A-Ha” moments. This year was no exception – a lot has happened since I turned 30: I decided to shut down my fashion business, got certified in health coaching, got pregnant, ran the NYC Marathon (while 4 weeks pregnant, whoops!), started my health coaching practice and had a beautiful baby girl.

I’m proud and excited by all that I was able to accomplish this past year, but confess that I haven’t had any sort of rhythm since I was running my fashion business. Now with a newborn in the mix, my routine has gone to hell and it’s very unsettling. So I’ve decided to take time to declare what I want to accomplish this year and I want to put it out there to help keep me accountable.

Below is a list of goals, as well as the reason they’re important to me (having goals is great, but it’s just as important to know WHY you want to accomplish them). I’ll try to work on them throughout the year, but plan on focusing on one per month.

Goal #1: Re-establish my workout routine. (September)

WHY?

  1. It feels amazing to be the strongest, most flexible and agile version of myself
  2. It clears the mind
  3. I want to run a half or full marathon
  4. I want to have the strength to play and carry my quickly growing baby
  5. I want to continue to travel and have active vacations where I can hike, ski or even surf whenever I want     

Goal 2: Make healthy cooking a seamless and productive process. (October)

WHY?

  1. Iwant to fall in love with cooking
  2. I want to have a fridge full of healthy meals throughout the week
  3. I want to advise my clients on how to cook healthy meals

Goal 3: Improve my sleep hygiene. (November)

WHY?

  1. Sleep is essential in preventing a whole host of chronic illnesses, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and mood disorders.
  2. I want to have energy to do all the things I want to do everyday and do them well!

Goal 4: Meditate 10 minutes everyday (December)

WHY?

  1. Reduce stress levels
  2. Make better decisions and have greater awareness throughout the day

Goal 5: Go on a media detox 1x/quarter for 5 days (January)

WHY?

  1. I would love to see if I truly miss being so connected once I’m out of the loop for a few days
  2. I’m curious about what I fill all that extra time with

Goal 6: Get rid of all toxic cleaning and beauty products (February)

WHY?

  1. The largest organ is our skin, and our bodies absorb whatever we put on it. This can cause a whole host of issues, like hormone disruption and allergies, all of which I’d like to avoid.

Goal 7: De-clutter my closet (March)

WHY?

  1. Only keep things that bring me joy to wear
  2. Make it a seamless process to put together an outfit that looks good and makes me feel great

Goal 8: Catch up with important people in my life 1x/month (April)

WHY?

  1. I don't want to take the important people in my life for granted. I know I should make time to either see or talk to the people that I love and not let huge chunks of time go by without staying in touch.

Goal 9: Create an easy to manage budget and actually review it once a month (May)

WHY?

  1. Have greater visibility into how we’re spending our money
  2. Make sure we’re spending our money according to what’s important to us

Goal 10: Volunteer for a cause I care about (June)

WHY?

  1. I believe I should always make time to help someone less fortunate if I can
  2. (Selfishly) I know it will serve as an extra reminder to how fortunate I am

Goal 11: Read a book a month (July) 

WHY?

  1. Satisfy my curiosity on a variety of topic
  2. Give the brain a workout for something other than work

Goal 12: Stop multi-tasking and do every action with more awareness (August)

WHY?

  1. I want my life to be about the quality, not quantity of my experiences

I’ll chronicle my progress here, so follow along to see how I do. And don’t hesitate to share any tips on how you accomplished your goals!

Welcome

Welcome to our inaugural post -- I'm so excited (and a bit terrified) to take this first step, but I'm so glad you're here to share it with me.

Here's what you can expect from the blog & newsletter:

  • Recap of the latest news in the food world
  • Inspirational stories for when you need a boost
  • Recipe ideas
  • Exercise & lifestyle tips
  • Anything else that I think will make you healthier & happier!

I hope this becomes a helpful resource for you. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you that you're sharing this journey with me. 

With a disproportionately large amount of gratitude,

Caroline