Choosing to exercise when it’s the last thing I want to do

The week after Thanksgiving, my sister and I drove to Florida to visit family. Our parents live in a lovely retirement community about 15 minutes from the Atlantic, and our aunt and uncle live in Cape Canaveral. Some cousins came down, too, to enjoy a family-owned timeshare condo that week. The stage was set for a really fun week with family. The stage was also set for migraines, as so many triggers were present: unpredictable meal times, long travel days, potential dehydration from being in the sun and out of my routine, and stress (however happy) dealing with the logistics of planning get-togethers with a big family.

The first day we woke up at my parents’ house, I felt a little achy. I have at least one migraine episode every single time I visit them, so I figured that day would be the day. I lounged in my pajamas on the couch. We tend to be a family of late risers, so my dad and I ended up sitting and chatting over coffee well into mid-morning. I tried to ignore the sensations I experience during the migraine prodrome. I was a little bit achy and my neck had begun to hurt just the tiniest bit.

Once the plan was made to go out to eat and then do a little bit of shopping, I knew I had some time to play with since it takes a long time for Geddises to mobilize and actually leave the house. My first inclination was to read a little more of my book and then take a hot shower, but instead I went with the opposite plan: I laced my sneakers up, found my headphones, and went for a walk.

The neighborhood is just lovely, and the weather couldn’t have agreed more with me. It was partly cloudy and warm—wearing shorts and a T-shirt felt amazing after the chilly town I’d left for the week. Instead of listening to a podcast or an audiobook, I listened to some favorite songs while strolling, and that made me up the pace a little bit. I saw birds and flowers; I waved to my parents’ neighbors as they cruised by on golf carts.

As I approached my parents’ driveway after a thirty-five minute stroll, I got that walking high I hadn’t had in so long due to my lethargy and lack of exercise at home. (It’s nicknamed a “runner’s high,” but I’m here to tell you that a walk of 30-60 minutes will get you that same sensation.)

My point of view had altered completely and any sign of an impending migraine was totally gone. I jumped in the shower and surprised myself by saying aloud, “I feel amazing!”

I wish I could stay the feeling of goodwill and health stayed strong the whole week, but it didn’t. I did feel good most of the trip, though, which was a positive change. And I remembered what got me hooked on walking years ago. I’ve lost the habit but am hoping to get myself back in action. When I need to remind myself of how transformative some gentle exercise and alone time can be, I will just refer back to this blog and hope I’ll take a cue from my past self and go out and stroll.

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