Woman wearing glasses with sketches of faces in a mass above her head.

The Art of Not Pushing: Slow and Steady

As an adult, I figured I was done with juvenile warnings like “Don’t stay up too late!” or “Don’t drink alcohol!” or “Don’t sit too close to the TV!” But when my migraines started, my body took over these parental warnings. Since I wanted to avoid the searing-hot waffle iron that adheres itself to my head, I listened. Occasionally, though, I’d see friends enjoying their wine too close to the TV and feel left out. That’s when I would push myself.

Learning that pushing myself only made migraines worse

When my migraines became a daily event, I learned quickly that overexerting my body or trying to push through my many triggers like drinking wine, exercising, or trying to multiply large sums in my head only lead to immense pain later. All of those red flags from my inner-migraine parent were clear: Keeping it gentle was a piece of my healing puzzle.

Migraine's impact on motherhood

Of course, playing it slow wasn’t always a game my young son was into. Not wanting to feel like a mom left out of motherhood, I’d push through the aches or fatigue, because that’s what real mothers do. I’d end up in bed with that invisible waffle iron frying my head—and saddest of all, no waffles. Slow and steady keeps my migraines at bay. Gentle is how I roll, but rolling slower than a snail can make a person feel left out.

Taking the slow and steady approach to exercise

My migraines keep me from participating in activities like running marathons, hiking arduous trails, or taking mime classes. Still, I was looking to try something slow and steady, and walking the track where my kid takes swim lessons seemed like a safe place to start.

Initially, I felt like a toddler toddling along as the real runners in their Lululemon track pants whooshed passed me. Me and my baggy sweatpants felt a twinge of jealousy as I marvelled at their effortless strides, but as the weeks went on this slow and steady pace seemed to work—no migraine! My body seemed to be able to handle it, and I started dreaming of making own whooshing sound in my own pair of Lululemons!

Ending up pushing myself too far

Then it started—the fiery feeling in my belly, that familiar push. The thing is, though, I’m not pushy. If a waiter brought me the wrong dinner, I’d happily eat the entire the plate of brussels sprouts without (much) complaint. I may not be pushy in life, but on the track that day I was. I pushed myself. I forced my pace to a quick march and walked double my norm.

It only took a couple hours for the attack on my head to start.

My migraines chained for days and days.

Slow and steady can feel a little like being picked last for Tee-Ball (not that that ever happened to me, except for every time we played Tee-Ball), but perhaps all those overprotective warnings are more like caring reminders to keep me out of pain. Slow and steady helps me win my migraine race.

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