Friday, March 25, 2011

A New Challenge

Recently, I’ve come across a new challenge that threatens to keep me from exercise.

Intense headaches.

I’m not really a wimp when it comes to pain. Ok, maybe a little, but I’ve dealt with a lot, and this I didn’t feel like I could handle. My headache was bad enough that my eyes were tearing up and, even worse, I felt like my nose was going to bleed. I wasn’t sure if it was from the up and down motion of the elliptical and being tired, but it was enough to make me quit after only logging twenty, not very vigorous, minutes of exercise.

And it scared me.

‘Why am I getting headaches so intense that my nose feels like it’s going to bleed? Is there something wrong with me?’

I thought back to my morning for clues. 

For one thing, I’d overslept. For some reason, my body has this exact number of hours of sleep I can get before I have a massive headache. Don’t ask me why, but it’s been a common pattern for a while. 

I had eaten that morning, but maybe I hadn’t eaten enough. I wasn’t really sure and I would have to investigate this further.

Finally, I hadn’t really paid much attention to how much water I had drank the previous two days. But I had been drinking quite a bit while at the gym and felt like this wasn’t really the issue since it didn’t seem to help.

I spoke with my mom and she suggested I self-test for hypoglycemia, since headaches, dizziness, and disorientation are side effects of a low blood sugar. Because I’d rather not go to a doctor for a vigorous blood-sugar test if it’s not necessary, I thought of a few things I wanted to try out for the next visit to the gym.
  1. Eat a realistic meal at least two hours prior to the exercise. (Exception: I am not getting up two and a half hours early to eat breakfast for an 8am morning workout. Period. My next two ideas will have to suffice.) A realistic meal would include things such as leftovers from the recipe posted a few days ago (delicious!)
  2. About 45 minutes to an hour before the workout, eat small helping of something dense, such as peanut butter. This puts a little food and carbs into your bloodstream to work with.
  3. Drink a 6-8oz glass of orange juice about half an hour to 45 minutes before the exercise. OJ is a staple item for my mom’s low blood sugars and brings healthy sugar into your bloodstream. None of that high-fructose corn syrup in gatorade for me!
  4. Add about 4-6 oz of OJ to my gym water; electrolyte enhanced water if possible.
After two trials -- it seems to have worked! No headaches! (And actually a lot more consistent energy!)

I have a feeling that the oversleeping headaches are linked to the possible low blood sugars as well and it is something else I’d like to see if I can fix next time I can’t get out of my stupor. Since I have noticed that when I do have those headaches, I generally don’t feel like eating, this may actually be making my symptoms worse!

 If I do have hypoglycemia, it may actually be a blessing in disguise because I’ll be forced to follow a more healthy pattern of eating every two hours or so. I’ll also be forced to never let myself try to ‘fast to lose weight’ which is a terrible, terrible idea anyway. (I’ve also noticed before just for real fasting that I’ve gotten sick after a few hours … this probably should have been a warning sign for me a few years ago!)

I feel like there are so many obstacles to working out and staying healthy! My brother noted a few years ago that every time he started really getting into working out again, he’d get sick and it would knock him down just long enough to get him out of the habit again. It’s so true. It’s hard staying healthy. There are so many excuses why we can’t make it to the gym.

What are some of your obstacles? How do you overcome them?


p.s. if anyone's wondering, I'm going to try to get tested, soon :)

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