Creating Healthy Habits

After graduating from college in 2016 I really struggled with creating healthy, sustainable habits. Once I entered my full time job it was even harder to balance work, life, and my health. Recently I’ve been focusing more on some of the small things that I can do to create daily habits to make my life easier and more enjoyable.

Here are some of the things I’ve been putting in place

  • Loading the dishwasher as I go. Instead of waiting to do the dishes when the sink gets full I’ve been rinsing off and loading the dishwasher as I go and running it at night once it’s full. This has been much easier than spending a few minutes every couple of days loading it and being annoyed that I have to take the time to do it. It’s a super simple change but it’s made a big difference!
  • Doing a load of laundry a day (if needed). I used to do all of our laundry in one day over the weekend. Now I’ve been trying to do a load of laundry every day and folding it right away. I’ve found that I don’t always need to do laundry but splitting it up makes it easy to deal with.
  • Setting a step goal and sticking to it. Having a desk job makes it so hard to get in a healthy number of steps a day especially on the days when I work from home. I’ve been working hard to set a step goal and work towards it. If I’m working from home I try to walk on the treadmill during my lunch so I don’t have to try to get in all of my steps after work.
  • Going to bed by 10 pm. Having a nighttime routine has been one of my favorite things that I’ve incorporated in 2021. I feel much better when I go to bed at a decent time every night so I can make sure I’m getting in enough sleep. This also helps me to wake up earlier the next morning!
  • Taking breaks away from my computer. I am the worst at taking a lunch when I’m working from home. It got to the point where Brett was bringing me lunch most days because I couldn’t even spend a few minutes to make it on my own. Now I try to take at least 30 minutes away from my computer for a lunch break and a few minutes every hour for normal breaks.
  • Reading at least one chapter of a book per day. I love reading but tend to spend long periods scrolling through my phone instead of reading. I’m trying to put my phone down and read instead of scrolling through TikTok.
  • Doing a 15 minute house re-set every night. I like to spend 15 minutes before I go to bed folding blankets, wiping down counters and tables, putting things away, and just getting my house in order. Then I can wake up to a clean house and go about my day.

I recently read Atomic Habits by James Clear and one of the things that I took away from it was starting small and trying to improve by 1% daily instead of rushing to 100% improvement. This feels more sustainable to me and will hopefully help me create some lasting healthy habits.

One another note, I’ve really been missing blogging and feel like I might be getting back into a better place to start writing more. Hopefully I’ll be back soon!

Photo by Lala Azizli on Unsplash

2021: Third Quarter Goals

I’m a little late with my third quarter goals but I still wanted to get them posted. I tried to be really intentional with these ones because life has been a bit of a struggle lately and sometimes the smallest things feel unbelievably hard.

I think blogging has been so hard lately because this has always been a space where I feel comfortable to share and be vulnerable but right now I don’t feel ready to share everything going on in my life so writing posts feels a bit fake. Blogging has never been about the views for me and I’ve been brutally honest about where I’m at in life. I want to get back to being comfortable sharing but that might take me a bit of time. Thanks for sticking with me!

Here are a few goals for Q3:

  1. Be kind to myself. Sometimes I feel like I’m at war with myself to do better and be better when I really just need to take a break. I want to practice self-care and be kind to myself as I walk through this stage of my life.
  2. Setup health appointments. I go to the Neurologist this week for a checkup but I need to find a new primary care doctor since mine moved away. My SIL recommended one so I want to make an appointment. This doctor was the one who helped advocate for her during her infertility journey so I think it would be a good place to start.
  3. Spend time with friends and family. Now that we’ve pretty much gone back to almost normal after the pandemic I want to make sure I’m catching up with friends and family. I haven’t spent enough time with my grandparents lately and I know I’ve been slacking in the friendship department. I want to prioritize my relationships this quarter.
  4. Celebrate 10 years with Brett. The past few months have been hard because Brett and I haven’t been able to spend much time together. I want to make sure we set aside time to celebrate our 10 year anniversary!
  5. Read 3 books. I used to also say that I wanted to read 3 books and write reviews but that probably won’t happen. I’ve really been enjoying reading lately though and finally read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I’ve already passed the book onto a friend because it was so good and I wanted to make sure she read it too.

I hope you are all doing really well! I’m going to try to catch up on some of the blog posts I’ve missed.

Do you have any goals this quarter?

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

2021 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month

June is National Migraine & Headache Awareness month. I’ve been pretty quiet this year in regards to advocating and sharing my experience but I didn’t want the month to pass without me mentioning anything. You can read my story about my migraine and headache experience here for background.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had with having chronic migraine is suffering in silence. I look pretty normal from the outside so having an invisible illness is hard to explain and advocate for. It’s been even harder now that I’ve entered corporate America and I feel like it’s a major roadblock for my career. My team is super understanding but I hate talking about it and feel bad that I have different needs than the rest of the team.

I try to advocate and raise awareness for those suffering in silence or with invisible illnesses as often as possible but June is always a good reminder to say something. The migraine community is greater than I imagined it would be. I never knew that there were so many resources available and I was even able to find a new Neurologist because of these resources. If you are suffering in silence, please know that you are not alone and there may be resources available to help you too!

I’ve tried many different medications and treatments but over the past 15 months I’ve focused on my health and prioritized putting myself first. This was only possible because I was working from home. I never imagined that what would help me the most was simply being at home in a controlled environment.

I’ve learned a lot about migraine and headaches over the past few years and finally feel like I’m in a better place. With the U.S. opening back up after the pandemic I just hope that I’m able to stay in a good place. I don’t know how I’ll feel going back into the office but I hope it doesn’t ruin 15 months of actual progress.

Photo by Carolina Heza on Unsplash

2021: First Quarter Goals Recap

This post is super late and I have no excuse. Sometimes life just happens and I need a break but quarterly goals are important to me so I wanted to make sure that I still shared my recap and Q2 goals so that I can look back on them.

The first quarter of 2021 was a wild ride. I’m debating about how much I want to share about my current journey so there might be a post coming up with some additional details or I might wait until this current storm has passed before I share.

Here’s a quick recap of Q1:

  • Work-Life Balance: I’m happy to say that my work-life balance is much better than it was last year. I’ve been trying to work a more normal amount of hours. I’m still work at least 50 hours a week but that’s better than it was before. I’d life to try to make lunch at least once a month or so but I’m taking baby steps. Year-end is over and tax season is almost over but we are still extremely busy.
  • House Projects: This was a fail. Contractors are busy and lumber is super expensive so a big house project is on the back burner. That’s okay though!
  • Blogging: Another fail. Q1 was way harder mentally than I anticipated. I’m hoping that I’ll be in a better place for Q2 but no guarantees. I’m trying to give myself some grace with these goals. I’d like to get back to blogging regularly again though!
  • Monthly Date Nights: Brett and I have been pretty good about date nights. He’s so busy with work and our schedules don’t line up but we try to spend a couple of hours together on Sunday at the very least!
  • Health: I feel like I did pretty good so far with prioritizing my health. I’ve been trying to move my body and eat healthier so I feel good about the progress I am making. I’m not focusing on scale goals which is a nice change.

How was Q1 for you?

Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

Migraine Update: Rebound Headaches & Weaning Off Meds

I haven’t done a migraine update since July and SO much has changed since then. I’ve worked really hard the past six months or so on my health. Being in a vicious migraine cycle for the past 7+ years was a nightmare and I knew that something needed to change. I couldn’t continue being in constant pain everyday.

Before I continue, please read my migraine story and know that my journey will be different than yours if you also have headaches or migraine. I should write an updated migraine story since I wrote that one in 2018 but I have done many migraine updates since. It took me years to find a Neurologist that worked with me and understood me. My story would be much different if I hadn’t found my current Neurologist.

Muscle Relaxers

In July I wrote about taking muscle relaxers at night to help me sleep and lessen the tension in my neck and jaw. I was very skeptical when my Neurologist suggested muscle relaxers but I’ve been pleasantly surprised! I only take them on the weekends because I do sleep almost too well and have a hard time waking up on workdays. But I do notice a huge difference when I take them and it really has helped me.

Rebound Headaches

How many times have I mentioned rebound headaches now? For years I lived off of ibuprofen because I was in constant pain and it was the only thing that made the pain manageable. Taking all that ibuprofen was not only extremely unhealthy but also put me in an endless rebound headache cycle.

I made it a goal this summer to break my rebound headache cycle which meant weaning off of ibuprofen and any other pain medication that I was relying on. It’s almost like an addiction and I didn’t think that I’d be able to get through it. It’s been about 4 months since this journey began and I’m happy to say that I’ve only taken pain medication a handful of times per month since. I still can’t get through a bad migraine without rescue meds but I don’t take anything daily for pain.

I should mention that weaning off of pain medication was very painful. I had about a month of severe pain and basically withdrawal symptoms. I’m still in awe of myself that I was able to break the cycle. I still have daily headaches and migraine cycles a few times a month that last days but I know my overall health is much better now.

Weaning Off Medication

I’ve always wanted kids but it’s felt impossible because I was in constant pain and relied of medication to keep me going. Over the past few months I’ve finally felt like I might be able to start a family which is a huge deal for me. I’ve watched friends and family members start their families while knowing that I might never be able to have that same experience. Now I feel like it’s a possibility.

Because of that, I made the decision with my Neurologist to wean off of my daily preventative medication. These meds were also controlling my tremor so weaning off them meant that my tremor would come back full force. It took about a month for me to completely wean off of them and I really noticed a difference right away. I have a constant headache, tremor, and an increase in migraine days.

It won’t be easy but I hope that weaning off of this medication will be okay. It’s only been a couple of weeks now so it’s hard for me to say. I hope that one day soon I feel comfortable and confident in deciding to start a family. The thought of being pregnant still terrifies me but I hope it’ll be worth it!

So much has changed in the past several months and I feel like I have a lot to be proud of. My journey with Chronic Migraine hasn’t been easy but I’ve learned a lot.

Photo by Logan Nolin on Unsplash

2021: First Quarter Goals

I started setting quarterly goals in 2017 instead of a “New Years Resolution” and I’ve really loved it! Instead of setting goals for the whole year in January I set goals every quarter. This keeps me motivated to get things done and also feels more realistic for my lifestyle.

2021 is the first year that I don’t have all planned out. We don’t have any travel plans due to Covid and I’m not really sure what else will happen this year. So setting my goals for the first quarter feels a bit strange but I’m hoping that this will be a nice challenge and will be good to look back on for years to come.

Here are my 2021 Q1 goals:

  • Work-Life Balance: The end of 2020 was killer for me at work. I worked 50+ hours per week and had zero boundaries when it came to phone calls, e-mails, and meetings. I am in the middle of training two new hires and I get a new intern to mentor in a couple of weeks so I know that things won’t slow down but I need to be better about creating a balance and not over-extending myself. Right now my work-life balance isn’t healthy and I can’t continue working this way.
  • House Projects: Probably the most exciting thing that we have planned for 2021 are some house projects. Our main goal is to see if it’s possible to add a bathroom and walk-in closet to our second story. We live in a Cape Cod style house so the second floor is a converted attic with sloped ceilings. It’s a huge space but right now it’s just a guest room. We’d love to turn the second floor into a master suite so we will see what the contractor quotes us. We’d also like to re-do our kitchen and mud room floors and maybe splurge on new kitchen appliances.
  • Blogging: I took another blogging break at the end of 2021 because work was killing me and I couldn’t spend anymore time on my computer to write a blog post. I’d love to be able to post 2-3 times per week but we will see how realistic that becomes with my work schedule. I also failed at reading and commenting on posts so I want to be better about that because one of my favorite things about blogging is reading other blogger’s posts and it’s just not the same without that.
  • Monthly Date Nights: My husband, Brett, works nights Tuesday-Saturday so we don’t see each other that much and it’s been hard to schedule quality time together. One of my favorite things that came from being quarantined was our monthly date nights and I want to keep that up. I genuinely enjoy spending time with Brett and it’s really great for our marriage to have that time scheduled each month.
  • Health: There are so many things I want to say about this goal but I’ll keep it pretty generic. This is the first year that I can remember where I’m not setting a goal to lose weight or am starting a new diet. I’ve struggled with body image forever it seems and restricting myself to a specific diet has been really unhealthly. This year I want to focus on taking care of myself which means eating healthy most of the time, practicing self-care, and prioritizing the things that make me happy. Hopefully keeping this simple will work better for me and I won’t feel so bad when I “fail”.

2021 feels different for a number of reasons. I want to take the time this year to work on myself and stop putting my job before anything else in my life. I have to start setting some boundaries or I’ll be completely burnt out before I even turn 30.

2020 taught me some valuable lessons and I hope that I learned enough to make this year different.

Are you setting any goals for 2021?

Photo by Andreea-Maria Juganaru on Unsplash

2020: Fourth Quarter Goals Recap

Happy New Year, friends! I’m sure that we are all hoping that 2021 treats us better than 2020.

It’s time for me to wrap up my 2020 quarterly goals! I loved doing quarterly goals again this year and look forward to setting new ones in January. Setting these shorter term goals helps me stay motivated and get things done! My 2020 goals looked much different than I originally anticipated but I’m still happy with the progress I was able to make.

Here’s a quick look back at Q4.

  1. Be intentional about spending time with family. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years it was important to find ways to spend time with family while social distancing. My sister and her husband were able to come home for Christmas which was amazing and we had a bonfire to celebrate Christmas with my mom’s family.
  2. Create a new holiday tradition with Brett. This was our 10th Christmas together and we decided to open presents with just each other this year. Usually we open presents at my parent’s house Christmas morning or with Brett’s family later that afternoon. This year we opened presents Christmas night with just the two of us and it felt really special.
  3. Schedule my remaining annual and semi-annual health appointments. I wasn’t able to get into the dentist but I went to the Neurologist, eye doctor, and my PCP. I’ll go to the dentist in Q1 of 2021 and have some other appointments scheduled which is always fun.
  4. Save 50% of my holiday bonus for 2021 house projects. I am so grateful that my company was able to pay a bonus this year after all of the uncertainty of 2020. We put aside 50% of my bonus already to use for house projects and I’m really excited! I also made sure to make an additional 401k contribution which is something that I try to do every year.
  5. Stick to my current health/wellness routine. I did pretty good with meal prepping and drinking water. I spent less time outside as it got colder and work got busier. I did get an elliptical so I was able to do some at home workouts.

2020 wasn’t what I was expecting or hoping for but I learned a lot and was really able to grow.

Here’s a look back at my 2020 goals: Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4

Were you able to complete any of your 2020 goals/resolutions? Are you setting any for 2021?

Photo by Adam Chang on Unsplash

2020: Fourth Quarter Goals

At the beginning of 2020 I was super motivated to make some lifestyle changes. I wanted to use this year to prepare myself for the next chapter of my life which might include motherhood. COVID forced me to slow down and spend some much needed time working on my mental health and my relationship with my husband. This year might not have gone according to plan but it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

To finish the year strong, here are my 4th quarter goals:

  1. Be intentional about spending time with family. We’ve had to be creative in order to spend time with family and friends this year due to social distancing. I’ve still been able to spend quality time with the people that I love and I don’t want that to change because of the colder weather.
  2. Create a new holiday tradition with Brett. We love the Christmas season but this year many of our normal traditions most likely won’t be happening so we will have to create a new tradition together.
  3. Schedule my remaining annual and semi-annual health appointments. Dentist, PCP, and Neurologist. It’s going to be a busy 3 months with all these appointments but I will be glad to have them checked off my list for awhile.
  4. Save 50% of my holiday bonus for 2021 house projects. My company is super generous and always has a year-end bonus for employees. If we have one this year I want to save at least 50% of it for future house projects!
  5. Stick to my current health/wellness routine. This includes past quarterly goals of spending time outside, meal planning/prepping, and monitoring my water intake.

We are almost done with this crazy, unpredicatable year. Who knows what 2021 will be like but let’s finish this year strong!

Do you have any goals you want to complete before the end of the year?

Photo by Maddy Baker on Unsplash

Migraine Update // Muscle Relaxers & Anxiety

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Last month I went to my Neurologist appointment not really knowing what to expect. I wanted something to change but I wasn’t sure what to do.

It was extremely weird going into the appointment since I had to fill out extra forms and be temperature checked at the door. I wore my mask the whole time and felt safe but it was a much different environment than I’m used to.

Overall the appointment was really good. I do like my Neurologist and feel like he listens to my concerns and answers my list of questions that I always bring with me. He isn’t pushy and I really appreciate that since I had such a bad experience with my previous Neurologist.

We decided to take a bit of a different route this time around and try a muscle relaxer in addition to my normal preventative medication. The muscle relaxer is supposed to help relieve tension and can be especially helpful for people suffering from tension headaches. I had never considered taking a muscle relaxer for my migraines but my Neurologist was really informative and I decided to try them.

It’s been about a month and I have mixed feelings. I sleep so well when I take the muscle relaxer at night but I almost sleep too well. I feel like I’m in a coma and just pass out and then have a hard time waking up with my alarm. I also feel pretty groggy the next morning which isn’t great for working.

Lack of sleep is a huge trigger for my migraines though so sleeping this well is also great. I get more sleep than I used to when I take them. I haven’t really noticed a decrease in migraines but I think it is a little helpful to take the muscle relaxer.

I’ve also had an increase in anxiety over the last month. I have a small tremor in my hands that I take medicine for. I was so stressed out and anxious last week that my small tremor turned into a full blown episode where I was shaking so bad I couldn’t hold a drink. My mom thinks this was brought on by stress and I took a video to show my Neurologist at my next appointment.

Since my increased tremor last week, which thankfully lessened after a few hours of rest, I have been trying to take it super easy. My body obviously isn’t responding well to stress and I need to keep that in mind and stop pushing myself so hard.

I also had a level 10 migraine last weekend. I haven’t had one that bad in so long and I barely made the car ride home from my sister in law’s house. I laid on the bathroom floor for awhile before Brett helped me to bed. I think the trigger was a small glass of wine that my SIL gave me. I know I shouldn’t drink wine but I thought it wouldn’t hurt me that much.

I have a lot of notes for my next Neurologist appointment but I still feel hopeful. I have the option to do the Amiovig injections so that might just be my next path.

There’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to finding the right treatment plan for migraines. I try to open to trying new things and I just remain hopeful that one day something will work!

As always, if you are suffering from migraines just know that you are not alone. There are millions of people suffering in America alone and I’m just trying to share my story and advocate.

Thanks for reading!

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Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

How I Manage Working with Migraines

working with chronic migraine

One of the most popular questions that I get about having chronic migraine is how I manage to hold down a full time job. In honor of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month I thought I’d share a few ways I have learned to manage working with migraines.

I have been working consistently since I was 17, so almost 10 years. I worked all the way through college, excluding the few months that I studied abroad in London. After my college graduation I found my current role and have worked here for almost 4 years.

Working isn’t easy and I’ve really struggled to balance everything. 2018 was my worst year by far and I really considered taking FMLA. However, I am very fortunate to work at a company with unlimited sick days. They truly care about me as a person but I never want to take advantage of their generous sick leave policy.

Here are a couple of ways that I manage working with migraines.

  1. Open communication. My co-workers know that I have migraines. They have asked me questions and we have discussed them at length. Having them know makes me feel a million times better because they can tell just by looking at me if I’m having a rough day. It’s easy to talk about and I don’t feel overwhelmed trying to act “normal”.
  2. Working from home. Again, I am extremely lucky to work for a company that values me and my individual needs. I am able to work from home whenever I need to. Sometimes the biggest trigger for me is just waking up. I wake up and feel like I’ve been run over by a bus and there’s no way I can drive to work. I always have the option to work from home and take the day at my own pace.
  3. Taking frequent breaks. I work at a computer all day and even with blue light glasses my eyes get fatigued which causes me to have a headache. I make sure to take frequent breaks to re-fill my water, talk to a co-worker, or walk around the building. Working from home is nice because I can walk outside and sit on my deck or snuggle with my puppy for a few minutes. Taking breaks is super important for everyone!
  4. Planning ahead. I am always ready for a migraine. I have all of the essentials at home, in my purse, in my car, and at my desk. It depends on the level of migraine I’m having but sometimes I am able to work through them if I catch them soon enough. My migraine essentials include electrolyte water, caffeine, magnesium, and an abortive medication if needed.
  5. Sick days. As I mentioned, my company has unlimited sick days and while I never want to take advantage of those day I still appreciate them. My mindset on sick days is that I’m going to have a migraine no matter what. It’s not going to go away and I’m not going to get “better”. If I can work through my migraine I will but sometimes I really do just need to lay in bed all day with my ice cap on. These are the days I will take a sick day and just focus on myself. I appreciate these unlimited sick days more than anything.

I know that I am extremely lucky to have the job that I have. I work hard and put a lot of pressure on myself but I always know that my team has my back with whatever I need. I have heard so many horror stories from the migraine support group that I’m part of where people have lost their jobs or have had to go on disability because of their migraines.

It is hard to balance everything and there’s no right or easy way to balance work with any type of health condition. I have had my fair share of struggles and an embarrassing amount of tears while surrounded by co-workers. At one point I thought I’d have to quit because there was no way I’d be able to face them again but I did.

If you are struggling just know that you are not alone.

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