Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Headache? Fatigue? Some ideas....

Hey everyone. First of all, congrats to all of you for taking one Week One with purpose and commitment!  Several of you have mentioned fatigue and headaches...yep, but hang in there! The first week of BTWG change can indeed bring on headaches - changes in diet, possible elevation of stress as you try to find your routine, the unease and sometimes guilt that can come with paying attention to your own needs when you usually put yourself at the end of the line, etc.  Chris can possibly give you more specifics, but below are the things I did during BTWG when I felt fatigued or had a headache or was ticked off/fed up. I hope they help. The best news is that as your body acclimates to this new way of eating and drinking and exercising and living and thinking, it will surrender to all the fantastic feelings that accompany a balanced, healthy approach to life. It's just getting past that "addicted" stage - let's face it: detox is what's tough...and your body (and mind) might be balking at the changes in your routine. 

For me, these are the things I did to get through the first couple weeks.

1) Lots of sleep....when we sleep we aren't eating, thinking about eating, noticing our body's aches, stressing over little things, etc. That's the first perk - and then there's just the simple health benefits of resting the body and mind and heart. I tried to slow down my day earlier when I was new to the program...having dinner earlier, doing any final "chores" or prep for the next day earlier, then around 7:30 starting to dim lights, soften music/sound, TV off, face washed/teeth brushed, so when that first sleepy wave arrived I was ready to hit the bed. Also, doing your meditation before bed can be helpful in letting the mind unwind a tad before lying down...and for nights when it's hard to fall asleep, sometimes I'd get out of bed and put my legs up a wall (so your body is in an "L" shape with your back and head on the ground and your legs/heels resting on the wall) and just lie there and listen to my own breath and how much I could slow it down. (Or try staring at darkness - actually trying to see darkness...that one makes me fall asleep within minutes.)

2) Make sure you're getting a variety of foods in your diet as Chris has asked you to...balancing veggies with fruits with lean meats with nuts, etc. I took a multivitamin also and an iron pill on and off since I was reducing my red meat intake. Chris can tell you more about what foods might better combat headaches/fatigue, but I found that if I had a high protein breakfast I seemed to do better. And so, speaking of breakfast, make sure you have a really good one to start your day. Also, maybe adding in a healthy snack (with protein) between meals might help. Even today, I always have a snack of some sort between meals and it really seems to take off "the edge", not to mention I tend to not overeat.

3) Drink water, but not to the point where you are flooding yourself with it. No one needs to be in the bathroom all day, right!  Make sure your headache isn't due to dehydration versus lower calories.

4) Reduce stress wherever you can. Remind yourself not to sweat the tiny the house didn't get cleaned over the you got a birthday card out in the mail late to a second cousin a person at works is really annoying you by not cleaning the microwave after using it.  What I finally had to say to myself and others during BTWG was, "I am going to let some things slide that I normally wouldn't and I am going to let those I love know this will be happening and why. And when I get my wellness back and stable, I will find a way to bring those things I've set aside back into my life - or not. REGARDLESS, I will NOT feel bad about re-prioritizing some of these things behind my own wellness and health." I had to give myself permission to NOT do everything perfectly and to stop trying to do everything period !  Talk about setting yourself up for failure if you don't give yourself permission.
Of course, I didn't realize this until about 1/2 way thru the program and by then I had imposed so much self-stress on myself about succeeding with the program and everything else, that I was very wired! In fact, I took the program so seriously that I stressed about every little darn thing during the first 5 weeks.  I basically let myself be overwhelmed by everything the program was asking of me (key words there: I let myself)...but then when I acknowledged the stress and how much of it was self-induced, and when I finally gave myself permission to back off some things in my life without feeling guilty, I was able to relax a little and to start enjoying the success I was experiencing with BTWG. Enjoying the successes and my progression (even my regressions)  was so much better than simply fulfilling the guidelines of the program and what I needed to turn in, the tangibles that got "graded", etc.

5) SUNSHINE...although it's been cold, we've been lucky to have many sunny days this winter. Get outside in the sun...I swear this makes a huge difference especially if the head is achy or weariness sets in. Something about the cool air in the nose, deep breaths, wind on the face, and the body absorbing all those rays can really help the head clear. It's an attitude thing...and if you are in an office all day, God knows you need to take a break and enjoy some of the great outdoors.

6) Combat headaches and fatigue at work by taking periodic breaks during work to stretch (arms, neck, back) and take some really deep breaths. Don't have time to do this?  Nonsense - get rid of that excuse (one I still battle myself to this day, I admit, and which I acknowledge is nonsense). Work is necessary and can be rewarding, but let's remember that saying: "No one, on the edge of dying and moving on, ever said, 'I should have spent more time at the office.' "   

So there you have it...things that may or may not make a difference as you work through fatigue and headaches and some potential crabbiness. Ride out the Week 1 and 2 waves because there's smoother sailing ahead for you (with some occasional rouge waves sweeping in to make things turbulent again here and there...not going to lie to you).   Take care!


  1. Thanks Sherri! I ended up going to bed @ 8:00 last night, and I feel good this morning! It felt great to get that much sleep! And I got my workout in this morning too! whew!

  2. Sherri Thank you so much for your words of encouragement it does make it nice to know someone has gone through the storm and made it through :) I love your blog too EXTREMELY informative!

  3. Great post, Sherri! You are REALLY a big help and I know everyone appreciates all your support and guidance.