Migraines are, well, a headache and as sufferers know, triggers mean trouble. In a recent Excedrin Migraine survey, 93 percent of women said that having a better understanding of their triggers would help with their migraine management yet only 11 percent tracked them regularly. Good news: There’s now an app for that. With the help of a neurologist, Excedrin Migraine developed My Migraine Triggers (now available for free on iTunes) to log pain intensity, severity and location for convenient symptom understanding.
“There are so many triggers patients may not be aware of,” explained Keri Petersen, MD, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital. “[The app] breaks it down into environment, lifestyle and diet. There’s a big list of things that a month down the road you’re not going to remember, but in the moment it’s right in front of you to think of.” With the tough of a finger, triggers like alcohol, odors, chocolate and stress are documented in a personal history chart. Determine the root of the painful problem and facilitate a discussion with your physician for treatment by bringing the generated graph with you to your next doctor’s visit.
After an a cappella treat to celebrate the app’s launch, we sat down with American Idol’s youngest winner and moderate migraine sufferer, Jordin Sparks. We talked triggers, her fit lifestyle change and how the football lover lightens up game day noshing. Here’s what she had to say:
How long have you suffered from migraines? What are your triggers?
I learned by teaming up with Excedrin that it is hereditary – so, thank you, mom. She actually suffered really badly from them. I’m a moderate sufferer, so I can still get through the day. My mom, she’s knocked out, she’s down for the count when she gets them. But the constant thing was when I was younger is that she would use Excedrin and that was something I got from her. When she got a migraine that’s what she would use, and so now that I get them I use it too. And now there’s this new app where you can track your triggers so you can be armed with that and prevent them coming on. But of course sometimes they’re inevitable. So for me, if I feel one coming, I just nip it in the bud and take Excedrin Migraine.
Congratulations on your weight loss, you look fantastic. What sparked this lifestyle change?
I didIn the Heightsout here in New York in the fall of 2010 and I got really sick; I got walking pneumonia and I didn’t know I had it for about three week. I literally couldn’t walk a few steps without feeling fatigued or having to catch my breath. It was at that moment—I was about to turn 21—and I was like, “This should be the happiest time of my life. I should be having a great time. I’m not taking my health for granted anymore, I’m going to change how I look at things.” It was baby steps. My lungs were completely incapacitated so I had to wait for a while until I could actually do some more vigorous things, but it just started with baby steps. Changing what I thought about food, the timing about it and the portion sizes. It’s been two years and I feel really good. There’s no crazy secret. You’ve just got to want to do it.
What was the most difficult part about getting back on track?
Right now it’s one of those things, do you want apples or do you want potato chips? You want to pick the apple, but there are days still where I pick the potato chips and I don’t beat myself up about it. I think that’s what happens. We kind of beat up and get down on ourselves and that kind of makes it worse because then you want to eat more and you get stressed and depressed. It’s a big cycle. So for me, I kind of just want to be happy and content and I feel that way now.
Tell us about your fitness routine.
I played softball when I was in school so I would absolutely love to get back into playing. I was a part of a couple of celebrity softball games and I've also done a few other sports for charities. I was a part of a flag football game, the Direct TV Beach Bowl, earlier this year, which was so much fun. Jason [Derulo] drags me to the gym and he helps keep me motivated, which is great, but the other day I hit a milestone. I was on the treadmill and I ran for 4.4 miles. I’ve never done that before in my life, never even thought I would get to that point. That was huge for me! I also try and work all the muscle groups at the same time.
We heard you’re a football fanatic. [Jordin’s dad played for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants!] How do you snack like a healthy pro on game days?
Well, probably what would be easiest is just to not make any of the crappy stuff in the first place, but the things that are crappy are usually the easiest to do. Instead of nachos, because everyone loves chips and dip, have a veggie tray. Instead of just ranch, try an aioli. You can do a chipotle one and make it different and fun. As for the chips, try kale chips, they are so delicious!
Now you tell us: Do you suffer from migraines? What are your triggers?