Three years ago I hit my New Years Resolutions running – I lost nearly 50 pounds in 4 months with eating healthy and exercising. In that 4 months I had two sinus infections, a cold, and then a virus that kept me with my head in the toilet for two days. After I had the virus in which I swore I was never eating a certain food again (you know how that goes) I stopped my diet. There is something about getting sick that makes me want a burger verses a salad, and has me reaching for a Coke.
Fast forward to January 2014 when I decided again I was going to make that change – and lose the 50 pounds I gained back from my original weight loss (funny how that happens when you aren’t doing anything to prevent it). I’m down 11 pounds going into February and BAM! a cold hits me hard, keeping me from the gym, and really keeping me from eating anything at all. A week later BAM! again, I am hit with a virus that my girl’s brought home from school. What the heck? I hadn’t been this sick in… Ohhh….
It had literally been THREE years since I had gotten a virus (even though my kids had brought some pretty nasty stuff home in that time period), and even 3 years since I had a cold! What was the correlation between it all?? I was trying to lose weight and get healthy.
So I started to do what I always do anytime I’m curious and need to know something – I started to google it. I was amazed at how many people were experiencing the same thing I was!
“Everytime I start exercising again, I get sick. Like I get a cold or something. This didn’t happen when I was younger but in the last 5 years it always seems to happen. Any thoughts on why this happens? I can’t get started properly because I exercise two or three times, I get a cold and have to stop for a week or so and then have to start over, get sick again…”
“In the past year, I’ve tried to start the P90X exercise program four times. And, each time I try to start it, I get sick within a week of starting.”
“It seems like everytime I have an intense weight workout, I usually end up sick afterwards (swollen glands, no energy, runny nose)”
“I started a workout routine a year ago and about a week or two into it came down with a severe head and chest cold which really threw me off my routine and lasted for several weeks. I recently started doing Power90 and the same thing is happening. I started the workout routine about a week and a half ago and I’m getting sick.”
These are just a few of the comments and concerns I found on the first few pages of people looking for answers. Out of like seriously hundreds of pages on a Google search. Why have I not heard about this? Isn’t this something our doctor’s should warn us about? What do you do to prevent getting sick when you are trying to live a healthier lifestyle?
The more I looked into it, the more I realized it’s not just one but multiple things you could be doing that will cause you to get sick, be more susceptible to illnesses and cause you to feel run down.Research is uncovering a link between moderate, regular exercise and a strong immune system. However, there is also evidence that too much intense exercise can reduce immunity and may even make you sick. Intense exercise along with other contributing factors such as: stress, poor nutrition (not enough calories, or the wrong type) , fatigue and lack of sleep, cigarette smoke (shame on you, you need to quit! and I’m talking to my sister and husband here too!) , older age, and over training.
I am guilty of nearly every single one of those contributing factors! When I start working out I have a tendency to go at it full force instead of slowly allowing my body to adjust to the changes. I stress a lot anyway but a lot more when I’m working out – I am always worried I won’t have time or that I’ll fall off the wagon again. That along with other daily stresses just make life rough. Poor nutrition?? Though I usually stay within my calorie goal, sometimes I am under, and I am completely guilty of eating the wrong type of calories. I’d take one big bad meal and not eat the rest of the day instead of eating healthy wholesome meals throughout the day… and sleep? What is that? Stay up late, get up early, that has been my life for a long time and it gets even worse when I am trying to make time for myself. We all know I’m not a spring chicken anymore either – sometimes when I start working out I feel like my 17/18 yr old self that was out playing softball and on the basketball court all year long.. and I push myself like it too. So obviously I need to make some major changes to keep myself from getting sick again.
So let’s break it down:
- Stop Stressin’ - We have all heard stress is a contributing factor to a gazillion things. So just stop. Take a deep breathe, relax, enjoy life a little. Work is always going to be there. Shut off your phone, your computer, enjoy some sunshine, play a game with your kids, take a walk with your husband/wife.
- Eat Right - I am not saying to ban pizza, burgers and chocolate forever. But make it special occasions – eat more fruits, veggies, less processed stuff. Plan a night out at that great pizza place for next weekend and eat smart and look forward to a ‘cheat’ meal. Don’t over eat on calories, and even worse, don’t under eat either! I had a friend who did this and it wasn’t good for her health -or her looks! Her hair got thin, and didn’t look healthy, her eyes sunk in, and her face was pale and sickly from not eating enough. Find your balance.
- Get Your Sleep On- like stress, sleep can effect your health in many ways, including colds and viruses. Everyone is different as far as the amount of sleep they need each night (I need a good 8 to feel refreshed) but the amount of sleep vs the quality can also be a factor. If you go to bed and your not tired, you are not going to sleep well. Take a brisk walk, jog in place, or clean up the house to burn a bit of energy before you lay down. Also make sure to go to bed when you’re tired and don’t continue to try to ‘get things done’ (I am very guilty of this). You will feel much better getting up early to finish a project feeling refreshed then finishing it sloppy the night before.
- Stop Smoking! - Like Nike says, JUST DO IT! There are many ways to quit, from gum to hypnosis but make the decision that you WILL be healthier – cutting out all the bad habits that have a negative impact on your health.
- Be Nice to the Elderly - So you might not be 80, but you are not the youngin’ you used to be. Your bones and muscles change especially in women as they age, so take this into account and listen to your body. you may need more sleep (or less) then you did when you were younger, and your body may need more vitamins/minerals if it’s lacking. Stretch before you jump on the treadmill or even the weight machines. Don’t making it a running start, but slow and steady. ..after all, that wins the race!
- Don’t Push Yourself TOO far - When you are training it’s easy to push yourself so hard that you hurt yourself – sometimes without even knowing it. Talk to a fitness or medical professional regarding where you should start, and how fast you should accelerate your work outs. Experts say you should incorporate low intensity and high intensity work outs into your weekly work out routine. Both have benefits when it comes to weight loss, and when combined create the most effective weight-loss routine.
I hope these tips help, and maybe prevent others from making the same mistakes I have.
Have you ever noticed that you get sick more often when you work out?
**Please note this is not medical advice, if you are sick or continue with symptoms after working out, please consult your Doctor. In fact, you should consult your Doctor before starting any exercise regimen.