One of the most common questions I get from clients is: “what do I do when I’m sick?” There is always this pressure that, if you are paying for coaching or a program or ‘getting serious’ about your health, that you should push through no matter what. This could not be further from what I recommend.
Sickness happens- so long as you are human you will be prone to it, no matter how healthy of a lifestyle that you lead. Creating a mental scenario where you make yourself feel ‘weak’ for resting and recovering is incredibly destructive to the establishment of a long term lifestyle change.
Sickness lasts a few days or weeks- what we are building is for a lifetime. So what then? Let’s cover the strategies and recommendations I always make to a client when they tell me that they are under the weather
First and foremost, rest. This usually involves setting boundaries and feeling like you have to defend yourself to others, but it is worth it. Rest does not always been staying in bed; depending on the severity of the bug, resting could look like still going into work (provided you are not contagious- use your best judgement and your employer’s wishes here), but not getting up an hour early to work out, or staying up late to watch Netflix.
Exercise discipline here and take every opportunity within your schedule to sleep a little later, to go to bed sooner, and to supplement with naps as possible.
A quality sleep routine starts with….routine. (Should I do a separate deep dive blog on sleep?) Here are the highlights that I recommend:
- Shut screens off 1 hr or more before bed
- Sleep in an absolutely dark room. (You should not be able to see your hand in front of your face.)
- Use a sound machine with white or brown noise to help you fall and stay asleep. This noise should be constant and unchanging throughout the ENTIRE night
- Use a large scoop of magnesium before sleep- magnesium stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, lowering cortisol and stress levels and promoting recovery, hydration and deep sleep. (It is also incredibly inexpensive and a great way to completely mask the task of Opti Greens if blended together.)
This is SO important. Even if, actually, especially if, you are vomiting, you need to be replacing those electrolytes.
A few tips here: if you are stomach sick, avoid straight water. Dumping water on an empty, upset stomach will cause it to ‘bounce’ right back up. Instead, try sipping on electrolytes or juice.
Your body NEEDS lots and lots of liquids to flush out the bug that it is fighting- I highly recommend stocking up on Body Armor or Body Armor Lyte beverages, or electrolyte packets of your choice (personally I have not found one that I don’t think is nasty so you’ll always catch me sipping Body Armor. I buy it by the case at Costco.)
PS: A hack coming from the lady who projectile vomited for four months straight when pregnant; frozen OJ concentrate, just a little, stops dry heaving. Something about restoring the acid/base balance in your stomach. Don’t ask me why, it just does.
You are flushing nutrients out of your body at the cyclic rate when you are sick, so make sure you are restoring them! Now is the time to double up on greens, vitamins, emergen-c, airborne etc. Personally I like to make a cocktail of Opti Greens with magnesium, Liposomal Vitamin C and a splash of OJ.
If you are not taking a DAILY vitamin like Microfactor packets, or at least just a multi like Men’s M-Factor Hero or Women’s M-Factor Goddess, frankly you are asking to get sick. A lot. There is no “immune boosting”, there is only immune strengthening and that happens through repetitive supplementation over time.
We no longer get all of the nutrients we need from our food sources, that’s just the reality. Vitamins will save you tens of thousands of dollars in potential medical costs from avoidable illnesses. If you’re miserable, or if you’re scared after the last through years, let both of those drive you to take offensive action to defend your quality of life.
Finally, this is probably the most frequent question/complaint I receiver regarding being down with the crud. “Do I need to cut my carbs/eat less since I’m laying in bed all day?” NO. Absolutely, imperatively, emphatically, NO.
Your body is working its literal butt off to fight this crud. Don’t hamstring your immune system by taking away its fuel! That is a great way to very quickly sacrifice all the muscle you worked so hard to build and to come out the other side feeling weak and flat.
Now, I understand that when you are feeling crappy you might not have much of an appetite, especially for protein rich options, so here are my suggestions:
- Bone broth- tons of naturally occurring protein in collagen. Use to make soups, ramen or cook rice in
- Rotisserie chicken- shred and mix light and dark. Your body is going to naturally crave salt so this will be more appetizing. Fortify soup or ramen with it.
- High protein ramen noodles- make ramen like normal or with bone broth, but use rice or millet ramen noodles. Most have 10-12g of protein; not a ton but better than the none in regular ramen
- Order in stir fry or curries! The spices help boost your immune system and they are generally packed with quality protein, simple carbs and sodium, making them easy to eat. Pick a quality source- I am not advocating for Panda Express right here.
Finally, have patience! Let the bug fully pass so that it doesn’t come back. Life has seasons, whenever you hit one where you can’t get as much movement in, double down on what you CAN control (hint: all of the above).
Don’t overdramatize it! You aren’t failing, you aren’t off track, you do NOT need to “make up” for being sick- just press on. If you add a load of guilt onto your shoulder over what you can’t control or over not being ‘perfect’, you are making it 10x more likely that you WILL fall off the wagon shortly thereafter, sick or not!
You are probably going to get sick multiple times in your life, so review this post as often as you need to, because if you come to me and ask what to do when you’re sick I’m going to send you here anyways. 😂