For the past few years, I have prided myself on NOT getting sick! I drink my lemon water every morning, make freshly pressed green juice most mornings and I eat a diet loaded with vitamins and nutrients. I now realize that if you're run down, all the vitamins in the world cannot protect you from your body forcing you to recover!
I have to say that going as long as I did (almost 3 years) without being sick has to be a testament to cleaning up my diet and eating mostly plant-based. By doing this, I have been able to improve my gut health (so nutrients are able to absorb more efficiently), support my immune system and stabilized my blood sugar.
Last week however, I was absolutely taken down by the flu. I worked 10 hour days in preparation for a European vacation, then when we arrived in Europe, we were on the go immediately. My body finally had enough! I had to learn the hard way that if I do not value my recovery time as much as I do other aspects of my health and wellness, I will continue to have setbacks and my body is not truly getting everything it needs.
We live in a time where if we look at social media, it seems as though everyone else is working out. It makes resting that much more difficult when you constantly feel like you’re falling behind.
This struggle can feel very real, and it can even push us to get even more sick if we don’t allow our body to have the time it needs to heal and recover.
We need constant reminders that it is OK to take the time your body needs.
Consider this your reminder!
Here is what I have decided to incorporate into my health and wellness routine daily to make sure I stay as healthy as possible!
1) Incorporate Rest
One of the most underrated tips in the wellness industry is how important it is to get enough sleep! Lack of sleep is making us get sick, inflamed, unbalanced and even gain weight!
As important as exercise and eating well is, none of it is truly as important as getting enough shut eye.
Getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night is a MUST! It keeps our hormones regulated (important for weight regulation), prevents diseases by stabilizing immune function, and balances our mood.
Yes, sleep is the main way we can get enough 'rest', but rest and recover also means listening to your body and skipping the gym when you feel run down... even saying no to dinner out with friends and having a Saturday night to yourself.
To 'recover' means to allow your nervous system to calm down by doing things that let you relax. For example, morning meditation has been shown to have calming effects which last throughout the day. Massage, acupuncture and even a warm bath all allow you to calm down, rest and recover.
If you take a break from training, don't just jump right back into the same routine that you were doing before you got sick. Slowly incorporate weights and cardio (week 1 @ 50% volume and intensity, week 2 @ 75% and week 3 you can pick up where you left off).
2) Eat Well to Help You Bounce Back
Foods rich in vitamin C have an anti inflammatory effect and help to boost the immune system. Get lots of the following foods to ensure you’re eating a ton of vitamin C!
Zinc is needed for wound healing, tissue repair and tissue growth. Getting enough in your diet is essential to recovery. Foods highest in zinc are:
Whole grains (quinoa, bulgur, farro, brown rice)
A lack of magnesium in your diet can lead to a weakened immune system! If you have enough magnesium in your diet, you may be able to fight infection. Foods high in magnesium are:
Nuts (almonds, cashews, brazil nuts)
Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas)
Protein rich foods will help prevent muscle loss following an injury and will help you regain muscle mass faster once returning to training. Here are some great protein sources:
The most important thing you can do is listen to your body and be gentle on yourself. It may seem like everyone on your social media feed is working out and getting ahead… but the only way you can bounce back from your sickness, and truly remain healthy, is to listen to the signals your body is giving you and respond to them.
Healing the right way from the flu has been a work in progress for me! But, now that I’m listening to my body I am hopeful that I have learned a valuable lesson about how important rest is to my overall health and wellness.