March 2016 archive

How to Stay Fit When You’re Sick

I recently made the mistake of telling some friends that I NEVER get sick. I can’t remember the last time I got really sick. Oh, I’ve gotten a cold here and there, but nothing that has really slowed me down. That is, until a few weeks ago. I got the flu and I got it good. I was sick for two weeks with fever, body aches, extreme fatigue and coughing. The fever was the worst part because it would not go away. It loved me and decided to stay with me for TWELVE DAYS STRAIGHT. What the heck? It might not have lingered so long, but after Day Five, I assumed I was on the mend and decided to go back to teaching my fitness classes. Big mistake. After two days of teaching, I was toast. The low-grade fever I was beginning to get used to got higher and I became so exhausted I could barely function. The doctor ordered me to stay in bed for five days to let my body recover and heal. Normally, the thought of five days of bed rest would’ve sent me into orbit, but I was so tired that it was a welcomed relief.



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People often ask me if they should workout when they are sick. After this recent illness, I’ve been doing more research on the topic (I’ve had the time, trust me) and have changed my thinking. In the past when I’ve gotten sick, I’ve just kept on plugging away at my workouts, but I’m realizing that may not be the best thing. Those of us who love exercise don’t want to stop doing our thing. Exercise makes us happy and we don’t want to take a break for some lousy illness. Flu schmu! Just leave me alone and let me workout already! Some may fear that taking a break will cause them to lose all the gains they’ve made. Some may fear gaining weight during a break. Whatever the concern may be, there are some general guidelines to consider when you get sick.

A few excellent articles on WebMD state that most medical experts agree that working out with a cold may not be a big deal, but when fever is involved, exercise should be off limits. Dr. Lewis G. Maharam, a New York City-based sports medicine expert says, “The danger is exercising and raising your body temperature internally if you already have a fever, because that can make you even sicker.” Um, yes, I can attest to that.

Another way to assess if you should workout is to do a “neck check.” Dr. Neil Schachter, medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York says, “If your symptoms are above the neck, including a sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing and tearing eyes, then it’s ok to exercise. If your symptoms are below the neck, such as coughing, body aches, fever and fatigue, then it’s time to hang up the running shoes until these symptoms subside.” Agreed, Doc.



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So, how do you stay fit when you’re sick? Basically, you don’t worry about it. If you’re really sick, you should focus on getting healthy again. If you’ve been working out regularly, relax. Muscle memory is your friend. Your body has created a physiological blueprint of how to do what you’ve been doing. “Muscle memory stems from your body’s learning not just how to perform a task, but also how to break down muscle tissue and then repair and rebuild it,” explains William Kraemer, Ph.D., a professor in the department of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. “That physiological knowledge lets you come back from injury, surgery, and even pregnancy faster, easier, and often better than before,” he says. Yay! You’re gonna be just fine.

The only thing I would suggest besides not worrying about your fitness level is to not go crazy with your food. The good thing is that when you’re ill, you usually don’t feel like pigging out. If you do have your normal appetite, be mindful of what you’re eating since you aren’t exercising. Try to stick with healthy foods and drink plenty of liquids such as water or other low calorie drinks.

Being sick is THE PITS. Not getting to workout is THE PITS, but it happens. Take care of yourself and rest. The workouts will be there when you get well and your body will bounce back in no time.

 



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My Favorite Healthy Snacks

I don’t know about you, but this girl likes her snacks. Snacks keep me happy and satisfied between meals, so I don’t turn into a crazed, hangry lunatic! Snacking can be tricky though. The wrong snacks can wreck your healthy eating plan. Some people do great with eating healthy meals, but go off the rails with their snacks. When I was growing up, snacking wasn’t considered a healthy habit. Eating three square meals was what was preached and snacks were frowned upon. We know so much more now and snacking the right way can make eating healthy down right easy. I’ve tried just about everything when it comes to snacks and below is a list of my very favorites and what I snack on week in and week out.

Protein/Snack Bars

I’m often snacking on the run and bars are definitely the easiest, most convenient way to fill my belly. Be careful though. Some bars are loaded with sugar, calories and all kinds of chemicals that I don’t want in my body. Finding a bar that tastes good and isn’t full of junk isn’t easy, but these three have done it. These are my three favorite bars that I always keep in my gym bag.

Quest Bars– Who doesn’t love Quest bars?? They are delicious, high protein and full of natural ingredients. I like to heat mine in the microwave for about 10 seconds. Yummy! My favorite flavor is S’mores, but I haven’t found a flavor I didn’t like.

Lara Bars– While these bars aren’t as high in protein, they only have a few ingredients and taste great. I don’t find them as decadent as the others, but they make for a good, healthy snack. My favorite flavors are Peanut Butter Cookie, Cashew Cookie and Pecan Pie.

Grab the Gold Bars– Oh man! I love these bars. They taste like a cookie and I’m just in a good mood when I eat them. They are gluten and dairy free and made with natural ingredients. Word of warning: You won’t want to stop after eating one. I only allow myself one at a time because I could easily pack back two of these lovelies. I order mine online from the Grab the Gold website. Word of warning #2: Find a good hiding place or else your family will plow through a case in two days.



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Chocolate Milk

You’ve probably heard by now that chocolate milk is an ideal post workout snack because of it’s blend of protein and carbs with the added bonus of calcium. You can also find convenient single serve bottles for easy portability and portion control. Of course, kids love it, too, which is one of the reasons it doesn’t last long in our household.



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Apple with Nut Butter

I find an apple and some nut butter to be a very satiating snack. The apple is a good carb that has filling fiber while the nut butter has that satisfying good fat. My favorite nut butter is cashew butter, but I also love peanut butter and almond butter. Don’t go overboard on the nut butter because it is very calorie dense.



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Greek Yogurt with Fresh Berries

Oh yum. This is probably my favorite of all my snacks. I love to put a scoop of plain Greek yogurt in a bowl, add a little sweetener (stevia or honey) and throw in some raspberries, blackberries and/or blueberries. Heaven on earth, I tell you. My favorite brands of yogurt are Fage and Greek Gods. Those are particularly rich and creamy. I usually have two big containers in my fridge at all times. One container is 0% fat and the other is the full fat variety. I use the full fat if I need a particularly hearty snack, but I’m careful to exercise portion control.



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Snacks are meant to be enjoyed and can help you in your quest to eat healthy. Hopefully, you can find something new to try from my list. I hear some Greek yogurt calling my name, so off I go! Happy, healthy snacking!