Tuesday Training: 10 Tips to Prevent Getting Sick or Shorten a Cold or Flu and an Immune Boosting Workout When You Are Sick
This week’s Tuesday Training is a little different this time around. I’ve been around so many sick people battling colds and the flu lately that I feel it necessary to write this post.
I’m probably going to jinx myself, but I haven’t had a cold or flu in 8 years and counting (knock on wood!!). Before the 8 years though, I was a very sick girl. I had pneumonia more times than I could count and it seemed like I was always battling a cold or flu or infection. In 2004, I had pneumonia and bronchitis so bad that it kept me down, hospitalized and bed ridden for a good 2 months. During that time, I had a lot of time to reflect, read, study, and research. I realized that I was making choices that affected my body which were making it easy for me to get sick (not enough sleep, bad food choices, stressful situations, choosing to workout hard when I should be resting, etc.) During that time, I vowed to start taking better care of my body.
Since then, I’m proud to say, I kicked sickness in the booty! For 8 years and counting, I have not had one single cold or flu. That’s not to say that I don’t “start” to get sick. There are a couple times a year that I can feel my body start to get sick. Usually what that means for me is that I get extremely tired. I normally have an abundance of energy so whenever I feel really tired, that’s my cue that I need to start taking preventative measures so I don’t really get sick. And sometimes I might wake up to a tickle in my throat. That’s another telltale sign that I need to give my body the proper ammunition to heal itself before a full fledged cold comes to visit.
I’ve come up with 10 tips that I believe prevented me from getting sick for all these years. I can’t guarantee that you won’t ever get a cold or flu by following these. But, if you do get sick, it probably won’t be as severe and your body will be much better prepared to fight it off in no time flat.
10 TIPS TO PREVENT SICKNESS:
1. I take a probiotics every morning in the form of kombucha and other fermented foods like homemade sauerkraut and homemade dill pickles. Probiotics are living microorganisms (good bacteria) that help combat a variety of sickness, allergies and toxins. They also help support and strengthen the immune system. You can also find high quality probiotics in the form of a pill supplement that I recommend HERE.
2. I make it a priority in my life to get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep every night. This one is so important to me. I’ve noticed that whenever I start to feel under the weather, it was right after a fun-filled weekend when I got minimal sleep. Now, getting good sleep is my priority – my health depends on it. When you’ve been around sick people or are fighting illness, 8-10 hours is imperative. If you have children and this just seems unrealistic, just do your best to get the most and best amount of rest that you can. If you have a willing spouse, see if they can take care of the nightly kid duties while you get your sleep during times of fighting illness.
3. I do NOT do hard workouts or hard activity for a couple of days when I feel like I’m about to get sick. And if you already are sick, please do not do tough workouts. Hard workouts stress your central nervous system, which make your body even more vulnerable to getting sick. Resume hard workouts after a few days when you are feeling back to normal. I know there are a lot of tough people out there that go to the gym and train no matter how bad they are feeling – and I, too was one of those people back in the day before I got smarter. Trust me, resting a few days during this time of letting your body rest and heal itself will not set you back in your training/fitness goals. If you don’t take the time to take care of your body and rest while you’re fighting sickness or are sick, you will be down and sick a lot more than a few days. Trust me on this – been there, done that and it’s not fun.
4. I do gentle stretches and yoga poses that promote healing a few times a week. Certain poses like the ones I’ve included in this healing workout really help stimulate the immune system. I make sure to do these poses everyday (sometimes twice a day) when I’m feeling a little under the weather. If I feel well enough to work out, I’ll go on a light jog, bike ride, or walk. Doing light exercises will increase blood flow and provide oxygen to your muscles which also promote healing without stressing your central nervous system like a hard workout.
5. I use a neti pot every single night. Neti pots flush out bacteria, germs, and toxins throughout your entire sinus cavities. Everyday we breathe in dust, pollution, and toxins like car exhaust and heavy metals. If not flushed out, these particles create the perfect environment for respiratory infections. I swear by neti pots. Not only have they kept respiratory infections at bay and kept my sinuses free and clear, but they have helped my breathing. I now experience open, clear breathing – something I never experienced for most of my life. This is the one that I have: Ancient Secrets Ceramic Nasal Cleansing Pot, 1 Neti Pot
6. I drink a lot of hot green tea with a squeeze of real lemon and a little bit of raw honey. I normally drink about 2 cups of hot tea daily, but I up my hot green tea consumption and add a little raw honey and real lemon when I am feeling not up to par. Green tea contains a high level of catechins, which are good antioxidants. When green tea is paired with lemon, the catechin levels are up to five times higher. Also, honey has been used for centuries as a treatment for sore throats. The latest studies reveal that honey may be just as effective as many common cough medicines on the market. HERE is an awesome homemade cold and cough syrup recipe that I take at the first sign of a cold and it always stops it before it develops further.
7. During the times I don’t feel 100%, I make a homemade chicken bone broth soup with a lot of vegetables and eat that as my meals for a few days. Bone broth is extremely rich in minerals and nutrients. Bone broth also helps detoxify the body and is a great cleanse to your whole system. Make sure it is homemade bone broth – the kind you get in a box or a can at the store is void of these powerful, cleansing minerals (even the expensive, organic ones). Learn about the health benefits of bone broth HERE.
8. Try to eliminate the stress that you can control from your life. Stress wrecks havoc on your body. The body is extremely vulnerable to illness during times of stress. Sometimes stress can be unavoidable and uncontrollable, so make sure to take the rest of the preventative measures so you are better armed to fight sickness in times of stress. The stresses you can control could be negative relationships, doing too much activity, not being able to say no to things you don’t really want to do, too many hours at work, etc.
9. Find something you enjoy to help relax and unwind for a few minutes each day. This could be yoga, prayer, reading, etc. It’s important and healing to the body to take a few minutes out of each day to focus on unwinding from the daily stresses of life. I also like to take Epsom Salt baths to relax and unwind. Epsom salts provide a variety of healing benefits that you can read about in my post HERE.
10. This is the last tip, but it’s probably one of the most important. Focus on good nutrition. Limiting your sugar consumption is paramount for overall good health. Bacteria thrives on an environment with sugar. Sugar also depresses the immune system and contributes to a weakened defense against infection. Don’t forget that bread, cereal, whole grains, grains, pasta, bagels, etc. turn to sugar in your body when you consume them so they count as sugar. Focus on eating real food, right from nature: meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, some nuts, and plenty of good natural fats like those from pasture raised animals and olive and coconut oils.
HEALING AND IMMUNE BOOSTING WORKOUT FOR COLDS AND THE FLU
Note: For many people who are new to yoga, this workout might seem silly, easy or you may feel like it’s not doing anything. I’ve been practicing yoga for over 12 years and I remember feeling like that when I first started. 12 years later, I can testify that these poses do indeed work and practicing them on a regular basis will not only build and strengthen your immune system, but they will make you more flexible, stronger, and leaner. And while doing these poses may look easy from the outside, your body is doing quite a lot of amazing and healing things on the inside.
Hold these poses for as long as you feel comfortable – usually one to three minutes. It is very important to breathe deeply throughout the entire pose.
Seated Twist –This pose is a great immune booster. Not only does it release physical and stress based tension, but it massages and cleanses your internal organs.
Bridge– This pose releases tension in your belly, opens your chest, and increases circulation in your entire upper torso.
Cobra– This chest opening pose activates the thymus gland, which is the primary organ of the immune system. Doing the cobra allows circulation to flow throughout your chest.
Plow or Shoulderstand – Doing these inversion poses improve flow and circulation of the lymphatic system, which is responsible for the production of immune cells to defend against viruses and bacteria.
Legs Up a Wall– Doing this pose helps clear your chest and facilitates good breathing.