You just woke up, yet still feel fatigued. Dull headache, possibly full body ache. Throat is tight + sore. Nose drippy. Eyes itchy + red.
Yeah, you’re probably about to get sick. Wanna skip that cold or flu?
Despite being a trainer + healthy eater, I spent most of my 20s with chronic sinus infections + always picked up whatever cold/flu my friends/family/clients brought my way, of course conveniently at time when I already had a million things to do + zero time to stay home sick. So…channeling my “if it doesn’t kill me, it makes me stronger” mantra, I’d completely ignore the symptoms + power right through it til illness hit Level: Code Red.
Over the years I’ve accepted that I was partially, ok…MOSTLY to blame! Healthy diet alone can’t make up for other poor choices…specifically for me, ongoing lack of sleep from partying too many nights before early early mornings, + when I did elicit symptoms of oncoming cold, I didn’t change my behavior.
And now…? Guess who hasn’t been sick in nearly 3 years?
For anyone freaked out by the concept of taking responsibility for our state of sickliness, GROW UP! Here’s an opportunity for us to avoid falling ill at the most inopportune time. It’s your body. You only get one. Let’s keep you functional!
Below, please find my DON’T GET SICK PROTOCOL, literally the Cliff’s Notes of how I’ve managed to bypass oncoming illness for past three years. None of these tips are invasive, harmful or expensive. Some I’m sure you’ve heard + possibly not followed (consistently) in past. I hope these tips help you fend off sickness too, saving money at the doctor + pharmacy + days off work for doing things you love! Clearly, if symptoms get worse, perhaps we’ve caught it too late, do see doctor. No, I won’t recommend mine. I’m certainly not the favorite patient. Only see ’em once a year for annual physical!
1. BLOW! DON’T SNORT!
Drippy nose or throat? Blow it out into a tissue, toss that germy snot rag + wash your hands. Do not cover one nostril. Do not ever snort mucus back to clear your nose / throat. That simply sends germs deeper into:
Ears. Your ears, nose + throat are all connected. Violent snorting, especially while covering one side, can blow your eardrum, but more commonly germs are shot into ears where they can fester into an ear infection.
Sinuses. Germs love this deep cavernous vacay spot. They’ll happily unpack + make themselves comfortable for a sinus infection, which as you know can last weeks or even months without antibiotics.
Bronchi / Chest. Nothing ever starts as bronchitis. The germs came from outside. We ignored the congestion + snorted it back until the germs made their way into our chest, cozily coagulating in our delicate mucus-lined bronchial tubes, causing serious coughing + inability to breathe. Fun! Let’s skip that!
* On that subject, keep pocket squares FASHION vs FUNCTION! We clean people use disposable tissues. Keeping a germ-filled snot rag on your person + reusing it is not helping us get rid of germs, it’s just keeping them around at a balmy 98.6 degrees F. Dude, germs LOVE your hospitality.
2. SALT WATER GARGLE
Wake up with a sore throat? Whether it’s caused by overnight nasal drainage or a more sinister virus like Strep Throat is trying to set up camp, it’s prime time to take advantage of the antibacterial abilities of salt to naturally kill germs that are starting to fester in your throat. Given your mouth + nose are the two places most germs enter our body, best to flush em out naturally before they have a chance to fester into a full blown cold / flu + / or make their way deeper, infecting ears, sinuses or chest/bronchi for example, all of which take much longer to heal from.
HOW TO SALT WATER GARGLE: Grab small heat-safe mug, fill with water as warm as you can handle. Vigorously stir in sea salt. How much salt? As much as you can dissolve. Once the lil grains start collecting at bottom, it’s ready. We want solution as saturated as it can be. Tilt head back + take a swig trying to bypass tongue, cause it tastes terrible. Belt out your favorite tune as you gargle water in back of throat. Count…can you gargle for 30 seconds? Play a game increasing amount of time you can last. Repeat. In the end, try to get that total time gargling to 2 minutes. Repeat that 2 minute gargle 4x / day til sore throat subsides.
3. NETI POT
Think of Neti Pot as a salt water gargle for your nose!
Use Neti Pot 4x/day at first sign of cold/flu symptoms, such as congestion, sinus pain, sore throat, unusual full body fatigue despite being rested…
Likewise, use to flush away allergens. Itchy watery eyes, congestion, puffiness when seasons change, or upon arriving in new city you’ve traveled to…
YES, travel with your Neti Pot! Why miss out on a fun vacation you’ve been planning for months or a work trip that demands everything you’ve got! Your GET SICK RISK actually goes way up while traveling given exposure to new people/places/things you are not immune to, recycled air on crowded plane where undoubtedly, someone is carrying (+ sharing) some pathogen, lack of sleep (sometimes we’re too excited or overworked to sleep full 8hours) and/or eat enough nutritious meals…
I also use it whenever I’ve been around sick people! Working in close proximity to clients teetering on edge of or coming back from illness means we have to take extra steps to avoid catching it ourselves. The Neti Pot is an easy, natural go-to move than can’t hurt, can only help flush pathogens. Of course we also scour our gym with cleaning solution whenever we hear so much as a gentle cough or sniffle!
Every time I have come down with something, it’s following a period of time where I’ve had multiple nights in a row of minimum sleep. This is your body’s time to regenerate itself after a grueling day. Take it away + immunity drops tremendously, making us more vulnerable to catching the various colds, flus, etc that we are already exposed to on a daily basis.
5. EAT! While you may have reduced appetite, your body needs MORE fuel to fight off colds / flus. No, saltines, soda and/or OJ ain’t gonna come to your aid.
In fact, this lack of nutrients is more likely to let your illness go full-blown. What heals growing/recovering muscles in the gym also helps us fight illness: protein and nutrient-rich vegetables! You may not feel like eating them, but unless you’re vomiting +/or have diarrhea, crush your protein + veggies while you dream of getting well!
Often one of the few things that does appeal to us when we are sick: SOUP! Skip the sodium bomb in every canned or restaurant-prepared soup. Limited appetite means we have to optimize nutrition from every bite…so why fill up on nutrient-devoid noodles? Instead, try our delicious Chicken Vegetable soup recipe. One of few soups that actually eats like a meal, as it’s loaded with fresh veggies + more chunks of anti-biotic/hormone/cage-free chicken breast than you’ll ever find in another soup!
When appetite is hindered by illness, it’s the perfect time to blend up a GRINCH SMOOTHIE!
+/or make/order fresh COLD-PRESSED ALL VEGGIE GREEN JUICES!
NOTE: If buying bottled juice, read that label! Juice companies increase profit margin by increasing volume of less expensive, higher sugar fruits (vs more costly dark leafy greens) + using powdered dried or pureed + preserved ingredients to increase shelf life. See mango, banana or apple at beginning of ingredient list? Leave it for another less-informed person. Despite green color + marketing as green veggie juices, many mass-produced green juices/smoothies contain only 2-10% greens from a powder, nothing fresh. They’re dominately sugary fruit purees, not even fresh fruit! Few examples to avoid: Naked Green Machine, Odwalla Superfood + V8 Healthy Greens.
Drink minimum 3 Liters per day to speed body’s natural Flu Flush! Proper hydration is such a massive immune boost! Better to be peeing on the hour than home sick for a week, right? Sound like an impossible feat? Read up for tips to easily + comfortably down more water daily!
7. DAILY MULTI-VITAMIN
You should already be taking Multi-Vitamin + Calcium as back up plan for your already perfect nutrition. If not, start TODAY!
Highly recommend those made from whole foods vs lab-created multi-Vs as they are less taxing on the liver to process.
Similarly, recommend liquid calcium + Vitamin D for easier digestion + increased absorption.
My daily Multi-V? Glad you asked! I take + recommend
8. WORKOUT PROTOCOL
Obviously, skip workouts if you’re vomiting and/or have diarrhea!
Feeling ok-ish + still want to work out? Stick with weight lifting or something more low-key like Pilates or Yoga.
Skip cardio + HIIT. These get us breathing more deeply, sending much needed oxygen + nutrients to rest of body, germs love to come along for the ride! Don’t provide them the free ride!
9. LAYER UP!
Momma always told ya to grab a jacket before you ran out the door. Turns out, she was right! Even gorgeous sunny days start + end much cooler, especially here in California, where our arid climate zone sees more extreme temperature fluctuations each day, often 25-30 degrees Fahrenheit between the daily high + low. Better layer up for cooler temperatures beginning + end of day!
Ditto for workouts. Better to start comfortably warm + toss off excess layers if you’re sweating buckets vs streaking from car to gym with bare skin on a cold day. The intention of I’ll warm up quickly isn’t good enough. I’ve got more than a decade of “I think I’m getting sick texts” from clients who insist on running in/out during winter with bare skin. Clients will attest I’m a real stickler for this rule. Don’t care if you “run hot”…typically, that indicates you drink water, consume way too much caffeine, alcohol +/or sodium + processed foods, which you know we’re gonna fix! If temperature is below 70, I’m still going to demand you arrive/warm up/depart with a hoodie/long-sleeved shirt/tearaway pants, etc. If that’s a deal-breaker for you, don’t call me!
10. CLEAN. EVERYTHING. NOT LATER, NOW!
Blow your nose, wash your hands before touching anything. If you or someone you live / work with is working on a cold / flu, use a disinfectant to wipe down phone, keyboard, door handles, light switches…anything you touch frequently, as well as desks, tables + countertops, bathroom vanities…all surfaces within THE SPLASH ZONE of sneezes or coughs several times a day based on use.
HOPE THIS HELPS YOU STAY FIT + HEALTHY! LOVE TO HEAR IF YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL TIPS! SHARING (KNOWLEDGE, NOT GERMS) IS CARING!
XOXO – Whit