State of the Union: Maintaining Fitness While You’re Sick

If your luck is anything like mine– or the four planets in retrograde have effected you just like everyone else (I’m looking at you, Jupiter!) you’re probably sick. Or drowning in work. Or maybe, life has just gotten in the way of you being able to keep up with your gym visits. I’m here to say: You’re not alone! And all is not lost! If you truly can’t get back into the swing of things for a while, i.e. you have a stubborn case of Strep like me, or maybe your work hours have picked up– worry not. You won’t lose all of your gains if you hear me out.

First and foremost, you have to keep up with your diet. I know it’s hard, and eating bread for every meal is especially enticing when food is some of the only physical joy you can experience. (Sounds like a bummer, right?) But Hippocrates said: “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food!” He wasn’t kidding around, you guys. A good diet is even more important when you’ve come down with something. Depending on what your problem is, there are a few things I highly recommend.

To fight any inflammation you have, eat raspberries and leafy greens, and cook with turmeric and garlic! You’ve gotta use a little black pepper to activate the anti-inflammatory agents in turmeric, but that’s pretty much a no-brainer. I had some lingering chest inflammation from my allergies, and after I took a turmeric pill supplemented with black pepper extract, my symptoms were barely noticeable. If you find yourself on some intense antibiotics, you may be experiencing some stomach issues, as well. Unfortunately, antibiotics kill off your intestinal flora along with whatever infection you have. Some foods rich in probiotics are kombucha, tofu, and tempeh. Fermented foods are excellent in that regard, all those live cultures make things easier for your system to process. I also recently tried the Miyoko’s Creamery European-Style Cultured Vegan Butter. You can have that serving of toast you may be craving, but also skip out on the fat and calories of a less elaborate emulsified oil alternative. It’s not a bad idea to take a probiotic supplement, either, if you’re really hurting. After doing some reading, I also found that there are certain foods that make probiotics themselves more effective. Some of my favorite prebiotic foods are oatmeal, bananas, seaweed, and flax seed. These are all high in a kind of fiber that your tummy appreciates.

I know what you’re thinking– “Okay, I’ll just choke down some raw kale and unseasoned tofu and I’ll be good to go!” Listen, it doesn’t have to be like that. Since I’ve had strep throat, the majority of my diet has been made up of smoothies. The disguise of a sweet treat makes it that much easier to consume the greens you need, trust me. My “Sick Smoothie” ingredients usually contain something close to the following:

  • 1 cup of lightly sweetened rice milk
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 scoops of Garden of Life Vegan Protein Powder (vanilla)
  • 1/2 cup of frozen kale
  • 1/4 cup of raspberries
  • 1/4 cup of blueberries
  • 1-2 tablespoons of coconut milk powder
  • A splash of vanilla extract
  • Whatever amount of ice you’d prefer

Breakfast is served! Or lunch, or dinner, honestly. There have been days this month where I had a smoothie for two meals. Liquefying your kale makes it so much easier to consume when all you want is cake. That being said, keep your macros in mind, and you will be able to catch up to where you were in no time.

Once you’ve stabilized your diet, please, if you value your health, prioritize your sleep! Sleep is so, so important already, and your body depends on it even more when you’re fighting off some kind of tiny intruders. Make the necessary adjustments to make your sleeping situation comfortable as fast as you can. As much as I hate doing it, using a netty pot really helps with relieving uncomfortable sinus pressure that can keep you up. Consider using a vaporizer, heating pad, whatever it takes to get that sleep your body is begging you for! The more you rest, the less time you spend sick, and the sooner you can get back to that 30 Day Squat Challenge you were in the middle of.

Lastly, as simple as this may seem, don’t forget to drink water! You absolutely cannot skip on the essentials of health when you’re sick, although they do seem about ten times as tedious. You probably already know that eight glasses a day is standard, but you need to take this number to heart. Your body will love it, and maybe you won’t wake up with cotton mouth every morning before Psychology class.

If you expected an article about low intensity workouts you can do while you’re sick, sorry, you’ve come to the wrong place! Worrying about whether or not you’ve lost an inch of muscle around your thighs just isn’t productive if you have Strep, or an Upper Respiratory infection, or a nasty cold. It seems like you’re losing valuable time, I know, but you will get back to where you were faster than you realize. Take a second to breathe, and really treat your body like you care about it. It will thank you later.

On the road to recovery,


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