84. I'm sick, now what?

mental fitness Nov 11, 2020


By: Michael Beiter


There are two "I's" we try to avoid as much as possible in order to keep our fitness and nutrition in check. They are injury and illness. 

We do as much as we can with minimum effective doses and sustainable eating to limit the potential for both but eventually you will get sick or hurt. Knowing this is just part of the human condition helps, but what should you do about it? 

First, understand it's not your fault. It is easy to assign blame to yourself when you get sick and especially if you hurt yourself exercising. You could go on and on with the self shaming but it just perpetuates the agony and doesn't get you anywhere. 

Second, eat whatever sounds good. I know this may seem like contradictory advice coming from a nutrition coach but comfort foods help to get you back to baseline quick. Your goals of improving your body composition or nailing your macros cease to be important when your health is compromised. You need to replace those goals with this: "I will eat and take care of myself with whatever food and drink I want until I get back to baseline." 

Lastly, don't worry about regressing in your workouts. It is common to feel like you are missing time that you can never get back when you're sidelined. This is a toxic idea based on the idea that your workouts are for something other than promoting your health. When your'e sick or hurt your job is to rest. Your central nervous system is busy healing you and doesn't need the added stress of your gym workouts on top of that. Give yourself as much time as you need until you can resume your previous exercise schedule. And when you do don't be surprised that you feel weaker and don't have the same abilities as you did before you were forced into a break. This is your body detraining and correctly prioritizing getting you back to healthy function rather than maintaining your fitness adaptions. The concept of muscle memory works in your favor here: after 5-7 days of regressed workouts you will start to feel better again. You didn't lose your results, they just weren't necessary for you when you were sick or hurt so your body let them go for a bit. 

All of this is to say you need to give yourself a break when you get sick or hurt. You aren't going to miss anything and assuming you resume your efforts when you can you will be back to where you left off in no time. 

A bunch of people have been hit with Covid and we are now entering traditional flu season. Being sick or banged up sucks and isn't fun, but it's crucial that you stay positive and know your path back to health. Be that a few days or a few weeks. 

You will likely feel guilty or shameful. This is the result of you comparing your sick self to your healthy self. Which is not fair to you. 

I pose the question to my sick or hurt clients: "What would you tell your kids to do?"

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