Friday, November 18, 2011

Beating the Bug

I don't know about you, but I HATE getting sick... like with a passion. When I was young I seemed to be extremely vulnerable to illness. My Mother is at least partially responsible for this fact considering that she pumped me full of antibiotics every single chance she saw the remote possibility of a cold coming on. Bless her heart, she didn't want me to have to deal with being sick. By the time I hit my late teens, what I got out of all of those antibiotics was a very weak immune system. Even in my early twenties at college etc., I remember being sick ALL-THE-TIME. I would miss one night of sleep and BAM, commence sore throat and stuffy nose.

As an athlete, and a coach, things have certainly evolved over the years. One of the biggest things I realized early in this triathlon game is consistency is king. You can be a more talented athlete, but if you aren't consistent, then guess what, someone else can and will beat you to the finish (most of the time). The longer the race, the more important consistency becomes. Once I realized this, I have TRIED to be on it like white on rice. Honestly, I don't think I'm all that talented. I just work really really hard at being consistent and even then, I sometimes can't pull it off because of work or other family commitments. That's life!

One of the biggest interrupters I've found, both in my own training and the training of my athletes, is getting sick. One minute your getting stronger, seeing gains in fitness, feeling good about your training and the next you are down and out, stuck on the couch for three days watching daytime soaps while wearing your snuggie (no really, tell me you don't have one of those, they DO look comfortable though!).

I have a proclamation to make..and trust me kids, it's a doozy (for me anyway).

It is November, almost the end of November, and I have YET to get sick THIS YEAR.

That's right, in 2011 I have yet to be knocked down and out. Sure, I've had a touch of something coming on here or there, but nothing has taken me out of the training or work game.
The biggest difference for this, in my personal opinion, attention to detail and nutrition.
Sure, I've stopped taking antibiotics at the drop of a hat too, but I've also become one of those crazy hand-washing ladies etc. I've also really paid attention to my body and the second I've felt something coming on I've made changes to my life to give my immune system the best possible chance of kicking it.

So, here are a few helpful hints to help you also beat the biggest of bugs this time of year (who wants to be sick over the Holidays - yuck) and to have your best, most consistent season ever in 2012!!
  • Wash your hands, not just for a second, but for a full 60-90 seconds. Yes, it's a long time and with SOAP. I like Dial, but a good hand soap and scrubbing will do. Do it well and do it often!

  • Drink TONS of water. Make it your business to know how much you've drank per day. Use a bottle with lines so you know in ounces. Viruses have more trouble penetrating your mucus membranes if they are hydrated and slippery!

  • When you start feeling something come on, take extra Vitamin C and I also take Ecaanaisia well. Vitamin C is water soluble so the worst that can happen is you just urinate it right out.

  • If you start to have congestion, flush out your sinuses immediately with a Nedi-Pot. It took me YEARS to break down and do this, but I am not kidding you - it works! It took care of my sinus issues more than once this year. If you nip it in the bud, then it can't drain into your throat and chest causing more issues. It's strange, but just do it.

  • Eat smart: five to nine fruits and vegetable servings daily. Make one high in vitamin C. Vitamin E in nuts and seeds also helps build immunity.

  • Get enough sleep. Every time I would feel something coming on I would try to sleep at LEAST 9 hours for two nights in a row. That usually did the trick!

  • Find ways to reduce stress – perhaps through physical activity, meditation or simply "time out" from stressors.

  • Stay active IF the symptoms are above the neck, if they are below, then take some rest.

  • Take the day off. That simple. ONE day off will sometimes be enough that you're back at it the next day or the day after rather than losing a week of workouts. You can ask my coach, it was probably two or three times this year I called him and said, "something is off with my body, I'm taking today off and I'll evaluate tomorrow." He agrees with this philosophy 110%.

  • Eat more yogurt with natural probiotics! Keeping your gut healthy is an important part to maintaining immunity!!

Finally, in terms of nutrition, several nutrients may play a key role: beta carotene in deep-yellow fruits and veggies and dark-green leafy greens; vitamin B6 in whole grains, legumes, chicken and pork; vitamin C in citrus fruit, berries, melon, tomatoes and broccoli; vitamin E in wheat germ and nuts; protein in dairy foods, meat, poultry, fish and legumes; selenium in meat and seafood; zinc in beef and seafood.

Try to have a balanced diet that includes lots of color and eat WHOLE foods whenever possible.

A few simple steps can save you hours of laying on the couch being grumpy, wishing you were outside swimming, biking or running!

Here's to happy / healthy training in 2012!


SSB said...

the neti pot has been my savior too. I swear by it. And anytime I get off a plane one of the first things I do is use it..flush all the bad stuff out! I add a drop of tea tree oil in there for extra anti viral protection. When I'm around my nieces and nephews I use it regularly and any time I come in contact with anyone sick, even the slightest cold.

GoBigGreen said...

Oh I have to add in Zinc, I think Zinc lozenges have saved me a few times but you cant OD on them or you will get a gut ache. And for me, living where i do ( oh joy) the need to get into a hot shower STAT after i run outside is mandatory to not getting chilled!
AWesome Advice Kim!

Kiet said...

Thanks for the tips Kim but if you don't mind, I think I'll avoid beta-carotene for a bit longer ;o)

Heidi Austin, PT, DPT said...

feel better soon! hope your t-day was good too!!!!