This past week one of my lovely students gave me a very early Christmas gift: the stomach flu. It was a nasty illness that left me unable to do anything but lie on the couch for five days groaning and cursing the kid who gave it to me. Needless to say, my fitness and training took a huge hit. Some athletes get very upset with these setbacks and rush back into their regular training and eating patterns too soon, which in fact makes your condition worse. If you jump the gun on normal training, you risk overwhelming your body with stress and therefore relapsing. Overstressing the body will also destroy your aerobic fitness even more.
I am thankfully better and back into my normal training and eating patterns. Unlike previous illnesses and what my co-workers experienced, I bounced back relatively quickly thanks to these tips:
- Stick with comfort foods! When I am well and in good health, I am fairly strict about my diet and do not eat grains, gluten, non-raw nuts, and sugar. However, when I came down with this bug, my doctor, who is very homeopathic and normally supports my diet, told me to throw it out the window and stick with basic, simple comfort foods. The only foods my stomach could handle were rice cakes, peanut butter, diet coke and kid’s cereal. While not the healthiest of foods, they at least stayed down. Other foods that work for people are applesauce, bananas, rice, and toast with jelly.
- Regrow that flora: Stomach viruses, reek havok on your healthy intestinal flora especially if you have to go on an antibiotic. It is therefore critical once your bug has passed to build back up these gut bacteria. I am doing with homemade bone broths, a probiotic, fermented foods, kombucha, and a digestive enzyme. Without getting our gut healthy again after an illness, we risk getting even sicker when the next bug comes knocking.
- Go easy for a few days: It may be tempting, but do not rush back into training. Do easy shorter workouts for a few days to even a week depending on how bad the bug was. I would recommend an hour max on the spin bike, 30 minutes of drill work in the pool, or a 30 minute easy run/walk.
- Hydrate and rehydrate! I lost 10 pounds of fluid over the course of the week, so drinking lots of fluids was very important throughout my illness and my recovery. I supplemented my water with some electrolyte spray, NUUN tablets, and ginger tea.
The best remedy for an illness is prevention, so please remember during the flu season to wash your hands, cook your meats, clean your vegetables, and avoid sick people!
Coach Chris and Kev