Being sick is hard. Especially when you’re very sick. I hate the term “getting back on track” especially when it comes no longer feeling ill. I feel that statement holds just a negative mindset towards it. Like you no longer were doing well and sticking to your diet or exercise routine. Being sick and physically not being able to do those things isn’t a negative, it’s just a fact. You couldn’t help it.
Recently I had strep, an ear infection and sinus infection all at once. I was pushing a fever of 103 for 3 days and lost 4 pounds in less than a week because I couldn’t eat. I didn’t feel 100% better until a week and a half later. That’s when I finally was able to do a modified workout and ate a normal amount of food. For times like this, I like to view this as getting back into a routine and becoming a functioning person again rather than back on track.
After finally not feeling like I wanted to die because I was so sick, I had a few days where I was finally eating but still too tired to workout. In those days I was eating EVERYTHING. High carb, high fat and highly processed foods. This was hard because it wasn’t my norm. Eating all that AND not working out? Que the guilt. So within my own internal struggle, I’m writing about how I get back into a routine after being sick. This mindset also works if you honestly just stopped eating well or stopped working out too.
A lot of the times we feel that after being sick or straying from our routine, we have to go all in when we start back up. Our society has trained us to feel like we’ve failed at something, and to get it together we need to go 100% right out of the gate. From 0 to 100 in a day. Think about it. This mindset transfers to everything you do in life. Getting back into your routine after taking some time off from working out, eating whole and nutritious foods or because you were sick may feel like you need to pick up right where you left off.
The truth is, that’s not the case. Things change quickly so you have to start slow. If not, you’re gonna burn out within a few days and be questioning why you never picked up those habits again a few weeks later.
Know that it’s ok. It will all balance out
Mindset is key in everything we do in life. Nothing else will matter unless you have a clear, positive mindset on it. So those few days that I was eating everything under the sun and not working out, was a battle. I didn’t want to gain the weight I lost back but I had to remind myself, how I lost it wasn’t healthy. My body those days was trying to make up for a week worth of undereating. Legit, I had 2 eggs and a bowl of mashed potatoes everyday for 6 days. Really an exciting menu I had going :/
My body ate itself that week trying to survive while fighting strep. I needed to remind myself that my body was trying to find energy in anything it could to get back to normal. That if and when I did gain that sick weight, I guess I never really gained weight. I was back to the same weight I was at before my body needed itself to survive.
I went for a walk on the beach this morning and it led me to think, why do we care so much about how we look? Why is being so sick and losing weight from it seem a positive? Would those few pounds really have made a difference in how I view myself? If someone knows the answers to this please let me know, because I’m curious as to why our society sets us up to feel this way.
Listen to your body, trust your gut
Coming back from being that sick, your body is confused. It has no energy and less to burn. I have a body composition scale at home and even though I know these aren’t truly accurate, it gives me an idea of where I’m at. My scale told me that in that week I burned a pound of fat and a pound of muscle. My body was doing everything it could to survive.
So when I was finally able to eat, I ate. Even though it was hard to know I was eating that much without working out, I know I needed it. My body was begging for multiple energy sources. Yes I wanted to workout but I was tired. It just didn’t feel right. I was sleeping longer than I normally do, taking naps during the day (which I only do when I’m sick) and still was exhausted. I knew that working out wouldn’t be smart. My body couldn’t exert any more energy than I had to. This is why battling my mindset was so hard. If I didn’t remind myself why it’s ok to eat and not work out, I would have pushed my body too much and still not be feeling 100%. I needed to listen to what my body was saying which was eat and rest.
Moral of that story, don’t restrict yourself or push yourself too hard.
Take things slow
Slow and Steady wins the race my friends. It was exactly 2 weeks since I had worked out, and 12 days since I got sick. I was weak. Very weak. A great comparison for myself was my time in Myrtle Beach. The last time I was here 2 months ago, I could go for a mile run and complete a 30 minute Pilates based workout easily and feel fine. This time, I ran half a mile, and only did 20 minutes of the workout before I felt drained. My legs were shaking after the run and first superset. I could not walk the next day. Then I was sore for another 3. Huge contrast from a few months ago.
This is why it’s so important to go slow when finally feeling back close to normal. If I would have run the full mille and completed the full 30 minutes, I would have died.
Ok Ok that’s a bit dramatic but I probably wouldn’t have been able to walk for a week instead of 4 days. As discouraging it feels at first, I’m ok with it. I knew in the moment of that workout that there was no way I was gonna be able to finish. I knew that after being that sick for that long, slow was the only way to go. Don’t feel like you have to jump back into things at where you were before. It’s not possible. There’s less stamina and strength. You’ll get back there in time, probably quicker than you think since you were only sick for x amount of time after all, but you’re gonna have to exercise where you are now. It’s the new normal.
When getting back into your routine, these are 3 important steps/tips/whatever you want to call these to remember and take. Jumping back into what you were doing and how you were eating before might seem like a great idea but it could cause more harm than good. One step at a time.
Food Guilt beyond when you break routine. I talk about it here in this post about I struggle with it daily and what I do to ease it.