Thursday, April 05, 2007

Happy Eater! I mean... Easter!

I'm in the post-flu honeymoon phase at the moment. My nose is clear, food tastes of... food, not glue, I can swallow and I don't need to sleep an extra 5 hours a day or spend my waking hours semi-comatose on the couch and getting an education in daytime TV (knitty gritty, anyone?). I felt well enough this morning to brave my nieces pre-school Easter breakfast, which turned out to be around 20 under 4's cranked up on Easter food at 7.30am. What was I thinking?

Getting sick is always a bit of a mental challenge. In spite of having maintained a decent level of dedication toward my personal fitness-quest for over 5 years now, I still panic irrationally that a few extra days off will slide into weeks of sloth and junkfood and I'll wake up one day having accidentally become fat and unfit. There's no logic to this, it's just my 'all or nothing' personality trait having it's moment and through trial and error I've figured out how keep my sanity when training can't go ahead at the usual pace.

For a start, I hate it when sick people turn up at the gym and so I consider it off limits if I've got so much as a little cough. People go there to get healthier and a person could be marched out by a jeering crowd of big guys for introducing flu bugs into the air con system. Apart from that little rule, I think it's a matter of tuning in to where your body is at and understanding what is going on. From what I've read, intense exercise when you are well does give you a feisty immune system, but you want to really calm things down if you have a cold. Fighting an infection involves a cascade of bio-chemicals, uses proteins for repair and requires energy. Building muscle or recovering from HIIT cardio involves a cascade of bio-chemicals, uses up proteins for repair and requires energy. My approach is to do a bit of moderate movement, like a walk, or 20-30 mins on the stat. bike if I feel well enough to. This gets my circulation slightly stimulated and makes me feel a bit better, but isn't very demanding on my body while it is mobilising resources toward fighting an invader. I used to continue training as hard as I was able, even if practically at deaths door, but eventually had to admit that this would actually extend the duration and severity of a cold.

When it comes to nutriton, I go hard on the Vitamin C and L-Glutamine (6-10g of each a day), both necessary for a 'kickin' ass' immune system. In my previously fat-paranoid days, I would reduce calories if I got sick using the rationale that I'd be burning less. I've found that this isn't necessarily true. Fighting the flu uses energy, which probably explains the ravenous hunger that usually hits either during the snot-fest or when you start to feel better (cue hot cross buns this morning...). What I do now is keep nutrition steady, lots of fruit, veges, yogurt and good protein , lots of water and green tea. In my normal, healthy state, I usually eat some high GI carbs around training and, of course, I don't do this if I'm not actually training (oh, the sacrifices!)

One thing that may interest my fellow supplement gobblers, is that I cut my Omega 3 back to one capsule a day if I get ill. This is because high dose Omega 3 has a slight immunosuppressive effect, which has been studied as a positive thing, for example in reducing the incidence of autoimmune disorders (that's where the body mobilises the immune system against it's own cells). I could not find any studies suggesting that this effect might blunt the bodys response to a foreign organism, but I'm looking into it and I'm sure a few days without my Ώ3's will only make me more fond of them if that were possible. It's not like I sleep with them under my pillow or anything.... yet.

Happy Easter everyone! I have heard that chocolate bunnies have no calories on Easter Sunday. In the interests of scientific research I will test this obviously revoloutionary theory and let you know how it works out.


  1. Hope the Easter bunny brings you some Belgian dark chocolate or something equally yummy!

  2. The very idea that there's no calories in chocolate on Easter Sunday makes my mouth water.... but just cos I know you are jerkin my chain... I think I shall resist! Poor you being ill, can't even say I know how you are feeling, cos I havn't had a sick day in almost 4 years, not even a sniffle!! I have no idea why I'm so healthy now!

  3. What a great blog Sara! Trainer..nutrition woman. I want to be you when I grow up!

  4. Hi newbie commenters Deb and Chris. It's always nice when people drop by and post a comment. It reminds me that people do actually read my blog and I'd better watch my language.. ;)
    Kek, lovely to see you as always!


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