I got plenty of sleep – One of the main areas that can lead to illness is when the body is overly fatigued and when you don’t get enough sleep. This is a challenge for me with my profession, my second job, two kids, a wife, and many other activities, but I tried to force myself to get plenty of sleep. The average person needs around 8 hours of sleep. I found this a hard number to get to on a nightly basis because many times I was waking up at 4 am to ride my bicycle in the basement on my indoor trainer. To get the requisite amount of sleep I had to force myself to revision the time I went to bed. In years past, I could stay up to 10:30 or 11:00 at night with no problem to get up the next morning. With my increased training though I needed to look at the 9:00 pm hour as the time to start heading to bed. I do not want to give a false impression, because most of the time I still didn’t shut my eyes until close to 10, but there was a streak of nights where I was closing my eyes at 9:30. When I did get the most amount of sleep possible for me, I recovered better for the next day’s training and certainly avoided being sick. When I stayed up later and didn’t get the sleep I needed, I felt sluggish the next day and started to get the sniffles of a cold coming on. I had to determine that I wasn’t going to stay up binging another television program or watching late night TV or even watching late night sporting events. My sleep was important and I would make sure I got the most amount of sleep I could. I do believe that this determination kept me from getting sick all year long.
I washed my hands frequently – I shake a lot of hands with people and also visit hospitals frequently. Because of these two actions, I feel like I have germs on my hands a lot. I am not a germaphobe so I do not overly wash my hands, but I certainly use anti-bacterial handle whenever I can to avoid getting those germs on my hands into my body. I made this a conscious effort last year so that I would not overly tax my immune system with germs. I just tried to sanitize my hands anytime I came in contact with people. I feel like this effort paid off in not getting sick.
I ate properly – This last year was one of the first years that I made a certified effort to eat properly. I tried to minimize the junk food and maximize the fruits and vegetables in my diet. I drink a lot of protein shakes made from frozen fruits, some vegetables, and Muscle Milk Protein Powder. I feel like these fruit smoothie drinks giving me a jolt of vitamins that I need to sustain my health. Where I live, it gets very cold during the winter. These cold snaps can cause one to have a cold or to get sick. Anytime that I felt the slightest tickle in my throat or the feeling of getting sick, I would make sure to ingest items that would boost my immune system. I would drink Emergen-C which is a powder drink that you put in 4 oz of water. This drink will give you extra vitamin C in your body to fight off any germs. I also would avoid any foods that might make me sick to my stomach such as greasy burgers. In maintaining a proper diet through my training, my body had the requisite amount of energy and food stores to be able to fight off any infection.
If I felt fatigued, I rested – One of the hardest things to do is to rest during a training block. I read my plans for my training and say in the back if my mind that I cannot miss any of these workouts. While I do not want to miss more than one here or there, I know that If I feel a little ill or am fatigued beyond a normal amount, I had better rest that day. Once again, this is not easy for me to do because I love to train and I hate to miss workouts. I did this a couple of times this last year and felt like I was able to avoid getting sick because instead of putting my body under pressure, I rested that day and allowed my body a little extra time to recuperate and get ready. I also found that when I did this the next workout went really well because of that rest. If you feel tired and fatigues beyond a normal amount, take the day off and let your body fight off any sickness that might be attacking. I would rather take one day off than to spend a week sick and another week trying to get back into shape.
I avoided overly medicating myself – I know some people who medicate themselves the moment they feel the least bit sick. They will take products such as headache medicine, fever reducers, or allergy medications to try and avoid getting sick. I am not a naturalist, but I do feel that avoiding these medications until you absolutely need them allows the medications to have maximum impact and allows your body to do the fighting off of the infection.