Listen to your body (and take your vitamins!)

Things have a way of coming back to bite you. “I’ve never cancelled a workout,” I’ve been known to say. In the two+ years of my life as an athlete, I’ve been fortunate to not be sick enough to miss a workout (while I’m home anyway — I was miserably sick with a sinus infection while in Paris and Morocco last fall, but that was a scheduled deload time anyway).

Well, never say never. I came down with a viral infection so nasty last week that I cancelled all my weight training for the week, and skipped my mid-week boxing lesson (my new sport this month).  I took off a whopping three days from working out and thought that was sufficient. Back to boxing I went Friday evening, telling myself the cardio would clear my nasal passages and maybe I’d even sweat out some of the sickness.   For good measure I went for a lesson Saturday morning. Then I slept 11 hours that night and felt progressively worse all day Sunday.

Why? I didn’t listen to my body.  After a drastic two and a half week diet getting ready for a photo shoot earlier in the month my usually robust immune system was fried. My body was exhausted. I work full time, train 5+ days a week, balance multiple freelance jobs and am planning two international trips. Eventually something’s got to give.

My husband, who came down with the same bug I did, listened to what I said, not what I did, and cut out his workouts. He’s feeling much better than I am now. We leave next week on a trip that starts with a five-hour car ride, followed by a 14-hour flight, plane change, six-hour flight, and arrival in a city that’s a 12-hour time difference.  I want to go into that gauntlet as healthy as possible. And as difficult as it is for me to skip workouts, that’s just what I have to do. After work my body wants nothing more than to lie quietly on a couch or in bed and read or watch movies.  I have to override the scared voice in my head that tells me I’ll get weak and soft by taking time off. I know perfectly well that I can take time off and still be strong. I was out for two months when I was injured, and came back stronger than ever! Still, it’s a loud voice and I really have to fight to drown it out.

I’m downing tons of water, eating lots of green and orange veggies, and taking my vitamins. Speaking of, now’s a good time to note that I did some traveling back in August that I thought for sure would end with me being sick, but — I think thanks to some super duper vitamins I was taking — I never felt the slightest bit puny. I had the chance to sample GNC‘s Women’s Ultra Mega vitamins, and I’m pretty convinced they kept me running when I was overdoing it. Duringthe month I took the fistfull of vitamins every day I flew out to San Francisco, slept (or not, actually) on a futon for several nights while attending a conference that lasted about 14 hours a day, ate nothing like my usual diet, then flew straight to Oregon for a camping trip for five nights, then back home and straight to work.  I almost always get sick when I travel like that, but I felt healthy as a horse when I got back. My hairdresser also informed me I had an abundance of new curls  coming in. I can’t be sure it was the vitamins, but the packets contained a cornucopia of health-boosting ingredients, so they couldn’t have hurt. In fact, maybe I need to get another month’s supply to as insurance for this next trip.

Either way, I’m going to listen to my body, be kind to it, and give it what it needs.

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