Thursday, October 25, 2012

Secrets to Being Fit and Fab: Learn to Cope with Illness and Injury

PHS Editor Michelle Styles takes a hard look at something which can derail the best laid plans — illness or injury.

In a perfect world, people would not get injured or ill but they do and often times it can mess up any long term maintenance or fitness plans.  It is unfortunate but there are people who have recovered from the initial injury ages ago but never got around to restarting their fitness programme. The weight piles on and it gets harder. Until they are eventually not maintaining but in dire need of losing again. They become a person who once lost a lot of weight, instead of the person who is maintaining their weight loss.

If you get ill or injured, the first thing is to listen to your body. You don’t want to prolong the experience. However, you also don’t want to wrap yourself in cotton wool if you don’t need to. It is a fine balance.

Much to my surprise and amazement, I have discovered that working out when a cold is threatening, actually makes the cold less severe. It might sound counter intuitive but the sweating seems to help with sweating out the virus. Also the endorphins released during the exercise and the release of stress  seem to help.   So for me, it makes sense to work out unless my body is truly protesting. If my body is truly protesting, then I schedule when the next workout will be — not based on a day but how I feel.

What needs to be happening with my body so that I can work out as I know I will feel better —  was the question I asked myself last week when I had a stomach bug. I decided that once I stopped feeling like death warmed up.  So I exercised, sweat dripped off me and by the time I finished, I was actually far better than when I had started. Yes the session was not as intense as normal but I felt so much better.

With stomach bugs, I also discovered that lemongrass tea is very useful. The person in my household who failed to drink suffered more and has now learnt his lesson. Lemongrass tea is apparently used quite a bit in Asia to combat stomach bugs.

I also think because I am eating far more fruit and vegetable, my immune system is stronger. Certainly my colds and other sorts of illness have dramatically decreased. This has been a really unexpected benefit.

With injury, thinking about  dialling things down or doing as much as possible helps. For example, when I have had shin splints, rather than stopping my dance cardio, I have dialled it down to a step touch and made sure that I pump my arms.  Within a few days, I have been able to start jumping again.

Doing what you can means walking if you can’t run. If you are bedridden, it means talking to the physiotherapist to find out if there are any exercises you can do.  Little movements can help. Gentle exercise is better than no exercise and can assist with recovery.

It also means deciding  what happens next — what happens when you are well or the doctor gives the okay to start up again.  Have a plan. Decide what you are going to do and schedule it. Make it priority.

If you have been away for awhile, your fitness level will have decreased.  Don’t allow your persistently critical self to beat you up for not being as fit as you were before the injury.  here is a rule of thumb that for every week you miss, your fitness level goes back two weeks. Simply start with a new baseline and renewed determination. Your body will respond and you will return to full fitness sooner than if you decided to give up.

It is always about what you do AFTER when illness or injury strike that counts.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance. Her latest Hattie Wilkinson Meets Her Match is officially published on 1 November.  Michelle reached her target size in October 2011 and has maintained it ever since. You can read more about Michelle and her books at

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