Getting sick can really throw you off your weight loss goals. Between fatigue, changes in appetite, and disruption of exercise routines, illness makes it tough to stick to a diet and exercise plan. However, with thoughtful adjustments, you can maintain momentum even when under the weather, making sure you take care of yourself whilst focusing on your goals. Let’s explore this together below:
1. Listen to Your Body:
When you're sick, your body needs rest and extra care. Don't try to push yourself to complete your usual workout if you're exhausted. The longer that you don’t let yourself rest, the more time it’ll take for you to get back to feeling well and back to feeling well enough to restart exercising1.
2. Nourish Your Body:
Make sure you are giving your body enough nourishment to recover from being ill. The old wives tale of “starve a fever, feed a cold” has been debunked, showing that providing appropriate nutrition allows your body to fight back against disease quicker2. Try to pay attention to nutrient dense foods such as whole grains, lean protein, dairy and healthy fats provide vitamins and minerals to help fight illness. For example, chicken soup packs protein, veggies and broth whilst yoghurt contains probiotics to support gut health3. Your cravings may change and that’s okay, but try not to lean back into old, comfortable habits if you can and instead engage in balanced habits that will promote your long term goals. Take it easy until your strength returns.
3. Stay Hydrated:
Dehydration can drag you down when you're sick. Sip on water, broths, or electrolyte drinks throughout the day. Getting enough fluids will give you energy and help you feel better faster4.
4. Keep Moving:
Keeping yourself active will help you feel better in the long run, but be sure you don’t push yourself too hard and burn yourself out. Take short walks around your home when possible for circulation and mental health or try simple stretches or light yoga to keep your body moving. Your body knows when it needs rest, so listen to your limits and find compassion for yourself5.
Let’s face it, being ill sucks. However, the more you fight back and don’t allow yourself to rest, the longer the illness will stick around. Sickness happens and that’s okay, it’s not your fault. Find compassion using our journal prompts below to support yourself in getting back to full health so you can continue to smash your weight loss goals.
Activity: Practice Compassion
Journalling can be a powerful tool for practising self-compassion. Download our Practicing Compassion Worksheet to master the art of self-compassion for moments when you might be a little harder on yourself.
By practising self-compassion during more quiet periods of life, this allows us to implement it more naturally when life is more chaotic. This also allows you to feel as though you are being productive when you are ill, however still taking care of yourself in order to feel better faster.
- Jonathan M. Peake et al., 2017, Recovery of the immune system after exercise, Journal of Applied Physiology, https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00622.2016
- van den Brink GR, van den Boogaardt DE, van Deventer SJ, Peppelenbosch MP. Feed a cold, starve a fever? Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2002 Jan;9(1):182-3. doi: 10.1128/cdli.9.1.182-183.2002.
- Thirumdas R, Kothakota A, Pandiselvam R, Bahrami A, Barba FJ. Role of food nutrients and supplementation in fighting against viral infections and boosting immunity: A review. Trends Food Sci Technol. 2021 Apr;110:66-77. doi: 10.1016/j.tifs.2021.01.069.
- Diabetes UK, 2023, Diabetes when you're unwell, available from: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/life-with-diabetes/illness
- Medical News Today, 2019, Should you work out when you are sick?, available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326882#summary