Wednesday, May 16, 2012

my one-year sickniversary

I remember catching a cold last May, right before finals. I remember it very clearly for two reasons. 1. I was pretty annoyed that I was getting slammed so hard right before I had to bring my a-game for finals. And 2. I considered myself a Very Healthy Person, and I couldn't understand how I was getting sick just months after my previous cold!

So you can imagine how happy I was when I realized that this month marks a full year since I was last sick.

That's right. That terrible cold of last May was the last time I was sick. In September I had a stuffy nose after I swam in the ocean in 70-degree weather. It lasted a day or two. It doesn't count. And that's all. Otherwise, I have felt amazing for 12 whole months. This is a little annoying when you are really in the mood to take an honest sick day. But let's face it: being sick is just the worst, and in those moments, we would always rather have health.

I understand that you are probably on the edge of your seat by now, wondering how I do it, how I have become invincible.

Fear not...I will share my secrets to immortality.

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1. Exercise, but not too much. When J got sick twice in a row recently, we started to wonder what was going on. Ultimately, we figured out that he had been pushing himself really hard at the gym, and the stress on his body had weakened his immune system. But a regular, moderate amount of exercise will increase your immunity. The exact mechanism isn't clear, but the theory is generally that increased circulation keeps your body flushed out, temperature increases fight harmful bacteria, and exercise reduces stress that weakens immunity...










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2. Relax. This one was really key for me. It's so easy to get caught up in the next wave of obligations, pushing just to make it through to the other side. We push ourselves harder and harder and harder, until our poor bodies snap and insist that we take a break. Sometimes it's ultimately less efficient to push ourselves this way, because we end up losing so much time to sickness. Woodson Merrell, MD, director of integrative medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, cites stress as one of the most well-studied factors affecting the strength of our immune systems...and the studies overwhelmingly tell us that stress weakens our immunity.











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3. Get enough sleep. Like relaxation, sleep is something that it is far too easy to deprive ourselves of. There will never be as much time in the day as we'd like, so find your extra time in places other than your sleeping hours. Sleep needs differ by person, so get what you need to feel good. And if it feels like sickness is on its way, rest early!
















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4. Eat right. Fresh fruits and veggies are pretty much the best thing you can do for yourself, and blueberries and broccoli are apparently particularly helpful. High doses of antioxidants in these live foods battle free radicals in the body, which promote disease. Green tea is another great source of antioxidants. And of course, nutritional deficiencies of any type will have negative health effects, so it's important to get all your vitamins and minerals. We absorb these things better when they come from real food, rather than supplements, so a healthy diet is key.









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5. Avoid allergens. I once read that the body's immune system is like a cup. As harmful microorganisms attack the body, the cup begins to fill, and when it spills over, you're sick. Since your body treats allergens as harmful, they help fill up the cup. The more you are fighting off allergies, the weaker your immune system is. It can be hard to control environmental allergies, but to the extent that you can, do. And realize also, that we sometimes have very subtle allergies to foods as well; eggs, peanuts, and gluten are common offenders. But it's just another reason why eating whole, healthy foods is one of the best things you can do to support your immune system.











What it basically comes down to is keeping up a generally healthy lifestyle. Yes, there are definitely differences in our natural abilities to fight illness. If you're already struggling with chronic disease, allergies, or general susceptibility, it's even more important that you give your body the support that it needs.

Mark the calendar, make these changes, and start counting...

12 comments:

  1. Wow, one year? That's pretty darn good. I'm the worst about sleep. So usually that's the first thing I do whenever I feel a hint of sickness

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  2. Great tips! I am so bad at falling asleep! It always catches up with me and I get ill eventually.

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  3. congrats, that sounds like a huge success! thanks for sharing the tips with us and the great photos!

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  4. congrats! and thanks for sharing the tips and beautiful photos!

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  5. Happy Sickniversary :) What a great and informative post. I hardly ever get sick either! I guess we're doing something right?! Have a lovely day!

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  6. It's funny because I was planning on writing a post soon about how I keep myself feeling good - but as I'm writing this I've had a sinus headache for 3 weeks now and am on antibiotics. I wasn't really equating healthy as the opposite of being sick, but thinking more about energy and body satisfaction. I definitely get sick all the time though, even though I do try to live a more-or-less healthy lifestyle. I guess I need more "more" and less "less"

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  7. I like this post - I'm with you on all that (except sleep) I need so much more! Blogging at 11pm at night says it all.
    Thanks for stopping 'kiss the birdie' x

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  8. Happy one year sickniversary! You know what, too much exercise is soooo true! A few weeks ago I was sick for 2 weeks!! TWO WHOLE WEEKS! Why? The month or so before that I was literally working out everyday, vigorously. WHO KNEW?? You did. You so smart.
    Here's to another year of good health!

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  9. Great write up miss Clair ;)
    Love your advice on everything ;)

    I was surprised when my environmental allergies went away, once I removed some food items from my diet - could it be connected, yes it can ;) Elimination diets are incredible for anyone to try, sick or not.

    and thanks for reminding me to sleep more ;)

    xo

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  10. Good for you! I work with kids and no matter how hard I try, I usually come down with about one cold and stomach bug a year. Yik! Great tips you have here though. All good reminders about putting ourselves first.

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  11. Great article Clair, I couldn't agree more with all of your points. That's amazing that you take care of yourself and keep your immune system boosted. I haven't been sick in over a year too, and then came down with terrible congestion/allergies last month. (I never get allergies!) Luckily, lots of Vitamin C, rest, eating well (and gentle), going for walks, and drinking lots of fresh ginger tea, raw honey, and Kombucha zapped it away!

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  12. Wow! I am so impressed! I almost made it this year without getting sick, but unfortunately I was hit with that nasty stomach bug this past winter. But I'll keep all your wonderful tips in mind!

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Thanks for making me smile. =)