How To Avoid Gaining Weight While Sick?

How To Avoid Gaining Weight While Sick?
You’ve been losing weight like a boss, working out every day like a machine, and then you wake up one day, and something is just not right.

Uh oh…

Fast-forward a couple of hours, and you have a full-blown cold-from-hell, the flu, you’re nauseated, or you’re visiting the restroom like it’s the hottest new hang-out spot in town.

You’re officially sick.

And you’re not the only one.

I’ve had a ton of questions lately about what to do when you’re in the process of losing weight, and you find yourself sick. Yesterday I, too, woke up to find that I was coming down with a cold.

“Oh, great. I’m getting sick. This is such a tragedy!”

Today, as I surround myself with a moat of dirty kleenex and my voice sounds disturbingly similar to Donald Duck, I’m going to address this untimely event that will happen to all of us at some point in our weight loss journey: getting sick while on the journey to lose weight.

What are we going to do??? Is it possible to stay on track to weight loss while you’re sick?

Yes, it is!

Rule Number One: DON’T PANIC!

(Good life advice for almost any situation)

When you’re super motivated to lose weight, and you’re putting in the hard work in the kitchen and extra effort at the gym, it can be heartbreakingly disappointing to get sick because of what we fear it’s going to mean.

We can quickly fall into the trap of thinking that if we don’t religiously stick to our diet and exercise routine during the 1-7 days of sickness, it means that we’re failures. We’re never going to make it to our goals. Whether this is a rational fear or not, we’re afraid of falling off the wagon.

Let’s say you’re like the average person who gets sick with at least a cold twice a year. That’s roughly two weeks a year that you’ll be sick. Those two weeks will not make the difference between achieving your goals or falling off the wagon. It is OK to take those two weeks off.

I’ll repeat: It is OK to take time off from your weight loss plan when you’re sick!

You have to remember that no matter how much space your body fills, YOU are always the most important thing. Taking care of yourself during an illness trumps losing weight every single time.

You deserve to rest and recover when you’re sick without guilt or shame.

You do not need to suffer through an intense workout while you have a fever or can’t breathe out of your nose. It’s not necessary. I understand the desire to lose weight as fast as possible, but losing weight and keeping it off is a long-term commitment to yourself. No one needs to suffer more while they’re sick.

Remember, two weeks off your diet and exercise plan to take care of yourself while you’re sick will not ruin your progress. Permit yourself to relax on your weight loss plan while you are sick. Take care of yourself. You can and will get back on track as soon as you are well. Notice a theme here yet?

Now that you’ve permitted yourself to relax a bit when you’re sick, what should you be eating anyway?

On no, I’m sick!

“I’m sick with a cold/flu/stomach-bug. So… what can I eat?”

I’m partial to soups and oatmeal when I’m not feeling well, but you should eat what you like. Suppose you’re following the type of weight loss plan I recommend (a reasonable calorie deficit), which does not restrict any particular food groups or items. In that case, you can continue eating all the things you usually eat.

The quantity and specific choices of exactly what to eat or drink should be based on how you feel. Every time I get sick, I think a little bit differently. I have had colds during which I felt excellent, as long as I had a box of tissues nearby. I’ve also had colds that knocked me on my ass and wiped me out entirely for an entire week.

Decide to follow one of the following strategies based on how you feel.

Four strategies for how to eat while navigating illness during your weight loss journey:

? You feel somewhat low, but you’re still feeling well enough to function at work. You’re starting to feel a cold/flu coming on, or you’ve almost recovered from an illness:

Change nothing. Continue to track your food intake at your usual calorie deficit. Reduce your exercise if your energy is low.

? You don’t feel good at all, but you can handle a reduced work-load at your job or around the house (i.e. Mild colds):

Continue to track your food intake but reduce your calorie deficit. For my calorie needs (maintenance at 2000-2100 calories/day), I might eat around 1750-1800 calories a day instead of my usual deficit at 1500-1600. The extra calories make it easier to have tea with honey for a sore throat, cough drops, extra fruits for Vitamin C, and not worry about using the calories to take care of myself. Reduce your exercise if your energy is low.

? If you feel pretty bad all over but can think, browse Facebook, or hold a conversation while laying in bed (i.e. Severe colds):

Continue to track your food intake, but eat at your maintenance calorie level instead of at a deficit. For example, my daily maintenance is around 2000-2100 calories, and I lose about a pound a week at the 1500-1600 intake level. If I’m sick and need the energy to recover, I’ll eat around 2000 calories for the days that I’m sick. When I’m feeling better and my energy is returning, I’ll drop back to 1500-1600 and continue on my merry way. Do not attempt to exercise when you’re at this level; you can return to your exercise routine when you’re feeling better.

? If you feel completely miserable and can’t fathom moving from the bed-crater you’ve been hibernating in (i.e. Flu, Stomach bugs, etc.):

Eat whatever you want because your appetite is almost certainly gone, and the idea of eating anything makes you gag a little anyway. Eat whatever you can keep down. Don’t track your food at all. Rest. Recover. Do not attempt to work out at all. Focus all your energy on getting better. You can get back to your calorie deficit and exercise routine when you’re feeling better.

Take care of yourselves and get well soon! ?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *