Last week I spent most of my time being vomited and pooped on, and cleaning/laundering other things which had been vomited and pooped on. Let’s just say it wasn’t one of my high points. Both Sweaty Baby & Sweaty Kid came down with some terrible, head-spinning-360-degrees, Exorcist kind of sickness. That's Sweaty Kid to the left... I pretty much didn’t leave the house for almost 96 hours and could barely get hand to mouth to feed myself, resorting to quick carbs and cup after cup of coffee.
Upside? I lost a pound or two.
Downside? Seriously, do I have to revisit the whole getting vomited and pooped on thing?
Not dramatic enough? Did I mention that cleaning the furniture/children/floor took priority over cleaning myself? OK, maybe TMI..
Now, getting back to that pound or two that I lost. When you are sick or otherwise incapacitated (as when caring for a sick relative although not really sick yourself), it is normal to lose a bit of weight as you’ll generally consume fewer calories than you would normally consume to maintain your weight. If you are ill for more than a few days, this can be a marked weight loss. Sick for a week and it might be as much as 4-5 pounds. Sick longer and you should really be speaking with your doctor, not your personal trainer.
If you’ve been sick and you’re not interested in losing weight, increase your calories for the week after an illness and you can easily regain any pounds lost. But if, like me, you’re happy to see the number dip down on the scale a bit, you might be wondering whether you can maintain that “sickness weight loss”.
First, you should know that approximately half of the weight you’ll lose when sick is fluid weight, so you can expect to gain back about half of what you’ve lost within a day or two of recovering.
Here are a few tips if you’d like to hang on to that lower weight and you’re feeling back to your old self:
1. Head to the gym. Or out for a walk or jog. Or do one of the various home workouts available on my Fit Family site. Your body is fatigued, maybe a bit weak and probably a little stiff. Ease into it but begin exercising immediately, and focus especially on cardiovascular activities during the first 1-2 weeks to help you build your endurance back up and strength training to wake up those stiff muscles and rev your metabolism back up from its previous zombie-like levels. Not feeling up to much? That's okay! Small daily workouts will do you better in the metabolism department than a couple of strenuous 2-hour gym visits, anyway. Consistency is key as you get active again.
2. Get your fluids. If you weren’t eating, you likely weren’t hydrating well enough, even if you were drinking water, juice, tea, Gatorade – whatever you were thirsty for while sick. The truth is, a major portion of our fluids come from healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. Incorporate watery foods like soups, milk, yogurt, and lots of citrus fruits, melon, and salad vegetables which have a high water content. These foods will not only hydrate you, they tend to be relatively low in calories while still high in nutrients, so they’ll help satisfy you, hydrate you and keep your calories low enough to maintain that weight loss.
3. Watch your binge reflex. After not eating much for a few days (or more) you may find your appetite is smaller than normal. On the other hand, you may find you are ravenous and find it difficult to control your eating as your body tries to recoup calories lost. Ease yourself back into a full, healthy diet and focus on nutrient-rich but lighter fare like salads, soups, lean meats and fishes and fibrous veggies, fruits and nuts & seeds (which can also help get your digestive system moving happily again if you’re feeling a little, um... backed up). Eat to your hunger level, not to your appetite. Eat frequently and aim for smaller meals, as your stomach has probably shrunk a bit. You’ll be more comfortable and more likely to keep off those pounds lost.
Lucky for me, I've found a week of body-fluid-showers seemed to have had some sort of permanent effect on my appetite. Or maybe it's the smell of puke that just won't seem to leave the house.
After a week in the house with the kids, though, I am trying to keep an eye on my "wine reflex."
Just a note here: if you are suffering an extended period of illness and losing a great deal of weight or are experiencing very rapid and unintentional weight loss, please consult your doctor.