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5 Essential Recovery Tips If You Get Sick or Injured


If you’ve ever gotten injured or been recovering from an illness wondering when you could start training again, today’s conversation is for you! After recently getting COVID and suffering a lengthy recovery period, I had time to ponder – and put into practice – the very advice I so often give. Not only will you learn how to get better more quickly, you’ll also get my best tips for preserving muscle and avoiding weight gain while you’re taking some time off from your training.

In this episode, I’m exploring….

How an illness can disrupt multiple body systems, from our immune system to our endocrine system
⭐ How COVID impacts our hormones, and what to be aware of if you’re in peri or post menopause
⭐ Why seeing faster results from a workout program is about more than diet and exercise
⭐ How to be aware of the stressors to our system that we can’t see or easily pinpoint
⭐ 5 keys to a strong recovery
⭐ How to avoid losing muscle or gaining weight when you’re taking some time off from training
⭐ A reframe to avoid undue anxiety about taking a step back

Links featured in this episode:

Episode Transcript

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Betty Rocker (00:16):

What’s up, rock stars Coach Betty Rocker here. So nice to connect with you today. Hey, so have you ever gotten sick or sustained an injury and wondered when you could start training again? I mean, these things are part of life. Everybody goes through this and it’s never a convenient time, is it? So depending on when you are listening to this, you may have noticed a bit of a break between the last episode and this one, and that’s because I actually got really sick with Covid recently and it totally wiped me out for a couple weeks. And then for weeks after that I was feeling better, but I was still dealing with other symptoms because one of the side effects that I’ve come to kind of expect as this is really my second bad time with Covid was that it also really tanked my hormones, which contributed to a longer recovery period for me where I just felt exhausted and tired for weeks after.

(01:11)
The worst of it was over. You know, my sleep was disrupted. I had night sweats and a lot of those full-blown perimenopause symptoms like reared their heads and prior to getting sick, I’d been really managing all of that really well thanks to all of my good protocols and practices. But things like covid can really make you take a hard hit to your hormones, especially if you have lower levels if you’re in the menopause years, for instance, I’ve heard of many people of all different ages experiencing sort of a long tail of covid symptoms or symptoms that last or linger. But you know, you could have lingering symptoms from any illness really as you’re you when you get sick, it disrupts your immune system. And if your immune system’s disturbed, it can cascade into other body systems like, you know, it can disrupt your energy, your adrenal response, and of course your hormone levels can also be disrupted.

(02:05)
So a lot of how we recover from anything really depends on how strong our system is coming into it and what we do during our recovery as well. So before I got Covid this time around, I was in a really good place. I was using a really mild sort of topical cream that gently supported my body’s production of estrogen and progesterone. Um, I was using a little testosterone, I was taking some adaptogens and my general health habits that I’ve tailored for my life stage were just really supporting my energy balance. And I’d been putting on some muscle. My blood work had been coming back really strong and my heart health was really good. That’s something that I’m always monitoring personally. Just from my genetic history, I was sleeping really well and I didn’t have really any of the noticeable or annoying symptoms of perimenopause anymore.

(02:56)
And my most recent blood work had just shown that my cortisol levels were within a normal range, but really on the low end. And remember, there’s a natural arc of cortisol over the course of the day. It does a lot of important things for us. It’s, you know, when it’s too high for too long or thrown off of its natural cycle that we have problems like fat storage and muscle loss. So I was monitoring that and I was still rebuilding my energy and my adrenal health. Um, I was in a really good place, but I didn’t have a ton of reserves. That’s why I’m sharing that with you about that aspect of my health. But I was definitely in a better place than I had been a couple years before. Now the reason I bring this up is because there’s so much going on inside our bodies that we can’t see.

(03:40)
And sometimes people ask me things like, why am I not losing weight after 10 days on a workout program? And I have to gently remind them that the workout alone is not the thing that makes you lose the weight or see the results, right? Nor is it always as simple as just diet and exercise. It can be for many people and those are two essential components of a healthy lifestyle that are gonna stimulate and support your body to respond. But there are myriad other systems at work internally, and if one or several of them is out of balance, it might take a little more time for your body to respond and reach equilibrium. And that’s really relevant to understand if you get sick or if you sustain an injury, right? Because how quickly you get better really depends on how much of your body’s response to that can be called into play to heal you and how much is already in play dealing with other stressors.

(04:39)
And this isn’t easy to figure out on your own always either. Sometimes you need some blood work or doctor support to see what might be going on internally. Do you remember when I shared with you a couple years ago actually on the podcast that I had been exposed to mold and it made me very sick. I started gaining weight and there was no amount of exercise or healthy eating that stopped my body from continuing to store fat. I had no idea what was going on actually, and I needed a lot of testing and support and protocols to diagnose it and eventually get through it. And one of the tests that was actually really significant was genetic testing, which gave us clues as to what I was really sensitive to. And my doctor has then used that information to really tailor treatment options moving forward for me.

(05:26)
I also have been treated for bacterial overgrowth in my intestines before, something that caused sugar cravings and fat storage and I gained some weight when that was happening. And without a stool test to check for that, I might have been unhappy thinking I was not, you know, disciplined enough. Or I might have tried to follow some more restrictive eating or over training regimen to try and lose the weight, which is so common. I’ve had food sensitivities in the past that disrupted my digestion, caused irritation, bloating, and inflammation that I had to kind of determine with testing and experimentation with an elimination diet to really figure out. And more recently, as I’m in the middle to later stages of perimenopause symptoms like hot flashes, fatigue, brain fog, and weight gain are all things that I have needed support in testing from my doctor when they first started to help bring as much balance as we could to that internal environment that I can’t see.

(06:23)
Sometimes what we do see is weight gain, what we feel is more tired or more achy, or we have digestive symptoms or other symptoms that are clues that there’s something going on below the surface that needs our attention. And extra workouts or heavy dieting can’t automatically correct imbalanced hormones or a bacterial overgrowth, for instance, in our system, or a genetic condition or blood sugar imbalance if that’s what’s going on. Exercise and healthy eating can go a long way to supporting your system and support you as you’re getting back on track and maybe getting care. But if you have things going on below the surface, it can be the reason behind why things don’t move as fast as we expect them to. When we are following a workout program and the solution is not to go harder or to become more restrictive with our eating, that’s not necessarily gonna drive faster results for you.

(07:19)
Sometimes it does the opposite actually, especially if there’s some type of internal stressor going on. And it’s not always that there’s something going on below the surface, either that that’s why you’re not seeing fast results. You might be in peak health with no issues at all, but I feel like we also have this tendency to expect instant results. So you know, if you don’t see them right away, you don’t wanna always assume some underlying factor is to blame. It might be that you just need to be more patient or you might need a different protocol that would suit you better. Or, you know, say you’re in perimenopause or post menopause, you need to follow a specific workout structure that’s more, uh, customized to your life stage, like the way that I write them. Um, but it is a good idea to check in with other factors that are within your control that also contribute to your body composition goals.

(08:07)
Like how much stress are you under right now or how is your sleep? Because these simple things also play a big role in how your body absorbs and digests nutrients and supports your body in repair of your muscle tissue, for instance. And I just share all of that with you so you don’t start overdoing it just because you’re not seeing an instant result and that you can be proactive in getting a checkup with your doctor if you suspect an underlying concern. Just remember that the body needs time to respond and it responds to new stimulus. We give it internally first, and we have to keep in mind that training in excess can actually set us back not forward due to the inflammatory burden it puts on our system. And really just depending on how robust our immune response is, what our hormone status is, not just our estrogen and progesterone levels, but things insulin, cortisol, testosterone too.

(08:57)
All of these impact how effective a training stimulus is going to be for us and too much of a good thing can disrupt the internal balance we have. Now, this goes back to an analogy that Dr. Jill and I talked about on the podcast in one of our past conversations about the bucket that holds all of the stressors that our bodies are dealing with on a constant basis and how much margin that bucket has, which comes from our body’s ability to consistently process and manage the stressors we deal with daily. So if you picture like this bucket in your body that is, um, the capacity that your body has to handle stress and stress can come from so many different things, right? We get exposed to things like chemicals in our food or water, um, or lotions, um, hormone disruptors, uh, general pollutants in the environment, uh, general life stressors that come up daily.

(09:50)
Those, these are all things that add to the bucket that the bucket has to sort of, the body has to filter out. And how much capacity your body has to filter these things out and handle these stressors is contained within this, this bucket, right? So how much you are dealing with is maybe unique to you. Um, your body’s got its own natural ability and processes to handle and deal with these things, but what we want to think about is that if the bucket’s always getting some things added to it, it’s also always taking some things away, right? As itself regulates and self heals. So the level in the bucket stays low enough that it never spills over, and we always have some extra margin for things that come up like a tough workout or a bad night’s sleep or eating foods that don’t agree with us.

(10:36)
Those extra things won’t make you sick or tip you over the edge if you’ve got a good margin in your bucket. But when the bucket of stressors gets too full or spills over, that’s when we get sick or we start to develop health concerns because we’ve gone beyond our body’s capacity to heal itself naturally. And maybe if your margin is too slim, it means that it, it takes you longer to get better if you’ve gotten sick or you’ve gotten an injury. Also, those, these are, these are, it just how much capacity you have is how much reserves your body has to handle things right? And things that can start to make the margin in the bucket creep up too high are gonna be different for everyone and really depend on what things are in your particular bucket to start with. That’s why I say exercise is a healthy stress when we are healthy.

(11:20)
Because when we’re in a good place, we can process the natural stress workout adds to our body. But if we’re over training, it’s harder for the body to repair. And if your hormone levels are already low, say you’re in peri or post menopause and you’ve lost some of the resilience to recover more quickly from your training, it might be just harder for your body to get back on track as quickly. That’s why it’s a good idea to follow a balanced training program that’s tailored to your life stage like the ones I create. So back to what happens when we get sick or injured and the body is using its resources to both handle the regular things in our bucket, and then it’s also working to help you get better from whatever you got exposed to. If we also start piling workout stress on top of all of that, while we’re still healing and using our buckets reserves, is it really that surprising that it would take us that much longer to get better?

(12:16)
And as I’ve been talking about, all of these systems in your body work together. So you can’t always isolate your body’s ability to make muscle or lose body fat from the processes at work to get you back on your feet. So when you’re sick or injured, some of the best things to focus on are things like hydration because water helps regulate your internal body temperature and it also helps flush out waste. It’s an important transporter of lymphocytes and other important infection fighting cells throughout the bloodstream. Also, if you have a cold or any kind of respiratory illness, we secrete mucus, which is made up mostly of water and helps trap infectious agents and carry away inflammatory cells that the body produces. So staying hydrated helps to thin those mucosal secretions so we can clear them from our airways. If we’re dehydrated, the secretions will be thicker, which makes things like stuffy noses worse and it can make our coughs worse and also just slow down our entire recovery.

(13:16)
You also wanna really focus on rest so your body can use its reserve energy to heal you. As you start to feel better though, you can definitely move and walk. And in fact, walking is an ideal low impact activity that can help you recover faster because of how it helps move your lymph fluid around your body. Our lymph nodes contain immune cells and act like a filter for the lymph fluid. They remove germs, bacteria, and viruses and other harmful cells, and the limp fluid then drains back into the bloodstream, which then flows through the kidneys where waste is removed and passed out in your urine. Yet another reason to stay hydrated, we don’t have a pump that sends limp around our body, like we have our heart to pump blood through our body. So our body relies on us walking and moving and the contraction of our muscles to circulate and pump the lymph fluid through our system.

(14:09)
That’s why regular exercise is a great way to stay healthy. But when you’re already sick or you’re recovering from an injury, you wanna think about more gentle low impact movement like walking as long as it’s pain free to have the same benefit of moving the lymph without overtaxing your system. And no matter what I say on this podcast, it is not a substitute for what your own doctor says. Always take their guidance first and foremost. Another thing to focus on whether you’re ill or whether you’re injured is what you’re eating. We wanna support our gut health as much as possible because our gut microbiome really plays a big role in our immune system response and of course the absorption of the nutrients that we eat so that we get what we need for healing and recovery. This is not really the time to eat ice cream or high sugar foods because they can disrupt the balance of the gut bacteria and also impact your blood sugar response, which really further taxes your system.

(15:05)
Every situation is different of course, and with some illnesses you just don’t have much of an appetite. I would try to use some bone broth to get some of the gut supporting minerals and vitamins or a hydrolyzed collagen for the support of the gut lining. When you do have an appetite, you know, you wanna make sure you’re including fiber rich vegetables, which also can help be hydrating for your system and preparing simple meals without a lot of spices just to help give you that energy that you need and support your body with nutrient building blocks to help repair and recover while it’s under stress. You know, similarly to when you’re training, it’s helpful to think about your protein intake and the impact that the amino acids have on supporting our tissue and other aspects of our health when we’re healing, including the support they provide to the immune system.

(15:52)
Protein helps repair and build our tissue, but it also helps fight infection. And really keeping your protein intake in a good range when you’re sick is also gonna help you hold onto your muscle tissue better. So remember that when the body can’t find the amino acids it needs, it breaks down our muscle tissue. So be really deliberate in your choices with your nutrient intake when you’re sick and you’re on the mend. And if you sustain an injury and you’re not sick specifically, a lot of the same advice would apply. You need protein to support the repair of your tissue and also to preserve muscle to the extent that you can. You generally need a little more protein when you’re healing too, because of the tissue repair process and the amino acid building blocks that are needed for all of that. So here again, things like bone broth and or collagen will help a wound heal more rapidly and also support your gut health.

(16:43)
You just wanna pay attention to gut supporting whole foods in general, and you wanna nourish yourself if you can get out and walk or do any kind of low impact movement that’s also gonna support moving the lymph fluid and help you heal more rapidly. And when it comes to getting back to your workouts with an injury, it’s very individually specific and you want to avoid working out until your doctor clears. You say someone has injured their shoulder, for instance, and they want to work on other body parts while that heals, this is going to be a somewhat custom process and be very individually specific depending on, you know, the severity of the injury and how it’s impacting the rest of your body. You just wanna be mindful not to overtax your system in general during the healing process when your body is using its reserves to heal you, it’s very individually specific, you just don’t wanna make your body suddenly have to also process and handle all the stress of additional workouts on top of the healing because it’s a systemic process, right?

(17:44)
It’s not just isolated to the muscle groups you’re training. Um, you know, the, the recovery process, I get that you might feel like it’s fine to train your legs since they weren’t injured, but like we were saying, your whole system processes the stress from your workout of any body part. That’s why it’s not always advisable to jump back into your workouts too early and, you know, defer to your doctor’s advice at a later stage of your healing. It might be just fine. And that’s really something you kind of have to feel out, you know, walking might be ideal for you for a while. And again, this is so individually specific and your doctor should really tell you what’s okay if you’ve had a surgery or a severe injury. And if you’ve just hurt yourself and you don’t need medical care specifically, you kind of have to go by feel and not get back into heavy exercise too fast would just be my general recommendation.

(18:30)
Not that you can’t, and not that you absolutely shouldn’t, it’s just, it’s just kind of, it needs to be a sort of gradual process and you just wanna be aware that, you know, your body’s reserves need to be available to help heal you and heal your injury, right? So it depends on sort of your status coming in and you know, what’s, what’s help, what’s gonna be the most helpful for your, your healing process. And if you’ve been sick, it might take your body some time to fully recover too for working out depending on also the severity of the illness, your own immune system reserves, as well as what else is already in your bucket, right? So this is just another area where we have to be patient with ourselves, tapping our reserves as we’re recovering to do the type of workouts maybe you’re used to because you’re worried you’re gonna lose all your gains or that your muscle will suddenly turn into body fat.

(19:18)
It’s going to set you back in your recovery. Also, just for the record, your muscle won’t turn into fat <laugh>. Those are two totally different tissues. But I think, you know, the thing I myself have also had to simply learn and accept is that yes, an illness or an injury and the time we spend recovering from these things may cause some muscle loss and we may lose some ground with our training. It just can’t be avoided. But you can also mitigate the impact of this sort of event that happens to you first by being proactive and balanced in your approach when you are well before you get sick. I’m always thankful for the muscle I’ve built when I do get sick as it’s like a savings account. I have, um, you know, a margin in to make withdrawals from and I know that when I’m better again, I can continue to replenish that account.

(20:07)
And you can also mitigate the impact that your illness has on how much you get set back by how you take care of yourself when you are sick, which shortens the time you will be sick. One of the best ways to prolong your illness is start adding stress to your system too soon while your body’s still using its reserves to heal you. And there really just isn’t a set time for this process. It’s gonna be a little different for everybody. And also be impacted by like we’ve been talking about how much margin we had in our bucket to start with and how well what we’re doing to take care of ourselves matches up to what our bodies need to heal. So this is why just, I always feel for people when they’re trying to get back to their workouts fast, even when they’re feeling under the weather or they’ve been injured and they feel really stressed about not exercising.

(20:53)
And I think there’s a fear that if we don’t keep working out, we won’t keep, we won’t be able to keep losing weight or we will, we’ll lose all our progress. And it, it’s just inevitable that you may lose some of the progress. You, you may lose a little bit of your gains. You didn’t mean to get sick or injured, but you are intentionally working on your health habits. And if working out and these healthy lifestyle actions are part of your life, there’s no reason you can’t resume that when you’re feeling better and you will absolutely rebuild. And if you take care of yourself when you are sick or injured, you will get better much faster. You’ll get better as fast as your body can make that happen for you. And you’ll set yourself up to have a really strong, uh, you know, track into your next phase of training and healthy eating and your whole goal path, right?

(21:42)
And you just want, you want all your systems to be working so you don’t wanna have anything like dragging out. And if you start too soon or overdo it too early, and I’m sure this is very intuitive for all of us, I just, I’m just here to remind you, don’t push it too hard too soon. You know? ’cause losing body fat isn’t so much about the workouts you’re doing or how many workouts you’re doing. It’s, it’s also about creating an optimal state in the body for fat loss to occur. And we do that with many actions that help reduce stress. For instance, more daily low impact movement like walking, which can easily coincide with other good practices to use as you’re in that sort of limbo state between being bedridden and feeling back to a hundred percent. Other things that really impact our body’s ability to lose fat, include, you know, lowering our stress levels, working on our sleep schedule, um, the life stage we’re in and our hormone status.

(22:32)
And if we’re taking steps to support all of those different processes as best we can. And of course gaining muscle happens around our workouts from how effectively we challenged ourselves in the workout, which is also very subjective to each of us. And then, you know, how effectively we rest and how effectively we recover and refuel with the nutrients our body needs for repair and regrowth so that we can come back stronger. I’m just saying that your workout is a healthy stress to your system when you are healthy and you can manage the load it creates. It’s one of those things that adds to your stress bucket in your body. And when you have a healthy margin in the bucket, you can come back stronger as you recover. But if you don’t have much margin in your bucket, ’cause you’re still like sick or your body’s still trying to repair, you’re gonna more easily tank your system and its ability to recover is gonna take longer if you push yourself too hard too soon.

(23:27)
So really what it comes down to whether you’ve been injured or you’ve been sick, is to ease back into your training slowly. And don’t push it. If your doctor has given you some guidelines, follow them except that you might lose some ground you gained before you had the setback. But know that the sooner you’re recovered, the sooner you’ll get back to your healthy practices again. And you can rebuild. I’ve seen the revenge training backfire on people way too often. Not to mention this to you too, you know, don’t get back into exercising and feel like you need to do two workouts a day to make up for what you didn’t do before. I mean, your, your poor body, it’s barely recovered and it’s margin is slim, right? We don’t wanna go piling extra load onto it while it’s recovering and this will not give you faster results if you’re training four days a week before you stopped and got sick, for instance.

(24:15)
You maybe want to ease back into things with like two days energy dependent and then maybe three days the following week for, you know, you just kind of feel it out. You wanna do more stretching and more movement that stimulates your lymphatic system in a gentle way. Um, as opposed to being so focused on your body fat or your muscle gains. I just suggest walking and nourishing yourself and hydrating and see how some light exercise feels before committing to or forcing yourself to do the same level of training you did before. You’re gonna get back to it. It always takes me some time and I’ve learned to just respect the process. You know, it’s, it’s gonna be different for each of us. Every situation’s a little different, but, um, these are just things I’ve learned over the years that have kept me, you know, really staying strong and healthy despite having periodic setbacks be, you know, despite getting sick just like anyone does.

(25:05)
I’ve just gotten also, you know, a lot more proactive in general about my healthcare and my self-care so that if I need to take a step back, I have some reserves to draw on as best I can, which is what I’ve been doing these past couple of weeks really is, you know, once I came out of the worst of the symptoms I had it, it took a couple weeks. I, I was then just really tired and not really sleeping very well for a bit. And so I was focused on walking and stretching and low impact body weight type moves when I had the desire and the energy. And I checked in with my doctor and she also adjusted some of my hormone dosages, which really helped a ton. And at this stage of my recovery, I’m back to, you know, three days a week of training.

(25:49)
I was doing four before I got sick, but I can tell that it would be too much for me until I’ve started to get better sleep again and my heart rate variability comes back up. Do you look at those types of metrics at all? I know a lot of people wear wearables. I, I really enjoy looking at those metrics over time. I know there’s some, the wearable devices have some degree of inaccuracy just like any wear, any wearable technology does. But it is interesting to look at the trends over time. I wear a device called the Aura Ring. You’ve probably heard of it. And I really like the sleep data and the sleep trends that it showed me over the past, like six or seven years that I’ve been using it. The HRV or heart rate variability score is a really good one for tracking how much stress your body is under over time.

(26:33)
And that really helps me when I’ve been sick to see how well I’m recovering. So anyway, rock stars. I just wanted to say it’s great to be back. <laugh>, I missed you. I missed talking to you. And I also wanted to just use myself as an example to remind you that you don’t have to feel any pressure to rush back to your training plan when you’ve been ill or when you’ve been injured. Be proactive with your health pursuits when you are well, and you’ll have a reserve to draw from when you need it. Stay safe and stay flawsome and I will talk to you again very soon. Till then, I’m Betty Rocker and you are so awesome and amazing. Bye for now. 

This episode brought to you by PerimenoFit!

PerimenoFit is an 8-week strength training program for women in perimenopause. You’ll have the option to do the program with your own bodyweight, with home workout equipment, or gym equipment (or switch between them options anytime). It includes a Cookbook and Eating Guide for perimenopause, a PerimenoFit Essentials Guide and lots of amazing bonuses to help you rock the transition years!

Find out more right here!

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The post 5 Essential Recovery Tips If You Get Sick or Injured appeared first on The Betty Rocker.



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