Saturday, April 11, 2009

How NOT to get sick before an important event

It never fails.  The trip I've been looking forward to for months is on the horizon.  I've confirmed my reservation, made plans, started packing.... and, out of nowhere, I come down with the world's worst head cold.  If, by some miracle, I escape disease and have a lovely trip, I always sit next to some asshole on the plane with malaria who coughs and sneezes all over me.  Within a week, my immune system has given up the fight and I am rendered useless in bed for days.  My immune system has never been able to fend off all the crap you get exposed to on planes, breathing in all that recycled air.

Before my most recent vacation to Las Vegas, I decided to fight back.  I read every SELF magazine article and googled the hell out of tips for staying healthy.  Honestly, I didn't expect it to work- getting sick before or after travel was just something I decided to begrudgingly tolerate, like my big butt and the existence of the Mormon church.  

To my absolute shock, though, it did work.  I lowered my immune system for four days by drinking too much, not eating right, and screwing myself out of much-needed sleep.  My best friend got a cold on our first day (we blame this on the fact that she couldn't get a bloody mary, but that's another story) and I spent four days being exposed to her germs as she coughed into our shared hotel room.  In a weak moment of drunken forgetfulness, I even drank out of her straw.  That combined with being exposed to a billion Vegas germs (EVERYONE was sick!) and the always present man with malaria on the plane should have caused me to go into a coma.  Honestly, I wouldn't have blamed my body for fighting back after the way I treated it. Four weeks later, however, I am miraculously healthy.  I cannot stress enough that this NEVER happens.  Ever.  It HAD to have been the precautions I took.

Since I am awesome, I am going to share these tips that worked so well for me.  Some of them are odd, but trust me, they work.  I recommend beginning the preparation two weeks before traveling, but even a few days of precautions is better than nothing.  May your next big event be sniffle-free.

1) Load up on Vitamin C.  Yes, this is a no-brainer.  The trick is doing it right.  Your body only absorbs as much C as it needs, so if you take 2,000 mg at once, all you're getting is very expensive urine.  Before travel, I take three 500 mg vitamin C pills a day- one when I wake up, one in the afternoon, one before bed.  Some people say this is too much.  Maybe it is.  Some people are also coughing and sneezing right now while I remain healthy.  You decide.

2) Get plenty of sleep.  Again, duh, right?  You wouldn't believe how many of my friends pull all-nighters the night before a trip because they're so excited or just skimp on sleep the week before they travel.  This is a recipe for disaster.  Traveling is hard on the body and it needs rest. Giving your body adequate rest allows it to fight off one of the gnarly infections it gets exposed to on a daily basis.   "I don't have time" is a pussy excuse.  Go to bed earlier- at least for a week.  Be kind to your body and it will be kind to you.

3) Eat a clove of garlic every day.  Needless to say, I was overjoyed when I read about this, because I LOVE garlic.  Garlic is full of antioxidants that boost immunity and fight inflammation.  One of my best friends is Russian, and her mother would cram her full of garlic at the first sign of a cold.  If your stomach is easily upset, eat it with a meal.  And, if you're not as much of a garlic freak as I am or you're worried about bad breath, apparently they make aged garlic extract capsules that do the trick.  I wouldn't know- I just ate it raw.

4) Get a massage.  As if massages weren't amazing enough, now studies show that regular massages can boost your immunity as well.  They do this by lowering your stress level (stress = sick) and making it easier for you to sleep.  Plus, they feel amazing.  If a massage is out of your budget, check out local massage schools, which usually offer discounted massages performed by students who need practice.

5) Drink kombucha tea.  Kombucha is this cloudy looking substance found in health food stores.  It is quite possibly the most vile tasting substance you will ever put in your mouth.  It tastes like something one would be dared to drink on Fear Factor.  But it's chock-full of probiotics, those helpful little bacteria that boost your immunity and help with digestion.  Digestive health is essential for staying healthy.  So, before a vacation or when I start to feel icky, I grab a bottle, suck it up, and chug.  It's not nearly as fun as the garlic, but it works.  Try some.

6) Add a little lemon juice to your water.  Citrus helps balance the PH in your body.  As an added bonus, lemon water can help you shed excess bloat caused by too much sodium in the diet. So not only will you be healthy on your trip, you'll fit into your clothes.  Awesome.

7) Get busy*.  Sex relieves stress.  Stress = sick.  Also, it boosts your immune system.  Also, it rocks.  This one is my husband's favorite.

8) Exercise.  Getting enough exercise really does help.  It literally ties every health tip together- it makes you sleep better, it's good for digestion, it prevents illness, and it releases endorphins that make you want to get busy.  Exercise is awesome- unless, in fact, you are already sick.  If you're already sick, take a day off and rest.  Trust me.

*By the way, I do not recommend trying out tip number 7 immediately after tip number 3.  It's just not nice.

Prior to the afore-mentioned tips, all someone had to do was sneeze within 25 feet of me and I was screwed.  Now, my immune system has gone from Clark Kent to Superman.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to Vegas in a few days (again) and the garlic is waiting.


Anonymous said...

Ace will give it a go!!

CD123 said...

I leave in 2 days for a trip and I am sick, I am ALWAYS sick before a trip, ALWAYS. Mostly from stress, I don't sleep well, period, but it's worse before a trip. Plus this time I will be seeing people for whom getting my sickness would be really detrimental, so I may have to cancel :( I have my shopping list now and hopefully that combined with extra sleep will get me better before I leave. Next trip I will start 2 weeks prior and see how that goes. THANKS!!!!

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