Post-illness fitness

Kristen writes about overcoming a bout of pneumonia and how it has motivated her to get back into the groove with a healthy diet and exercise

Shortly after my husband started his slow recovery from pneumonia, I was diagnosed with the same illness.
 
I’d thought I’d dodged it, existing for weeks with a cough and annoying runny nose, scratchy throat and general malaise, but one day after dropping my son off at daycare, I suddenly developed chills, a fever and a terrifying sudden pain in my head.
 
I made it home through bleary eyes and suddenly, Corey was my caretaker. We loaded up the car with a blanket, water, and my health care card and went to a clinic to get the diagnosis: pneumonia for me, too, in my right lung.
 
There is nothing as potent as illness in helping us appreciate our good health. I lay in bed tossing for days, so shaky and weak that I couldn’t even crawl to my computer to send emails to cancel my conference calls. It was all I could do to swig the occasional Gatorade and roll over to adjust the pillow under my belly. I felt so weak and wondered how dire my situation would be if I hadn’t been so fit and healthy prior to getting ill.
 
I was prescribed antibiotics that are considered safe for pregnant women and I started the slow healing process. Two weeks after my diagnosis, I’m recovering. Corey’s recovering. We’ve gone back to the gym (me once, Corey three times), but our lungs are not fully recovered. We’ve been trying to get back on track with our diets after weeks of soup, English muffins, Gatorade and other decidedly non-Paleo foods.
 
I am heavily pregnant, a week to full term, and part of me just wants to give up on fitness altogether until after the baby comes, to let myself recover. But the smarter part of me understands that working out and eating right will help me get stronger and keep me in a place where I’m less likely to get so sick again. So now I need motivation: excellent recipes, inspiring websites, women who make me want to get back into the groove after nearly a full month of not working out. Here are a few tools that are getting me excited to keep going right up until my due date and ready to get my body and energy back within four months of giving birth.
 
1) The Paleo websites
Since Corey and I adopted Paleo as our primary diet almost two years ago, the Internet has exploded with new blogs and high quality recipe sites extolling the benefits (and potential yumminess) of a dairy, sugar and wheat free diet. It’s not as hard as you think it will be, and it’s the only diet I’ve ever been able to follow for any length of time. It’s also the only diet that ever showed me absolute results in leanness and overall well-being improvement.
 
I’ve been jotting down recipes from various sites that have recipes from excellent paleo bread, to curries and dips and even amazing desserts. A few of my favourites:
 
Everyday Paleo
Elana’s Pantry
Primal Palate
Nutty Kitchen

When you have excellent recipes at hand and a fridge stocked full of healthy food, it’s much easier to retain motivation. I made cinnamon apple Paleo muffins this morning for breakfast and plan to make some curry chicken for dinner and the thought alone is getting me excited to hop back on this bandwagon of health.
 
2) New shoes
Brand new workout gear usually gets me pumped to get into the gym – anything from a new headband to a new sports bra can get me amped up. But at 35 weeks pregnant, I’m not going to go out and buy new clothes. I expect to be this size for another few weeks, and then I’m on a heavy diminishment plan.
 
But – I can have new shoes! Corey bought me some bright blue Inov-8 shoes for Christmas and there is something so ‘jump-into-me-now’ about a brand spanking new pair of athletic shoes. I love these ones for their flexibility and prowess across all kinds of different movements. I keep them lined up by the front door where they’re ready to go.
 
3) My Camera

I wish I were one of those women who could embrace my third trimester body. I’m trying to maintain positivity and I’m so excited about the baby but I really would rather that the brand new cellulite and varicose veins and strange bulges and lumps were not on my body.  
 
I know that tangible evidence of progress is tantamount to continued fitness success, and so I’m taking pictures of my body now so I can document where I was and where I’ve been – despite the sickness, I’m more determined than ever to get my pre-baby body back by four months postpartum. I plan to document my eating and workout schedule along the way, and I’m looking forward to sharing my successes and setbacks here.

Photo by Robert S. Donovan via Flickr