How to Get Back on Track After an Illness

back on track after illness

You know the drill. You’re eating well, you’re kicking butt in your workouts and right in the middle of all this good stuff, you get sick or injured.  Now what? What to do after being sick? How do you get back on track after that illness?  This is the question I found myself faced with this week.

Last Saturday I had a really unfortunate accident where I choked on a bean chip and I choked so bad that I cut up my throat something terrible. When I shined a flashlight to the back it looked like I held a lighter back there and burned a hole in the back of my throat and the roof of my mouth.  I was in unbearable pain for three days and excruciating pain for five more days.

As I write this (Saturday) , a week later, I can still see the hole but I have hope that its getting smaller and getting closer to the color of the rest of my mouth.  Slowly.  But it still hurts and I’m still on the Advil and I’ve been on a diet of coconut cultured “yogurt” (lactose intolerant) and applesauce.  Seriously nothing else for seven days.  And this throat thing gave me the tiredness that I have often felt from a sore throat.  So even though my body didn’t hurt I didn’t have any energy to work out so I haven’t done a workout since last Saturday either.

Obviously it was easy for me to go to the “whoa is me place”.  I texted my good friend for inspiration to get a better mood and she suggested that this happened to help “slow me down” but honestly I couldn’t buy that because I wasn’t particularly busy.  Especially not for me.  J So I was still bummed but I hate when I get like that so I sort of shook out of it a little bit and insisted on focusing on what I could do with this time and how I could get my head in a positive space.

The hardest part was accepting that I couldn’t work out and eat well.  I really hated the idea of the yogurt and applesauce because they have so much sugar and I just finished doing the Virgin Diet which had gotten my sugar way down and my cravings were gone and I so am not looking forward to what this yogurt and applesauce might do to that. That said, it is what it is and I must accept it and move forward.

So how do you do this?

Where does the motivation come from for getting back to the gym after being sick?

How to you bounce back? How do you push out the negativity and refocus on your game plan so you can get back on track as soon as your body allows.

Here are my five tips for getting back on track after an illness:


  1. Reframe your opinion about your situation. Instead of thinking, “why did this happen to me” – think what can I do with this opportunity.  I got this from my Life Planning tutorials (thank you Michael Hyatt).  How perfect that I was working on this while I was sick.    I decided that this situation with my throat happened as a way to give me some time to focus on other things besides working out and diet.  Notice I said “working out” and not exercising.  While I made a promise to myself not to over exercise that intent was really focused on “workout” – so prescribed hardcore workouts like Jillian Michaels DVDs or Taebo or Bikram Yoga or running.   But simultaneously I made an intent this year to “move more”.   And this means more exercise casually built into my everyday life.  So I don’t want to do a second run or run 4 miles on the same day that I did my Jillian Michaels DVD.  But maybe I do want to take a 4 mile walk after sitting in my office all day staring at a computer screen.  See the difference?   So I decided that this throat issue was an opportunity to focus all the other things I can be doing besides eating or working out.  I wrote about this al little in my post “Get a Life!”   So reframing my negative thoughts actually got me back on track with some other goals I have neglected thus far this year.
  2. Reconsider your habits. While my throat was really bad I wasn’t in the mood to do much. This meant a lot of reading, sleeping, and watching television. But even these activities got changed – why? Because I couldn’t eat.  Of course the sleeping was sleeping. But the reading and watching television – usually it’s a huge mental battle for me to not couple those activities with eating.  But since my diet is not debased to vanilla yogurt and applesauce, I haven’t been able to do my normal stuff.  Game changer!  I got a whole week forced on me to see what it feels like to just watch t.v.  Just watch. No snacking.  Just watching.  So interesting.  People really do this?  YES!  All day long! And now I can see that I can do it too!  J  Winning! Now I can get back on track with less snacking as well as eating well and working out.
  3. Start planning for your comeback.  My throat is slowly healing and I’m at least feeling like doing a little bit of something. Not quite ready to work out or eat solid foods but the end is near. I can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel.  So what can I do to get ready? To get my head back in the game?  I started with food.  What am I going to eat when I can finally eat solid foods again.  Obviously I’m nervous that I will binge on bad foods so I’m preemptively planning ahead.  Enter Pinterest.  I started searching for new and healthy recipes that have a lot of texture and taste but also are super healthy. So now I can line up some recipes and be back on track with my diet as soon as possible with no further delays.  I’m trying to scale back the meat without introducing any unnecessary starches and so I searched for some vegan and vegetarian meals.  Here are a  few that excited me, for your viewing pleasure: back on track food planning_1back on track food planning_4back on track food planning_3
  4. Start with light exercise. Sometimes getting back on track takes baby steps.  No one said I had to get back to my Body Revolution DVDs immediately.  What’s going to happen? The fitness police are gonna come in and write me a ticket? No!  So I’m starting with some walking.  And a hike.  And some sit-ups.  And I’m going to swing my kettle bell around a bit.  Nothing major, nothing prescribed, just getting moving more.  Here’s a great article on some workouts to try if you’re just getting back into the swing of things.  Read it here.
  5. Enjoy feeling light. I wrote about this in my visualization post.  IF you’ve ever lost weight before then you’ve had the feeling of feeling lighter. Lighter on your feet, lighter touch on this earth.  Well when you eat only yogurt for a week, you lose weight and you get some forced lightness.  Which is never a bad thing!  So now you can ride that wave of feeling a little lighter and get motivated to get back on track as soon as your illness is behind you.

I hope this helps you.  I know it’s so tough when you’re in the middle of a diet plan or an exercise plan but listen up – this is life!  This is really what it’s all about.  Life throws us curve balls constantly and we have to be ready for them.  This is why we have to have a strong “why”. Our “diet” has got to be more than a short term plan to get into some skinny jeans.  It’s got to be about a bigger “why” because when the sh*t gets real, you’ve got to have a bigger reason for moving forward.  You got sick. It happens. You hurt yourself.  It happens.  Let it happen. Don’t ignore it.  Accept it.  Pause.  Breath.  Then move forward.  And moving forward just starts with one step.  Take a step. Then take another.  Soon you’re walking again, you’re moving forward.  You’re back on track.  You can do this.  We got you!

Pinterest links:

spicy mushroom rice:

black bean and pepper salad:

roasted vegetables link:


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