Sunday, December 16, 2012

Colds and Exercise

Since I started CrossFit I have had two pretty bad head colds. That is two colds in the span of just over a month. Both have been very debilitating and disruptive to our routine. It's quite frustrating seeing as how I went all of last year without catching even one bad cold. I couldn't help wondering if starting such an intensive exercise regimen after 8 years of, well, nothing, has something to do with it. I found this article by Scott Sonnon of TACFIT best explained what may be going on, as I have indeed experienced quite a few of the symptoms that he lists.
When an intense physical exercise program causes a large scale slaughter of bacteria, huge amounts of endotoxins (stored within the bacteria) release into your bloodstream. The more bacteria stored in your tissues – and the more intense the session, the stronger their endotoxins, producing even more stronger symptoms in the body to try and process out all the junk. When an intense physical training program (or for that matter, even fasting and detox treatments) causes your organs (such as the liver – your poison warehouse) to discharge their stored poisons, then these crisis symptoms can happen...
There are a wide variety of reactions that may manifest during a healing crisis, the most common are:
  • Arthritis
  • Joint Ache
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Congestion
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Rashes
  • Hives
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Moodiness
  • Rage
  • Anxiety
Thankfully I have not experienced the rage and anxiety, but there have been quite a few things on this list that I can point to and say, "Ohhh...that explains it!" For instance one day I was getting out of the shower and doing my thing to get ready for the day and I had this weird rash down the side of my face and neck. It went away without incident, but it was very puzzling. I have also experienced a recurrence of arthrits-like joint pain in my hands from time to time since starting CF. Especially when I first started, my gut was definitely out of whack (I'll spare you the details) and the congestion and head-cold symptoms, well, here we are again for the second time in just over a month.

Another correlation for which I must take full responsibility is that on Wednesday evening I attended a cookie exchange (albeit all the cookies we brought were GF). I ate more sugar that night than I probably had consumed all year. By Thursday I was miserable. I have long known the effects of sugar on the immune system and have severely limited my own consumption of the stuff, but I don't know that I have ever seen it so directly played out in my own body! This article by Marcel Hernandez, N.D. succinctly explains the effects of sugar on the immune system.

Honestly, I look at this journey as a battle that I must fight with my own poor choices over the last few years. If this is what I must endure to get healthy in the long run, then bring it--I'll take a few head colds if it means that in the end my body is stronger, more fit and better able to resist disease.

I'd love for you to comment and share your experiences with getting started with an exercise regimen. Have you found that you also were prone to getting sick? How long can I expect this to last?


  1. So sorry to hear this! But yes, I have read similar articles and research regarding exercise and detox releasing a slew of stored toxins (especially those in fat stores) and causing illness. I haven't experienced to the level/intensity that this particular article describes, but I did get a couple of colds in the first months... I was still on grains then and eating pretty poorly, though, so I wonder how much had to do with my exercise versus lack of nutrition. I know you're eating much better than I was at the time.

    The thing I found that actually helps me is working out through my colds or any indication that I may be getting sick - and I know that sounds completely counter to the idea of allowing the body to rest/recover. I always thought my husband was crazy to exercise when he was sick, but 1) he gets sick maybe once every 2-3 years so it's not like he's doing this very often and 2) he swears that it helps boost his body along to stay strong and push out whatever is attacking him. I'm not 100% convinced that he's right, but I've tried it a couple times when I felt I was coming down with something or actually had the cold symptoms and they went away within 24 hrs. Maybe this is psychological for me, now. lol It does make me question the well-accepted notion that our bodies need extra rest to battle illness... I wonder if some illnesses are actually managed better with the opposite regime. What I've found the most helpful is 1) tons of water intake, 2) taking it easy on the WOD but still working out, 3) homemade broths. This has just been my own personal experience.
    I hope you feel better very soon and this is not a recurring thing!! {HUG}

    1. Good advice, Rachel. Even though I may not be 100% tomorrow, I think I'll give it a shot and see what happens.