I recall my fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Drago telling the class there weren’t many reasons we should miss school. In her eyes, any excuse presented to her outside of a death certificate was out of the question for missing her classes.
Not only did we know her standards after such a statement, but after adhering to these guidelines, the class developed some solid habits that honed us into sincere, genuine, and punctual developing human beings.
Mrs. Drago told us something that held me to a standard of avoiding sickness so I could still attend class, “If you wear the right clothes, eat the right foods, surround yourself with good people, and get enough sleep, you shouldn’t get sick.”
Funny how I can’t recall the subject of the article I wrote last week, but I can still remember this simple message conveyed to me when I was in fourth grade.
This takes me back to a point in my life about five years ago. I came down with an infection in which I was so sick, I told my 9-year-old son to check on me every two hours in the middle of the night to make sure I was alive. This was the type of sickness that made me fear for my life.
This situation came about on New Year’s Day, after hanging out at a bar with friends, waiting for the ball to drop on New Year’s Eve. The scene was flooded with people drinking copious amounts of alcohol, the smoke of various barbiturates fogged the room, and deep fat fried food was consistently delivered to patrons.
This climate sent a thunderbolt of disease throughout my system. Shakes, body aches, fatigue and a fever hot enough to fry an egg on my forehead. I had come down with a bug that penetrated my immune system with surgeon-like precision.
After a week of being embarrassed to tell my clients I had to cancel their personal training sessions, I nursed myself back to health. This wasn’t the type of start I wanted to set the new year off right. However, this experience did offer me a lesson about self-care and avoiding illness.
Hanging out into the late hours of the night with people who frequent the bar scene far more than myself was not something I did regularly. As a personal trainer, I was accustomed to waking up before 6 a.m. and facilitating exercise sessions.
The rare occurrence of indulging in a few beers alongside fried food hit my immune system like a ton of bricks. No wonder I came down with the flu of the century.
Mrs. Drago’s message ran through my thoughts as I recovered from this revolutionary illness. Was I surrounding myself around people who would benefit my life? Were French fries, fried mozzarella cheese sticks and burgers conducive toward the functions of my gastrointestinal system? Did the combination of recycled smoke and alcohol consumption help my body produce energy? Would staying up until 4 a.m. allow my body to recover after I stressed it to its limit? I think the answer is obvious. I’m sure if Mrs. Drago were to read this, I would have a pre-algebra book-shaped impression on my forehead as well.
It’s simple to focus on fitness goals such as decreasing weight, fitting into clothes or looking good perusing on a sunny day on the beach. However, if we contract some sort of illness, we can’t be physically active enough to participate in regular exercise. Without exercise, those aspirations to achieve your fitness goals become null and void. Our efforts to stay fit come to a shrieking halt when we get sick. We can’t have a fever, runny nose or a day in bed hold us back from exercising and achieving physically active tasks. Worst yet, we can’t let a silly flu keep us home from our jobs.
Society is currently focused on avoiding the effects of a volatile pandemic. It will pass and we are overcoming the downfall COVID has imposed on us. However, remember to fend off future illness by dressing in warm clothes to deal with the elements, drinking enough water, surrounding yourself with healthy peers, and get enough sleep.
Going back to a simple lesson taught to a fourth-grade student can set the tone for us to live happy, healthy, and strong lives as we reacclimate to a healthier era.
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