Sick? The Affordable Natural Remedies I Follow

When I arrived home from my last trip, many of my friends and coworkers were sick and after a couple days I became ill as well. I thought I would share how I get well soon. I have found a wellness routine that seems to help me get back to 100% a lot faster than I use to.

This is another area where I learned the hard way. I came down with something during my first semester in graduate school and just bought a bunch of junk with claims on the packaging to make me feel better. However, it was always a temporary fix. I was sick for nearly 3 months! I am sure the stress and overwhelming emotions I was experiencing did not help, but I was sick for WAY TO LONG!

I finally went to the doctor who gave me simple at home remedies to follow. She told me to stop all cough drops, pills, syrups, etc. because they only mask the symptoms and prevent your body from doing what it needs to do to get well. I was back to normal within a week after focusing on what my body really needed. Here are the things my doctor suggested and are now the ONLY things I follow. I typically get better in a matter of days after starting this routine.

Breathe warm humid air

I will use a vaporizer or humidifier while I sleep and steam up the bathroom while I shower. This helps loosen up congestion and mucus so I can breathe easier. On top of this, if it is cold and dry out, stay indoors as much as possible or breathe through a good scarf. The cold, dry air is not beneficial for your sinuses and throat.


Sinus irrigation

I tend to get sinus infections. Sinus rinsing helps prevent those! It might seem odd to some people, but it works. I like to use the pressure method (a squeeze bottle) over the gravity method (the pot). If I do not have my bottle with me I will purchase nasal saline solution to help irrigate my sinuses.

Warm soothing beverages and plenty of fluids

I focus on soothing my throat rather than preventing my cough since the cough is what helps get rid of mucus. To do this I drink warm, clear, decaffeinated fluids and a lot of it! This is when I really track how much I am drinking. I like to get in more than the recommended 8 cups of water per day in the first place, but I try to at least get in half my body weight in lbs in ounces of clear, decaffeinated fluids per day. Since I weigh 134lbs, that means I try to at least consume 67 oz of water per day. When I am feeling sick I love to drink:

  • Herbal tea (Throat Coat – Traditional Medicinals is my favorite)
  • Hot water with 1/2 a lemon and 1 tsp pure honey
  • Broth

Why do I focus on warm, clear, decaffeinated fluids while I am sick? Caffeine is a diuretic so it can dehydrate you, creamy fluids have been associated with making mucus worse and warm liquids sooth an irritated throat.

Vitamin rich eating

I try to make the most vitamin rich meals possible while I am sick and recovering from being sick. One way I able to do that even though I tend to loose my appetite while sick is vegetable soups. Whether they are blended or chunky soups, they feel so good on my throat and have so many nutrients to help me get well. I try to include foods with zinc (spinach, flax seeds, garlic, legumes, nuts, etc.), vitamin c (citrus fruits, kale, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, etc.) and b vitamins (nuts, kale, eggs, lentils, potatoes, etc.).

Why not just take a bunch of vitamins? As I get older I am trying to supplement less, especially since supplements are so EXPENSIVE! Why waste my money on something I can get from good nutrition.

Plenty of rest

I have said this before, rest is so important for recovery! I will try to get to bed at least an hour early and if I stay home from work I will take a 20 minute nap when possible. The extra rest not only helps me get well soon, but function better while I am sick. In addition, I lighten up my workouts, especially my cardio, to provide my body with extra energy towards getting well.

Zinc lozenges + Vitamin fizzing drink + Herbal throat drops


These are really the only items I might purchase to aid in getting well or prevent getting sick. The zinc lozenges and vitamin effervescent drink provide me extra vitamins and minerals in case I am not eating or absorbing enough. These are particularly helpful if you can not get in nutrient dense foods. I only take 1 zinc lozenge and vitamin drink mixer per day. I have been told by my doctor that too much of a vitamin can be bad for you. Then I like to take herbal throat drops because sometimes I just cannot drink anymore liquids and need something to sooth my throat. This way I can still cough to get rid of the mucus, but my throat can have some relief.

Tone It Up + Nutrition Plan Review

I was inspired to review this program about a month ago when a gal who has followed Tone It Up (AKA TIU) from the beginning (like myself) posted a honest review to Instagram after attending one of their retreats. I want to start off with saying, you can still achieve a fit body without spend $100+ on a nutrition plan. This is true about ANY nutrition plan. It just takes time to educate yourself and figure out how your body responds to certain foods.

When I first started following TIU, Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott clearly creating a lot of their own content. They worked very hard to gather sponsors for their fitness challenges to be able to provide prizes to participants. Things have changed thanks to their great success. They have inspired millions of women around the world to come together to improve their health. They really have built a community of women that are focused on supporting each other’s health and fitness goals.

You should take into consideration that although, I have followed them for a long time and enjoy their workouts, I feel that I have never whole heartedly joined the TIU community. At no point in time was TIU the only health and fitness resource I was following. I do not even think I ever signed up for an account on the TIU community website. I just do not find it is best for me to just follow one program 100%. I try to customize diet and exercise to fit with my own spirit and goals.

TIU provides workouts, health advice and recipes for free and at a cost. They post to their blog daily and upload youtube videos about once per week. I love the Spotify playlists they share for workouts, their focus on developing a positive mindset and their big recommendation to not do this alone. The only products their provide that I spent money on were the book (at a special discount of $16) and a necklace from their shop that was on clearance. However, most women in the community have purchased the nutrition plan and much, much more from their fast growing product line.


Just looking at their website you can see how so many women who have invested the lifetime nutrition plan have changed their bodies, their progress has just been brilliant! However, I had felt I could never afford the luxury of purchasing the nutrition plan since the little money I had extra at the end of the month needed to go toward being able to visit my family. So I sampled the simpler recipes they shared on their blog. They were good, but only after modification. I always tweaked their recipes, mostly because of taste.

Then, my best friend purchased a regular version of the nutrition plan. They also have vegetarian, gluten free and vegan editions. She shared it with me because she knew I would likely never treat myself to getting a copy no matter how curious I was. Before trying any of the recipes, I read through all the Part 1 guidance material.

Part 1 got me thinking about what I put into my body and at what time of day to do so and how food impacts how I look. In my opinion it is really designed and focused to maintain that beach body look. After some self-reflection, I reminded myself that how I look was never my top priority. My health, energy and mood are at the top of my list and looking ripped or having the perfect beach body plays a minor role. Nevertheless, I know this is a major plus to other folks.

Now did it help me achieve a beach body look when I followed it for a period of a month? To be completely honest, I am not sure it did. My best friend shared it with me at the same time I was changing how I ate to be gut friendly. Most of the recipes had ingredients my doctor explicitly instructed me to avoid. So I just could not follow the recipes to a T due to my IBS. On top of that, the quality of the guide was lacking for me. Here were my issues with the plan:

  • Many of the instructions were incomplete. At times I had to guess how to prepare an ingredient or when to include it in the cooking process. For how much you pay for the nutrition plan, a professional editorial eye should had been applied to it!
  • Too much sweeteners! This is where I constantly had to modify. I like my entrees to be savory. The breakfasts, desserts and smoothies were sickeningly sweet to me even before I developed a no sugar added palette. If I wanted something that sweet, I rather pick up some frozen custard.
  • The spicier recipes were not flavorful enough for me. I find I have to almost double the amount of spices in most of the ethnic recipes.
  • Again, for how much you pay for the plan there should have been guidance on pairing sides with entrees. Without a side, they typically did not have enough calories to sustain me.

Needless to say, I decided against purchasing the nutrition plan myself after getting a chance to check it out.  Friends have offer to share the newest version with me and I always pass. I feel much better eating and cooking more freely by taking a recipe and making it my own, like the Lauren Toyota approach to cooking. I take the opportunity to understand the ingredients, use food I already have, buy seasonal produce, understand the role each item plays in the recipe and learn to create things that work for me and my family.

Another change I noticed about a year ago is that TIU has really upped their marketing and production of non-essential products. You do not need special protein powder developed to work with the plan, a two-toned yoga mat, quinoa puffs, high tech socks, a “Rose all day” shirt, etc. to achieve a beach body or just a healthy body. Most people need a good support group to stay accountable to their goals and healthy food. You can do this without unnecessary spending on all the extra junk.

I say, invest your time in preparing the food you eat, people who support you and fitness that serves your mind and body. Then, put your money into quality workout gear and good whole foods. You will see results faster than you think just keeping it simple. I honestly feel like all the extra products cause me to crave spending money on more needless accessories and even junk food. Wasting money on products I just had to have in the moment ruins the joy and happiness I get from living a fit, healthy lifestyle. The budget is important to maintaining my future happiness.

I appreciate TIU for its fun workouts that inspired me early on to work up a good sweat and their book that leads you through powerful mindset changing practices. I know Karena and Katrina are amazing women. I just do not feel the TIU program is designed for my goals. Another reason to look at this as a tool you can use to build a healthier you and not the only tool.

Was this review helpful? Have you explored TIU?

Fit Travelers Guide – Road Trip/Airport/Station Food

I travel a lot, especially during the past 7 weeks, and it can be challenging to eat right all the time. My moto is eat as much whole, natural foods as possible so you can treat yourself to the not so healthy local fare during your visit. I typically plan out having something to eat during the transportation portion of my travel, but sometimes I need to take advantage of other options.

First Option: Pre-Pack

As I said I typically prepare an extra meal or snack to take in the car or on the train/plane so I can save money and my digestive system from not-worth-it junk food. I like to bring:

  • Leftovers from meals I made during the week
  • Simple sandwich (PB&J, turkey & swiss, etc.)
  • Trail mix (a mix of unsweetened dried fruit and nuts)
  • Nuts
  • Whole 30 approved bars (since they do not contain added sugar)
    • RXbars
    • Larabar
  • Fruit with nut butter
  • Veggies with hummus

When I traveled home to St. Louis, MO to see my family a couple weekends ago, I pre-packed a snack and dinner to eat on the train. I brought a Pumpkin Spice RXbar and a serving of zucchini and sweet potato hash that I had been eating for dinner that week. I also made sure I had enough water to drink on the train. I usually take a train after work so I always end up sleeping toward the end of the few hour journey, but not having to eat the stale looking sandwiches or nuked White Castle sliders is a blessing!


Zucchini and Sweet Potato Hash (Caramelized red onions + Sweet potato + Zucchini + Egg + Avocado)

Second Option: Grab on the Go

This is much pricier than just preparing something to bring with you, but it happens sometimes that I do not have enough food to put together something to bring with me or things are just so crazy leading up to my trip that I just lack the time to do so.

You could stop by the grocery store to grab something pre-made if you have time. I live near a Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. They ALWAYS have easy healthy on the go options that are ready to eat. I love the falafel and chicken curry salad from Whole Foods. Trader Joe’s has some great prepared salads with the dressing on the side. Again, sometimes there is just not time for this! So you have to look at the options around your mode of transportation.

I know my airport and its food options pretty well, but I usually need to research the visiting airport I am flying into. For my Tampa trip last month, I found a tuna and veggie box at one of the convenience stores in my airport and then the Tampa airport had a Qdoba. Places like Qdoba are nice because you can put together your own meal to work for you. I like to get a tequila lime chicken salad bowl (lettuce + tequila lime chicken + grilled fajita vegetables + diced jalapeños + pico de gallo + salsa verde – salsa is much more likely to not have added sugars like dressing). Convenience stores can have some decent options among all the junk they also offer and they are getting better about this.


In the end, if you have a week where you do not eat the best, do not stress. Focus on eating only until you are full and enjoy every bite! One week will not kill you. Just get back to eating right as soon as possible and keep up your workout routine.

Do you plan out food options when you travel?

Rest Day

I love being active, but I know that rest is essential within my lifestyle. With all the technology around and activities I do, it can overwhelm my body and mind when I go non-stop. It is important to mentally and physically rest to prevent that burnt out feeling. Although, I will admit, I do not practice this as often as I should. I can be very go-go-go! So I am partially writing this as a remind to myself just how imperative it is for me to incorporate in my schedule regularly.

Mental Breaks

It seems as though I live on my phone or computer between work and trying to stay connected with my friends and family back home. It can be quite draining to stare at a screen all day, not to mention it negatively impacts your sleep. I really appreciate the time without all the technology, where I am truly disconnected. It is rare when it happens, but so needed.

Nature and music really bring me peace. Although there may be so many moments where I want to share what I am are experiencing, the tech can distract from my leisure time. Like when Snapchat or Instagram run into an error or I do not have signal to send my videos or pictures. Plus, the beauty of that place or moment never seems to be completely encompassed by my social media posts.

While I was in Austin last month, I actually did not use my phone or computer much. I tried to enjoy my surroundings and the time I had with my partner. I scheduled time to be on my computer for working on the blog or writing emails, but the hotel did not have free wifi so I hardly used my laptop. Initially it was frustrating, but then so freeing. On my next vacation I may not even bring my laptop with me. I felt I could enjoy more and do just whatever I like. Usually, that feeling only happens when I go camping where the disconnection is forced.

Another mental regimen I do is meditation. I still feel like a beginner at this, but I just get into a comfortable position (either laying down without a pillow or seated on the floor with my legs crossed) and focus on how I am mentally. I may think through the things I struggle to letting go of or concentrate on what I am most grateful for. Centering my thoughts around what I am thankful for really puts my mind at ease and comforts me. This also resets my way of thinking when I feel like I am in a rut.

Physical Rehabilitation

Physically resting is necessary to prevent injury and help you recover from workouts. When we run, strength train, bike, etc., we are breaking down our muscles. Over using your muscles and joints does not allow the break down that occurs a chance to heal and become stronger. This is why nutrition and rest are your muscles best friends. They are key for rebuilding your muscles after a fierce workout .

So earlier this year I did BBG for almost 6 straight months, I also continued to run since Winter 2015-2016 was calm. I had heard that you should take some time off from your workout routine every 3 months or so, but I just kept going right on from BBG 1.0 to BBG 2.0. Big mistake! By week 18, I began to feel run down and things just got worse from there.

Then I came down with the flu for the first time in my life and it hit me hard. I developed chest congestion which kept me from running for a whole month. I knew you could develop pneumonia from running with chest congestion so I played it smart. There were so many perfect running days I felt I missed out on. When it seemed like I was finally in the clear to run, I pulled my left lat muscle during my last week of BBG 2.0.

Lesson learned the hard way. Your body needs that break or it will tell you it needs it through an injury or illness. A day or, even better, a week off, you will not regret! It will make getting back into your fitness routine exciting and satisfying. Now, I take a week off of strength training and cardio every 3 months. I am still active, I walk places and I do some yoga, but it is focused on gentle relaxation. I also eat really healthy during that week to give my muscles the nutrients they deserve.

How do you take breaks? And do you have a way you prioritize them?


Out of Town Fitness Routine

Throughout September, I was out of town every weekend (plus many week days) and yet still was able to get in all my workouts. Since I workout at home, this is not too challenging to keep up while out of town on business or for pleasure, but it does change up a bit depending on what is available to me. For instance, sometimes an area I am in is not pedestrian friendly so I am unable to go out for a run and usually weights are unavailable. Thankfully, its usually easy to do a circuit training/HIIT workout like those from the Bikini Body Guide (BBG) when both running and weight lifting is not an option.

Since dietary needs are challenging to meet all the time when out of town, keeping up with my workouts is essential for me. Working out keeps my energy up and can help my digestive system move even when it have been given food it can not digest. Here is a breakdown of my September weekend workouts:

Milwaukee and Green Bay, WI


We stayed at an AirBnB that was in a neighborhood with a 1 mile loop for me to run around a few times and the apt had a weight rack.

  • Day 1: 4.5 mile run + 30 mins of lower body circuit training with weights
  • Day 2: walking and standing around for tailgating and the football game
  • Day 3: 2 mile run + 30 min total body workout with weights
  • Day 4: a lot of walking + 30 min of yoga


Austin, TX

The hotel we stayed at had a few treadmills, loads of weight machines, free weights and medicine balls.

  • Day 1: Active REST day = loads of walking
  • Day 2: Morning walk + 45 min of yoga
  • Day 3: 3.5 mile treadmill run + 20 min lower body weight training + loads of walking
  • Day 4: Active REST day = loads of walking + swimming in the hotel pool
  • Day 5: 3.5 mile treadmill run + 20 min upper body weight training



Did some at home workouts and a BBG (Bikini Body Guide) workout while visiting my partner. I also love running a local trail in the area.

  • Day 1: 5 mile run + lower body circuit training
  • Day 2: REST day! I just chilled at home with my partner on the couch most of the day.
  • Day 3: 2 mile run + total body circuit training
  • Day 4: Morning walk + 30 min of yoga + BBG W1 Legs and Cardio

Tampa, FL


Again I stayed in an AirBnB near the Bayshore Fitness path and there were a few weights in the apt. On the path I was able to do a 2 and 5 mile run along with some workouts using the stations set up all along the trail.

  • Day 1: Active REST day = loads of walking
  • Day 2: 5 mile run + lower body circuit training
  • Day 3: Abs + lower body circuit training + 30 min of yoga
  • Day 4: 2 mile run + total body circuit training
  • Day 5: 2 x 30 min of yoga