The 5 1/2 Lessons I Learned From Getting Food Poisoning

Three days ago, while enjoying a wonderful time on the beach with family and friends, I took a bite of my take-out fish sandwich and thought: “This just doesn’t taste right”.  Hungry, trusting my favorite burrito shop, hungry and hungry, I kept on eat.

Nice move, Einstein.

4 hours later the fireworks went off in my gut and it wasn’t pretty.  Suffering from a bad case of food poisoning, I finally got out of bed without running for the bathroom at 12:00 PM.  That’s noontime the next day.  Good thing it was a Friday night, since I’ve not had a single sick day from work in the NFL in over 24 years.

Always making a point of learning from experiences, both good and bad, in my life.  This one was powerful.  I often treat my Jaguars’ players with stomach ailments with the assistance of our internal physicians.  Talk is cheap and easy.  Now I had the pleasure of apply my advice to myself and this is what I learned:

#1 – If It Doesn’t Taste Good, Don’t Eat It

– Real rocket scientist advice here.  I thought more like a hungry dog by continuing to eat even though the fish was “off”.

#2 – There’s Certainly Isn’t a Price for Good Health

– Feeling like my body was going to turn inside out, running a fever, an amazingly low energy level and a bad headache, I wanted nothing more than to have my good health back.   When I felt that bad, I knew nothing: no money, no job title, no loving wife or fancy car would make me feel better.  The lesson was clear: GREAT, not just good health is priceless!

#3 – Appreciate My Stomach

– The old phrase “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” is true in so many ways.  If you need energy for any for tasks be it as hefty as an Ironman triathlon in 100 degree temperatures or as simple as walking to the kitchen for a glass of water, your stomach is the gateway.  If you stomach is not happy and not absorbing calories or nutrients, you’re in for a very long and low energy day.

#4 – My Body is Smarter Than We Think

– When something goes wrong with our bodies, the best advice is to simply listen to our body & get out-of-the-way.  I often reflect on how smart our modern medical world is but when I’m the patient, as I was this weekend, I realize that my body is much smarter that I realize and I need to simply listen to it more.  In my case with food poisoning, my body said: Let’s rid everything in my GI system from both ends, shut down his ability to move so the idiot doesn’t think a hard bike ride will solve the problem, wage a war on the toxins, ask for some extra fluids via the thirst mechanisms, stoke a fever to burn off the bad enzymes, induce sleep to redirect our energy resources and make this a fast Navy Seal-like “Shock and Awe” battle.

#5 – Water is Energy

– When most of us think about consuming energy, we think of food or some high-octane energy drink.  I reminded myself this weekend that simple WATER should be at the top of that list.  Our body is made up of approximately 60% water with our brain consisting of 70% water.  With significant dehydration from vomiting and/or diarrhea, our bodily systems become stressed, our musculoskeletal system becomes a very low priority and our overall energy level hits rock bottom.  One solution for low energy: Enhance your hydration with water.

Bonus Lesson: Walking in the Shoes of Others

– I’ve always gained strength from those that struggle just getting through their day because of a health ailment.  My bout with food poisoning reinforced my respect for those that suffered like I did each and every day of their lives.  When those proud and brave souls have to “dig deep” to simply get out of bed and get dressed, they’re my heroes.  I strive to demonstrate their courage in my lifestyle and my athletic endeavors.

The Results

Running with my two young children at 7 AM the next morning…..knowing how fortunate I am to be  seeing my health through brighter & healthier eyes.


Author: Mike Ryan

After 26 seasons as a full-time certified athletic trainer and registered physical therapist in the National Football League, Mike Ryan has outstanding first-hand experience. His unique professional and athletic background has sharpened his skills in the arts of sports injury management, elite rehabilitation, performance enhancement and injury prevention. Mike is now taking his experience to mainstream America. His mission is simple: Sports Medicine advice that is easy to use and brings fast results. Learn more about Mike Ryan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 × two =

− 2 = 1