The Jacksons, Week 13: Double Whammy - Sidelined by the Flu and Hit With Deep South Snow

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge

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It doesn't get much better than surprise snow on Christmas Day in North Mississippi. Credit: Deidra Jackson

The start of 2011 has my son, Jack, and me resolving not to spend it like we did Christmas morning -- with flu medications coursing through our veins.

One week ago, Jack was officially down with the flu; I was sick with worry about him and wary about being felled by it myself.

While visiting the doctor, we learned that 20 percent of the new flu cases she's diagnosed recently were patients who'd gotten the flu shot. It seemed that although I got vaccinated last summer, I am still a prime candidate to possibly get the flu; therefore, Jack's doctor also prescribed me a five-day course of influenza meds as a precaution.

Is it just me, or can you too actually feel your body fighting off sickness? I'm struggling to keep my sniffles, congestion and what could be a sore throat at bay.

Despite feeling sub par on Christmas morning, we got an unexpected boost -- snow! The nearly two inches was gone several hours later, but it was a big deal for North Mississippi on Christmas day. Weather forecasters had predicted a 50-percent chance of the white stuff days before, but to actually see those big flakes quietly falling and accumulating on the ground that magical morning was amazing. Red cardinals chirping against the snow-white background, bare tree limbs revealing their crimson feathers -- it was really beautiful.

Not since 1998 had North Mississippi seen a white Christmas, according to the National Weather Service. After waking up, I peeked out the window, threw on my jacket and shoes, and rushed outside to record a video of the rare holiday snowfall. Jack, who still was in bed and ailing, managed to join me later under the carport for a few minutes.

As far as the Healthy Families Challenge goes, we're still in it to win it, but over the last week, holiday consumption, illness and the cold weather have put a serious crimp in our healthy eating and fitness routines.

I've enjoyed more chocolate-mint truffles than I care to admit (because they're there, darn it), and while I've fit in short walks around the neighborhood and have done some running, stretching and strength training exercises, courtesy of our new Wii Fit Plus, I haven't always maintained my target fitness heart rate (about 177 beats per minute). Workouts aren't the same when you're away from your home gym and at your parents' house (where the cupboards are loaded with goodies). Wow. I never thought I'd miss my routine, but since I've been on a fitness roll lately, I'm yearning for it.

Jack's eating was sporadic. His biggest meal in one week was a small plate of my mom's grits, eggs and bacon. Aside from water, juices and Gatorade, he didn't consume much else. Watching TV marathons of "A Christmas Story" and "MythBusters," he rested, ate lightly, took his meds and drank fluids.

Me? I baked sweet potato pies for our family and made a double-layered German chocolate cake for friends of ours. I also enjoyed the Christmas meal I requested of my mom: country ham, turnip greens with fresh diced turnips, and dressing and gravy.

At 10 p.m. on that cold Christmas night, we were feeling full. My dad suggested we go walking around the neighborhood, and we did.

As a journalism professor with final projects and exams graded for the semester, it was the first time in a long time that I didn't have to agonize about assignments and lectures, students or paperwork, so I could truly relax for a few weeks before classes start up again.

In other words, I've given myself permission to enjoy a few treats, including some guilty pleasures, here and there.

But now that it's back to work and school, Jackson and I will shift into a stricter regimen. Soon after the leftovers get old and we've taken our last prescribed meds, it'll be back into a more familiar fitness grind for us.

I'm saying goodbye to the chocolate bonbons, and I look forward to seeing my Jack resume the pep in his step.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.