Doesn't it always seem like whenever you get into a real fitness groove, that's when the nastiest cold hits you? Well, that's what always used to happen to me. I'd feel like I was working myself up to be stronger than ever and bam! I'd get slammed with a real doozy, and it would be about 2 weeks before I was back to working out regularly again.

One key to maintaining your weight is keeping your immune system strong. To end the cycle, you have to figure out where you're going wrong. Examine your habits for weaknesses: dehydration, lack of sleep and poor dietary choices.

Here are some rules I live by to keep my immune system strong:

  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day.
  • Eat foods rich in zinc, such as grass-fed beef, pumpkin seeds and spinach. Zinc will stimulate your body to produce immune boosting antibodies, and it will help to annihilate cold viruses, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
  • Add vitamin C-rich foods, such as oranges and bell peppers, to your diet. Vitamin C also stimulates the production of antibodies that help your body fight infections. And it helps to relieve a stuffy nose, the NIH says.
  • Strengthen your gut with healthy bacteria from yogurt. Good bacteria (also called, probiotics) help to increase the population of good bacteria in your gut, while crowding out the bad ones. This can boost the power of your immune system, according to the website of Dr. Andrew Weil, the founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center.
  • Go ahead and eat the garlic. Garlic is a potent antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial weapon, Dr. Weil says. One chemical compound in garlic, allicin, is so powerful that it's even been shown to kill some germs on contact.

Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!