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Weight Loss For The Physically Disabled

Updated on December 10, 2017
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Oliver has suffered from severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis for many years. He is constantly in search of new treatment options.


I don't want to say everything is harder for the disabled, but having a chronic illness or injury can drastically reduce your ability to reach your goals at times. One of those goals could be weight loss. Within only a few years I went from being a soldier and athlete to have difficulty opening jars and going upstairs. I found myself, at first, losing muscle and eventually gaining weight. Medications would exhaust me and my inability to lay still through the night caused further exhaustion.

Luckily for me, I still had some mobility and my secret weapon. That weapon being my diet and calorie counting. How many times have you heard that you should exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes a day? For some of us that may be difficult. In those situations, we can focus more on diet. Not some fad diet or unhealthy trick, but simple calorie counting.


Calorie Count And Plate Portions

Without the ability to work out, the way I used to, I had to change my attitude. I tried to eat "healthier" but still didn't lose weight. A friend recommended to me that I should count my specific calories to see how much I was actually eating. One might be quite surprised when they find out how many calories are in one portion of their favorite foods. This may also seem like a difficult chore at first, but once you calculate certain foods you will commit the calorie intake to memory quickly. There are many charts and guides online that recommend the amount calories you need but ultimately you have to be the one to decide what you are comfortable with.

Holidays and events will seem to pop up right as you are starting to get a feel for the system and your body. On days like this, you will have to eat a smaller breakfast or make arrangements for the calorie intake later in the day. Your body will get used to its new diet. You will start to feel more confident in your selection of foods and you will psychologically feel empowered.

Something else that really helped me at first was to look at my plate portions. In some cultures, we fill our plates to the brim and take the food back to the couch where we slowly eat while watching TV until we are stuffed. We are conditioned from the time we are children to finish all the food on our plate. Children make a great case study for how to eat. When a child is no longer hungry they simply stop eating yet we encourage them to finish everything on their plate. I understand the lesson of not wasting food, but it's also teaching us to overeat. I eventually bought smaller plates in the shape of a triangle. This left less room on the plate and after eating my meal I had the option to get up and walk back to put more food on the plate. In these situations, I often found the cost of getting up to get more food seemed like more trouble than just staying at rest.


Alternative Exercise

Just because we are disabled and can't do some of the more traditional exercises doesn't mean we have to be inactive. If a part of your body can move then it can exercise. If you can't walk you still may be able to do exercise with your arms. If your goal is weight loss then any calories burned from exercise is benefiting your situation. If one pound of weight has 3500 calories and you can find a way to burn 20 calories a day you will lose 2 pounds a year. I know this doesn't sound like a lot of weight but 20 calories a day would be easy to burn off by just changing some simple routines such as changing the channel with your hand or washing the dishes instead of using the dishwasher. Add that to your diet plan and you are losing much more weight. Progress may be slower for us but it is still progress.


Slow and Steady

Very small minor changes in your habits and diet can make weight loss more tolerable. I used to put sugar in my coffee which amounted to approximately 18,000 calories a year. This is close to 5 pounds a year. Go slow and make comfortable changes. When you are consciously aware of your decision to lose weight you will make better choices. I have been able to return to my old weight from when I was a soldier and now, by diet alone, I can maintain my weight. It is harder for people with disabilities, but it is possible as well.


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