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How To Lose Weight With An Injury

Updated on May 18, 2012

Losing Weight Is Difficult During The Best Of Times

I've been trying to lose weight for years -- and was succeeding. I'd even purchased new walking sneakers so that I could get back into my walking routine as the weather turned warmer in New York City.

My plans came to a halt, however, on April 1, 2010, when I fell off a bus and broke my leg. I broke my fibula in a few places, sprained my ankle, tore ligaments and needed surgery -- and was told I wouldn't be able to walk again for months. I was also advised by my doctor to spend most of my time off of my feet, with my bad leg propped up.

This concerned me, not only because of fears of what would happen to my leg, but because I was now going to be living a much more sedentary lifestyle. When I was in the city, I at least walked a little each day to get errands done or to meet up with friends. Now I was not going to be able to move nearly as much and certainly didn't want to GAIN weight as I healed. If anything, losing weight would help with my recovery because I'd be putting less pressure on my leg when I began walking again. Losing weight was something I HAD to do.

As I continue to recover, I'm happy to say that my weight loss plans are going pretty well. My doctor and I had a discussion about the things I could do to improve my health and I'm looking at this time as an opportunity to heal my entire body, not just my legs. That said, staying fit or losing weight while injured is NOT impossible. Here are a few useful tips. As always, though, SEE A DOCTOR BEFORE ENGAGING IN ANY EXERCISE OR HEALTH PROGRAM, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE INJURED. 

Tips For Losing Weight While Injured

 1. First and most importantly, talk to your doctor about how active you can be. If you, say, hurt your back and he advises you not to walk for a while, listen to him. This is extremely important because you don't want to injure yourself more than you already are. Ask him or her for suggestions on types of movements you can safely do, even if you're bedridden. In my case, I am working my upper body by lifting hand weights. I'm also doing controlled movements with my good leg to keep it strong. These exercises are not only keeping me active, but will help with my recovery. I'll need the added strength from my three good limbs to compensate for my bad leg as I gradually regain strength and muscle tone in it.

2. Monitor your food intake. This is a given with any weight loss program, but is even more crucial when you're not as active. Because you're not moving as much, you're not burning as many calories. Therefore, really pay attention to how much you eat. A great idea is to talk to your doctor or even see a nutritionist about how many calories you really need to take in. You definitely don't want to cut out calories without talking to a medical professional first. But when you're living a more sedentary lifestyle, you will need less food throughout the day.

3. Monitor the TYPE of food you eat. You should always eat healthy foods, but you really want to do this if you're injured. Living on potato chips and soda won't help you rebuild muscle tissue, repair bones or help you get back your strength. Again, ask your doctor for advice on which foods could help you recover. I've been eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, and have cut out coffee and soda and junk food. I'm trying to stick to "power foods" that will help me heal and keep me stronger in the long-run.

4. Stay mentally fit. It's easy to get stressed when you're dealing with bills, insurance, doctors and hospitals -- I've certainly had some bad days. But it's important to stay calm because your body NEEDS to rest and recover. Don't overdo anything. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Definitely do something that relaxes you in between dealing with all of the red tape. While I was counting down the days to my surgery, I watched a lot of reruns of old sitcoms. This relaxed me and kept me -- an emotional eater -- from overindulging on junk.

5. Keep busy. When you can't move well, aren't working and don't have much to do, it's easy to fill the time with food. Look for another outlet. It's pretty easy to do so these days with cell phones and laptops. I've been filling my time with writing, talking to friends and watching old movies and sitcoms. I've also tried to get outside a few times a week (with the help of my husband, who pushes my wheelchair) so I can get a change of scenery. Of course, I'd rather be out with friends or even at work, but I'm trying not to waste my days away. Instead, I'm looking at this time off as an opportunity -- an opportunity to catch up with friends, engage in some of my favorite hobbies, get some much-needed time to myself. Use your time in bed to find something that interests you, whether it be doing crossword puzzles or knitting. Try to keep your brain and body engaged as best you can, rather than eating out of sheer boredom.


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    • profile image

      SANGAY 2 years ago


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      Javed 5 years ago

      Well written article. I am happy to find this article and go over. It opened my eyes about being creative.

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      Jacquie The Underground Goddess 7 years ago from NC

      I fell hiking 2 weeks ago and have a similar injury. I am also very afraid of gaining weight! I already had 30lbs to lose! I am glad I came across your article. Perfect timing! Thank You!

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      travelespresso 7 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      Good for you Naomi. Glad to hear you are getting on top of things and mending. It's NEVER easy (to suffer an injury) but I am happy to see you are writing. Get well soon.