Maintaining Your Weight Through an Injury
Anyone who is active has, or inevitably will, face an injury that derails her from her fitness routine. While some injuries are on the minor side and require light rehab and more rest days, others require surgery with little or no activity and can leave one feeling very nervous about the road to recovery. After all, you’ve put a lot of hard work into getting fit and the thought of backtracking and gaining weight (especially if you recently lost a substantial amount) can feel overwhelming. Here are some strategies to maintain your weight while you are laid up:
1. Track your food. You’re no longer burning the calories you did while exercising daily, so your body will require substantially less. This is challenging, as we get accustomed to our routines and meals, but if you take the time to slow down and listen to your body, you will find that you aren’t as hungry as you are when you are exercising. An easy way to determine how many calories you need per day while sedentary is to calculate your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). This is how many calories your body requires to maintain basic function while at rest. Please make sure you are getting at least the amount calculated to maintain optimal health.
2. Avoid processed sugars. Although sugar releases that feel-good dopamine when we’re feeling blue, they will surely add on excess belly fat, lead to cravings and compound any depression you may be experiencing from the injury. In addition, sugar is inflammatory, so it will slow down your recovery time, which means added time on the couch or in bed and not in the gym or out on the trail.
3. Make your calories nutrient dense. Foods that are nutrient dense are low in calories and contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats. They will help you to feel satiated, and the antioxidants and nutrients will also aid in your recovery. Some examples of nutrient dense foods are salmon, kale and other dark leafy greens, egg yolks, blueberries and potatoes. Adding natural anti-inflammatories such as turmeric and ginger to your diet will help your recovery as well. (You can add these spices to foods or shakes, or get a high quality daily supplement, usually from an herbalist or holistic practitioner).
4. Breathe/Meditate. This may be the most important factor of all, but it is often overlooked. State of mind and mental wellbeing is going to play an enormous part in how quickly (or slowly) you recover. When you are feeling stressed out about not running, lifting, going to yoga, etc. and want to grab a cupcake and cry, take a time out. Sit in a quiet space and breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts, and exhale for 8 counts. Do this for at least 2 minutes. You will be amazed at how much calmer and balanced you feel. There are plenty of free meditation apps as well. One that I have become acquainted with is Head Space, and you can also Google “yoga nidra meditations” for various guided meditations. Chances are, you won’t want the cupcake afterward.
5. Stay Hydrated. You probably will not be as thirsty since you aren’t sweating or being your usual active self, but staying properly hydrated will stave off hunger. Often times we think we’re hungry and we are really just thirsty. By the time you realize you are thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Aim for half of your body-weight in ounces per day (ie: if you’re 150lbs, consume 75 oz.). This should always be the case regardless, but if you’re active and/or live in altitude you will require more.
Being injured is tough, both mentally and physically. You can help yourself to get back in the game quicker, though, by following these tips. Once you are ready to workout again, you will be able to focus on building back your strength and endurance without having to worry about losing weight on top of it.