Suffering from an injury can be a devastating and stressful experience, especially if that injury leaves one immobile and requires surgery. Recently, my sister, Cassandra broke her femur in an intramural softball game at the University of Tennessee. She was taken to the ER where the x-rays revealed she needed immediate surgery. After surgery, the doctors told my sister that she was going to be on crutches for at least 3 months and she could not put any weight on her leg. It was also recommended that she move around as little as possible (outside of physical therapy), which was also very upsetting to hear since she is an avid runner and regular yogi. Cassandra called me up and asked, “How do I not gain weight while I am recovering?” A common stress that many people experience with an injury is weight gain. This is primarily due to the fact that an injured person no longer has the luxury of burning extra calories throughout the day from physical activity and exercise.
Here are some tips I shared with her as well as some of her own tips for those recovering from an injury and wanting to stay healthy:
• Say “No thanks” to comfort food! People know that you are hurt and want to make you feel good by making your favorite dishes or bringing you your favorite desserts. Comfort foods like mac n cheese, ice cream and pizza are often high-carb, high-calorie menu items and would not make the best menu choices if you’re being mindful of your caloric intake. Over doing it on these types of food is certainly a way to see a few pounds increase on the scale.
• Load up on fruits and vegetables. Instead of snacking on chips, crackers or granola bars, Cassandra made sure to have plenty of raw fruits and vegetables on hand to choose for snacks, make in smoothies and handle any sweet or crunchy cravings she would get.
• Choose protein-rich foods. Protein is essential in the healing process as it helps rebuild damaged tissue. Fuel up on lean, wholesome protein sources such as Greek yogurt, nuts, chicken, eggs, fish, cottage cheese or even whey protein powder to make smoothies.
• Don’t sleep in. Since she was unable to work and basically home-bound, sticking to a regular schedule can be tough. Cassandra kept her regular bedtime and wake up at the same time as she would with her normal routine. Too much or too little sleep can adversely affect one’s hunger cues and sometimes can make you eat more calories than you really should be consuming during the day.
• Don’t skip meals. In order to save some calories, many people try to skip meals. Cassandra states, “I made it a point to eat breakfast every morning.” This fires up one’s metabolism for the day, plus eating regular meals is important for fueling the body with the extra nutrients it needs when it’s healing.
• Stay positive! Having a positive attitude can help anyone get through some tough times. Extremely bummed that she could no longer attend her yoga sculpting classes, Cassandra researched different yoga techniques that she could practice. She came across chair yoga exercises as well as some other poses she could still do with her broken femur.
“The person who sends out positive thoughts activates the world around him positively and draws back to himself positive results” –Norman Vincent Peale