If you’re the kind of person who loves your workout, whether it’s lifting, running, cycling, or swimming, an injury can be a big bummer. Not only are you missing out on the workouts that helped you feel good, but now you’ve got two reasons to feel bad: your injury and the prospect that you’re likely to gain weight while you’re sitting around recovering.
Truthfully, though, this should be your last priority. After your injury, your priorities should be:
But the good news is, it’s relatively easy to maintain your weight while injured. Here’s how:
Cut Back on Calories
The first thing you need to do is get a realistic assessment of your calorie consumption when injured. You want to figure out your resting metabolic rate and cut back your calories to around that point. With all your working out, chances are you’re consuming a lot more than that now, so if you don’t cut back, you will gain weight.
Many people with heavy workout schedules aren’t always eating healthy. They don’t mind consuming a lot of junk, because they know they’re going to burn it all off again. But those are the very calories you need to cut. You might think those comfort cookies are going to ease your injury time, but they won’t—they’ll make you feel worse. Instead, focus your diet on healthy fruits and vegetables that can help you fill up faster and provide your body with a lot of nutrients it needs to heal. Couple this with lean proteins that help you feel full longer and also provide vital ingredients for your recovery.
Do What You Can
Remember, your first priority is to heal, so don’t try to keep working out when you shouldn’t. Take it easy and recover. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit there doing nothing. In fact, proper healing demands a certain level of activity. Talk to your doctor about what you can and can’t do, then do what you can to maintain muscle, burn calories, and keep fit.
Don’t Be Discouraged by Weight Gain
And even if you do find yourself facing weight gain after your injury, you need to be confident that you can lose it again. You didn’t get in your pre-injury shape by being a quitter. And if you’re not a quitter now, you’ll get back there again. It’s just another challenge, and I bet if you’re honest with yourself, you’re actually happy with facing a new challenge. Workouts were getting too easy anyway, right?
Sometimes, though, you might need a little help fitness training with your new weight. A fitness program can help you start back out with a workout appropriate to your new weight, but still get you where you want to go.