How to Avoid Gaining Weight When You're Injured
3 simple ways to stay on track while you recover.
Does an injury have you sidelined from your regular workout routine? Don't sweat it. While getting injured can be frustrating (and painful), it doesn't have to mean you'll gain weight. In fact, it may be a great time to take a break from your current workout and focus on other ways to stay fit. And the good news is, when your body is ready to go back to your workout routine, it will have to work even harder than it did before, making it even more effective.
In the meantime, here are three ways to avoid gaining weight while you recover:
1. Look for alternative methods of exercise.
Can't run on your injured knee? This might be a great time to try Pilates instead with a qualified instructor or a physical therapist, says Lisa Hubbard, founder of Rhythm Pilates™ and star of the Element: Total Body Pilates with Mini Ball DVD. "Many physical therapists use Pilates to assist in the increased range of motion of a joint, tissue and musculature repair, to help bring awareness to your body, and to assist in regaining strength and flexibility."
If your injury isn't too severe, you may be able to replace pounding the pavement with lower impact forms of cardio such as cycling or swimming. Being sidelined from your regular workout routine may not be a bad thing – it could give you the extra motivation you need to try something new or kick up your strength training while you heal. Just be sure to talk with your doctor or physical therapist (if applicable) first to find out exactly what kind of activity you should and shouldn't be doing with your specific injury.
2. Start a new, healthy habit.
If there's nothing physical you can do while you recover from your injury, focus instead on starting new, healthy practices like eating or sleeping better. Hubbard suggests dedicating the time you may have spent running to creating other healthy habits than can help with weight loss or maintenance like eating raw food. Try out a few new recipes or experiment with adding in more raw foods to your current meals. "Eating raw food will inevitably keep weight down during recovery, and you may even lose a few pounds," Hubbard says.
Your recovery time may also be the perfect opportunity to make sure you're getting enough sleep. Getting in enough hours of quality sleep while you heal could be as important for weight loss as your calorie burning, so make sure you're logging between 7 to 8 hours of shut eye every night.
3. Help someone else.
An injury can often turn into an excuse to wallow in self-pity on the couch with a bag of chips. Instead, why not reach out and help someone who might be much worse off than you are? Donating your time, service, or even just visiting with someone can help take your mind off of your situation and may be even more rewarding than a workout could ever be, Hubbard says. "I am a true believer of giving to others, whether to charities, or to service of others—it can be so rewarding, satisfying, and fulfilling that it may eliminate your desire to visit the kitchen too often."
Finally, don't forget the gym isn't the only place to burn calories. The more active you can be throughout your daily life, the better (even if it takes a lot more effort to get around). Use this time to heal, take good care of yourself (follow doctor's orders) and others, and you could even end up losing weight!