How to Lose Weight with Limited Mobility?
Keeping extra pounds off is a challenge for anyone, but can be especially difficult for those in a wheelchair. While we are all tempted by super-sized portions or gooey desserts, people who use wheelchairs or can’t get around easily often live in circumstances that make maintaining a healthy weight harder.
The reason for losing weight in a wheelchair is harder is simple math. If we consume 3500 calories more than we burn off, we will put on a pound of weight.
It doesn’t matter what kind of calories they are. They all provide the same amount of energy.
Energy that will either be used or stored as fat.
So the simple formula for losing weight is to eat less, burn more.
But for many people with limited mobility, losing weight isn’t so simple. Wheelchair users aren’t up to walking around or climbing stairs, so tasks that incorporate a little motion (and calorie-burning) into a daily routine aren’t options.
And many people with disabilities are daunted by the idea of an exercise plan. Add to that all the confusing and contradictory diet advice out there, it’s no wonder many people with limited mobility don’t know how to lose weight.
The good news for people who use wheelchairs or have other disabilities is that you get the most weight loss from changing your diet and reducing the amount you eat. Exercise alone won’t do much for you. But it will give you many benefits. Most importantly, exercise increases your metabolism. This means you will lose weight faster or can eat a little more without putting on the weight.
Follow three simple steps and you’ll be on your way to a thinner you.
The first step in losing weight is to check with your doctor. Discuss diet guidelines and the kind of exercise that would be appropriate for you. Your doctor or a nutritionist can help you figure out how many calories you need in a day, which is the start for developing an appropriate diet for a disabled person.
If you use a wheelchair or have limited mobility, you’ll need to consume fewer calories than the standard recommended amount, since you are not using the large muscles of your legs and lower body as much. A diet plan for wheelchair users will be based on fewer calories than for other people.
Your doctor can also suggest the type of exercise that would be appropriate for you, as well as any limitations.
Second Step: Develop a suitable diet plan for wheelchairs users or other disabilities
The next step is to develop or choose an appropriate diet for a disabled person.
There are many popular diets out there. Weight Watchers, NutriSystem, and the South Beach Diet are all sensible, safe and effective diet plans. Many people have had good results with them.
If you choose one of these plans, you might want to get a coach or someone to work with you to modify the diet to meet your needs. This could save you a lot of time in trying to come up with your own diet plan.
Some of these diets prepare all the food for you. The advantage of this is that you don’t have to spend any time fixing meals. The disadvantage, beyond the cost, is that you aren’t really learning how to eat better. If you want to maintain your new weight, you will need to know how to plan menus that won’t put the pounds back on once you’ve met your goal.
So if you want to develop your own diet plan, how would you do that?
Go back to the simple weight loss formula: eat less, burn more. The first half is to eat less. In other words, consume fewer calories.
But who wants to spend their time counting calories? Not too many people do.
There is an easier way. Just follow these six simple rules, and you’ll find losing weight with limited mobility or disability is easier than you think.
1. Choose Unprocessed Foods
One easy way to manage healthy eating is to choose unprocessed foods instead of processed ones whenever practical. By doing this, you are eating healthy food, and avoiding added sugar, which just loads up the calories.
This means go for fruits and vegetables. Limit your consumption of processed foods, such as bread, pasta, cake, cookies and the like. The less processed food and added sugar you eat the better.
And when you have a choice, skip the white foods. Pick whole wheat bread, brown rice, and sweet potatoes instead.
Also, some foods might seem healthy, but they are sabotaging your weight loss effort. For example, you might enjoy a glass of orange juice in the mornings. But think about it. Those 8 ounces of juice contain 21 grams of sugar. You are far better off eating a whole orange, which gives you only 9 grams of sugar, plus some fiber as an added bonus.
2. Be on the Watch for Added Sugars
Lots of prepared foods, like salad dressings, tomato sauce and condiments are loaded with added sugar. You don’t need those extra calories. Check labels and only buy items with lower sugar content. You’ll be surprised in all the places extra sugar can lurk.
3. Cook at Home
If your disability doesn’t prevent you from doing your own food preparation, then learn how to cook using fresh, unprocessed foods. You’ll be able to control what goes into your food.
While cooking from scratch may sound like a lot of work, it doesn’t have to be. Make a double portion and freeze one for another day. Or, do all the prep for several meals and put the cut-up vegetables and meat in freezer bags, one for each meal. Then they will be all ready to cook when you want them.
4. Make Small Changes
Many diets promise fast results, but they demand drastic changes to how you eat. The sad truth is most people can’t maintain these changes and put the weight right back on when they go off the diet.
To avoid this, make small changes at first and work up to bigger ones. Experiment with healthy foods to find ones you like.
For example, go ahead and eat that burger. Just use mustard, lettuce, and tomato instead of mayo and cheese. Many sauces add a lot of fat and sugar, so be careful which ones you use.
5. Watch Portion Sizes
And watch portion sizes! Part of the reason so many people struggle with weight is we simply serve our food up in portions that are too big. Try eating less at meals and have a healthy snack in between.
6. Drink Water (Lots of it)
One dieter’s trick is to drink a lot of water. If you’re feeling hungry, drink a full glass of water and wait fifteen or twenty minutes. You’ll often find your desire to eat has gone away.
But don’t try to use diet soda in place of water. The caffeine in diet sodas can dehydrate you. This interferes with your liver’s ability to process fats, which means more of them are stored, rather than burned. And the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas often trigger a craving for more sweets, which just makes resisting temptation so much harder.
Third Step: Get some exercise
The second half of the weight-loss equation is to burn more. Working out burns more calories. It also has many other benefits beyond helping you lose weight, such as increasing your endurance, easing muscle or joint pain, improving your balance, building muscle mass and expanding your range of motion.
Getting exercise can seem tricky for people with disabilities. The key is to focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t. Be realistic with the goals you set. Find an exercise you can do and enjoy while you’re doing it. Make sure you can vary it so you don’t become bored and it stays challenging.
If at first, you can only do 10 minutes, start with that. Maybe do 2 or 3 sessions a day. Gradually work up to 30 minutes or more.
One of the best ways to lose weight is through weight training. This form of exercise increases your metabolism, which means you’re burning off more calories. It also builds muscle mass. A good goal for this type of exercise is three times a week for 20-30 minutes. It’s important not to lift weights every day, but to rest your muscles in between workouts.
Another good thing about weight training is there are specific exercises that just work the upper body. So if you have limited use of your legs, you can still get a good workout.
Or you can look into an exercise class. Many senior centers have tailored classes for people who use wheelchairs. By joining a class, you benefit not just from the exercise, but from the chance to make some new friends.
Yoga is a form of exercise that is very good for people with limited mobility. One major principle of yoga is that it is adapted to the ability of the person doing it. Many yoga teachers can work with you to adapt to what you can do. Yoga has been proven to be one of the best excercises you can do. There are many health benefits to wheelchair yoga.
If you’re not into yoga, you might want to give Zumba a try. It’s fun and also easily adaptable to what you are able to do.
But don’t just think of exercise or classes. Many sports have been adapted to wheelchair users. Tennis, badminton, basketball, and fencing, just to name a few. Participating in sports can be a fun way to get some exercise while getting the chance to meet other people. There are so many activies that you can do that still allow you to exercise in the process of having fun. We’ve put together a nice list of simple wheelchair exercises that might give you some ideas of what you could do to get moving and the blood pumping.
Weight Loss Strategies to Avoid
In spite of what many advertisements try to tell you, there’s no way around the eat less, burn more formula for weight loss. So don’t waste your money on diet pills or expensive supplements. For one thing, they aren’t likely to work. They also could have dangerous interactions with other medications that you take.
The key to lasting weight loss for disabled people is to make lifestyle changes. Alter how you eat and increase the amount of exercise you get. This is the only way to take the weight off and make sure it stays off. You don’t need to find a weight loss program for disabled people, because now you know how to develop your own.
Just because you have some challenges due to your disability, taking off the extra pounds isn’t impossible. Now that you know how to lose weight with limited mobility, you just need to put some time into getting started with your weight loss plan.