Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"My diet starts tomorrow."

The name of this post will make my family members smile, and it's also something that a lot of people can relate to. How many of us have ever been on a diet?!
Paralysis wreaks havoc on your body in so many ways. One of the side effects of paralysis that I've struggled with has been going from a normal lifestyle, to a sedentary lifestyle. My body's paralyzed, but my appetite isn't! I love eating because it's something that gives me pleasure and it's something that I can still do.

I lost a lot of weight right after my accident since I couldn't swallow, so the doctors surgically implanted a feeding tube in my abdomen since it wasn't clear if/when I would be able to swallow real food again. That meant I got all of my "meals" through my feeding tube and I dropped a lot of weight in a short amount of time. Learning to swallow solid food again took several months, but I was able to have my feeding tube taken out before returning home four months after my accident.

I weighed about 105 pounds when I came home to live after my accident . I'd say that I've put on a good 20-25 pounds in the past seven years since then. It's weird because the first year or two after my accident I pretty much ate whatever I wanted and I didn't really put on any weight. It was only after I started watching what I was eating that I started gaining weight. My metabolism has slowed way down in the past seven years, partly from getting older and partly from being physically inactive.

After my accident I soon realized that I didn't need to eat as much or as often, so I stopped eating lunch. I've been eating two meals a day nearly the whole time I've been paralyzed, and I have to admit that I don't really miss eating lunch. When people hear that I only eat two meals a day, they always wonder if I get hungry – I usually don't. Sometimes I might start to feel hungry in the late afternoon, but most days I usually don't get too hungry.

Here are two pictures of me. The first is from March of 2005 (almost 18 months post accident) and the second picture is from March of 2011 (almost 7 1/2 years post accident). My face has filled out a lot, which is evidence of my weight gain. I hate that! 
It's been rather disheartening to gradually lose my figure. I hate the fact that my body has gotten soft and flabby where it once was firm. When you're paralyzed you're abdominal muscles sag, and you develop a "pooch." Your muscles atrophy and it doesn't take long for the inevitable flab to set in. It's not that I was in top-notch shape before my accident by any means, but just knowing that my physical prime was when I was 19 (the age I was when I had my accident) and I will never again be in as good of shape is depressing. It's all downhill from here!
In order to prevent any further weight gain, I started a "diet" last month, although, I know you're not supposed to call it a diet. Rather, a healthier way of eating. Here's what I eat on an average day. For breakfast I eat a high fiber cereal like oatmeal or granola with flaxseed sprinkled on top. For dinner I've started eating lots of smoothies made with frozen fruit so they're nice and thick, or a small spinach salad, or a big bowl of fresh fruit, or an egg, or a few crackers with peanut butter spread over them.
I'm the kind of person who HAS to have at least a little something sweet at the end of dinner or I don't feel satisfied, so I allow myself to eat two small pieces of chocolate each night. I also allow myself to eat dessert on Saturday and Sunday evening, but I try to not go overboard, although this is so much easier said than done since I love sweets so much! I've learned from personal experience that I can't completely cut sweets out of my diet, or I might get to the point where I crave them so much that I end up binging and completely blow everything!

Something else that I've also started implementing in my new way of eating is to have one or two snacks a day – something like a piece of fruit or 15 almonds. I haven't cared to eat snacks in the past because I don't want to stop and the take time out of my day to eat them. However, I know it's a good way to keep your metabolism up, and I don't want my body to go into "starvation mode" where your body isn't sure when it's going to get its next meal, so it basically holds on to every calorie it can get. 

I'm doing well on my new resolve, but I just wish I liked vegetables better because I know how good they are for you, but I just don't! At least I like fruit, though.


Kim @ Stuff could... said...

I am trying to fight that sedentary lifestyle, little by little. It is not easy! I hope you do fine with your is tough. I guess we have to eat like a bird? tiny

Erin said...

I absolutely HATE vegetables. A friend of mine taught me this secret: Green Smoothies! You take a handful of baby spinach (or any leafy green veggie), a banana, and then whatever fruit you like (I usually go with strawberries and blueberries) and throw it in the blender with a little bit of water. The color isn't very appealing, but you won't even taste the spinach, I promise! You can add other veggies, too. I've added cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots.

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