By Nancy Becker Kennedy
The good news is you can lose weight in a wheelchair–even a quad in a power wheelchair. The bad news is you have to eat fewer calories than ABs.
I put on over 20 pounds when I went through chemotherapy almost five years ago and had the daunting task of losing weight as a power wheelchair user. It sent me on a journey to fitness via three doctors and a diabetic enterologist’s nutritionist.
The bottom line? I’ve lost even more than the chemo put on, and am keeping it off nicely with a much lower calorie diet. I also feel a lot better!
Quads who don’t push their chairs just can’t eat 1500 calories a day. I eat more like 500 a day while dieting and 800 a day to maintain. I eat mostly protein, vegetables (two salads a day and a steamed vegetable), and a serving of well-timed starches.
Here’s my diet, created from advice by Doctors Julie and the late incredibly great Art Madorsky, combined with carbohydrate addict principles on food cravings.
I have 1 ounce of protein for breakfast, usually in the form of a one-Egg-Beater veggie omelet or 2 ounces of water-packed tuna or a few pieces of herring. Check your leftovers for handy small portions of protein.
For lunch and dinner, I eat 3 to 4 ounces of protein combined with a serving of salad or veggies. For these proteins, I like half a chicken breast or an extra lean turkey burger or poached salmon.
Each day, one of my meals is a “reward meal”–I get a protein, a vegetable and a portion of starch such as rice, potato or bagel (I love Chex party mix). If you eat fruit, make sure to do it within one hour to avoid the insulin peaking that causes food cravings.
Three times a week I eat three yummy wicked treats, with no calorie concern. This is a glorious way to eat pizza and hot fudge sundaes guiltlessly, as it is necessary to keep your metabolism from slowing down and running too lean. It sounds counterintuitive, but I’ve really become much more svelte.
Alas, the SCI stomach when it balloons is hard to get back in its cage without binders of some kind. Mine is flat when I lie down but paunchier when I sit up, so I use a girdle for that.
There, ya got my beauty secrets. At first eating 500-800 calories is hell, but as you start having more energy, fitting into old tighter clothes and getting creative with your low-calorie concoctions, it’s a blast!
A great web site for calorie counting is Cyberdiet, which emphasizes healthy approaches to dieting.