“Will I gain Weight When Injured?”
“Will I gain Weight When Injured?”
Food and Weight Fears that HOLD YOU BACK from healing.
As an injury recovery coach, this is where I see many of my clients struggling the most. I thought it would be valuable to have an intimate talk about common food and weight fears that may hold you back and prevent you from healing or living a vibrant, healthy life.
When you are injured, the fear of gaining weight and turning into a “ball of mush” is real. So real in fact, that it can cause negative side effects. In order to heal properly, it’s essential to have a healthy relationship with your body and food. This means releasing any diet or weight fears that may prevent you from getting the nourishment you need to optimally recover. Wasting energy obsessing over weight gain or dieting takes energy away from healing. We have so many other positive things to focus on that can help you (and your body) in feeling better. Let’s get these negative thoughts out in the open, talk about facts, and put these fears to rest.
If you’ve been having any of the below thoughts, know that you are not alone! So many of us struggle with anxiety over losing control of our bodies. But remember: your body hears everything your mind says and these fearful thoughts can actually cause fatigue, pain, or stall healing. Here are some common food and weight fears and some facts to help you get past them so you can heal.
“I’m scared of gaining weight, so I need to go on a diet!”
One of the biggest barriers to optimal fueling for injured folks is the fear of getting fat. People often seem to think that they only “deserve to eat” if they can burn off calories with exercise. Or that if they lose their appetite post-injury it will be a great way to lose weight. Wrong! Get those thoughts out of your head right now and let’s get things straight: you do not have to earn your food.
Injury or not, EVERYONE needs to eat! Despite popular belief, your organs (brain, liver, lungs, kidneys, heart, etc.)—not exercising muscles—burn the majority of the calories you consume. Organs are metabolically active and require a lot of fuel. About two-thirds of the calories consumed by the average (lightly active) person support the resting metabolic rate (the energy needed to simply exist). On top of that, your body can require 10% to 20% more calories with trauma or minor surgery; major surgery requires much more. Yes, activity costs energy. Therefore, we need more energy when training for sports, or following an exercise program. Yet some people, especially females, intentionally (to lose body weight) or unintentionally (due to improper nutrition education) under-eat. This can lead to more repetitive stress injuries such as stress fractures or ligamentous injury.
Thus, too few calories when healthy can lead to injury; too few calories during recovery can prevent you from getting healthy.
You may need fewer total calories because you are not training hard, but you definitely need more than your sedentary baseline. It’s essential to learn what your body needs and eat to meet those needs. Refer to the “How To Eat For Healing & Recovery” lecture in this course to guide you.
“I’m worried my muscle will turn into fat.”
Wrong. If you are unable to exercise, your muscles will shrink, but they will not turn into fat. Sally, a skier who broke her leg, was shocked to see how small her leg muscles looked when the doctor removed the cast six weeks later. Once she started exercising, she rebuilt the muscles to their original size. Doing the workouts in this course will help you maintain lean muscle mass and also make a safe return to exercise when you are all healed up.
“I’m not exercising so I’m going to get fat!”
Also wrong. If you overeat while you are injured (as can easily happen if you are bored or depressed), you can indeed gain weight. Sally, a frustrated soccer player with a bad ankle sprain, quickly gained 15 pounds post-injury because she continued to eat game day portions. But if you eat mindfully, your body can regulate a proper intake. We address mindful eating in the “Mindful eating for healing” lecture of this course.
Let’s work together to get rid of the above fears.These negative beliefs hurt you in your ability to have a positive relationship with food, fitness, your body, and your recovery. These fears are dangerous if not addressed. They may turn into a disordered relationship to food or to fitness. They may cause you to restrict your nutritional intake, which prevents you from getting the nutrition you need to recover. They may cause you to develop unhealthy rules or behaviors around food. These fears can turn into serious health complications. They hurt you in healing. I’m here to help you choose to have a positive relationship to food so you can overcome this injury and return to healthy living. This course can help you take action in having a positive relationship to yourself, your body, your weight, and your healing. It provides coaching, resources, and a supportive community. Here are a few additional tips on how to overcome these food and weight fears so that you can heal in the best way possible AND have a positive relationship to your body for life.
Coping strategies for overcoming food & weight fears when dealing with an injury:
- Make every day a day to choose to be healthy. You could restrict. You could become obsessive about food or fitness (or lack of it). Don’t. Stop the negative cycle before it starts. Choose differently. Choose habits that allow you the fuel and rest you need for optimal healing.
- Remember: what you focus on expands. When you are consumed by the fear of weight gain, that fear BUILDS in your mind. Have you ever heard the quote, worrying is like praying for what you don't want? Focus on the outcomes you DO want. Put your mind on attracting those outcomes into your life.
- Get coaching. Investing in the support of an Injury recovery coach or therapist can help you choose positive, healthy, constructive habits to prevent negative fears from hurting your recovery.
- Join a support group. Talk out all of your fears and feelings. Let yourself be supported by a community that understands and can help you through your emotions positively. I created our injury recovery support group for us in this Hurt Foot Coaching course.
- Let GO of the need to control your body and your weight. Sorry to break it to you: but you dont get the final say over those things anyway. The urgent need to control your weight is something we have been taught by our diet obsessed culture. Also not healthy. If you practice healthy diet and movement habits, your body will come to a weight it feels best at naturally. Don’t torture yourself. Choose to eat healthy and your body will come to a place it feels healthy too.
- Don't do something permanently stupid because you are temporarily upset. Deal with the anxiety, emotions, and feelings in a POSITIVE way. This Hurt Foot Fitness course will give you tons of resources on healthy coping strategies for dealing with the mental challenges of recovery.
- DONT compare yourself. Avoid comparison at all costs. Your body is unique to you. Your injury is unique to you. While other’s stories may inform you, comparing your body, diet, or recovery with another individual is not constructive, positive, or helpful. Stay on your path. Listen to your unique needs and honor them with positive actions.
- Live in the present moment. Don’t get 10 steps ahead of yourself. Don’t worry about what might happen in a few months. You don't know what the future will bring so your best strategy is to make the most of the PRESENT. Stay in the moment. Make healthy choices every day. Choices that help you nourish your body and get the rest you need to move forward in healing.
- Choose to be healthy no matter what your weight. Your weight or exercise shouldn’t dictate how much you can or can not eat. In order to be healthy it's important to stop equating eating with calories burned! Eat because it nourishes you. Eat because it fuels you in living well. Your weight shouldn't determine your healthy food choices. Let yourself eat what you need to nourish your body and recovery.
- Love your body through the process of healing. You can’t hate your way into healthy. I’m sorry it doesn't work that way. LOVE YOURSELF. Accept yourself! Your weight does not determine your worth. Your athletic abilities do not determine your worth. YOU DETERMINE YOUR WORTH. You are worthy, valuable, lovable no matter what sports you play or dress size you are. Choose to see that self-worth now. Choose to love your body no matter what the number on the scale. Choose to love your body no matter where it is in the path of recovering from and injury. Choose this place of self-acceptance and self-love and I can guarantee you, you will heal.
Do you have a food or weight fear with your injury? What are you scared will happen? Let’s talk about it! When you face your fears they disappear. Let me know in the comments below if this lecture helped shine a light on a truth that can help you heal yourself.
I share this with you with kindness and love. So that you can give yourself what you need to feel good. Know that you CAN choose a healthy relationship to food, to fitness, to healing, and to yourself. I am here to support you in doing it.