Posted by: paulbassler | April 14, 2013

Losing Weight in a Wheelchair

In 2008 my wife suffered a burst brain aneurysm that left her paralyzed on the right side of her body. It took us a while transitioning our world into a wheelchair lifestyle and learning what we could and could not do. For me, as her primary caregiver, I had to learn to bath her, groom her, change diapers, avoid bed sores, move her from her bed to the wheelchair to the car, and to cook. I also had to learn how to keep the house clean, and do laundry. In the beginning it was hard to imagine how this one tragic event would change our lives forever.
With the love of my life limited to a wheelchair, my goal has been to find ways for her to enjoy living. At first, it seemed like eating was about the only thing she could enjoy. As the one bringing her food each day, I found myself trying to make her happy by providing her with the food she like to eat. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the healthiest diet and after a couple of years she gained over 100 pounds. She didn’t seem to mind the weight gain, since she enjoyed the ice cream (her favorite), candy, potato chips and other junk food I provided. One day, however, she saw herself in the mirror, fully unclothed, and was astounded. She started talking about going on a diet. We also saw a news report one day about a woman who was also confined to a wheelchair and ended up gaining over 700 pounds. Even though this scared by wife, it was not enough to stop her from graving the foods she enjoyed eating.
Then one day I got a hernia trying to move her around and we both realized we have to find a way to reduce her weight. I started looking for diets that might work for a disabled person who is unable to exercise, but found nothing. I spoke to a nutritionist, but all she said was limit my wife to less than 1500 calories per day. We actually did better than that. We cut her daily calorie intake to less than 1200, but still she did not lose weight.
Prior to my wife’s stroke, several years ago, we both tried the low-carb diet with great success. Back then, I was able to lose 40 lbs., and my wife lost 30 lbs. Now back then we were able to add exercise to our diet. Since we did have good luck with the low-carb diet in the past, we decided to try it again. With the Atkins Diet, phase one of the four-phase program is to eat 20 or less carbs per day. Once you start getting close to your ideal weight, you can begin to add more carbs through fruit and vegetables.
In order to meet our 20-carb a day goal, I designed a diet that we would eat each day. For breakfast, we would have two eggs, a half a strawberry, a slice of turkey bacon, one sausage link, and a small slice of mozzarella cheese. Eventually my wife cut back to one egg. For lunch, we would have a small salad consisting of Romaine lettuce, five black olives, cheese chunks, chicken chunks, a small slice of celery, a slice of dill pickle, a little cabbage and sugar-free dressing. For evening snack, we would have a few pieces of sugar-free candy, a half of strawberry, a half ounce of beef jerky, a small bowl of Jello, a few almonds and a half Atkins sugar-free snack bar. That’s it, our daily diet.
My wife began her diet in July and as of today she has lost sixty-six pounds. I began in January and have lost twenty-two pounds. No more ice cream, no more potato chips, no more bread, noodles, fast food or a million other things we used to love to eat. There are a number of other low-carb items we eat from time to time, such as broccoli, spinach, chicken, steak and other meats. Mostly, however, we have stuck to the daily diet I described. My wife has decided to get down to her pre-stroke weight of 150 lbs. Since her peak weight was 256 lbs., that would mean a total loss of over 100 lbs.
The weight loss she has already experienced has made caring for her much easier, and she feels better as well. My own weight loss has helped me feel better and given me more stamina to meet the challenges of my work day. Once we reach our target weight, the goal will be to maintain that weight and not fall back into the same old habits. I do hope to be able to have a small bowl of spaghetti someday, or a slice of pizza. I am hoping when that day comes, I learn what the term “moderation” means.
I can’t say our low-carb diet will work for everyone, but it is working for us. Even though I do get a great deal of exercise each day, my wife does not, and she is losing weight consistently every week. She had some blood work done not long ago and her cholesterol numbers and blood sugar numbers were good. Aside from her paralysis, she is in good health and feeling great. So if you are facing similar challenges, especially being unable to get much exercise each day, you might try a low-carb diet. But as they say in the commercials, you might want to discuss it with your doctor before you do.

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