“How did you not gain weight when you were stuck on the couch?!” I got asked this question over and over and over and the truth is it was pretty easy not to. Just because you might not be able to exercise or work for that matter does not mean you need to throw all good principles aside. For myself I tried to keep close to my normal schedule. I went to bed around 11pm and woke up around 7am. I ate breakfast when I woke up and it didn’t consist of cold pizza and Coco Puffs! Lunch came about 4-5 hours later, afternoon snack 4-5 hours after that and the dinner followed predictably in due course. This approach seems like a no-brainer to me. The regular input of balanced nutrient-rich foods spurred what some may call a miraculous, speedy and complete recovery. I would argue that my recovery was “optimal” not miraculous. That means that everyone’s body would respond in like fashion when you nourish it!
Additionally, from a mental health perspective being a prisoner of your couch can be depressing! I was not without repeated bouts of tears of frustration. But then I thought, “I am getting better every day. I am in my own house from which I have a lovely, peaceful view. I am able to eat foods that I love and are prepared with care and I have the support of my friends and family. Some people are stuck in a hospital bed and are not getting out anytime soon.” So after my epiphany and self pep-talk and realization of all the things I had to be grateful for, I got on with the healing process. Great food choices chemically assist in the battle of the mood swings in your brain. Again, keeping to a great diet, that was balanced in terms of portion sizes and nutrients helped my mental state to stay optimistic and thus, boosted my healing.
Perhaps the one thing I did do that might not seem so obvious was I did NOT leave the T.V. on all day long. In fact, it was turned off most of the time as I chose instead to work on the computer, read a magazine, renew my certifications, build a website, write a book, etc. The benefit to this was that I was not constantly bombarded by advertisements about fast food, salty foods, or any kind of food. We as humans are very stimulated by visual mediums, so when you see food in front of you constantly, guess what happens…you want to eat…constantly. Plus, I think I got smarter from all the reading I did – so my body healed quickly and my brain was stimulated too.
So to recap here’s my suggestions to anyone facing enforced couch time, whether from a physical disability or work layoff or illness:
1) Stay rested and keep your sleep schedule in tact. Don’t oversleep or under sleep. Try to get 7-8 hours/night and try to maintain your set routine.
2) Keep eating balanced, appropriately portioned, nutrient rich meals. It promotes health (body and mind) from the inside out.
3) Turn off the TV! I am certain there are 1000 things you can find to do to pass the time and give your brain some healthy fuel choices too!
4) Don’t decide that because one piece of the puzzle isn’t there that you can’t make out the beautiful view of the rest of the layout. In other words, just because you can’t exercise doesn’t mean you have to give up every other basic tenant to healthy living!