When You Can’t Work Out

Featured Article, Fitness, News and Advice, Weight Loss
on March 13, 2012

DEAR FORMER FAT GIRL: After reading your book, I got so inspired I really went for it in terms of exercise. I work full time with a 2-hour commute and have four kids. I have no time to go to the gym, but after reading your book I got the kids to work out with me in the garden boot-camp style! I also do squats as I brush my teeth—that’s four minutes a day! Alas, I tore my hamstring. I’m disappointed because for the first time in years I was starting to see results! I’m so worried that I will slip back. I really, really don’t want to lose any fitness as it was so hard to build it up! Is there anything I can do to burn the calories?—Amanda

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DEAR AMANDA: I love how you got creative and made fitness work for you, despite the challenges of your schedule (never will I complain about not having enough time after reading your note!). You really did embrace the idea of doing what you can, whenever you can, rather than trying to stick to some cookie-cutter routine that doesn’t fit your lifestyle. And now, on top of the job, commute and kids, you’ve got a new challenge to deal with: a healing hamstring. Approach this blip in the road (because it IS just a blip) the same way you approached your lifestyle challenges: Do what you can whenever you can. A torn hamstring is a serious thing, so I would first discuss your exercise options with your doctor. Does your doc suggest (and your insurance cover) physical therapy? If so, take advantage. Find a place near your workplace, where you can duck out during the day a couple of times a week for a short PT session—if it’s medically prescribed, it’s easier to make a case to your boss that it’s necessary for your health and wellness. Find out when you can start doing weight-bearing exercise again, and exactly what is recommended (cycling? Walking?). If you’re limited to non-weight-bearing exercise, your best options are swimming or other water exercise (pool running?), and something called an upper-body ergometer, which is kind of like a bike for your arms. Most physical therapy facilities and more and more health clubs are adding these machines for folks who, for whatever reason, can’t use their lower-body for cardio exercise. To keep your fitness up, you may have to beg, borrow and steal some time from your other commitments for a while until you are up to snuff—but it will be worth it. It’s difficult to get the kind of workout you need without being able to use your legs, and the last thing you want to do is go against doctor’s orders and overwork your hamstring—that could set you back even further. But you’re super-creative—you’ve already demonstrated that—so use your doc’s guidelines, put your ingenuity to work, and go for it (within reason)!


Lisa Delaney is editor of Spry magazine and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl. To submit a question, visit spryliving.com/experts.