Amputee Guide to a Healthy New Year
This is a great time of year to plan for the future, but in New England it’s also pretty tough to stick to those lofty goals when the temperature dips into the teens and twenties, and the snow and wind make many of us want to hit snooze and pull the blankets over our heads for a few more hours. We get it. That’s why we came up with an easy to follow guide to improving your health and wellbeing this year which doesn’t involve braving the cold for a 6am workout.
While millions of Americans are in need of healthier eating and exercise habits, amputees, specifically those whose limb loss was the result of diabetes or other vascular disease, are at a much higher risk of complications and even future amputation of limbs. While most people think of limb loss as a result of trauma, it’s actually diabetes and other vascular diseases that are the leading contributors of limb amputations. For those who have already lost a leg due to diabetes, up to 55% will require amputation of the second leg within 2-3 years.¹
Even with these alarming statistics, many people do not successfully manage their health and wellness to reduce their risk of limb loss, and may become so discouraged or even depressed by their situation that they do not see any reason to take the necessary steps to improve their health.
Here are some simple steps you can take to improve your own health and reduce your risk of future amputation:
Make healthy eating a no-brainer.
The key here is to build healthy eating habits into your day in ways that you don’t even notice them. Try using smaller plates for meals, and load up half of your plate with veggies before adding protein or starches. Swap out high-sugar drinks like soda and juice for seltzer flavored with fresh fruit. In the cold weather, there is nothing more comforting than a bowl of hot soup. Stick to broth-based soups, not cream-based, and be sure to load up on the veggies if you’re making your own. Do you own a slow-cooker? There are hundreds of amazing and healthy recipes available online for free that don’t require much, if any, work to create, and your healthy, delicious meal will be waiting for you at the end of your busy day.
Many people hit the drive-through because they’re starving and don’t have time to sit down for a full meal. Maybe you’re one that does this on the way to the office because you’re running late, or you don’t have time to eat lunch because you’re running the kids around to their activities. Stock up on some healthy snacks that you can keep in the car for these times, such as pre-packaged bags of nuts and dried fruit, or healthy granola bars. The next time you pass a fast food drive-through, you’ll be able to keep driving right past it.
Find an activity you love, and invite friends.
Hate to exercise? Dread the thought of hitting the gym? There are hundreds of activities you can try out to see if you enjoy them. Sign up for a free account at Groupon.com or LivingSocial.com and you’ll receive emails with great deals on activities and sports you can try with no commitment, or contact your prosthetics provider or local adaptive sports program to learn about the sports and training programs available for amputees at every level, including skiing, snowboarding, surfing, kayaking, biking, and many more.
Track progress and reward yourself.
Devices like the FitBit are great tools for tracking your progress, recording the number of steps you take or miles you log throughout the day. Use these to track your daily activity, and set higher goals for yourself each week or month. When you hit a goal, reward yourself with something you love like a massage or a new outfit
Improving your health does not have to be difficult or take over your life. By making simple changes, incorporating activity into your daily life, and paying attention to what you’re putting into your body, you can transition from being at-risk of future limb loss to living a healthy, active, fulfilling, and long life.
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