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upper body



A Reader Question

A reader writes…

I am 300 pounds and I am a paraplegic. I have use of my upper body only. What can I do to lose my weight? I already have changed the way I eat.

-W.J.

To answer such a sensitive question, I asked my friend and former colleague at eDiets.com, Susan Burke March, a certified nutritionist, to share her advice.

Dear W.J.:

When you can’t walk, it surely makes weight loss more challenging. If you’re not expending calories in activity, it makes what you eat much more important. Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen–if you take the challenge to burn calories, even if you can’t walk. You say you have upper-body abilities, so you’re halfway there! I can envisage the New York City Marathon, where I volunteered for a number of years. The wheelchair athletes were truly inspiring–their upper-body strength was phenomenal, and they competed with as much enthusiasm and joy as the runners. I think you need a physical therapist to help you by showing you how to burn calories, even if you can’t walk. There are lots of ways to do it…there are many pieces of equipment you can purchase, and there are wheel-chair exercises for you to do–daily–to burn calories.

So, that’s your mission–to seek out and find the resources that will teach you to incorporate upper-body exercise into your daily routine–and that means daily. Burning calories daily, using upper-body movement will improve your circulation, strengthen your muscles, including your heart muscle, will improve your mood and sleep, and will allow you to move that scale and balance your life. I Googled “exercise equipment for paraplegics” and found this link: http://www.blvd.com/Exercise_Equipment/Accessories/.

If you’ve changed your diet–I applaud you…that is a great first step. Take this second step, and stay on the path toward improved health. Good Luck!

-Susan Burke March M.S., R.D., L.D., CDE
Author of the upcoming book, Naturally Thin — How a Dietitian Went From Overweight to in Control