New Year, healthier me, I know, a lot people say that, but have trouble sticking to it and so have I, but I’m truly hoping this year is different because becoming healthier is something I feel like I really need do what with having less energy and feeling weaker and out of breath during my transfers I’m tired of feeling like that so one of my 2022 intentions is to get healthier as well as stronger, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out last week’s post. When I sat down to write this post, I went back and forth on the the title, but the fact as a person with a disability and a wheelchair user at that, my needs to stay healthy and strong in addition to the way I go about it are going to be different than that of an able-bodied person. That being said, back to the topic of today’s post How I’m Living A Healthier Lifestyle As A Wheelchair User..
One more thing, there are so many changes in this post that I’ve already made in my life, others I’ve started doing this month. I’m saying this because I’m just getting started on this journey, I don’t know for sure what will or won’t work for me, and I hope you’ll follow along as I go through this process and discover what I hope to be the joys of working out and healthier eating. Okay, ready? Let’s get started.
5 Things You Can Do To Live A Healthier Lifestyle As Wheelchair User
Water and More Water: It’s hard to make yourself drink more water for a number of reasons from wanting something with more flavor, to the age old problem for us wheelchair users, if we drink too much, we face the problem of wondering if the bathroom is going to be accessible. However, now that I’m home more due to the pandemic, I’m trying to let go of that mindset. One of the things I’m doing is drinking water with one of my meals. This helps me to ensure I’m drinking it everyday even if it’s still a struggle to remind myself to drink water. The other change to my routine is taking a few sips when I get up from my computer for a few moments to stretch my legs or give my eyes a break. I’m still working out a daily goal that works for me and my lifestyle, for right now, it’s just more.
Healthier Snacking: I tend to snack on stuff during the time that I’m away from my computer, but I’ve found that snacking on certain fruits is healthier, keeps my hands clean, and doesn’t interrupt my thought process too much. I love to have a small serving of a variety of berries and other fruits: Grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, choose what works for you. This choice throughout the day really helps me feel like I’m making a difference in choosing my health and self-care, why? The way I see it, choosing to have a small serving of fruits while I’m working means I’m not choosing chips or cookies and while I won’t know all the nutritional facts when it comes to the fruits, it’s better than snacking on chips daily.
Not a huge fan of snacking on just fruits, that’s okay, think about what you like and what works for your lifestyle. As I said I like fruits because they don’t impact my productivity much, but you can add a dip when eating fruits, get mixed nuts, or
I may be opting for healthier eating, but for me trying to be healthier overall doesn’t mean cutting out things I like to eat, life is too short for that. However, I do pay attention to the portions of junk food that I’m eating as well as the frequency. If there is a day that I end up eating more junk food than I would on a given day, for example, grabbing a burger and fries from Mcdonald’s then in following days I’ll ensure that I eat more fruits, salads, or a smoothie or two.
Minimal Effort Meal Planning: This has been the hardest aspect of eating and living a healthier lifestyle for me, yes, I know that’s an oxymoron considering I said minimal effort meal planning, but here’s why.
Food Delivery I’m still learning to cook with my mom’s help since it’s one of the less accessible areas of my home so during the pandemic, I ordered a lot of junk food from whatever service had what I wanted. These days I’ve found a few options from healthier options like Panera so if I know my mom is not available to help me with meal prep, I’ll order a larger portion to eat over a number of meals instead of ordering fast food. Do your research to find go-to meals from either your favorite places or new places. When I started eating from different restaurants I looked over the menus and picked a few items I’d like to try. It can be time consuming, but it can also be a fun way to discover new foods. I’ve found new healthier meals at Panera and a few other locations… progress.
Planning My Meals: Before I decided to start eating better, I was never one to plan my meals. This is something I’m still getting the hang of, but planning meals is an effort not just for me, but for whoever is helping me since it involves prep as well. In order to keep things simple and easy, I look at meals that have aspects that are predone such as frozen vegetables, adding some meat or even a small sandwich and I’m good to go, not necessarily pretty, certainly not Instagram worthy, but it’s easy and healthy and that’s what matters for now. As the year goes on I hope to plan more elaborate meals to add them to my repertoire for fun, but for now, I’m focused on quick & healthy meals.
Workouts: Now that the food’s all done, the other side of being fit is working out. As annoying as it is, eating well is only part of the equation of getting in and/or staying in shape. As a wheelchair user, finding workouts to do isn’t always the easiest thing, but I remind myself that things can be adapted to fit what I can do. At the time of writing this post, I workout at home, starting off with stretching arms and legs, then move on from there.
Since I rely on my arms so much I like to focus on working my arms and shoulders with
- Lateral Arm Raises
- Arm circles
- Hand Walks
- Adapted Planks
- Challenging myself to complete tasks in different ways
- Seated Chest Fly
- Front Lateral Raises
- Bicep Curls
- Shoulder Press
I may be in my wheelchair, but that doesn’t stop me from working out my legs. I like to focus on keeping the muscles from getting too stiff throughout the day so I swing my legs back and forth for a few minutes. Although I’m comfortable with my routine, I like to challenge myself, by adding an exercise or set to keep it interesting and fun. One of my goals for the year is to strengthen my core so I’m currently trying to adapt a few of the exercises that focus on the muscles I want to target.
Mindset Work: If you’ve been following me here on the blog or on Instagram, then I apologize if I sound like a broken record. If this is the first time you’re reading one of my posts, let me say working on your mindset is something I definitely believe is worth the effort. Last year I dedicated a few minutes of my morning to working on my mindset with prayer and affirmations. My goal this year was to do it everyday and though there are some days I’ve missed already, I can tell it is worth taking them time. My mindset routine includes prayer and going over a few of my affirmations for something I;m thinking about or really struggling with at the time. For example, I have affirmations about success, living with a disability, and few other topics. After that it’s time for visualizations, I love this because there are a number of ways you can approach this exercise. You can visualize your day, week, consider how you feel when you accomplish your to-do list, learn that new skill, get that promotion, or visualize what your life will look like in a few years. Last, but not least for me is deep breathing, it’s a great way to just sit with your thoughts before you begin the day.
These activities are simple, though putting them into practice may be a bit complex in the beginning, it’s worth it. Every time I complete my mindset routine, workout, or eat a meal I know is better for me than fast food, I’m energized to keep going until these actions themselves become routine. Anyone you ask is going to have a different response to how he or she may be living a healthier lifestyle, wheelchair user or not, what I’m learning is it’s all about where you start. Does meal planning seem a bit too much right now? That’s okay, start with the mindset routine or drinking more water during the day and work from there.
Living healthier has not been easy because it’s not yet just another part of my routine, it takes work, commitment and consistency, as well as desire to all the work I’ve put in show me results that for me mean being fit and stronger, having an easier time finding my balance, and more confident in my ability to transfer unassisted. I’m not there at this point, but I hope that over the course of this year being healthy and fit will become a part of my routine in addition to the ability to make great food I can feel good about. I hope that you all will enjoy the journey with me towards a healthier and fun filled life.
Are you doing what you can to live a healthier lifestyle? If so, what is one activity that’s part of your routine to live a healthier lifestyle as a wheelchair user or person with a disability? Let me know in the comments.