New Year. New You.

The new year is a very exciting time for many people. The start of a new year provides a great timeline to start fresh on a clean slate, and 365 days to get some things done. A lot of us make New Year resolutions, which often includes promises of going to the gym, getting fit, eating healthier, losing weight and looking after ourselves. For many amputees, especially those who are new to the limb loss journey, may find this timeline to be a good motivator to get back into their lives. For some, this practice and mindset could set off anxiety and added pressure. Below are some helpful tips that could alleviate some of the “New Year’s resolution” pressure for you.

Focus on you

It is easier said than done with pressures from family members, friends and even social media to think about you first. Sometimes, these pressures acts like motivators to get you to do something. It may look like you are having fun in pictures you share on social media with your family and friends. But if in reality, you are simply doing it for “show” then you are not focusing on yourself. Focusing on yourself means doing things that really make you feel good. Deep as it may sound, do something that feeds your soul. Do things like going to the gym and working out because it makes you feel good both physically and mentally. You feel accomplished and you are physically and mentally getting healthier. Focus on you first before focusing on how others perceive you.

Set goals

Setting up lofty goals can both be motivating or detrimental. Saying “I will loose 50 lbs. by March” is 3-month window that is both too short to achieve a 50 lbs. weight loss and unhealthy. Set smaller goals as they are easier to stick to. For example, commit to loosing 2-3 lbs. a week. Make choices to eat healthier. Really work out even if you don’t make it the gym. A few canned food or books have enough weight in them to do some strength training at home. Get the whole household or your friends involved if you can. You are more likely to stick to your plans when you are held accountable by our friends or family. If you’re a new amputee, take advantage of workouts and equipment during your physical therapy sessions. This will make achieving your goals a lot easier.

Avoid the image trap

Many of us, at one point or another, have dealt with body-image after a limb loss. That’s completely understandable. We have been dictated all our lives what the standard of beauty is, and now we have to deal with an image of ourselves missing a limb. It may take some time, but it is really comes back to focusing on yourself as mentioned above. Following other amputees on social media doing extreme sports, or running, or lifting heavy weights may be a good motivator, or inspiration, but that is all they should be. Do what is right for you, your body and what you are physically capable right now. Don’t hurt yourself in trying to do what they are doing. Don’t compare your amputation journey with them or their body image with yours. They are them. You are you. You can celebrate their accomplishments, follow in their path and be inspired to become active and get fit. But careful not to be frustrated because you are not at their level yet. You will get there. Work on it slowly and safely.

Listen to your body

Although your goals for the new year is about getting back to an active lifestyle and being physical to get in shape by summer, you need to listen to your body. Rest when you’re tired. Sleep and get a good night sleep. Rest and sleeping is the time when our bodies heal. If you’re a new amputee, rehabilitation and getting used to wearing prostheses will take a toll on your body. Remember that if you still have wounds healing from your amputation or any other complications, your body will need that rest to heal. Make sure you stop when your body is telling you to. “Pushing limits” or “No limits” is a common notion uttered in the amputee community often to intimate that your amputation does not limit you to do any thing. But remember that you are not super human. Even an able-bodied person have limits. Our bodies have limits. It is physically impossible to have no limits. So rest and rest well. Once you’ve rested, you can go at it again.

Speak up

It’s simply that. Speak up of whatever troubles you – physically and mentally. Advocate for yourself, your health, and the care you are receiving. Address issues or problems you are experiencing so that it does not fall on the way side that can cause further setbacks later. Talk to other amputees and share the experiences especially when it comes to prosthesis. Attend support groups if they are available in your area. Groups are a good way to be social in the community, network and find out different programs for amputees or ways to participate in adaptive sports in your area to help you get back to your lifestyle.

This new year, take charge of your life instead of chasing after “new year resolutions” trends. Make a lifestyle plan to change instead of short resolution goals. They may be satisfying at first, but we all know they are short-lived. A self commitment takes time, effort and both attitude and behaviour changes. That combination has longer lasting effects than short-lived resolutions.

All the best in the coming year and celebrate how far you’ve come. Happy New Year!

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