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That's Why You Gained Weight?

Over the past 25 years of coaching individuals in health, fitness, nutrition & sport-specific training, I have heard many reasons as to why individuals have put on excess body weight and body fat. A very common one goes something like this, "Rick, I injured my shoulder and had to have surgery and I was not able to do much with my upper body for about three months. And that is why I put on 30 pounds over the last three months." Wait, what? You had surgery on your shoulder and that is why you gained weight?


In no way my minimizing shoulder surgery or any injury whatsoever. As a lifelong athlete, I've had more than my fair share of injuries from six concussions, broken clavicle, multiple shoulder subluxations, femoral stress fracture and the list goes on and on. But, when it comes to body composition, there is no reason that injuries like this need to lead to weight gain. There may be many times in our lives when we are not able to work out whether it is injuries, illness, etc. But, we can always eat right, no matter what; and that is the key to success. Let me share a few examples with you.


Many years ago, a gentleman I was coaching called me. He was very shaken up as he had just been in a cycling accident and fractured his collarbone. In his words he said, "Rick, I guess I'm done working out for a while." This is a very normal response after an accident like this. I mentioned to him that in no way was this the case. I had him back in the gym the next day, lifting lower body weights. His collarbone was fractured, not his legs. He could still lift weights with his legs and sit on a stationary bike and pedal. And, he could still have laser-like focus on his nutrition. He was so excited to know that this cycling accident and fractured clavicle, in no way, set him back. By the time his fractured collarbone healed, he was in fantastic physical condition and his body was well fueled. He did not lose a step.


Another gentleman I was coaching suffered a very severe leg injury. This required very extensive surgery and a full leg brace and this gentleman was forced to be sedentary for the next 12 weeks. Sounds like a train wreck and a set up for body composition and fitness disaster, right? Heck no, not even close. This guy called me and said, "Rick, I'm ready to be more focused than ever on my nutrition." Let's fast-forward 12 weeks post surgery, with only upper body weight lifting workouts and just by eating right, this guy lost 10+ pounds of body fat, fantastic.


A female athlete I was coaching a number of years ago had always suffered from calf muscle issues from many, many years ago. She had a pretty severe, bilateral flare-up, of the calf muscles. One of her main modes of exercise was running. Well, this injury did not allow her to run for a few months. Did that stop her? Did that mean she was going to gain weight? No, not even close. We never focus on what we cannot do (running in this case); rather, we always focus on what we can do. She could still do strength training, swimming and some light cycling. And of course, she could still eat right no matter how injured her legs were. Over those next few months, she stayed as lean and fit as ever, despite bilateral lower leg injuries.


A personal example that is very similar to many of the stories above. It was 2004, on a Sunday, the day before Memorial Day. I was on an 80-mile cycling workout and at mile 79 I had a very severe crash while going 30+mph. I suffered a fractured left clavicle, concussion and road rash. I was loaded into an ambulance and I was off to the hospital. Did I let this stop me? No way, not even close, it was only a fractured clavicle, road rash and a concussion (I followed my Orthopedic Surgeon’s orders and he gave me the green light on my workout plan moving forward). I was back in the gym the next day, lifting weights with my legs and sitting on a stationary bike. I set two goals for myself: #1, three weeks after my fractured clavicle, I would be back running 10 miles. #2, on July 4, approximately five weeks post-accident, I would be back racing a 5K. Well, three weeks later, 10 mile run, done! 5 weeks later, 16:32 5K while wearing my figure-8 collar bone brace (As per my physician, this brace was to be worn everyday for about 6 weeks).


 Bottom line is this, we never, ever want to use such injuries, surgeries, etc. as an excuse for weight gain because, in no way, does that need to be one's reality. We can always eat right and make the right nutrition choices and this is one of the main keys to success whether we are injured or not.


Use the stories above as some great motivation because I'm sure you’ve had some type of setback in the past whether it was injury, illness, surgery, etc. And when you see similar-others, just like you, overcome these injuries and not miss a step during recovery, that's quite inspirational and encouraging.


Dr. Rick Kattouf II

2x Best-Selling Author

Named One Of The World Fitness Elite® Trainers Of The Year