You have worked so hard to lose weight at this point. Not only have you lost weight, your lifestyle habits have changed and you are set on eating properly at most meals and exercising, or at least actively moving beyond your baseline, on a daily basis. You feel great. You feel young. You feel light.

Then, life happens…

For whatever reason, you now need to have surgery on your knee. Gracefully, you made it through your surgery, but there is a minor setback — you regained your weight.

“C’mon man!” You say to yourself. But I urge you not to stress out.

First of all, you have to give yourself credit for only gaining 12 pounds back. When you are completely sedentary because of a surgery, most people gain a few pounds. In fact, according to in a study done by Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, the average weight gain is 14 pounds for the next two years after knee surgery. The reason — you are less active.

Calories In – Calories Out = Weight Loss

Because we can’t change the amount of calories that you can put out with activity, the first step to take is to re-evaluate your diet. Anytime you gain weight, by default, it has to come from what you are eating or drinking. Ask yourself if there are any improvements you can make (portion size, food choices, beverage choices, etc.). If you are doing well here, you may need to cut back on your total daily caloric intake. Not too much; however, because your body still needs protein and mineral to heal your knee. The key is eating lean protein foods, such as fish and chicken, whole grain and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

As far as exercise, because you cannot perform lower body aerobic exercise, consider circuit training workouts that include exercises that you doctor will allow you to perform. If he or she says you can only do upper body workouts (shadowboxing), focus on those particular exercises. If there are some lower body exercises you can do, then include these into your regimen. Remember that adding additional muscle mass will help you to  burn calories all throughout the day, even at rest.

Finally, a portion of your weight gain may be due to post-surgical swelling. Working with your doctor or physical therapist will help you to control excessive swelling that you may have. Just consider this point as well.

As always, this is simply my opinion and not medical advice. Definitely check with your doctor before making any of these changes in your diet or exercise routine. Being safe with your new knee is of utmost importance.