I'm sure you will find a balance. Maybe eat at the low end of the reccomended calorie range for your weight and height for a week and see what happens. If you lose weight then you can adjust upwards until you find a calorie intake that lets you maintain. Experiment with different calorie intake until you find out what's best for your body at a reduced activity level. It's only temporary until you get back on your feet.
I agree with you that losing weight (I by that I mean fat) is much much more about diet than exercise.
Here's my concern... I have been (for years now) highly attentive to logging my calories. I prepare 95%+ of my meals at home and weigh all ingredients or servings of items (from spinach in my salad to oats in my oatmeal).
With my (former) activity level I aimed for an average consumption level of 2250 calories/day. 14 weeks of recording, however, shows that I actually averaged 2420 cals/day.
At 2420 cals/day and my activity level (heavy full-body resistance training 3x/week, running ~20 miles/week, playing tennis 1 to 2 times per week, doing occasional interval training on cycles) I lost over those 14 weeks 7.2 pounds (calculated by subtracting averages from 14 weeks ago and from last week).
A 260 calorie deficit added to the 2420 I was eating means I was burning (2420+260) 2680 calories per day. Let's just call it 2700 calories burned per day.
Last week I had my REE (resting energy expenditure) tested by using a VO2 max device. It calculated my REE as 2050 calories/day.
This means that while doing exercise 6 times per week (including resistance and cardio) my "activity factor" was 2700/2050 = 1.31
I've read in many places on the Internet that a sedentary lifestyle activity factor is a 1.2, lightly active 1.3, and exercising regularly is a 1.45 to 1.55.
Data analysis shows that my factor while exercising extremely regularly was 1.31. What then can I expect my "activity factor" to be when I am completely inactive? Most baseline measures would say to use 1.2, but that would seem to be too high for me (historically).
I'm actually not sure why I seem to burn far less energy than "normal" for my given activity level. I would say I'm not going hard enough.. but I push myself to the limit when lifting and I run at 9.0+mph for 30mins+ on my cardio sessions... I can wring my shirt out when I'm done with a workout...
Sorry to hear that, it really sucks. It can't all be true weight gain but I know it's still scary. If you pay close attention to your diet you won't gain weight while you are inactive. Weight loss is 70% diet and 30% exercise. I've problems with sciatica and joint pain so I can be inactive for months at a time. When I am active I don't do a whole lot aside from walking and aqua aerobics. Still, with watching what I eat I can follow a healthy lifestyle and lose weight. You just have to adapt your diet/routine to your reduced activity level. You may lose some muscle but it's better than having a load of fat to lose as well. Think of it as a new challenge. It'll be no problem for you after the effort you've put in to come this far.
Just had surgery on Tuesday (torn shoulder) and for the first time in years I've been completely inactive for days at a time.
Going into this surgery my number one concern was/is gaining weight during the recovery. You see, several years ago I weighed 315 pounds.. after deciding to change my diet and activity I progressively lost more and more weight. In 3 years I had (gradually) lost around 115 pounds (putting me at 200 lbs).
I was, however, still "overweight" and more importantly I still had a lot of excess fat around the mid-section (I wanted and still want a body fat % in the low teens). To that end I continued to focus on clean eating with a caloric deficit, but also started including progressive total body weight training... it may slow down the weight loss, but it would preserve/build muscle and get me towards my real ultimate goal... lean and mean :D
the progress has come agonizingly slow; the last 10 pounds have taken over a year to come off (and that's with constant calorie counting, macronutrient awareness, and resistance and cardio exercise). However, I finally seemed to be headed towards my final goal... and then the shoulder injury and then the surgery... and now... months of minimal physical activity.
I knew this was going to set me back.. I also knew that post surgery there would be a lot of inflammation/water retention. But it was beyond painful to step onto a scale this monday (day before surgery) and see 184 lbs .. and to step onto the scale yesterday (Friday) and reading 208 lbs.
I know.. it's physically impossible that I actually gained 24 pounds in 3 days :D It's all water and inflammation.... but just seeing that number... it was like watching the last 18 months of immensely hard work vanish like that. Also my waist (which was done to a 32"-34") has bloomed up to a 36"-38" in a matter of days.
Will this come off... I sure hope so. But even if it's temporary.. I can't help but worry that this is just a preview of what will be ACTUAL weight gain over the next 3-6 months as I am unable to lift, run, play hard, etc.. all the things that I did that were capable of keeping me on the path before.
I'm just so angry, hurt... and most of all.... frightened. Afraid that I'll lose years of work and progress... afraid that I'll revert back to old habits and never be able to become so focused and dedicated again...