Fit Five Friday – 5 Tips to go into surgery like the Fitness Goddess you are
For some of us, surgery is something we’ll face at least once in our lives – maybe even more than once
As mentioned in my last Fit Five Friday,I choose to have abdominoplasty for a variety of reasons. This surgery took place one week ago. I wanted to share what, in my opinion, is the best way to go into and come out of surgery like the Fitness Goddesses we are. It’s not hard, but it does require some work and commitment to the end result.
Five Tips for the surgery-bound Fitness Goddess
One: Before Surgery – preparation
One thing I learned in all my research before surgery this time around was to go into it as fit and healthy as I possibly could. Obviously this will be tricky if you are having a sudden surgery, but for elective surgery you likely have more time to prepare.
So how did I prepare? I started working with a coach back in September to help me get my nutrition and macros in check. In January she helped me get on the path of regular workouts again. I was really able to prioritise exercise more than ever, just because I knew how crucial it would be prior to the operation.
Being mentally prepared is also key. Never go into something that you haven’t given intense deliberation, nor taken into consideration all the limitations you may be faced with right after surgery.
Whatever you do, go into surgery the way you intend to come out of it – fit and healthy in mind and body.
Two: Follow instructions to the letter
We Fitness Fanatics tend to have issues with “rest” days (and, admit it, more than once we have still had some sort of activity on a rest day), so imagine you are going into surgery where you you are told you cannot exercise for six weeks. YIKES!
Knowing this going in can help you prepare for the instructions given to you by your doctor.
I can’t tell you how often on Facebook groups I have come across people doing too much and not following explicit instructions simply because they “couldn’t” or “felt fine”. This kind of behaviour could possibly come back to bite them on the ass later. When we are talking about splitting stitches or possible infections, is it really worth the risk to not follow doctor’s instructions? Why would you really know better than they do?
So when they tell you to do certain things like sit, stand, sleep in a certain way, move (even if it hurts) every hour to help circulation, and under no circumstances exercise except for very gentle walking in your house or around the block, you do that. And, in my case I have to wear a special garment for 6 weeks, 24/7 (well, 23/7 since I can shower and dry off), even if it’s not the most comfortable thing ever, you can be darn sure I’ll be doing that.
There are reasons instructions are given, unless they are really whack, they should be followed (and if they are whack, be sure to get a second opinion before surgery… because these are things you need to ask beforehand anyway).
Three: Have supplies at the ready
As a lover of daily movement, we may have a different definition of what our supplies are compared to those who haven’t yet found the joy of fitness. I’m not saying it’s better or worse, but I’m saying I *think* we tend to approach things differently when nutrition and exercise are really core elements in our lives.
When I was researching recovery and specifically athlete recovery, everything pointed to a high-protein, lower carb diet. Since I was prepared for that I already had incorporated this way of eating in my daily macros (though, full disclosure, I am human – shock, I know – and didn’t manage this every single day). There were also quite some supplements I discovered could aid in a smooth recovery as well.
Recovery is about what you put in your body as well as what you do (or don’t do) with your body. Having your food and supplements on hand and having a plan and a support system to help you with that, can do wonders mentally and physically.
On top of that, know what supplies you need just to make your life more comfortable in your downtime. Splurge on some new comfy pyjamas, or finally pull the trigger on those massage boots you’ve been wanting to purchase to also help with your circulation. In my case, I’ve not only bought those two items but also an awesome wedge pillow set that has made sitting and sleeping just so much more pleasant.
Four: Decide on a plan for your downtime
Have a stack of books you’ve been meaning to get to? Is the Netflix watch list longer than the time you have to spend watching television normally? What about that little luxury of sleeping in when you really never give yourself that chance? Or maybe you are like me and have 1,672,899 photos on your laptop that still need to be organised? Always wanted to start a tiktok? Now’s the time.
If you are not allowed to do physical stuff, OR you are really limited – take this opportunity now, decide what you want to do and then do it. And do not feel guilty about it.
Five: Map out your timeline
So what’s the best way to feel motivated about something? Have a goal. In this case a re-entry goal.
Let’s say you have six weeks before you can exercise again (and this happens with injuries as well), what does your timeline look like? How will you get through without figuratively climbing the walls in the meantime?
Make sure you have clear instructions on what exactly your timeline looks like. What can you do and when? How can you start off? What exactly can you do at six weeks? What about at eight or twelve weeks?
Remember to consider your timeline “Plan A” and make sure you have a “Plan B” in case the first plan goes south. And make it a SMART plan. You are not going to start training for a marathon after your surgery most likely (hey, I did that once and ended up with a hernia in the middle of marathon training…) Be realistic but make a plan so you are motivated to get through your non-exercise recovery period.
Have you had surgery in the past that you could prepare for? How long were you out? Did you have a timeline for your recovery and re-entry into fitness?
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The one time that I had a major surgery it was due to a ski accident and I did not have time to prepare any of this. I believe you are right that preparing in advance will be a huge help both before and after. Good luck to you and look forward to watching your progress
oh wow Deborah, that must have been really stressful at the time! Glad you got through it! Thank you so much!
These are great tips, and looks like you have a solid plan of action for recovery. My knee surgery (2017) was a total emergency situation, so I had no recovery plan in place until after I awoke from the procedure. I was horribly scared of splitting the 6-inches of stitches across my knee, so I respected every instruction they gave me. Yeah, trying to keep my long leg straight (and not bend it) was fun…especially getting into a car LOL)
I almost wonder if athletes see recovery differently than non-athletes! Especially in your situation when it was an emergency, the last thing you want is to not be able to run again!! So glad you got through that!
You are definitely prepared for this, Renee, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you are given the green light for movement sooner rather than later. I so agree with following instructions!
I hope that your recovery goes smoothly. Knock on wood, I’ve never had a surgery that requires that sort of recovery (or, so far, an injury that required that kind of recovery).
I’m usually pretty good at not going crazy when I don’t feel well and can’t exercise, although I know that I do get tired of doing nothing.
Thanks Judy! Even if I am given the green light, my mind says 6 weeks is 6 weeks so everything before that is a bonus, right? I hope you never do need surgery, obviously that is the BEST scenario! I love doing nothing at times, but forced rest is kind of hard. your mental game needs to be top notch for sure.
My only surgery was a surprise broken ankle. But I was so worried that I would not be able to run again that I did everything I was supposed to do.
You sound prepared and I hope everything goes smoothly.
Please keep in touch and let us know your progress.
I will be thinking of you and sending healing vibes.
I think the surprise surgeries are the worst. We’ve had no chance to prepare so it leaves so many questions unanswered! Glad you came out of it still being able to run! I will definitely update with my progress! Thank you so much for your healing vibes! x
All the best with your recovery Renee! Sounds like you went into surgery well prepared mentally and physically.
Thanks Marcia! I definitely did my best in any case!
I’ve never had surgery, but these are great tips. So your surgery is over and you’re into your recovery- keep us posted on your progress. I would imagine if you’re following your own advice, everything will go great. We’re thinking about you and hoping you’re doing well!
Thanks Jenny! I’ll definitely be taking my own advise and I will definitely update on my progress.
Definitely sounds like you’re super prepared. I hope your recovery is swift!
What a solid plan Renee! This is so well-thought out and sensible. Wishing you a speedy recovery with as little discomfort as possible xxx
Thanks Shathiso! If the first week is any indication then I think I’ll recover just fine!
Yes, yes, and yes!
I have had one emergency surgery (gallbladder – admitted to ER and then into surgery), and three “elective” procedures: my tonsils, my ankle, and my wisdom teeth. The gallbladder was my fastest recovery – a few days – although I wasn’t running then. The ankle took about four months to get back to it, the tonsils were 2.5 months, and the wisdom teeth about five days.
I hope your recovery continues to go smoothly.
Being prepared will help so much! I had hip surgery and worked out up until the day before my surgery (just not running- but biking, elliptical, and strength). I was able to be biking again about 2 days after surgery. My recovery process went really well. I was running again after 12 weeks. Hope you have a speedy and simple recovery!
wow ! biking again after only 2 days!! that’s amazing! I do really think that the fitter you are the easier your recovery. That’s also positive projection of course! Thank you so much Lisa!
You are so right about being prepared! When I had a partial hysterotomy a few years ago, prepping and planning made all the difference in my recovery. I hope you have a smooth recovery!!
I mean, planning is really the key to everything, right?? Thanks Michelle!
I’ve never had surgery. I’ve never been to the hospital except once to the ER. Wishing you a smooth recovery. Looks like you have given careful thought to everything about it.
Lucky you! Not about going to the ER though, yikes. Thank you so much Zenaida!