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Working Out After Surgery

This year I had my first major surgery. During my mental and physical preparation, I couldn’t help but wonder how it would be getting back to the gym after surgery. It turns out, recovery was a much more humbling experience than I expected.


Because I’m such a proud person and I’m so used to putting on such a tough face, it’s very difficult for me to ask for help. This all changed and I learned to appreciate and respect the healing process.


Here are my journal entries from the week before surgery to the day I first went back to the gym. This is a very personal account of my recovery and how I starting working out after surgery.


Week before surgery


I’ve done a lot of research about my upcoming surgery. The doctor has explained the procedure in great detail but I double-checked other resources just to make sure he wasn’t telling me anything. This is much more serious than I originally thought and it makes me a little nervous. I’m most nervous about not being able to exercise for several weeks. My workouts are a big part of my life and the thought of going several weeks with no activity has me concerned. There aren’t very many exercises I’ll be able to do but you better believe I’m going to do whatever I can. I took some time to plan grocery lists and meals for the first few weeks. I’m ready!


Week 1


PAIN! The first day there was lots and lots of pain and I couldn’t eat a thing. The next few days all I did was rest. I slept, laid down and sat…A LOT! My friends from the gym were so kind as to make a few meals so that I didn’t have to worry about cooking for the family. And they were healthy choices! I haven’t left the house all week. But I can’t say that I want to. My body is telling me that I need rest so I have to listen.


Week 2


It’s been a really laid back week. I’ve been working from home all week. I’ve been able to get up and walk about a little more but I’m moving slow. I even took the dog for a short walk a few times. But we didn’t go very far because I got tired pretty fast. It felt good to get outside.


Week 3


I had my post-operation appointment and I CAN DRIVE!!! My doctor said I can even do very light workouts. I didn’t push it though. I haven’t been to the gym or worked out at all. I’m trying to let my body get used to moving around again. Between going back to work and starting my part-time teaching job this week, I had to take it easy.


Week 4


I went to the gym for the first time in a month. I decided to keep it light and just do TRX. My first set felt like I hit a crack pipe, I got the biggest high. It felt so good to workout again but man was I sore the next day. I felt like I got hit by a truck.


Even though I didn’t want to go back to the gym, I did and I’m glad. I felt much better and I’m a lot less sore. I had my final workout of the week with my trainer. There were a lot of exercises I wasn’t able to do but the exercises that I could do weren’t easy. I had to focus to make sure I was using the correct muscle groups and avoid using muscles in the surgical area. I was also a lot more mindful of making sudden movements. It was tough.


Week 5


I got the green light to resume all normal activities, which includes my regular exercise routine. On Monday, I trained my legs and did a full-body workout Saturday some cardio in between. I couldn’t lift my normal weight and I still had to take quite a bit of caution with my movements but it felt good being able to get a full workout. I can’t wait to get back to normal.


Week 6


Another great week and I feel stronger already. I’m back to my normal workout schedule and routine. I’m still not as strong as I was before surgery but I’m getting there.


Recovering from surgery was a long 6 weeks and a true learning experience. I learned how healing and recovery are so important not only physically but mentally as well. You have to be strong enough mentally to know your limits, slow down to do only what you can, not push yourself too fast and allow your body to recover at the pace it needs to not what you want it to. I also learned that sometimes I will need help and that’s ok. I can’t do everything all by myself. Help from my fellow gym rats, my husband, and people stopping by to visit was a big part of my recovery. It pushed me to get back to the gym after major surgery.

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