Healthy Change Chronicles

At the beginning of the year I started making some healthy changes. I started exercising and eating better. It was all going pretty well; I was feeling stronger and had lost 10 pounds. Then I had surgery and promptly gained all ten pounds back. Two weeks prior to surgery I kept putting my workouts off because I was so busy prepping for surgery; making sure the house was clean, organized, and ready to let me skip out on most of my responsibilities for the next 6-8 weeks. When the restrictions finally ended, I took another two weeks to settle back into my routine of chasing the kids, housework, and gardening.

Tonight I am getting back on the horse, well–elliptical, and getting my health back on track. As a way of tracking my progress I will journal after each workout, weigh in, and healthy milestone. This piece is a work in progress, please be forgiving of grammatical errors until I have announced this piece is finished and I have reached my goal (or given up).

Week One:

Weight: 199 pounds

Waist Measurement: 40 inches

Wednesday:

Days since last work out: about three months

Workout: elliptical, 30 minutes

Equipment: elliptical and awesome tennies

Today I intentionally exercised for the first time in months. I set my time goal at 30 minutes, half of the sixty minutes I was doing 3-5 times per week three LONG months ago.

10 minutes in I could really feel it in my legs and buttocks. The muscles started to feel tight and resistant to movement and stretching. Like the hardened rubber legs and plastic pelvis of a Barbie, my legs would only move one way, back and forth. By 15 minutes my leg muscles loosened up, but I was tired. I was so tired I wasn’t sure I would make it to 30 minutes, so I told myself I had to make it to 20 minutes. At about 18 minutes my visiting 10 year old niece came up stairs for a drink of water and said I looked like I was enjoying myself. My reply surprised me a little; I said, “I am enjoying myself, it feels good to exercise, really good.” And that was the push I needed to get me to my original 30 minute goal.

What I learned today: hating exercise is all in my head. It does feel good to move, especially when I can do it while I binge watch series on Netflix and Hulu.

Thursday:

Workout: Strength training, 30 minutes

Equipment: 3 pound dumb bells and ankle weights, balance ball

I had to wait to reflect on this workout because I feel that I have a better idea of how good a strength training workout was a day or two later. Feeling the burn isn’t a good enough guide for me… I have to see how sore I am over the next day. More on the soreness level below, but *spoiler* it was a decent workout.

I should start by saying that I do not count reps, life is hectic around my house between the kids, dogs, chores that pile up, and the always on TV. I prefer to do each exercise for one minute, two if I have to it one side at a time (one minute each side). This way, I can stop and take a quick 5 second rest if I’m getting shaky or feeling weak before I finish up the minute.

First up was arms, for arms I use my balance ball as a workout bench. The benefit for my core might be minimal, but I wouldn’t count it as negligible. I got through all the exercises, but by the eighth minute I was getting really shaky and struggling to finish out the minute of those last couple exercises (lateral lifts was one). I guess continually using my arms to pull myself up out of bed helped keep me toned.

Surprisingly, the core exercises were a breeze. I expected after a major abdominal surgery that I would be feeling rather weak in the core and went way easier on myself than I should have. So noted for the next strength day: planks… at least side planks because diastasis recti.

The legs were a little tougher than I expected. All those frontwards, backwards and sideways leg lifts were TOUGH! So much so that I spent the last two minutes walking back and forth in my living room with the ankle weights on.

What I learned today: I am simultaneously stronger and weaker than I expected. Does this mean I should live more in the moment?

Friday:

Workout: yoga/stretching, 20 minutes.

Equipment: Relaxing music and a well cushioned mat/rug

I used to hate yoga. I was never a very “zen” person. Between an anxiety disorder, too much to do, and caffeine consumption… “zen” was not something I understood. But mostly, I just couldn’t stand the super calm and airy voices used by so many yoga instructors. I once laughed so hard through an entire yoga video that at the end I physically wasn’t able to get into downward dog. But my body was still wrecked from having babies and required a good stretch to be able to make it though the day. Also, the anxiety might have something to do with the tense muscles, especially those in my back, hips, and legs.

So I started looking up yoga poses and stretches and just doing them on my own for a minute per pose/stretch. Turns out I actually really like yoga. I like it so much that I don’t often take actual “rest” days from my fitness routine; my rest day is yoga day.

I only did 20 minutes instead of my intended 30, but I was so sore across my lower back that I was having a hard time with the poses that area. Unfortunately, most of the poses I do are intended to stretch the lower back, hips, and buttocks because that is such a painful and tight area for me. But, no worries, I am sure that after another week or two I will be up to a full 30 minute yoga session.

What I learned today: if you can, never skip the stretching! I had to skip most of the yoga and stretching during my surgery recovery because most of it put too much pressure on my sore and swollen belly. My abdomen is no longer swollen, but it is still tender around the navel from a nearly healed hematoma. I wish I had been able to properly stretch during that time, but we work with what we have, right?

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