Its been 5 months since my knee surgery, and I’ve finally been cleared to do cardio exercise. This marks a turning point for me since I’ve been an active dancer, tennis player and all around fitness hound my entire life. However, the past few months since surgery have been incredibly difficult and eye-opening in the best and worst of ways.
My health and fitness post-surgery has changed dramatically, and I feel like I have a newfound calm in my approach to fitness. I used to jam pack in 4-5 workouts a week and aim to really SWEAT for each one. I didn’t even consider it a workout unless I couldn’t breathe and was forced to wash my hair. My workouts were a combination of running, plyometric workouts, rowing, dancing, tennis and HIIT bootcamp style workouts in order to maximize sweat time and prolong calorie burn.
Health and Fitness Post-Surgery
When I had emergency knee surgery, all of a sudden my world changed. I slept on my couch for 3 weeks and could barely make it into the shower stall every 4 days to rinse off. I lost 4″ of muscle in my right thigh almost immediately, and then after a few months of inactivity I lost about an inch in the left thigh as well. After 3 months I thought I was doing better and pushed myself harder than I should have, only to find myself back on my couch in pain from over exertion.
Mentally, I am different person. I used to go into a workout with my game face on, ready to push my body. Nowadays, I’m scared. I find working out to be frightening because I don’t trust my own body, and I’m worried at how bad I will be. I worry that a workout will be too hard to me, and I won’t be able to handle it.
The reason for my story is of course, how I managed to maintain my weight throughout these past 5 months, despite not doing any cardio. My health and fitness post-surgery has changed dramatically, but I’ve managed to stay the same weight and still feel strong and sexy. Here are the 5 ways I have kept the pounds off and gained peace of mind.
Work out Less, Eat Less
One of the biggest game changing realizations has been less Cardio, less often. The intense cardio workouts that I was doing definitely burned more calories, but then I would find myself ravenously eating or snacking to fuel my fatigued body. The bottom line here is that in my BEST cardio workout I may have burned 500 calories and hour, but it takes about half a store bought sandwich to counteract that.
Let’s take that hour long cardio workout and add in the shower I needed to take where of course I had to wash my hair. Then, I have to blow dry my hair because I’m either going to work or a meeting or have an upcoming shoot. Now we’re up to 2 hours. What if I took that time to go to the farmers market and buy fresh ingredients for a smoothie or a salad or literally anything for dinner tonight? All of a sudden I got time back to make smarter decisions about what I was eating. I understand that not every situation is this cut and dry, but if you replaced one long cardio workout each week with a walk to the grocery store to make dinner, or heck, just get through an hour of emails, imagine how beneficial that can be to your stress level!
I can’t deny the benefits of cardio on heart health, so I do plan on incorporating more of it into my routine going forward, but only for 30 minute increments. My mentality has switched; cardio is no longer a form of weight loss but a form of heart health. And a competitive tennis match or two never hurt anyone!
Lemon Water in the Morning
When I was spending days on end on my couch, and then even more weeks after that barely moving, I basically gave up coffee. For one, I couldn’t make or carry coffee around with me when I was on crutches. For two, there was nothing to ‘feel awake’ for! After slowly weaning myself off of my morning caffeine, I tried hot water with lemon to start off my day. 3 months later, I haven’t missed a day.
I buy a huge bag of lemons at Costco and look forward to downing at least 1 cup first thing in the morning before I eat anything else. I know that coffee is a diuretic that gets you going, but believe me hot lemon water does the same thing. And bonus! It also counts as a glass of water for the day. Since I never drink enough water, this is my go to trick. Not just for the mornings now, I enjoy my hot water with lemon in the afternoon as well, to kick any snack cravings to the curb.
Embrace Strength Training
I may have given cardio a backseat in my health and fitness post-surgery, but strength training has taken the wheel. I have always lifted a lot of weights and as many of you know, was a Pure Barre instructor before my surgery. Things have slowed down in the past few months, but I still believe 100% that strength training is the way to maintain your body… especially while traveling! I do yoga at least once a week and try to insert barre and strength workouts into my every day just to maintain a strong core, abs, and butt. My favorite activities to do anywhere are hip bridges, tricep dips, calf-raises, push ups and planks. When you’re tight on time and low on energy, take 10 minutes to do 2 minutes of each of those activities, and you will feel so proud that you even moved at all.
And don’t forget to stretch! A good long stretch or yoga class to get the blood flowing has so many regenerative properties that are far beyond calorie burn. Yoga is so great as a strength workout, and the meditation and mindfulness that it teaches helps to clear your mind and encourage better sleep, which helps your body burn calories and restore for the next day. When you are recuperating from an injury, yoga can be the first step back to give you the confidence you need to do even more strength training, whether at home or at the gym.
People all over this world lack subscription services to high tech spin classes, multi-functional pilates equipment and heart rate monitors. What do they do? Walk. Go grocery shopping in a farmers market instead of shopping online. Walk your dog instead of letting him roam free in the back yard. Walk to get lunch instead of ordering in. Find any excuse necessary to dance around in your house to get those steps in, and you will lose weight without even knowing it.
I had a Fitbit flex for 3 years and just joined the family trend with an Apple Watch, and I just love the accountability these wristbands force you to take. You know when you need to get up and take a walk around the house, and you know when you’ve done a great job with a really nice walk or activity outside. I strongly suggest buying one if you are considering losing weight- it really can be eye opening!
I look forward to the long walks I take, which are about 3x a week. This is when I listen to my podcasts and get a resurgence of energy and creativity. Did you know that many people experience a surge of clarity, creativity or ideas when working out? This is it for me. It’s not when I’m sweating heavily in a plyometric workout, it’s when I’m walking and actively listening to what is being handed to me, and all of a sudden ideas come. If you are looking for ways to increase your own creative business, may I suggest that instead of reading other blogs or looking at magazines, you download a podcast, grab some lemon water and go for a walk? You can thank me later.
Slow Down, Stress Less
What’s the moral of my health and fitness post-surgery? That stress causes weight gain by over eating, under-sleeping, and adding unnecessary intensity to your life. I never would have gotten to this point without being forced to slow down and think more consciously about my actions, but I realized that I was pushing so hard to lose weight that I was feeding myself when I wasn’t hungry, and working out harder than my body wanted, which sent my body into shock.
Now I have a glass of hot lemon water next to me as I work, reaching for another sip instead of another cookie. I sleep better and stretch more, which makes me crave healthier foods and want to cook for myself more. Every action has a reaction, and sometimes it can take something as drastic as an injury to realize that you need an entirely new plan of action, so to speak.
My biggest fear of writing this post was that people would say “well, she’s skinny anyway, she doesn’t have to work out”, and therefore mis-judge or mis-read my intentions behind this post. I am not saying that I lost weight. What I am saying is that while dealing with the mental and physical stress of an injury, the last thing I needed was to worry about how much weight I was going to gain sitting on my couch. Instead, I found that clarity of body and mind came when I was forced to slow down, and even though I was barely doing half the workout that I used to, my body barely noticed.
I know that everyone’s journey towards health and fitness is different, but I hope that there was at least one point above that encourages you to give yourself a break and slow down.
And if you came here just for the kickass clothing I am wearing, read no further! These awesome leggings, the one shoulder bra top and the crop top shirt are all from my new favorite fitness wear brand, Avocado. I recently discovered their store while exploring Abbot Kinney in LA, and wish I had bought more. All of the pieces are incredibly quality, and the purple top is as soft as the pants are compressing… and flattering! I love that their brand ethos is “For you and all of your iterations” and everything is made in LA. Read this statement from their ‘Our Nature’ page and tell me you aren’t hooked!
“We grew tired of anyone telling us what we could wear and when, how to feel about it and why we weren’t enough to wear whatever trend a few people dictated. We are enough. You are enough. Do what you want all the time. And wear what you want while you do it. Our apparel wants you to feel first. Each piece works with you, supplementing your style instinct with pieces available for every mood, every occasion, and every curve.”
Please give them (and me) some love by sharing these pics on Pinterest and checking out their website. This post is in no way sponsored but I just love their product and want to give them support! Also I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about any of the above fitness and health pointers in the comments section. Thanks for reading and have a beautiful day!