Adventures in Fitness, Fashion and Fabulousness


Leave your pride at the door, or going back to the gym after surgery

Five weeks ago I underwent bunion surgery.

It’s been a process.

It all started with a bunion that had never bothered me until it did.  And when that happened, it went all out.  Given the fact that at this particular time I had enough leave to take time off and recover comfortably at home, and that it is winter time, my doctor and I decided to go for it now rather than in the summer.

Besides, summer is for bike rides, figure shows and rapier tournaments.  The last thing I want to do six months for now is to stare at the window and lament that I can’t go out on such a gorgeous day.  So there, the decision was made.

The Foot in the Boot.  Merry Christmas, ho ho ho.

The Foot in the Boot. Merry Christmas, ho ho ho.

I will not bore you with the details of the surgery.  Suffice to say that the first two weeks were as painful as it sounds, but I was more mobile that I would have expected.

A piece of advice, even if they give you a boot, if they offer you crutches, take them.  You will be happy you did during that first week.

At any rate, for an active girl like me, the hardest thing was to stay home and off your feet.  Admittedly though, I did a lot of sleeping and resting and that was not too bad.

On the other hand, by the end of week two I decided to venture out to the gym in the understanding that I had medical clearance as long as a) I didn’t do free weights; b) I only did upper body; and c) I exercised sitting down.

That went great while I was at the gym (and it felt like a million bucks!).  However, by the afternoon my foot was pretty swollen and going back to the gym was not something I was looking forward to.

That’s when I decided that I was not going to drive myself crazy.  Despite my little inner voice calling me a sissy, I decided to give myself permission to not go to the gym until my next doctor’s visit, namely 3 weeks from then.  In the meantime, I watched my nutrition and caught up with sleep.  No point in putting on more fat than needed with the excuse that I was “off” my exercise plan.  My criteria was that as long as my clothes fit, I was doing fine.  Which I did.

The 3 weeks came and went and, much to my chagrin, my doctor told me that I would need 3 additional more weeks in the boot.  I had suspected that much when the night before I gently tried to coax my foot into my sneaker, and my foot refused to cooperate.

The question was, what to do next?

First things first, not to despair.  This is, after all, temporary.

On the other hand, I didn’t think that I could stand 3 more weeks without any exercise. Taking into consideration that I feel a heckuva lot better than last time, I gave it another try today.  My strategy? Do what I can, even if I had to do only half of a routine.  And if it felt wrong, painful or scary, stop right then and there. The last thing I need is to drop a weight on my foot or risk injury. That would set me back even more and it would not be productive.  Better to push what I can within reason and build up from there.

Another thing to consider is that I cannot do yet a lower body routine.  However, there are a couple of things that I can do.  One of them is good mornings, which is a great glute/hamstring/lower back exercise and it does not put a lot of pressure on my feet.  I tried it this morning and it worked like gangbusters.  Then I went on with my back and biceps routine and adapted it to my new situation.  Drop weights and running the rack works great. Supersets? Unless everything is right then and there and it doesn’t involve going back and forth between machines, it is doable.  Anything else, not so much.

I also had to back off the weight quite a bit.  It’s amazing what you can lose after 5 weeks of inactivity. However, I decided that how much I lift (or not) it’s nobody’s business but my own.

Rule #1 is don’t be stupid.  Rule #2, check your pride at the door.  If you follow those two simple rules, you will be okay.

My lesson for today? I can do this.

It will take me a little longer than I thought, but I will be okay.

And if I need to take a day off, I will.

After all, this is not the end of the world, and as long as I build up to regain my strength and go back to my routine, I will be fine.

And now, for your entertainment, I will leave you with a nifty video of how to do good mornings.

Stay tuned.




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In which Laura’s ankle behaves and she goes back to the gym

Looky there!  Two posts in two days!

I feel accomplished.

At any rate, I went to the gym today and my slightly banged up ankle barely gave me any trouble.  It is still sore, all right, but it is getting better. 

It does help that today it was shoulders and biceps day, with some LISS cardio.  Tomorrow is quads, with lots of squatting, lunging, etc.  That should be interesting.

Q. So what is this LISS you speak of?

A.  LISS stands for low impact steady state cardio.  It burns a lot of fat at a steady pace, and you want to do it always after your lifting, not before.  It is more efficient this way.  It is great for fat loss in bodybuilding, combined with clean eating and strength training. 

Q.  Can you give me an example of LISS?

A.  A classic example of LISS is walking on a treadmill, on incline, at a steady pace without holding.  The idea behind this exercise is to walk at the highest incline you can without having to hold on to the treadmill handlebars, while rising your heart rate at a steady pace.

Q. So what incline is the perfect incline in this case? 

A. The one you can sustain without holding.  In my case, I like to kick it at 4.5 during the first minute as a warmup, and increase it within the next 5 minutes to 7.  The idea is to end at 10 or higher. 

NEVERTHELESS, this changes from person to person.  If for now 4.5 is the highest incline you can sustain without holding, keep that.  Try to go 5 next time and so on.  Sooner than you know, you will be sweating like a maniac at 10 without touching those handlebars.  It is a gradual thing.

Q. What is the perfect speed?

A.  Between 3.2 and 3.5.  Height is better than speed, at least in this case.

Q.  I have heard of HIIT (high intensity interval training), as opposed to LISS.  Which one is better?

A.  Both are excellent.  We can touch on HIIT on a different entry.

And that’s it for today.