Surgery and fitness – do what you can!

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You know me, I practice what I preach and I have gotten a great chance this week to do just that.  Its now been exactly 7 days since I had my umbilical hernia fixed, an issue that I have had since birth and finally got fixed.   “Do what you can” started on day 1.  Even though getting out of chairs was extremely difficult I walked around the house as much as I could but any form of exercise was completely out.  The one thing I had control of on the first days was my nutrition.  I knew my system was a mess.  For this surgery it used general anesthesia, strong antibiotics to prevent infection,  and strong narcotic pain meds.  Wonderful but the narcotic pain meds cause constipation  and the antibiotics kill all the flora in the intestines, good and bad.  If there is any time your body needs you to eat clean, its right after surgery.  First of all, I used a low carb meal plan from to make sure my daily calories were in line with my newfound sedentary situation and that I had a 20% caloric deficit.  I made sure I ate a massive amount of low carb vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, etc) to aide in the post-surgery constipation.  Second, I made sure that every meal contained yogurt to help repopulate my intestines with the good bacteria necessary for good health.

For the first 4 days, eating clean, good, nutrition was the only thing I could do.  On days 5 and 6, I was able to take my first longer walks, about 45 minutes.  Because this repair actually stitched up the abdominal muscles to close the hole, you can imagine that post surgery any core activation was painful, and it was.  Even walking activates the core which is why it took 4 days before I could walk any distance.  Things like sneezing, coughing, and laughing were completely unthinkable the first week.  Actually this morning on my one week anniversary I had my first muffled ‘sneeze’ and it wasn’t that bad :)

So my plan for the next week?  Take it one day at a time!  Today I am going to celebrate my one week surgical anniversary with a little workout.  The doctor gave me strict limits about working out but at least at this point, I am 100% confident that anything that is causing damage would give me immediate feedback in the form of extreme pain.  There are some exercises I know I cant do because of the core-strain, here are some examples of things I will NOT be doing today:

  • no pullups
  • no asymmetrical exercise
  • no standing exercises
  • no leg exercises
  • no ab exercises

So what does that leave?  Lots!!!  Remember, this is “do what you can!”.  Here are things I am going to try today, again, pain is my guide.  If I have the slightest twinge of pain I will stop but I plan on low weight, very high rep (20-50 rep) sets:

  • dumbbell flys on floor with knees bent
  • shoulder side raises
  • shoulder front raises
  • preacher curls with dumbbells
  • stationary bike …. maybe.  Getting on it safely is the issue.

Now if I could get to a gym I would have a LOT more options, I could even find leg exercises I could do but at this point driving would not be safe.



Body Hair

This surgery has given me the chance to do the video on body shaving that people have asked for hundreds of times in the last decade. The trouble is, since my body has been clean shaven since the 90’s I couldnt demonstrate how to do it!  In this case, the surgeon wanted me to stop shaving my chest 10 days before the surgery.  The issue is that there has been good research that shows the risk of infection during surgery (worst things that can happen post surgery) is much greater if you pre-shave the surgical site.  I assume the issue is that any ingrown hairs (small infections) could rupture during the surgery and spread their infections into the wound.  In any case, no shaving 10 days before surgery and because it took 6 days post surgery before I felt I could safely shave, it was the perfect chance to do that body hair removal video!  Its coming soon!