Updated: Apr 18
I recently underwent a surgery that required me to “rest” for 6-8 weeks post procedure. By rest, the medical professionals told me no BLT (bending, lifting, or twisting) and essentially to “take it easy.” Now anyone who knows me is well aware that following these instructions would be a struggle. Prior to the operation, I was waking up at 6am to go for a functional fitness class almost every day, and my goal was to get back to where I was ASAP.
Little did I realize that I would have to listen to my body whether I wanted to or not, because the first week to ten days after the surgery I was exhausted and slept an average of 8 hours a night, plus a 2-3 hour nap during the day (mind you, before this I was good to go on 6 hours a night, if that). This is when I truly understood and couldn’t fight the necessity of adequate rest. As the pain and tiredness diminished over time, I was convinced that I would be back to my extremely busy schedule. All I wanted was to get back to exercise and to work, but after only walking for 20-30 minutes or responding to emails and taking calls for my job for about an hour or so a day I understood that just because the pain was gone after 10 days, that my mind and body still needed time to heal.
In anticipation of my goal, I went for coffee with my good friend and Enliven partner, Dan Remon of The Aspire Club to chat about how we can work together to rebuild my strength post procedure while reminding him that I shouldn’t be lifting anything too heavy. He told me that once I was feeling better (post surgery 6 weeks) and had the green light from the doctor, to come back to him so we can get started. We sat down to discuss the details of my lifestyle (which included sleep patterns, nutrition, intermittent fasting) and my goals (rebuild strength, decrease body fat, focus on mental wellbeing and to fit into a particular dress!) and how we would work together to achieve these goals.
Have a look at our notes below:
Firstly he told me to go on the treadmill every morning. That was the last thing I wanted to do because I found it so boring, but he assured me that if I was consistent I would see results and eventually start to enjoy it. The goal for this was to run everyday aim to increase the length and speed of the run. I started on November 1st at a speed of 6.5 and ran for 16 minutes, totalling to 1.75km. As time went by I really did look forward to my morning sessions (but I will admit I didn’t do it everyday as there were days I was too tired, ok fine lazy, or had an early meeting to get to) and enjoyed beating my numbers from the day before! By November 13th I ran between 7.5 and 8.5 for 28 minutes for a total of 3.51km and it felt great.
Next he told me that strength training didn’t require weights and that I could do isometric exercises (click here for the Mayo Clinic's take) that would simply using my body weight. After my first session of 20 minutes with Dan, my arms and legs were as sore as they were after my functional fitness class pre surgery. He taught me the right form for squats and explained that my body’s balance on the left side is more stable than the right, so we focused on exercises to help correct that too.
I mentioned to him that I intermittently fast an average of 14 to 16 hours a day for five days a week and 12 hours on weekends. Instead of counting the hours diligently, Dan suggested I pay attention to how my body feels and eat only when I’m actually hungry (not because it’s a particular time or because I’m bored and have nothing better to do), and I realized I can go as long as 19 hours before I feel hungry. The key is obviously not how long I fast, but what I eat during the window that I’m not fasting. I have a really big sweet tooth so I’m trying to cut the amount of sugar and processed foods in order to accelerate my results.
I use an app called Zero (https://www.zerofasting.com/) to track my fasts, below is a graph of my fasts from the past week. The average fast in the past 7 days is 16.6 hours.
In just two weeks into working with Dan, I am definitely physically stronger, sleeping better, and have more energy and mental clarity. I plan to continue my program with him and will periodically share developments so do stay tuned to follow my journey. If you're interested in reaching your goals of losing fat and/or building muscle strength, Dan’s your man.
Written by Devi Bajaj
Executive Director of Enliven Services