Weight loss surgery is only the beginning of your weight loss journey. It is not a quick fix—if you want to keep the weight off after surgery, healthy eating and regular physical activity are absolutely necessary.
Thinking about that first workout after your surgery might make you excited, or it may give you some anxiety. Exercising before surgery may have been difficult for you due to the extra weight, so you may be wondering where to start.
Here are a few tips for safe exercise after bariatric surgery:
Consult with your physician. Before you do any exercise after surgery, be sure your doctor has cleared you for exercise. Everyone is different, and recovery looks different for everyone too, so you want to be sure your body has healed and is ready for physical activity. Your physician may also give you some recommendations for exercises to try as
Ease into it. You aren’t going to go run a marathon in the days following your surgery, but getting out and enjoying a nice walk is completely reasonable immediately following surgery. Start by walking on a flat surface and gradually increase difficulty by incorporating hills into your walk and take your speed up a notch or two.
Do something you’ll enjoy. The truth is, if you don’t enjoy exercising—at least a little bit—you will be far less likely to keep up with a regular workout routine. Some of the best forms of exercise for someone who has just had weight loss surgery include walking, strength training, and flexibility workouts like yoga.
Get the gear. You’re on your way to a whole new you, so go ahead and invest in the gear you need to exercise, including breathable clothing and a good pair of shoes. To find athletic shoes that are the best fit for your foot, go to Luke’s Locker, or another specialty running/shoe store to be fitted by experts who will watch you walk and determine which shoes are best fit for you. A fitness tracker, such as a Fitbit can also be a great tool to keep track of your physical activity and calories burned.
Mix it up. If you do the same thing day after day, you will quickly get bored and lose your motivation. Change things up from day to day to keep things interesting. That might mean one day you go for a fast walk, the next day you attend a group exercise class, and the following day you swim. Variety in your workouts will also prevent your body from adapting to one form of exercise so you’ll keep burning lots of calories and avoid a plateau in your weight loss.
Don’t skip strength training. Strength training such as body weight exercises and lifting weights are some of the best exercises you can do to burn fat. In most cases, strength training is not recommended until you are at least three months post-op, and be sure to consult with your doctor before beginning strength training. To prevent injury while strength training, consider working with a professional fitness trainer who can teach you proper form.
Set goals and celebrate milestones. What is your end goal? What benchmarks will you set for yourself along the way? It’s important to have clear, realistic, measurable goals when you are trying to lose weight. To stay motivated along the way, take time to celebrate your small milestones. And on the days you fall off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, just set your mind to get back with it tomorrow.
Losing weight and keeping it off is the result of determination, dedication, and hard work. There is no easy way to lose weight, and healthy weight loss must include proper nutrition and regular exercise.
Marilyn Hoyt is a Dallas-based Certified Professional Trainer. She holds group workout sessions, including groups specifically designed for people who are significantly overweight, intermediate and advanced fitness camps, and provides in-home personal training.
“Aiming to educate, motivate, and inspire others to live life with purpose!”