Before the surgery I did lots of planning. In addition to arranging for rides to and from the hospital, having help around the house, and adjustments at work, I thought about my diet. Four weeks in a sling followed by 5 months of rehab sounded like a perfect time to clean up my act. I envisioned following a meal plan fit for an elite athlete. Lack of exercise during the initial weeks of inactivity would be perfect for weight loss. I’d be so focused on healing that avoiding unhealthy foods would be a breeze. I’d even prep, measure and cook perfectly balanced meals and snacks. Dining out and ordering in would truly be an exception to the (new) rule.
As it turned out, after the pre-surgery fast I did nothing but stuff my face. My mantra was “rest is my new exercise” but in reality it was more like “ice cream is my new exercise.” When I needed a pick-me-up during the day it was in the form of calories-consumed rather than calories-burned. I felt there was nothing I could do about it. All the planning and preparation did nothing. I needed to splurge a little…and then a little more.
The good news is that after 5 weeks my weight hasn’t changed and my clothes fit fine. Odds are I’ve lost a few pounds of muscle and maybe that’s offset a few pounds of fat gain. But really, the lack of weight gain remains a mystery. (Any ideas?) I haven’t been counting but by my best estimate I’m eating an extra 1,000 calories a day and when home I intentionally rest. (I’ve watched hours of health care debate and baseball playoffs!)
The other good news is that I feel great. I’ve kept my sanity and my life feels balanced. Eating has replaced exercise and it’s working for me. This has led me to ponder the question of whether this could work for people in the opposite direction. The important point is not that my weight has remained constant. (In that opposite direction that would be bad!) The main point is that I’ve learned how to get through rough days with new habits.
So many people struggle to change health behaviors that many don’t even try. But what if they could identify the habits they use to get them through the day, and then trade the unhealthy habits for healthy ones?
This isn’t groundbreaking advice, but it’s solid. What if people replaced over-eating with exercise, (unnecessary) rest with activity, and caffeine breaks with stretch breaks? What if doing so worked for you? What if you became a success story instead of an excuse maker? Nothing is guaranteed and sometimes the best planning falls flat. But you don’t know what will work for you until you try. What have you really got to lose?
(Full disclosure – I’m enjoying my new lifestyle but I also know it’s temporary. I can’t wait to get back to the gym!)