Hello Hayley--I'm a relatively fit person (though slightly over my ideal weight). Up until a week ago, I was running half marathons, swimming twice a week, hitting my road bike, and generally just moving for at least 30-60 mins a day. On Monday, I had a breast reduction, partially to help with horrendous pain that happens with all that movement (and even the normal stuff). Now I'm sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks and I'm terrified about losing my fitness, gaining weight, and generally becoming a couch potato. I know that in the next few weeks, rest and recovery is the most important thing I can do, but what is your recommendation for easing back into working out once I get the all clear from my doctors? If nothing else, I know I'm going to have to relearn my body's center of gravity after losing more than two pounds of just breast weight! Any suggestions for recuperation and then after would be greatly appreciated!
I have some good news and some bad news, so let’s start with the good stuff. You are lucky because you are extremely fit going into this 4-6 weeks of rest, which means you are more likely on the 4 weeks side of things than the 6 weeks side. The bad news, however, is that during these 4 weeks you are going to see some losses in regards to your fitness. Not a ton but enough to make you aware that your workouts when you get back into things will seem a lot harder than they were before surgery. Don’t fret though, because since you already have a high level of fitness you will be back to normal within about 10 days after starting to move. I’m confident about this.
It sounds like you are concerned about gaining weight. As I have said, along with most of my colleagues in the fitness industry, time and time again, exercise is not the end all and be all of weight management. Yes it has a very important role emotionally and physiologically in keeping our bodies healthy, but how many times have you heard “you can’t outrun a bad diet”? As long as you don’t go crazy substituting the endorphins you once received from a workout with endorphins you now receive from eating donuts, your weight should be fine. In fact, you may actually see the scale drop during this time due to some atrophy (loss of muscles mass) because of the decrease in your activity. Over the next 4 weeks simply stay away from the “extras” (you know… the reason why we all workout, right?) and cut back on alcohol consumption.
When you have the clearance from your doctor to get moving again, start slow. Leave your expectations at home and set a goal of simply moving again. Keep things low impact to start and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts over time. Start with gentle hiking, walking, cycling and core exercises and listen to your body. If things feel good, start to bring your workouts back to where they once were, respecting your body along the way. If it hurts (in a bad way) stop and go back to see your doctor.
You are also going to want to pay some serious attention to your postural muscles. The trauma you experienced will cause your body to become guarded and tight, so spend some time opening up the front of your chest. Lying on a long foam roller with your arms out to the side, and bent like goal posts will help to stretch out the muscles of your chest. In your strength workouts, focus on improving the strength of the muscles in your back to aid in posture. I am sure you have spent much of your life hunched over, not only because of the weight of your breasts but maybe trying to hide them, so take the time now to undo all the years bad posture.
You are probably going to notice after a few weeks back to your workouts that you feel better than you ever had and these few weeks of rest will pay off huge in the long run.
Attached - Busy Philipps and her husband Marc Silverstein leaving a Soul Cycle class today in LA.