No matter what physical shape you’re in, it’s important to always start slow with a new workout regime. Whether you’re a professional athlete returning from an offseason or lifting weights for the first time. Overdoing it the first day in the gym can lead to soreness and injury, delaying future trips.
We understand the desire to “hit the ground running.” But if you haven’t walked around the block in a few years, it’s going to take time. Although advancements in bariatric surgery have greatly reduced rehab times, easing back into an activity plan is the wise move. Make sure to call your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
Gastric Sleeve Recovery: Where Do I start?
After gastric sleeve surgery, there are three main points of emphasis when going to the gym (or the park or the family room): cardiovascular health, improving flexibility, and strength training. In some cases, you’ll want to focus on individual aspects. At other times, you’ll do all three at once. The important thing is to create a plan and stick with it.
Although specific weight-training occurs after the patient has hit their goal weight (about a year after surgery), building muscle mass has to be done very carefully to prevent injury. Because you’ll be working with resistance, and if you don’t have any experience with weights, many folks tend to overdo it. At the start, you’ll be working on form rather than strength.
Every weight-loss situation is different, so there are no hard and fast rules for how much weight you should lift at the start. To be on the safe side, consult with a personal trainer or physician for a starting point. Even though you may be embarrassed to start with the five-pound dumbbells at the gym, just remember: everybody has to start somewhere.
You may not even need weights to start. Use your own bodyweight for resistance training if you’d like. If it’s physically safe to do so, simple knee bends will work your legs and modified push-ups will work the upper body. Curl a jar of pickles to work your biceps or push yourself out of a chair to work triceps. As with any workout changes, please consult with your exercise physiologist first as a precaution.
Whatever you feel comfortable with, do it. And do it enough to build a sweat and get your heartbeat up. You don’t need to sweat buckets or get your BPM over 100, but you do need to exert yourself. Just take it slow to begin. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Arnold Schwarzenegger. And always consult with a professional before any changes to your workout plan.
What is Gastric Sleeve Surgery?
Like most bariatric surgery, the gastric sleeve or sleeve gastrectomy is designed to shrink your stomach so it holds less food. In simplest terms, the surgery involves removing between 70 and 80 percent of the stomach, leaving behind a slender tube or sleeve.
This prevents overeating and forcing patients to eat less at each sitting. After the first few days or weeks, the body begins to adapt to this new level of food intake and begins to change hormonally. That hunger you often felt before goes away and you begin to “fill-up” faster.
The surgery is just the first step, however. Diet and exercise also play a very important role when it comes to weight loss surgery like the gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or duodenal switch. Sometimes we like to say it’s the easiest step.
Why? Because 99 percent of surgeries are laparoscopic: A series of tiny incisions in the areas affected by the surgery. In the past, weight loss procedures were performed by an “open” surgery – one large incision that could take weeks to heal from. Laparoscopic surgery drastically reduces the amount of healing time.
Many patients are able to return to normal day-to-day activities a day or two after the gastric sleeve is performed. Grocery shopping, walking kids to the bus stop, or even walking around a park on a warm day are all possibilities in the days after surgery. Some patients even return to work a few days after.
Are You Ready For Gastric Sleeve Surgery?
The reason patients come to see us is that they want to lose weight obviously, but it goes much deeper than that. Why? Because losing 80 percent of your excess weight is more than just shrinking the stomach. It involves a determined attitude and an understanding that your current lifestyle needs to change.
Through education with WeightWise staff (dietitians, exercise physiologists, nurse practitioners), we change that perception that it’s just “about the surgery.” If a patient returns to a diet of highly processed, sugary, and fat-filled foods along with little to no physical activity, they’ll find themselves back at square one.
That’s why every potential patient visits with one of our doctors. They’ll ask about family history, injuries that may affect the procedure, and anything else that might affect life post-operation. This could include family issues as well as other psychological factors.
It’s important to note: The weight loss surgery alone won’t lose that weight. After the initial consultation with one of our bariatric surgeons, each accepted patient will also receive a dietitian and exercise physiologist. Plans will be developed to help guide the patient towards success.
While changes to your diet are a lifelong endeavor, the weeks and months after surgery are very important. This is when you’ll learn what to eat and how much, to love sugar free food and drink, and cut down on processed foods with too many additives. WeightWise dietitians will provide a roadmap for healthy eating during an initial consultation and in monthly visits post-operation.
All bariatric diets begin with a clear liquid-only diet the day before surgery, followed by protein shakes and clear liquids for the first two weeks after surgery. Staying hydrated is always important, but more so during the first few weeks. Drinking 96 ounces of fluids a day is a must – just make sure to sip, not gulp. The sleeve will only be able to hold so much at one time.
Soon, soft proteins will be introduced. By this time, your body has adjusted to a smaller intake of food and drink: You’ll fill up faster and won’t wrestle with hunger as often as you once did. Patients are able to eat any protein and non-starchy vegetables, nothing deep-fried or breaded, starting at 4 weeks post-op, and will continue this for life.
Along with surgery and diet, exercise makes up the third side of the weight-loss triangle. As we said before, getting professional help with your initial activity plans is an absolute must. That’s why at WeightWise, every patient will see an exercise physiologist that will help to get them started and to make appropriate changes to a program when the time comes.
Just like changing your food intake, you’ll need to change your activity output. It can be hard, there may be tears, and you could want to quit. Just remember why you came to us in the first place. We’re here to help get you back on the right track.
Is it time to start considering a gastric sleeve surgery or other bariatric surgery for you or a loved one? Watch our FREE online seminar to see why our program is so successful. And when you’re ready to make that call, we’ll be here for you.