“No marathons, no sprints, no building muscle, don’t diet; I want you to do moderate exercise and to eat foods you enjoy that are good for you.”

Oh boy. That’s both scary and liberating. I have so closely managed my diet and exercise for the past 27 months. Now I am asked to change things. Lots of things go through my mind…

What will happen if I make changes this drastic? What will my pre- and post-workout snacks look like if I am not eating to build muscles? What should I do with my strength training? What about my meticulous calories in versus calories out? Of course, in the end, those are pretty trivial questions.

I saw my cardiologist on Friday and she made it clear that it is unlikely I will get through all of this without surgery. I will have repair of the aortic aneurysm and hope that they can spare the aortic valve. I will be meeting with surgeons over the next few months (local and as far away as the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City, CA). And, I will do as I am told because I want the best possible outcomes.

So, what have I been told? Decrease stress, exercise in moderation (not to build muscles, speed, or to lose weight), and eat good food that is good for me. As we drove away from the doctor’s office, one of the things I said was – “I don’t know how to live without a high level of stress.”

When you are surrounded by stressful events and VERY stressed people, how do lower your own stress. I think the first thing one must do is let go. Let go of things held tightly, like emotions, thoughts, worries, and “shoulds”. Easy to say. And how many times have I advised my clients to do this?! I was talking to my partner, my significant other, about my blogs for Sunday and he said that, in some way, they were very zen-like. Maybe that’s the answer – be zen-like. How on earth will I do that without drinking a couple of glasses of wine each day?? Just thinking about how to decrease stress stresses me out!!!

I can more readily manage workouts. After spending more than an hour on Sunday diagramming workouts and figuring percentages of one rep maximums, I will start an entirely new workout plan today. I will swim three days per week and do total body toning workouts three days per week. I have a rest day built in. Each resistance workout will include all body parts. I have supersetted these as often as practical. And, I have lowered the weights lifted to 40 to 60% of my one rep maximum levels. For instance, I was doing Romanian Dead Lifts (RDL) as follows: 15 at 75lbs, 12 at 85lbs, 10 at 95 lbs, 8 at 105 lbs, and 6 at 115 lbs. I will now do 3 sets of 15 at 75 lbs.

When the doctor told me to stop doing high intensity intervals, I stopped jogging and started swimming because it was too hard to be running on the treadmill and not want to sprint. Similarly, I have started a new workout journal because to look at past workouts will remind me of loss rather than support me in this new part of my journey.

So we have covered stress (well, no solution there really) and exercise. What about diet? Healthy foods that are good for me…I will still drink protein shakes before and after my resistance workouts because I want to feed my muscles.  I am already eating a lot of whole and clean foods; however, I will be adding more fruits and vegetables and decreasing the protein some. I will have to work to think of food not just as fuel for my exercise, but now also as nourishment to prepare my body for the stress of surgery and recovery. Ah, so that’s it, I am still training, but my goals is to get through surgery and recovery as well as possible. To some, this may sound very subtle, but to me it feels like a dramatic shift. My doctor has also asked me to be less hard on myself about food. Really!?

Of course this triggers fear that I will in some way let all of this allow me to drift off my path and head back down that road to obesity. But having the fear does not mean it is inevitable. I can do this, just as I have done so many other things and will take all that I learn along this path to help both myself and others.

However, you can bet that there is much more to this story…

4 thoughts on ““No marathons, no sprints, no building muscle, don’t diet; I want you to do moderate exercise and to eat foods you enjoy that are good for you.”

  1. Silly doctor. What do you suppose kept you alive long enough to be having this discussion?? Hmmm?? I think your plan is great. I understand the cautions, but I also am cautious about the cautions. Doctors have been giving advice this whole time while Americans have become obese. My (our) doctor was surprised when I told her I didn’t need my blood pressure meds anymore. “No one does that”. Really? Huh. They aren’t trained to treat the whole person – they treat the problem. Even the good ones.

    Sounds like your weight training scheme is going to be more like mine. Doing 3 sets at 60% of your 1 rm is actually better for hypertrophy than what you were doing with those high reps. And doing that while eating clean and not in deficit? That’s where muscles come from – naturally. Love the plan. I think you will love the results.

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