Read about how Laura found fitness after a partial hysterectomy and laceration. Be inspired and motivated to get in shape again no matter what your struggle is.
Welcome to the third installment of the series “How To Find Fitness After…”.
Our guest for this month is Laura Flynn Endres from This is Fit Workouts.
Finding fitness after Partial Hysterectomy
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I moved to Los Angeles last month. I’d been in LA all of 3 days when I got hurt.
I’ve spent a lot of time in LA and have a favorite park where I do my workouts. My husband, my 19-year-old son, and I jogged there. We badly craved a workout to ‘burn off’ the stress of our cross-country move.
We were having fun. We were so excited that we’d “made it.” We had a circuit workout all set, using a park bench and a grassy field.
I was only 4 minutes into the workout when a “box” jump onto the park bench went bad. In my defense, I’ve done thousands of box jumps. And, I’m obnoxiously strict about being cautious and using good form on box jumps. Oh, the irony.
During my second set, my foot slipped off the end of the bench and my shin scraped down the edge of the bench. I yelled, “[bleep], I scraped my shin!” And then I looked down.
I saw tendon and bone.
Thankfully, as a CPT, I’m certified in first aid and CPR. I willed myself not to faint, used my son’s knee-length sock as a tourniquet, clamped the wound shut with my hand, and took deep breaths while my son called my friend to pick us up while my husband searched online for the nearest medical facility.Finding #fitness after #health issues isn't easy. Here's how @ThisIsFitWkouts did it. Click To Tweet
How physically active were you before the surgery and injury?
Here’s the saddest part (for me): I had just recovered from a major surgery when this injury occurred. In August of 2015, I had a partial hysterectomy, and the surgery recovery took far longer than anticipated.
I had been back to my usual workout schedule for a mere 10 weeks when I lacerated my leg.
Before the surgery, however, I’d been active forever. I played sports. I coached. I taught 5 classes a week in addition to my own training. I had filmed over 150 workout videos for my YouTube channel. My idea of a rest day was digging a new garden bed or hauling firewood (we are farm people).
I feel like August 2015 was the beginning of the end. I’m still not fully recovered from my leg injury. My doctor friend likes to remind me that I’m 46, not 8, and recovery takes longer. Thanks for that pep talk.
How long did it take you to be fully recovered?
From the surgery, it took six months. And by then, I wasn’t anywhere near where I’d been pre-surgery in strength and endurance.
From the laceration, it’s been 6 weeks and I’m finally able to carefully exercise. (The wound bled every day until week 5.)
During recovery, what activities could/couldn’t you perform?
After surgery, I had trouble with ab and core exercises, and that was a head trip because I teach Pilates and core is my thing! I also struggled with a level of fatigue I had never experienced before. What used to be my warm-up now crushed me like I’d done a full-blown workout. It was shocking and humbling.
From the laceration, I could barely walk. The shin is a high-tension area, so all movement pulls on the tissue. That meant walking was difficult and for a time, doctors thought I might need crutches. I still can’t kneel on that leg, or do any twisting, or take big steps. Walking downhill is especially tricky because of the severe ankle flexion.
It’s quite maddening!
What was the most difficult part of your recovery?
The physical recovery is difficult, but the emotional toll is far worse. Daily I think about the muscle I’m losing, how strict I have to be with my diet to support healing and limit weight gain, how much I miss the release that comes with physical exertion, how I can’t do the things I want to do – especially living in a new place. I want to explore! And I can barely get myself around.
I’ve learned to focus on the good, lest I slip into a pity-party from which there may be no return.Learn how @ThisIsFitWkouts found #fitness after partial hysterectomy. #inspiration Click To Tweet
What treatment(s) did you follow to get back on track?
Nothing specific. It’s amazing (and scary) how doctors stitch you up, say “be careful,” hand you the discharge instructions, and send you on your merry way. All of my doctors have been wonderful but it is now clear I am on my own to figure out the best modes of recovery.
Mostly I took the advice I give to my clients. Rest, listen to your body, give it time, honor the healing process, less is more.
I’m an antsy-pants. This has been a real challenge. I’m very competitive, so I finally realized I needed to turn my recovery into a competition (against myself). I challenged myself to truly recover before re-entering the fitness realm. Partly this is because I tried to re-enter too soon post-surgery three times – and set myself back a good two weeks each time. (Dumb, I know.)
Post-injury, I’ve been smarter than I was post-surgery. I don’t want to prolong the healing.
What are three (or four) tips you’d give to someone to find fitness after partial hysterectomy and laceration?
1. Respect the healing process first
I know my body needs all available energy to heal, and everything else I challenge my body with only takes energy away from what it needs to do. This helps me wrap my head around the need to rest, be cautious, and be smart about what exercises I do.
2. If possible, find a trainer who can help you recover and re-enter exercise appropriately
This is not the time to push yourself; no focusing on PRs. Find ways to do mobility-type exercises because the recovery period leads to stiff muscles and joints from lack of movement. Focus on health, not on fitness. There’s a big difference.
3. Treat yourself the way you’d treat your best friend
We hold ourselves to different standards and talk to and about ourselves in negative ways, in ways we’d never talk to or about someone else. When I am tempted to be too critical of myself (“I’m so pathetic. I can’t believe I can only do chair squats.”) I think, “What would I say to Bridget if she was feeling like this?” and then I [try to] take that advice. Mean words are never helpful or motivating. Be gentle with yourself.
And I have to include a fourth….
4. Eat nutrient-dense food
When we’re suddenly out of commission, we panic about gaining weight. But our bodies need nutrients to heal. This is not the time to drastically reduce calories, or eat badly to self-soothe. Focus on high-quality macros and plenty of vitamins & minerals – those are the tools your body needs to do the necessary work of healing.
The series “How To Find Fitness After…”
For this blog series, I chose the interview format because, in the next months, I’ll be sharing the stories and experiences of other athletes. What we all have in common is that we come from being very active to having to lie down for longer than expect to recover from injuries or surgeries.
Our objective is to connect with others who have been through similar situations (or are still struggling). We ourselves had to learn how to start from scratch and overcome different challenges. We want to inspire, motivate, and help others through our own experiences.Take one step a time on your journey back to #fitness after injury or surgery. #coaching Click To Tweet
Would you like to join the “Find Fitness After…” project?
Are you (or do you know) an athlete who went through a long period of recovery after a medical condition, surgery or injury (non-related to any physical activity)?
If yes, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with subject RECOVERY INTERVIEW. I’d love to hear, and share your story!
Read all the posts in this series:
Please check the list of link parties I join here.
Be Healthy and Live Fully.
NOTE: Please feel free to ask questions, but keep in mind that neither the participants or I am doctors or health care providers. We’re sharing information and tips about our specific cases. Although the same practices may also apply to your situation, please consult a professional before doing anything that may harm your wellness.