Since my surgery, working out hasn’t been a priority, because I’ve been more focused on basic bodily functions like trying to make what’s left of my pancreas work. But, I’m going to London in just over a month, and I want to have the stamina and energy to do lots of walking. I also want to build muscle mass, because I’ve never been muscular to begin with, but after my surgery, I lost any muscle I’ve ever had. I’m not looking to lose weight, but I truly just want to be stronger and not want to collapse at the top of the stairs each time I make it up, ya know?
Just over a month ago, I started working out at home after not working out for a year and half since surgery. I just decided that I’m going to feel sick whether I’m workout out or not, so if I can do something that’s beneficial for my overall health, I owe it to myself. When I was younger, I used to work out with more of a “punishment” mentality…i.e., punishing myself for eating too much or thinking I had to workout hard to “earn” the food I ate. Ridiculous mentality that’s all too common. But NOW…now I workout to celebrate my body and thank it for what it does for me every day.
For the first month, I did YouTube videos in my little home gym. I mostly did the PopSugar full-body workout videos which I think are great. I was working out 4-5 times a week, and I really appreciate the comfort of working out at home. Working out at a gym can be really beneficial, but with my health, I like knowing I’m at home if I’m not going to feel well, and being by all of my stuff.
Here are links to some of the videos I liked:
Because of my incision, I have to modify some of the things I do. For over a year, I couldn’t do anything with my stomach muscles to prevent a hernia, so I’m starting from scratch and will always need to be careful. I’m doing crunches and all of that good stuff, but I always do the modified versions (i.e., knees bent as opposed to straight legs sit ups, etc). My scar is still really painful so I just have to honour that and stop when I need to.
After a month of working out on my own and starting to feel a little bit stronger, I decided I wanted to try the famous Bikini Body Guide (BBG) from Kayla Itsines. There’s now an app you can do the program on (Sweat app) and it’s $20 a month with a free week intro. You have the choice of doing Kayla Itsines’ BBG program, a yoga program from Sjana Elise, or post-baby and power programs from Kelsey Wells. It also gives you menus for every single day, customized to your dietary needs (vegetarian, vegan, etc) and I was pretty impressed with the creativity of some of the recipes. You can track water, weight, progress pics, etc. in the app, and it also connects you with other BBGers in the community section of the app.
More about Kayla and the app: https://www.kaylaitsines.com/
I am VERY impressed with the app. It’s colorful, neat, smart, and fast, and intuitive. It plans your workouts for the week for you, and guides you through each one so you literally have a personal trainer in the palm of your hand. The BBG workout schedule it recommends for you (and what I chose to follow) involves 28-minute workouts 3x a week plus cardio (either HIIT or LISS) and rest days. You can change the schedule around to make it fit your schedule better.
I’ll do my best to explain more about the app, but you should do some googling if you’re interested, because there’s a LOT to cover in one blog post and I’m sure I’ve missed some stuff!
The 28 minute sessions each involve two separate circuits with four moves each and you do them twice. Eg: Circuit 1: 15 squats, 10 burpees, 24 walking lunges, 24 knee ups
Circuit 2: 24 jump lunges, 15 sumo squats, 24 step ups, 15 squat and press
You get seven minutes to complete the first circuit as many times as possible (I usually complete each circuit a little more than two times in the seven minutes) and then you get a minute of rest, do the next circuit, a minute of rest, do the first circuit again, a minute of rest, and do the second circuit again = 28 minutes. And the app times your entire workout! It’s really convenient. You can also use the app to track your LISS workouts which I love.
At the end of your workout, it asks if you want to take a sweaty selfie. They’re not very good pictures, but they’re usually at least funny to look back on!
Monday – Legs (28 minutes, 4 x 7 min sets) + warm up and cool down
Tuesday – Weekly Challenge + LISS (low-intensity sustained state cardio. Running, walking, cycling, etc for 35 minutes. I’ve been doing 35 mins of fast walking)
Wednesday – Arms and abs (28 minutes, 4 x 7 min sets) + warm up and cool down
Thursday – 35 minute LISS
Friday – Full Body (28 minutes, 4 x 7 min sets) + warm up and cool down
Saturday – 35 minute LISS
Sunday – Rest day
So, each week, your goal is to do 3 resistance workouts, 3 cardio workouts, 2 recovery workouts, and 1 challenge
Each week, leg day, arms and abs day, and full body day will involve different exercises. The app times everything for you and each exercise has a GIF of Kayla doing the exercise so you can make sure you’re doing everything right.
You guys, the workouts are TOUGH! My arms and legs have felt like jelly all week. But they’re doable because…you just do what you can at your own pace! There isn’t a goal you need to complete within each seven-minute circuit other than to do your best and keep going!
You have the option between several different warm up and cool down workouts before each workout. The app strongly recommends them, and I do too! From not doing much activity for so long, my knees are already talking to me, and I’ve been diligent about the warm ups and cool downs to prevent overuse injuries.
The app is motivating and encouraging. I really appreciate that it helps plan everything out for you because that keeps me motivated to keep going. I’m only on week one so time will tell how this all goes for me, but I am definitely excited about the program and recommend you check it out if you’re looking for a new workout plan!
If you’re still reading – hey, thanks!
xo – C