Exercise is an investment in your health, longevity, and overall quality of life. Especially if you’ve already invested in a procedure such as bariatric surgery to jumpstart your progress—that’s a big step on the path to better health, so don’t let yourself wander off into the weeds.
The important thing is to set realistic goals to set yourself up for success.
Exercise when you can, do what you can, and if you can’t—don’t sweat it.
A typical fitness goal might sound something like this:
I’m going to work out for an hour every morning before work, 5 days a week.
Now, this might not be unrealistic for everyone, but it is for some people—weight-loss surgery patients in recovery, people with existing health issues or injuries, people with full-time jobs and children, and so on.
For one thing, that’s a lot of time to dedicate to exercise for most people nowadays. Why else do we have self-help articles on how to schedule “me time” into our lives? Anyone who must “pencil in” the things that make them happy is not likely to make exercise a priority.
Additionally, although setting the bar high is well-intentioned, if you’re not in the proper physical condition for the intensity level you’ve set yourself, for whatever reason—recent surgery, health issues, or you’re just out of shape—you risk hurting yourself. For example, resolving that you’ll take up running when you have bad knees, or expecting yourself to do a 30-minute HIIT (high intensity interval training) routine if you are starting out at a high body weight.
A more realistic, fair goal might look something like this:
I’m going to do something active each day for at least 7 minutes, whenever I can, as many days a week as I can.
You might be able to do more, but starting slowly is less intimidating and leaves room for you to do more as physical activity becomes a normal part of your day, and as your body adjusts and increases in fitness level.
You are not anyone else, and they are not you.
This sounds obvious, but it’s important to remember. Yes, having health conditions, or having had a medical procedure preventing you from being able to do certain things until you’ve fully recovered, presents a challenge. But it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. Work with what you’ve got.
Don’t have a lot of spare time? Maybe you can do some calf raises while brushing your teeth or flex your abs on your way to/from work. Dealing with physical/health limitations or recuperating from a medical procedure? Squeeze your glutes every few seconds while laid up in bed, or do light, low-intensity weight training while sitting in a chair.
Note: If you’ve had a procedure, taking things slowly and carefully is especially important—always talk to your doctor first.
Anything counts, anything at all, because it’s something, and that is always more valuable than nothing.