Getting Back to Exercise After a Procedure

Getting motivated to exercise can be difficult at any time, but it can be especially hard after you’ve just had a cosmetic procedure. Depending on the surgery, a doctor might recommend that patients take a break from exercise and any physical activity until they have healed, and come back from that break when their body is recovered.

Not all surgeries are invasive enough to keep you from exercising. Something simple like lip injections or laser hair removal is not going to keep you off of your feet. However, more invasive cosmetic surgery such as a tummy tuck or chin liposuction is definitely going to cause some downtime from exercising.

No matter what kind of surgery you have, a doctor is going to encourage you to move around a little bit. No soul cycle class or 6-mile runs, but you are not going to be bedridden after a cosmetic procedure. Instead, it will be important that you do little things depending on what your doctor wants until you have healed enough to begin easing back into your routine.

It is important to remember that doing too much too soon is counterproductive. You have to give your incisions enough time to heal and listen to your body when it comes to how much you can do.  Pushing yourself should not be the goal when recovering from surgery, instead, look at it as a building project and each day you’re working back to what your body used to do.

Maybe you did not exercise before surgery, and now you are finding it exceptionally hard to get into some kind of routine. It is important to keep in mind that while cosmetic surgeries can make us look and feel better, exercise is still important to our physical and mental health.

Despite what your workout routine may have been before surgery, I have some tips to help you get motivated to work out so that you can be the best version of yourself.

Types of Motivation

What motivates you may not necessarily motivate the next person, so it is helpful to identify the different types of motivation so you can better understand what will get you going. There are two main types of motivation, extrinsic, which are more commonly used to get people into the gym, and intrinsic: motivation from within.

Extrinsic motivation is the way most people convince themselves to exercise. For example, you might be looking to lose a few pounds and look great in that bathing suit this summer. Maybe you are headed to a high school reunion and want to impress those old classmates. Whatever pushes you to get fit is coming from an external source, you want to lose weight to change your appearance, either for yourself or for the approval of others.

Intrinsic motivation is a bit different, and if you are only using extrinsic motivations to push yourself it is likely going to be more difficult to get started and create a habit of it over time. Exercise is a great way to lose weight, but it is also beneficial for your mental and long-term physical health. Intrinsic motivations help you foster a good relationship with exercise that is not only based on changing your appearance.

One example of this inner motivation is simply exercising because it feels good. Some people enjoy a runner’s high feeling or the relief of stress after a long day. Exercise can be a great time in your day to slow down your mind, listen to music or your favorite podcast, and think.

As your body gets stronger, you will feel satisfaction knowing that you are working towards more than just how you look, you are improving your ability to do more. If you can only run a half mile at first, being able to reach a mile and still feel good is just as much a victory as weight loss.

Whatever is motivating you to begin or continue exercising after your procedure, once you have identified it you may still have some start-up fatigue, especially if the downtime after your recovery has made it seem even less appealing. Luckily, there are some small ways you can make getting started feel less overwhelming.

Do What Works for You

If you simply cannot find enjoyment in a certain activity or form of exercise, it is unlikely that you are going to magically wake up and like it one day. When getting into exercise it is important to make exercising as easy as you can to build a good relationship with it. If your goal is to run eventually, walking or light jogging are great places to start.

For most people it feels good to be good at something, so choose one form of exercise and work hard to master it. This can be as simple as push-ups or as intense as a 5k. Experiment with what you could enjoy, if you try something a few times and really can’t get into it, move on to something else.

Remember that there are so many different ways to exercise and it is not just joining the gym or going for a long run. Try joining an aerobics class, or change up the activity each week. The best way to get motivated to exercise after your procedure is to make exercise fun, whatever that means for you.


Jenn Walker is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beach goer operating out of Southern New Jersey.

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