It has been almost 8 weeks since this journey began, and I must say that the “6-8 week recovery time” model is fairly accurate. I would say I was right there, feeling pretty much back to “normal” at 6 weeks. I’ve been stalling on writing this because I don’t actually feel that I have anything that exciting to say, but I suppose my lack of exciting updates IS an exciting update in itself. I’ve also had a few people ask me about my recovery, so here we are!
I hit a wall about 4 weeks into recovery, feeling like I needed to do SOMETHING different. The bodyweight exercises were working, and I continued to do them to some extent, but after spending the past 3 months working out at home, it began to get old, even though I am on the recovery train. So I started walking on the treadmill. This was inspired by my amazing husband who is preparing to go to US Navy Boot Camp in a month and has been putting in the WORK. Though this post is not about him, I must say, he certainly inspired me to put in the work myself.
The treadmill idea was also born out of the fact that I am vigorously rewatching old seasons of Survivor, and admittedly had a tiny bit of guilt about spending my time (and brain cells) in this way. I feel less guilty about watching it if I can at least be walking and exercising while doing so. (Maybe I’m not killing quite as many brain cells this way? Who knows?) The goal at first was to just move the entire 42 minute episode. I was walking around a 23 minute mile pace-- not too fast. Since then I have not only powered through all of Season 13: Cook Islands and Season 15: China, but I have also increased my speed to a sub-20 mile, which is no joke to maintain for 42 minutes! I’ve been super mindful about how it feels and being aware of not overdoing it. There have been a few walks that I’ve had to decrease my speed because it wasn’t feeling quite right. This also significantly increased my step count. Between walking Comet twice a day and walking on the treadmill, I was easily hovering around the 12,000 step per day mark.
Of course I don’t know this for sure, but I really believe that walking on the treadmill helped build the strength in my hip flexor back up very quickly. It’s gotten a lot better very fast, which is fantastic news.
On June 19th (7 weeks post-op) I decided to reactivate my gym membership. I had held off due to Covid concerns, but thankfully, the coach is allowing me to workout in-between classes so I pretty much have the space to myself or am sharing it with one other person. (thanks, Becca!) Anyways, this has been a really wonderful step for me. Not only is it allowing me to build my arm/back/core strength back up, but it is allowing me to gain confidence as I slowly increase my weight bearing capacity.
My first day back I did some deadlifts-- while there was once a time in my life when I knocked out a 300 lb PR and repped 225 lbs like it was nothing, I decided to start light-- at 55 lbs and only worked up to 75 lbs that day. Everything felt fine, but baby steps, you know?
Since going back to the gym, I’ve done power cleans at 65 lbs, gotten my deadlift up to 95 lbs, and done other exercises like med ball slams, kettlebell swings, and lots and lots of Assault Bike. I’ve been very mindful about easing my way into it and am not even thinking about what I used to be able to do. Honestly, I have somehow managed to have a really healthy attitude through all of this and am truly just happy to be lifting weights at 7 weeks post-op.
I had my virtual follow-up appointment with my doctor last week as well, and while they didn’t take x-rays (obviously, it was virtual), he did say everything seems fine from what I told him. I asked several questions about more things I can and cannot do and was again told his previous advice of “no restrictions” and a new one, that I really enjoyed, “Live your life.” This means a “yes” to chiropractic adjustments (if I choose), water skiing, deep squatting, running, and pretty much any other activity I can think of. His exact words were, “I don’t give my patients any restrictions post-op, and with the implant you have, you really don’t have to worry.”
So there you have it. I’m planning on taking on water skiing, skydiving, and marathon running this year. After all, no restrictions!
I did have to check myself today on two exercises and was reminded of my current limitations. In today’s workout there were “RDL” or “Romanian Deadlifts” programmed. An RDL is basically a deadlift performed with straighter legs, which isolates the hamstrings more than a regular deadlift. I thought I could do these at 65 lbs. I did one rep and it didn’t feel quite right. But I figured I would try a few more. About 4 reps in I decided to cut it and dropped down to 55 lbs. It was still a little shaky, but I focused on engaging my hamstrings and glutes and ended up staying there. While it wasn’t a huge deal to drop 10 lbs, it was certainly a reminder that there are still some discrepancies between what I think I can do and where my level actually is.
Another exercise, “90-90 hip rotation” was also programmed. I didn’t think I would be able to do this one, but I wanted to give it a try before totally giving up on it. You start with both legs at 90 degrees and slowly open the back one and then the front one, in an effort to open up and stretch the hip flexors. I tried one, it didn’t feel good, so I substituted a different exercise instead.
The point is, that while this recovery has been relatively smooth, there have been plenty of times when I have had to check my ego. Lowering weights, changing exercises, slowing down my speed, cutting something short-- it’s all part of the healing process, and it does require the right mindset. I’m by no means comparing myself to what I was doing at any point before my surgery, and to be honest, I don’t think I ever will. In many ways, this surgery was a turning point in my health, fitness, and life and I am happy to use this as my new starting point moving forward.
As I wrap this up, I think this will be one of my last updates, short of any major milestones in fitness or over time. I’m thankful to have had this amazing procedure by a wonderful doctor. I’m thankful to finally be pain free. I’m thankful for the smooth recovery so far. I’m thankful to be back in the gym, and I’m thankful for my brand new hip. (Which still needs a name… any ideas??)
Hi! I am Nicole Guimaraes. I'm a K-2 music teacher in Falls Church City, VA. I've got an amazing husband and a fabulous dog who keep me busy. If I'm not teaching or walking my dog, you can probably find me at the gym!