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Going to the gym VSG post-op (CONFUSED)



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Posted (edited)

Hi guys! I'm all sorts of confused...

I just reached 2 weeks post-op. My surgeon cleared me to go back to the gym. Prior to the surgery, I was working out daily 7 days a week lifting weights and throwing in some random cardio for a month and a half straight. In my past, I've consistently gone to the gym for Zumba classes, but obviously through-out the years I would commit and other times I wouldn't. This has been on and off for like the past 10 years. But I was able to go today and I did the same exact weight routine prior to my surgery and I felt absolutely fine! No pain. No issues.

HERE'S WHERE I'M CONFUSED! I came across this surgeon who does NOT encourage you work out. He goes through all the "myths" of working out. I primarily want to work out like I was before because of 1- loss skin prevention and 2- better weight loss. HOWEVER after watching his video -- I'm confused. He's absolutely right -- when you work out, you burn X amount of calories, but with a VSG, and since I'm so fresh out of surgery, I can't possibly eat more than I'm supposed to in order to prevent the stomach from stretching...and on top of that -- I have such a limited amount of nutrients coming in since I'm only eating 3 times a day 1/2 a cup of food. And I'm worried about stretching out my stomach I mean I can't even eat and drink at the same time anymore because we're told not to. There's no way to eat more unless I bump it up to 4-5 times a day of eating (but that's stage 3 of the diet and that begins in 3 weeks). And also another myth -- skin doesn't have muscle, so how can you tighten your loose skin (if and when you get there). But I see so many overweight people who have gone to the gym and don't have loose skin. I see other surgery patients who never went to the gym and have so much loose skin.

So yeah...I'm really confused as to what to do. I'm barely at my beginning, so I'd love to find an answer as to what path I should take, but I'm not an expert and I don't have all the answers. I know I need to consult with my nutritionist and possibly a personal trainer (but their sole purpose is gym-related) but my surgeon okayed it and encouraged it...

Edited by Vivis

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Posted (edited)

My friend, as charismatic as Dr. Vong maybe, he is not your surgeon so please go by the recommendations of your team.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, there is *some* truth to it. Ask your team about their take on it but most of the weight loss will occur because of dietary, hormonal and metabolic changes.

Very little will happen because of the gym (early on). Only a humble guess but perhaps that’s why most Bariatric teams include a nutritionist and not a fitness instructor.

My advice is to focus on what is emphasized most on your personal plan. Maybe your team wants to include exercise for flexibility, bone and muscle health, etc.

Edited by GreenTealael

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Posted (edited)

All surgeons are different. Mine specifically says Cardio yes. But not to do anything heavy yet until i am able to consume minimum of 800 calories. and no weight lifting of any kind for a couple months. I am 3 weeks out and still hurting a little so i cant do much. I have a bicycle i want to go riding but i am waiting a bit

Edited by liveaboard15

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Yes, it’s always best to follow your surgeon’s advice but you also have to consider what you are able to do. Have to admit I’m surprised you are able to weight lift so soon after surgery given the weight restrictions we’re given. I could only lift/carry 5-10kgs the first fortnight then 10-20 the next fortnight. Many of us are advised just to walk to begin but 🤷🏻‍♀️.

There are lots of benefits to regular exercise but the truth is exercise will only contribute 10-20% of the weight you have to lose. So if you have to lose 100lbs, exercise will account for only 10-20lbs. I barely exercised at all & I not only reached goal but exceeded it. But that was my choice.

And exercising doesn’t help to reduce the amount of loose skin you’ll have. That’s dependent upon factors like age, gender, genetics, how much weight you have to lose, how long you were at the higher weight & your weight loss/gain history. Loose skin is about your skin being stretched out & it’s ability to retract back. That’s the elastane in your skin not your muscles. My friend & fellow sleever is a keen cyclist (100-200km a week) has rock hard thighs of steel but she still has all her loose skin.

Best advice is to listen to your body & do what you are capable of & comfortable doing.

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Think about this as a whole body approach. We are not just trying to cut calories and lose a little weight, we are looking to lose weight, change our lifestyles and get more healthy. I have watched a lot of Dr. Vong and while he says he is anti exercise, I really think he is referring to doing cardio for an hour a day because it is hard to compensate for all the calorie loss. That said, I don't think he or any doctor is going to tell you to not exercise at all. You have to get the body moving and assist with the calorie deficit, build muscle and get healthy. Walking a few miles a day is NOT cardio and it must be done to get the body in shape and help lose weight and build muscle. In the sense that someone said that exercise does not prevent loose skin I agree but exercise DOES build muscle which can fill some of that void that the fat vacates. I walk nearly 5 miles per day and ride bike weather permitting 3-4 times a week. I have lost 105 pounds in 8 months and 14 inches around my waist. It is working so I am going to continue it. Part of this whole process is weight loss and feeling physically better. Exercise is crucial in that process.

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Regardless of weight loss surgery, 7 days a week doing weights seems a little over the top (unless you a doing some type of combo upper/lower splits). While cleared two weeks post op, it doesn't mean you should be doing the same routine and particularly the same weights as prior to surgery, even if you felt okay. You aren't getting a lot of nutrition and you are unlikely to be able to sustain the intensity

Take a step back, give your body time to heal. Do some walking for another couple of weeks, not big power walks. Consider moderation. At the most for weights two to three days per week per muscle group for a few months once you get back into weights. Don't burn yourself trying re-establish pre op exercise baselines immediately.

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I'm 2 weeks post-op and I was told to walk 30 mins a day and do light weights or resistant bands. I'm walking 2.5 miles in 40 minutes. Slow and study at this point for me.

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Prior to surgery I was working with a trainer 2x a week for many years. We did a combo of strength training (sometimes with heavy weights), balance, cardio, flexibility.

At 2 weeks out, I could not have handled hard workouts. I did start walking more and focused on that for my exercise for the first two months, until I could get up to 800-1000 calories consistently. My program wanted us to be active as soon as possible, but did not want us doing hard workouts if we were not getting at minimum, 800 cals, and ideally more than that. In fact, I’m now 9/10 months out and that calorie expectation is more like 1500 cals on workout days (a bit less, like 1300, is ok on non-workout days).

Having said that, I think going hard at 2 weeks post op is unwise. You are still healing inside for quite a while still. You aren’t taking in many calories and it is incredibly hard to do so even if you want to. Maybe focus on easy movement, like walking more, for a while longer. Once your cals increase and you are further into recovery, you can expand your horizons with exercise. For me, that was around 2 months. I scaled back what I’d been doing previously (mostly using slightly lighter weights and we were careful with the ab work for a while) but I quickly was back to where I was.

Personally, I’m not just exercising for weight loss. It’s to strengthen my heart, keep my muscles in good shape, strengthen my bones, release stress and tension. I absolutely would never wait to get to or close to goal to start exercising. There are so many important things that come from exercise that have nothing at all to do with weight loss.

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That surgeon you posted the video on - he's interested in shocking people and being contrarian. He's not YOUR surgeon, he's never met or examined YOU and he doesn't know YOUR history.

I think people here have posted a lot of excellent points. I was not cleared for lifting weights until 4 weeks out, when I was cleared for everything. However, I had not been doing much besides walking and swimming until that point.

As @Arabesque said, exercise will not reduce your loose skin. It's just basically something you will or will not have to deal with, but most likely, you will have loose skin.

Exercise is great for overall health, and weight lifting is good to reduce the amount of muscle mass you lose after surgery, but it's a minor part of your weight loss. it's better for keeping weight off long term.

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Posted (edited)

I was cleared for all exercise at 1 month.

With that said, i didn’t start going “hard” until about 3 months post. Up until then, it was all walking.

Staring around 3 months i started doing some sort of exercise for roughly 2 hours a day combined (and i mean some sort of activity that raised my heart rate to my optimum level for at least 45 continuous mins and/or some sort of strength training)

I was able to do this while consuming less than 700 cals during weight loss phase. BUT i had a ridiculous amount of energy (dont really know where it came from), and I listened to my body and did not push further than what was reasonably comfortable (for ME).

Everyone is different and only YOU can say when too much is too much.

Try a little bit at a time and keep making decisions on whether to keep going, slow it down, or stop altogether. Your body (and labs) will tell you. And of course, let your team know what you ate doing.

Even if it doesn’t contribute to your weight loss, you will still reap the benefits of regular exercise (i.e., FEELING GOOD)

Now RE: lose skin. I can honestly say that I was probably in the best shape of my life (with some serious muscles) around 2 yrs post and i STILL had loose skin in areas (well, at least the areas that I didn’t plastics-surgery away). I would have had to gain and equal amount of volume in muscle to replace the fat I lost to fill it all in. And that would have been unrealistic and maybe even impossible. Not to mention, personally, i was not interested in looking like a body builder (respect to those who do).

It really is up to you what kind of look/feeling you are going for, and what you are willing to do to achieve it.

This early on though, i would give the insignificant opinion to focus on weight loss and nutrition for now.

Good Luck! ❤️

Edited by ms.sss

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Posted (edited)

On 5/11/2022 at 3:49 PM, GreenTealael said:

On 5/11/2022 at 4:12 PM, liveaboard15 said:

19 hours ago, Arabesque said:

11 hours ago, Tony B - NJ said:

11 hours ago, Hop_Scotch said:

10 hours ago, Happy Stylist said:

9 hours ago, Queen ApisM said:

8 hours ago, lizonaplane said:

6 hours ago, ms.sss said:


I don't know how to quote or tag your names so this was all I could figure out. I want to thank you all! Everyone gave different and yet similar advice. And I now finally truly feel so much calmer.

Yesterday I started tracking my food and my workouts (again) and I saw how the workout basically burned my few calories and put me in the negative. And, without a medical degree, I know that is not good. It just makes no sense. I'm assuming what I should be doing are - calmer workouts that don't burn so much but keep me healthy and moving while I'm on such a low diet. Maybe when I'm months into this journey, I'll be encouraged to go beast mode like I did yesterday but it'll make more sense then since I'll be able to eat more.

I've called my surgeon's nutritionist and shared my concerns with her. I have a meeting with her tomorrow to figure out exactly WHAT I should be doing at this point. I definitely need more instruction in terms of which direction to head in and quite frankly you guys are right -- I can raise my concerns but I need to follow their guidance as they're the ones working with me throughout this entire journey.

I LOVE that whenever I freak out, this online community ALWAYS helps me out so much and calms me down. I cannot thank everyone enough for taking the time to respond and share their thoughts.

Edited by Vivis

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