Cosmetic surgery can make significant and lasting differences in the way your face and body look. Many patients see the results as “life-changing” – they feel more confident and positive about themselves. And for many, it marks the beginning of a new attitude about themselves and their health – they look good and want to maintain that appearance. Not surprisingly, many of them start incorporating exercise and better eating habits into their daily routine, habits that will help them look and feel younger longer.
Exercise and Surgery
How quickly a person bounces back from cosmetic surgery largely depends on how healthy they were going in. “Any surgery is a personal setback,” says Eva Rodriguez, personal trainer at The Torrance Fitness Institute. “Though it depends on the type of surgery and how the surgery went, usually the stronger and fitter you are, the more quickly you will recover.”
Christine Klingler, of Christine’s Fitness blog, concurs, “Even though patients don’t go right back into their own routine, the ones who were in shape beforehand really bounce back quickly.” Klingler cites the example of one of her club members who had liposuction. “She was in great shape beforehand, so when she was finally able to return to exercising, it took her only about five weeks to get into her full routine.”
An added bonus for those who are fit beforehand is they won’t gain as much weight when they are inactive after surgery. “The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be,” says Ronnie Stakrob, Owner of Personal Training for The TrendFit Club in Torrance. “So in a resting state, if you are sedate afterwards, you’ll put on less fat.”
Patients are given strict instructions by their doctors on when to return to an exercise regimen-usually it’s four to six weeks after a facelift, and at least two months after any type of body surgery, like breast augmentation or liposuction. Once they are back in the gym-or starting for the first timethen it’s best to build up slowly.
“If you want to decrease body fat and increase lean tissue, sixty percent of your success will be determined by diet,” says Stakrob. “If you are not getting enough proteins, fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates, and water, the muscle won’t regenerate itself.” He recommends five small meals a day. “If your meals are too far apart, the body holds onto the fuel because it doesn’t know when the next meal is coming. It’s saving fat for survival.”
Carbs are getting a lot of attention these days: are they good, bad or half-way in between? Both Rodriguez and Stakrob recommend meals that contain lean protein, a fruit and/or vegetable, and a “good” carbohydrate. “Try and eat a low glycemic index carb, like sweet potatoes or real oatmeal,” says Stakrob. “These carbs have a slow and consistent release of sugar into the bloodstream. This keeps your insulin levels nice and low.”
Rodriguez doesn’t like diets like The Atkins, which he says is too high in fat, and he isn’t a proponent of The Zone Diet, but he thinks people should watch their carb intake. “I like my clients to keep a food diary for a couple of weeks. They become accountable and start thinking a lot more about what they’re eating.” He also stresses the importance of consistency in regular eating habits. “Try to eat twenty-one meals a week-don’t skip them.” Rodriguez acknowledges that breakfast is his toughest meal to get in, but he always makes sure that he has a protein shake and a piece of fruit. (Lunch is usually chicken or fish with salad, and dinner is similar, usually with rice).
Of course, there is no secret formula to getting fit-it’s a matter of planning ahead and working hard. But the results are worth it if you can make it work. “Make realistic goals for exercise and diet or you’ll fall off the wagon,” advises Rodriguez. But while these goals must be attainable, they must be challenging. “You want to see change. It usually takes 45 to 60 days to see that change but you will feel so much better about yourself. Just remember, nutrition and exercise go hand in hand.”
You’ve had the surgery you wanted, the results are great… but how do you keep yourself looking slimmer and younger. (And this goes for everyone-not just cosmetic surgery patients). The operative phrase may be “getting into a routine”. “To get results you need to train a minimum of three times each week,” says Stakrob. “If you only do it twice, it’s difficult to see any esthetic change.”
The cornerstone of your workout should be weight-lifting. “You lose a pound of muscle every year after thirty and your metabolism slows down,” says Rodriguez. All three trainers agreed that the optimum strength training is for roughly 45 minutes three times per week. “But if people are short of time, I tell them to concentrate on the large muscle groups, like legs and chest. These are the meat and potatoes of weight training.”
Cardio should be at least three times a week or more. Stakrob recommends three to four weekly sessions of moderate cardio lasting about 50 minutes and one twenty-minute intense session. The cardio must be aerobic, why your heartbeat remains at an elevated rate-activities like cycling, running and fast walking are examples. Tennis and squash don’t qualify. Stakrob suggests doing your cardio after your weightlifting as your glycogen levels are down and you’ll burn more fat. Flexibility is another important aspect of fitness, one people often neglect if they’re rushing.
“You don’t get old then stiff,” says Rodriguez, “You get stiff, then old.” He recommends doing stretches anywhere-watching television, in the shower, at your desk. Stakrob likes to take his weightlifting clients through a dynamic stretch-where the stretch follows the movement of a specific exercise-then follows it up with a static stretch afterward. But what about those people who really just don’t like to exercise. According to Klingler, the secret is to get a program that is tailored to you. “A personalized program can be really motivating and there are so many options to choose from.” She points to cross-training as a way to prevent boredom and hiring a personal trainer to help you create a program that works for you. Classes are another way to put some fun into your routine. Pilates, yoga, spinning, step aerobics-there are lots to choose from.