surgeryIt has been exactly one month since my doctor put me on the injured reserve list as I await my heart catheterization. Doctor G was firm and unambiguous, “No lifting weights at all. You may take your dog on thirty-minute walks but at a stroll pace. That’s all.”  As a trainer who used to go to the gym three times a week to strength train and do cardio interval training, I knew it would be hard for me to step things down this far.

During the first week, it was pretty easy to slip into sloth mode, with lots of new found time to write and pursue speaking and book-related projects. But then some of the symptoms of exercise withdrawal began to manifest. After the first week I found it a difficult to fall asleep at night, despite my full schedule of client sessions and rising at 4:30 am. As a Health & Lifestyle Coach I understand the power of tracking one’s weight and body composition on a regular basis. So I watched in horror as my weight crept up half a pound here, half a percent of body fat there. Nothing terrible, but the metrics were trending in the wrong direction.

During the second week, my joints began to ache and the stress of the impending procedure increased my overall fatigue level. To offset the creeping weight gain, I ate Kashi GoLean Crunch with 1% Organic milk and fruit instead of a regular lunch or dinner on most days. Increased yoga stretching countered the achy joints. The well wishes from family, friends, colleagues and clients has increased and is a source of comfort.

During the third week, the lack of endorphins released by exercise combined with the increased stress of the procedure and was overtaking the positive benefits my limited walking and yoga. I was becoming snarky to my wife and friends. I even scolded a client who did not do her cardio walking on a day it was 62 degrees and sunny with low humidity. Another client was told to stop whining about doing 50 push-ups on a Bosu. “You don’t know how blessed you are to be able to do those,” I snapped.

To offset the fear-of-the-unknown-factor, I watched more videos of heart caths on YouTube. To further offset the fear of the unknown, I visited the Cath Lab at Jersey Shore Medical Center. My wife, always empathetic and insightful, suggested eating more comfort foods like sushi. Watching the movie 42 at home, seeing Blue Jasmine in the neighborhood theater in Red Bank and going to Monmouth Park with friends were wonderful distractions that allowed me to shift the focus to something other than myself.

Now begins the fourth week of exercise withdrawal, and I am really jonesing for a fix. Thank goodness for the love of my wife and family. Thank goodness for walking with my English Setter Daisy. Thank goodness for still being able to train clients and keep to a schedule. Thank goodness for the prayers and well wishes sent by so many. Thank goodness for special work projects, good food and other distractions. They all help to take the edge off. By this time next week, my procedure will be in the past and I will be able to pump iron and trot on the treadmill. I will have had my exercise fix, and once again, all will be right in the world.

Have you ever had to eschew exercise for an extended time? How did it effect you…and how did you deal with it?