My Exercise Journey – Bariatric Edition

What about Exercise? 
My Journey to Enjoying Exercise – Bariatric Edition
 
I cannot stand “braggy exercise social media posts”. Yes, we all know that you exercised today Karen. Can you shut up about it please? You know who I am talking about right? It’s sooooo annoying. This is not a braggy blog. This is a blog that explains “why” I am talking about exercise and I hope it is encouraging. I know that deep down you are an athlete. In my dreams, I run marathons. But, it’s only in my dreams. I have never run a 5K …. 
 
So, what about exercise? A lot of our bariatric journey focuses on food. How much should we eat? When should we eat? What kinds of foods should we eat? What kind of foods shouldn’t we eat? What kinds of supplements should we take now that our diets have changed? 
 
We spend a lot of time talking about food – I get that. Now that we have learned so darn much about food, wouldn’t this be the perfect time to talk a bit about exercise?
 
So who am I to talk about exercise? I mean, I am not your Zumba instructor and we don’t meet in the gym for weekly workouts but, I am a certified personal trainer and I have been teaching yoga, aerobics, water aerobics, weight training, and spin classes since I was 18 years old. Teaching exercise classes was my second job ever (my first job was working at Wendy’s lol – true story).
 
I was hired by a huge local gym (way back in the day when I was 18 – loooooong time ago) and I was responsible for making appointments for customers, keeping the gym area clean, and showing customers how to use the gym equipment without hurting themselves or hurting our equipment. This is how I got started in the “gym business”.
 
From that job I took an interest in teaching and so I got my certification through the YMCA and through that same organization, I learned how to teach aerobics, low impact aerobics, and water aerobics. Fast forward a year and I was teaching all of these classes in my hometown, Ottawa Ontario. 
 
This job is also the reason why I started traveling around the world. I applied and was hired by a Swiss-German company called Club Intersport. They placed instructors and expensive equipment in hotels in Europe and the Caribbean. We were a match so off I went to the Dominican Republic, Greece, Spain, Switzerland, and Cyprus and finally I ended up in Mexico.  
 
It was a whirlwind of FUN!! This company also taught me how to teach archery, lead mountain biking groups and I got my Rescue Diver Certification through PADI. This was a period in my life that is hard to describe. I never “planned” on traveling so much. It just “happened”. I was open to the concept and the opportunities were there. 
 
I finally settled down in Mexico when I was 30 years old. I was working full time in a very nice health club and I was focused on my personal training program. I had Valentina when I was 31 (she is now 19 years old), and I went back to teaching a few low impact aerobic classes when she was 5 months old in 2001. 
 
When I was pregnant with Sebastian, I was 32 years old and I took a bit of time off from the gym and focused on my Valentina and my pregnancy. After Sebastian was born (he is now 17), I was 33 years old and I decided that I wanted to learn how to teach Spinning. I flew to Miami and got certified with a Spinning company called “Mad Dogg”. 
 
For the next 10 years I taught classes off and on. 
 
Wow, that was a huge part of my life. I taught exercise classes for over 20 years. 
 
I went back to school to study in Canada to become a nutritionist. It was the next important step in my goal of helping people to get healthy and stay healthy. It was also an important part of my career because I was a patient coordinator and I wanted to help my clients improve their diets and improve their results post-surgery. I felt that it was a natural move to make and it blended so well into my already established career path.
 
Fast forward to today and this blog that I am writing…. exercise. I know what I am talking about when it comes to exercise. I no longer have the desire to teach classes. Been there, done that. What I do now is encouraging people to get active. I want to see my clients develop a system that works for them. I want them to see how consistent exercise can help them reach their goals.
 
Exercise …. Ho Hum. I used to exercise because I wanted to look good. I used to exercise to try to maintain my weight. I used to exercise because I wanted to wear specific clothing. Today my reasons for exercise are very different.
 
Exercise was my job for so many years. Did I truly enjoy it back then? Well, I had a pretty terrific job but it was still a job. It didn’t matter if I “wanted” to exercise because I “got paid” to do it. It wasn’t until I stopped teaching classes that I had to take a step back and see what I truly enjoyed – not just for the sake of teaching it. Now I had to “want to exercise for me”. It is very different than HAVING to teach back to back classes. When you take away the “have to”, you start to ask yourself, “do you WANT to”?? 
 
I feel that if I want to remain healthy, I must continue down the exercise path. I know what inactivity feels like also. My back hurts, my neck hurts, my knees hurt, my hips hurt … I am sad and down and depressed … I don’t like feeling like that.
 
I have taught myself to NOT step on the scale before I exercise. Exercise is no longer about weight loss for me. Exercise is a chance for me to get STRONGER. It is my daily chance to keep diabetes at bay. It is my daily way to keep my triglycerides “in check”. It makes it possible to have a lower blood pressure than most of my family and friends. 
 
Exercise is my secret weapon. Yes, it is so powerful. It is my daily dose of endorphins. It keeps depression away – BE GONE DEPRESSION. No matter how crappy I feel going into a workout, I am going come out of that workout feeling a gazillion times better. Exercise is my HAPPY PILL.
 
Now, I am not going to beat you over the head with exercise. You need to know the right time for you. I always say that consistency trumps intensity. You Do You Boo. Find something that makes you happy today. Tomorrow that may change. That’s fine. Go with it. 
 
Today you may want to ride a bike. Tomorrow you may want to go on a walk. Friday might be your day for playing softball and Sunday might be your day to garden. 
 
I used to look at exercise as a chore. Today I see it as my way to get my darn head screwed on right. I promise you, if you just get up and do it, you will feel so much better. 
 
Earlier I mentioned how I never weigh before I exercise. Wanna know why? I separate weight loss and exercise today. If I step on the scale and I am heavier than the day before or two days before that, what happens in my head? I am going to angry at myself. I am not going to enjoy my workout because I “messed up” and I am now fat and bad. 
 
See how I did that? I compared my weight with who I am. I allowed my weight to dictate how I feel about myself. It is a fast spiral downwards. Sometimes if my weight is not on target, I even skip my workout because “obviously working out doesn’t work if I am heavier today than I was yesterday”. Who out there has had this same conversation in their head?
 
This is how I approach exercise today …. 
I am bigger than a smaller size of jeans.  Yes, that’s right. I am not going to allow some number on the scale to dictate whether I work out today or not. My legs are powerful and I am going to use them to release some endorphins. 
 
Exercise is a magic piece to this bariatric puzzle and I also feel it is something that we all should try to incorporate into our lives. 
 
If you are not already exercising, I challenge you here and now. I challenge you to put together a plan to start. It can be a small plan. It can be a walking plan or a stretching plan. It doesn’t need to hurt. I just want you to incorporate something into your already busy lifestyle that is JUST FOR YOU. It is your time to be “greedy”. 
 
Mamacita, if you don’t take some time for YOU, how are you going to keep giving and giving and giving and giving. 
 
I used to feel guilty about taking time out of my day to exercise. I am now fiercely protective of MY TIME when I get sweaty and do something to keep me healthy and happy. I want to share this with you. If I could package endorphins and legally sell them I would and I would be RICH. Come and join me for a tablet of legal endorphins. Let’s exercise – you and me. Let’s stay healthy and happy for a long time.
 
The exercise journey never ends. It evolves with time and it becomes an integral part of who you are.
 
Love yourself enough to beat yourself up just a tiny bit xoxo
 
If you need help coming up with an exercise plan, reach out to me, and let’s put one together just for you.

About the Author: Sheri Burke is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bariatric Surgery Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery clients for over 10 years and especially enjoys providing nutritional guidance to pre and post bariatric clients.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teens and cooking up a nutritional storm in the kitchen.

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