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Beginning to work out again, and I'm totally confused :/

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  • Beginning to work out again, and I'm totally confused :/

    Hi everyone! I have a situation that I'm hoping I can get sorted through LOL.

    I'm a female, almost 35. I've worked out before (i.e. mixture of traditional cardio and strength training), back in high school and early college. I got pretty strong and fit, since I was also heavily involved with karate during that time.

    Fast-forward to now. I'm finally completely graduated, out of school several years. The stress of starting our practice has been brought down to a dull roar, and I finally have some spare time. I'm REALLY feeling the need to MOVE again and get FIT again. I function better and I feel all happy when I do!

    I'm also about to have surgery for a hysterectomy (VERY large uterine fibroids that make me look pregnant) on August 8th. I'm nervous about it and about recovery, and I want the surgery to go as smooth as possible and I want to recover as fast as possible.

    I also have several health issues - intestinal infections, inflammatory tendencies, and worst of all, chronic, severe ANEMIA. Ugh, my hemoglobin has been under 10 and has now finally ramped up to just over 11 with aggressive (but not too much) supplementation.

    That being said...

    My goals are:
    Become stronger, with higher muscle function
    Improve circulation
    Not spend forever on a treadmill

    I'm not self-conscious about bulk vs tone, I just want to be HEALTHY.
    I AM protective of my joints and muscles and don't want to cause damage
    Endurance cardio is a no-go; I found out recently that when I do more than 30 mins of cardio (even divided up into 2 15-minute segments), my body dumps massive amounts of histamine and I have an "allergy" day of sneezing and congestion the entire next day.

    I'm not necessarily training for athletics, unless you count martial arts like karate - I DO eventually want to get back into that, too. But one thing at a time (grin). So if I had to choose between training just for strength/build or more for athletics, I'd have to pick athletics if karate falls into that category.

    I'm freaked out about Kettleball swings, as I've had some low back issues, but I'm willing to hear anyone out who has a passion for doing them.

    My questions so far are,

    Do you think the Primal Fitness plan best for someone in my situation?
    How does the Primal method of fitness stack up against other workout routines y'all have done?
    Does anyone recommend working with a personal trainer, and if so, what qualities should I look for?
    And last, are there any changes I need to make to working out when preparing for (and then recovering from) my hysterectomy?

    Any advice/insight/tips/etc are GREATLY appreciated! Thank you in advance.

    Last edited by Jyoti; 06-02-2012, 05:18 PM.

  • #2

    I'm not sure I have any advice to share but I wanted to respond because I am in a sort of similar situation. I had a hysterectomy 2 weeks ago due to fibroids and adenomyosis. Terrible anemia, hgb was 6.2 and I ended up in the hospital with a blood transfusion. Like you, very low energy for a very long time. I had no idea of my condition and thought I was just tired from my crazy schedule. I was able to work out 4-6 days per week but mostly low-energy stuff (yoga, walking). Every time I tried to get into a body weight primal blueprint type workout regime I would be too tired to maintain it for longer than a week or so. Now I know that my failure was due to the fatigue from the anemia.

    Anyhow, 2 weeks after the surgery I'm feeling great (I had laparoscopic so my recovery time has been brief). My iron is the highest it's been in a really long time (11) and am so excited to get back into working out primal style. Through it all I kept up a mostly primal diet and that I believe is what enabled me to be so high functioning despite the severe anemia.

    Ignore all those hysterectomy scare stories you see on the web. You are on your way to being a much healthier and stronger you! Good luck with everyone.


    • #3
      First my philosophy on exercise is to stimulate the muscles in your body to grow by the safest most efficient means possible. Nothing hampers your training or overall fitness like an injury. I believe a HIT style workout either with free weights or machines is the best way to accomplish this. A couple of things to keep in mind, you do not have to do squats or deadlifts to get stronger or grow muscle mass. You do not have to spend hours in the gym to get stronger and you do not have to do "cardio" to lose fat. Free weights are not better than quality exercise machines and if your intensity is high enough almost any exercise program will lead to gains in strength and muscle mass. Just remember is not how much work you do but how hard you work.
      My current workout(which I will do for at least 6 months) is basically the "big 5" workout in Body By Science. I am using all Nuatilus Nitro equipment for this workout. With this workout I am usually out of the gym in under 10 minutes and I workout every fifth day or pretty close anyway. I gain strength every workout in most exercises and really notice a difference in my leg strength for some reason.
      As far as your surgery goes I have no idea how to work around that. I am 46 and have never had a surgery in my life.

      Edited to add, I also do hill sprints every week or two.


      • #4
        Wow. Now that's an intro post, girl.

        First, don't sweat the hyst too much. I had one almost 2 years ago and came through it fine. Just listen to your surgeon and do everything s/he recommends for post-op. Also don't lift, bend or twist too early. You'll feel fine and think you can do it, but internals take FOREVER to heal it seems. My incision (well one of them) was bugging me the other day; almost 2 years after the operation. It's crazy, but make sure you listen. Nothing heavier than a gallon of milk for at least 3 months.

        Ok. Now as far as weight training goes - you are a woman, you won't look like a man. Not without added chemicals. Really. I was a hardcore lifter for 10 years and I NEVER got any more bulky than my chemistry would allow. Girls in general look great in muscle, but we can't build it easily. You can build strength easily though and people often confuse the two. I would start with some good compound movements with some light and medium weight dumbbells or kettlebells (they're not scary, I'll get to that in a sec). Compound movements are squats, deadlifts, chest and shoulder presses. If you have good form, and use moderate weight you shouldn't have any joint/tendon/ligament issues at all. One caveat for me is that after I separated my right shoulder in a stupid skiing wipe-out, I can't do chest flyes anymore, but I can do everything else.

        Kettlebells...the newest rage. I have spina-bifida occulta which means that one of my vertebra (I think it's L4) is not fully closed in the front. It's unstable and my low back is a mess. Kettlebell swinging when done correctly doesn't bother me at all. The key is form and making sure you're not bending at the back, but bending at the hips. It's an explosive, hinge movement that uses very large muscle groups. You're not lifting the bell with your arms or shoulders, you're snapping your hips and it swings from the power of your glutes, hams, lats and core. I love doing them even though I haven't been doing them long.

        Anyway, as far as the Primal fitness routine goes, I think it's a good one. Using the body as your gym is a good way to build strength with minimal investment. I prefer weights though because I did them for so long, but that's not slagging off Mark in any way. I think if you educate and motivate yourself well you won't need a PT, but that's just me.

        Ok, I'll shut up now.
        5' 9" 47 YO F
        PB start June 2, 2012
        Pre PB SW = 180 (no scale at home, Mom's scale January - 153lbs!)
        Current deadlift 245 lbs, squat 165 lbs, bench press 135 lbs

        PB Journal


        • #5
          Originally posted by ecole66 View Post
          Free weights are not better than quality exercise machines
          I disagree with this notion entirely as machines isolate muscles and therefore don't help you to build overall useful strength.

          What you choose to do depend on your preferences. PBF is great and will kick your butt into gear. I missed lifting and seeing strength gains by increases in weight. I'll go back to PBF though once fall hits and I have more of a time crunch.


          • #6
            Originally posted by teach2183 View Post
            I disagree with this notion entirely as machines isolate muscles and therefore don't help you to build overall useful strength.
            No they don't. I do seven exercises all on Nuatilus machines and get a great full body workout. A compound movement is a compound movement whether done on a machine or with a barbell and it's usually safer with a quality machine. Nothing wrong with free weights or machines, they achieve the same goal if used correctly.

            What really matters is how hard you work while in the gym. Machines, free weights, body weight, it doesn't matter as long as the intensity is high enough.
            Last edited by ecole66; 07-13-2012, 01:34 PM.


            • #7
              Machines can be good for a beginner who has very little strength, coordination or control, but real strength involves those three things as well and they cannot be achieved or developed on a machine. Serious strength-trainers almost always move away from machines to free-weights to build real power, including grip and tendon/ligament strength which isn't needed much on a machine. I've found that using my whole body to control, coordinate and then lift the weight to be the most beneficial and so free-weights were my mainstay. YMMV.
              5' 9" 47 YO F
              PB start June 2, 2012
              Pre PB SW = 180 (no scale at home, Mom's scale January - 153lbs!)
              Current deadlift 245 lbs, squat 165 lbs, bench press 135 lbs

              PB Journal


              • #8
                Once you are cleared and ready to lift (post op). Get under the bar. Buy and read Starting Strength and do the program.
                "The problem with quoting someone on the Internet is, you never know if it's legit" - Abraham Lincoln


                • #9
                  I agree with everything all of the points that June68 hit. I also echo her feelings about machines. The ONLY type of machine I ever endorse is the Freemotion Cable Cross. Cables are the exception. Anyway, off track. The biggest problem with machines is that they isolate the prime movers and take the stabilizers almost completely out of the equation. It also guides your range of motion in an extremely unnatural way. Not to mention the fact that machines aren't built one-size-fits-all, no matter what they claim.

                  I've got to second the kettlebells too
                  Josh Vernier, CPT

                  My Journal

                  Evolution Revolution Fitness

                  "The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me."

                  -Ayn Rand