5 Lessons From Abdominal SurgeryDec 02, 2021
It has been a few years since my abdominal surgery.
Man, I'm happy that's over.
Specifically I had laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair. It's a robotic procedure with less cutting and, as a result, less downtime.
The picture at the top of the page is me reading after the surgery... still pretty numb from the anesthetic.
Did I mention I'm so glad that's over?
My surgeon said congenital hernias are much more common in males than females because of the way males develop in the womb.
He also mentioned that sometimes the entrance of the inguinal canal, at the inguinal ring, does not close as it should just after birth, leaving a weakness in the abdominal wall.
I had a similar surgery, on the other side of my lower abdomen, when I was a kid in middle-school.
Thinking back, a year ago, I recall that my doc was so relaxed when he explained how fast I would get back to my old workouts.
"The procedure is no big deal, Joe. Just three little cuts above your belly button. You'll be back in the gym in no time," he said with a confident smile.
His positive words gave me encouragement for a good outcome and speedy recovery.
My surgeon is a world-class expert with many, many success stories.
(Take-home point: Seek out experts to solve your problems.)
Also very appreciative for family support during my healing. Especially “Nurse Sharon” for taking good care of me.
Needless to say, I was weak as a kitten for about six weeks.
I couldn't laugh or even sneeze during the first seven days. In the first month, getting into bed involved at least 12 steps...
...I'm sure Sharon had to stifle her laughter when I was like a turtle laying on its shell -- helplessly rocking back and forth to right itself.
It's worth repeating that I'm very thankful for excellent medical care.
No exaggeration, when they wheeled me into the surgical room, it looked like the inside of some kind of NASA space station...
...all sorts of specialists surrounding me and making me feel like everything was going to be fine.
My dad even showed up early in the morning before the surgery.
It was a nice surprise for me and Sharon... and nice to have the support.
So, I thought it would be a good opportunity to re-visit five lessons I've learned from the whole experience...
...things that allow me to "keep calm and carry on" during challenging times.
Now if you don't know much of my story, I've been a strength-and-conditioning coach for 25+ years, delivering over 100,000 training programs either in-person or online.
When I'm not coaching, I'm writing articles about training and nutrition.
When I'm not doing that other stuff, Sharon and I are hanging out with our roommates, Giavanna and George.
After much study and effort I've arrived at having a happy balance of faith, family, finances, and fitness.
This allows me to accomplish the things I want professionally, but also meshes well with my personal life and goals.
By the way, here's a picture from just SEVEN months after the surgery...
So, with that... here are my 5 lessons:
1. A morning routine is a must.
In the beginning of my professional career, when I was 24 years old, I started the day scrambling... like I was starting from a deficit.
Now, I've got a routine in place that allows me to start my day with happiness, clarity, momentum, and my most important professional activity done first... .
..coaching my awesome client-athletes a few days per week.
They're like family to me. I try to accomplish my three most important to-do items before 11:00AM.
That could be writing a daily email lesson (like the one you're reading now), doing a coaching call, or delegating a task to a someone from my team.
So develop a routine that sets your day up for success.
And, for most folks, I highly recommend you train for 45 minutes first thing in the morning.
In other words, your physical training session gets done before you do anything else.
That way you remove all excuses for "missed workouts," especially as your day gets crazy and your energy levels decline.
2. Design your day... every day.
Planning your day the night before is your "secret weapon" and, admittedly, I haven't always taken this approach.
In fact, it's something I've arrived at probably in the last 10 years or so... and it's been a game changer.
Planning your day allows you to decide what matters to you and to allot time to pursue it.
It's being proactive... rather than reactive.
My method is to use a simple college-ruled composition notebook.
I buy them by the case.
Before I leave the office, I open to a fresh page, grab an old-school ballpoint pen, and write tomorrow's day and date across the top.
I write the word "Gratitude" on the next line and leave a bit of space to say a few words of thankfulness.
Below that, I write "3x11AM" which means the three most important tasks I plan to accomplish before 11:00AM.
Finally, I write the actual three things that I will indeed accomplish. (If you write too many tasks, this becomes a source of frustration. So only select three to-dos.)
Then I go home knowing exactly what I must do on the following day...
...which provides me with peace of mind, but also a sense of daily accomplishment when I complete everything on deadline.
If you want to control your time and spend it doing things that matter... plan.
3. Get outside daily.
Spending time outdoors is the equivalent of meditation.
It's a way to disconnect from the work routine (I don't take a phone on walks or bike rides) and just be in the moment.
But it's not just that... playing outside, working outdoors... it's a change of pace, a way to connect with Sharon and the kids.
I'm also leading by example because we want to embrace things beyond just hanging out with a screen.
I know that from my end... my most valuable and important way to shift into a positive frame of mind is to go on a bike ride with the family... or have a meaningful conversation around the outdoor fireplace... so I know this works.
4. Establish guardrails.
Set start and stop times for work so it doesn't just seep into everything.
Decide what "enough" is for today up front so you can feel successful and accomplished rather than being overwhelmed with a never-ending list of things that could be done.
You have the ability to create your own rules... so use that power.
5. Eliminate drama.
I run from drama.
Quick funny story...
I was interviewed by the "Bravo" television network regarding them producing our TV show, HomeBody Challenge.
The executive producer asked me some crazy questions designed to gauge the level of drama I experience daily (because this makes for "good" television-watching and boosts ratings).
She asked me:
"Does anyone have a temper tantrum during a workout?" 🤔
"Do your clients ever get in fights or throw weight-plates at each other?" 🙄
"Oh boy, I hope not. I run from that kind of drama. My clients are awesome... very cool people who I really enjoy hanging out with. Training sessions are fun, focused, and drama-free."
Another funny question she asked:
"How much weight can someone lose in a DAY." 🤔🤔🤔
I said that we can help someone safely drop two pounds PER WEEK, and keep it off for good.
Needless to say we weren't a good fit for the Bravo TV Network!
(Reason: Not enough drama and infighting??)
The takeaway here is to avoid drama and those who try to bring it to your doorstep.
Prevent yourself from allowing other people's poor choices, insecurities or even their worldview to drag you down.
The surefire way to lead a happier, more fulfilling life is way simpler than most people think: Control what you can control.
After that, get crystal clear about the things that actually matter to you.
Have a great day,
P.S. If you found my message helpful, please forward it to the people you care about.
P.P.S. Whenever you're ready, here are TWO ways I can help you get leaner, stronger, and happier:
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