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Become the victor

Posted by Elizabeth Comeau  March 6, 2013 06:00 AM

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RyanHealy100.jpgRyan Healy is a personal trainer for the Lynch/van Otterloo (LVO) YMCA in Marblehead. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, and earned her BS in Exercise Sports Science from Elon University. Find more posts by her in conjunction with the LVO YMCA at She can be reached at

Remember; please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

When life throws you a curve ball, it’s easy to slip into the role of victim under difficult circumstances. I know firsthand; I recently had arthroscopic surgery on my knee. After speaking with the surgeon before the operation, I began to panic that I wouldn't be able to return to my usual workouts for a month or more, that I’d have to take a break from teaching fitness classes, and that it might be hard for me initially to cook as frequently as I normally do to support my healthy eating habits.

However, instead of focusing on what you can’t do, a more empowering viewpoint is to focus on what you CAN do.

Limitations can be worked around, alternatives can be sought, and there can be a middle way. For example, instead of worrying about what I couldn't do, here’s what I’m doing instead.

Knowing I would be resting for a while, I took the few days before my surgery to prepare plenty of healthy meals that I could either freeze, or that would last a while in the fridge. I chopped vegetables, cooked chicken, stocked up on fresh groceries, and made a large batch of protein pumpkin pancakes to keep in the freezer.

I also accepted the help of my chivalrous boyfriend who came over to cook for me, made us a delicious healthy meal, and the next night ordered us healthy take out. I paid close attention to my appetite and ate only when I was hungry, which was less than usual because of my reduced activity level. Planning and preparation have been key elements to my success in eating well while recovering.

It’s true I can’t do my usual workouts for a while, but that doesn't mean I’m stuck on the couch without any options. For the first week I’ll be focusing on exercises I can do from a seated position without putting any pressure or weight on my leg. This means mostly upper body pushing, pulling, and core work for now. After my follow-up appointment with the surgeon, I’ll have a better idea of the lower body exercises that are available to me and I’ll add those in as well.

Another important aspect I’m able to control is getting plenty of quality sleep. Sleep is so vital in the repair process, and is especially important because activities of daily living often become exhausting post-surgery.

So just by looking at things in a different light, I’m able to change my role from victim to victor. Slowly making progress towards a healthy knee, and establishing a new normal for the time being. Next time you encounter a challenging situation, instead of throwing the towel in out of frustration and stressing over everything you won’t be able to do, try to concentrate on the alternatives, those things you still CAN do. It’s much more constructive and your peace of mind will thank you.

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.


Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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