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Stumbling Blocks are not Walls: Setting New Fitness Challenges After Surgery

Alexandra Williams, MA

Age Forward, not Downward

Back in mid-July I had foot surgery to remove bone spurs and fuse my big toe joint. I spent two days in bed, then got bored and uncomfortable. Remember my one-legged workout a few days after surgery? When I had my knee reconstructed (soccer injury) I was 38 and the doctor called me old (technically, he didn’t say I was old, he said my knee was. Do you see any difference?). That kind of triggered my competitive side and I did my rehab so diligently that I was released to teach weeks sooner than the doctor had predicted.

Now I’m in my early 50s and I knew the doctor would have a plan for my recovery. My Plan #1 was to cut the recovery time in half, but I got squelched by the doc. Turns out there’s no exercise regimen that can make bones fuse faster! Curses. Foiled again. So I went with Plan #2: Exercise everything except my left foot. Hey, that would make a great title for a movie.

Daniel Day-Lewis made a movie about me!

The doc didn’t say, “Stay off your body,” he said, “Stay off your left foot.” That means there was a lot of strength training (seated, lying down & one-legged) and cardio (aqua, rowing machine) I could still do. So I did.

Taking Aqua Cardio at Rancho la Puerta

As of last week I’m officially allowed to use 99% of my foot (the tip of my toe is still off-limits) so no ballet or plyometrics. My solution? To accept an invitation to walk the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco in mid-October. No, I’ve never done a half-marathon before. Yes, my foot still swells up after a long day. No, I’m not ready. Yes, I am a stubborn cuss.

At first I said yes to the half-marathon because I like to say yes. But I surprised myself by the dedication and determination I’ve put into working that treadmill to train for the 13 mile walk. I hate the treadmill. Even if there’s a movie on with Clive Owen and Denzel Washington! Damn, they are fine! Excuse my drooling digression.

I really want to be able to do 13 miles of walking by October 14. I want to be ready and not have pain and swelling. I truly don’t know if I’m being foolish or determined. It’s out of my comfort and normal routine zone. I am a group fitness instructor. I do classes. With music and people. And variation. So why the heck do I feel so attached to this idea of walking the hills of San Francisco?

See how Happy I Look After Teaching Group Fitness!

Am I trying to prove something to myself or all you youngsters?
Am I seeking a challenge because I like new adventures?
Am I looking for a way to come back from surgery as quickly and as strongly as possible?
Am I looking for a way to leave the frustrations of not having full choice & control over my body behind me?
Am I afraid that my body isn’t as cooperative about the demands I place on it as it was 20 years ago?
Am I trying to show that a reconstructed knee and foot aren’t indicative of who I really am, which in my mind is a strong, fit woman? Gah, I hate the phrases “middle-aged” and “older” if they are applied to me.
Am I just looking to lose that last 5 pounds?

Truly, it’s probably all of the above and more. All I know is that I really want to complete the event within the allotted time frame. And I really hope my foot will be ready, because my mind sure is! Wish me luck. If you have suggestions for walking shoes that have lots of space on top, let me know, as the top of my foot right above the big toe joint really starts to hurt in shoes after a few miles.

Totally Styling It For My Workout

I want to give a shout out to a few products that have helped me recover more quickly and comfortably than I otherwise would have: Zensah for their fabulous and attractive compression socks, Vasque Footwear for the only comfortable shoes I can currently use for walking, and especially Hanna’s Herbs for sending these anti-fatigue tablets to help me succeed!

As a matter of fact, Hanna’s Herbs has been gracious enough to offer 5 bottles of the Anti-Fatigue tablets to five of you! Just tweet out this message: I want to win a free bottle of Anti-Fatigue tablets from @HannasHerbShop via via @AlexandraFunFit & @KymberlyFunFit, then leave the tweet url in the comments below. We’ll randomly select five winners on Friday, Sep. 28th.






If you have had an injury or setback of some sort, first read this post by our friend Shira, then let us know how you dealt with your comeback!

Want to stay young? Exercise your fingers by clicking to subscribe to our YouTube channel and  blog. Follow us on Twitter: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click on the icons in the right sidebar ——–>

About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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24 Responses to Stumbling Blocks are not Walls: Setting New Fitness Challenges After Surgery

  1. Abby @ BackAtSquareZero September 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    I LOVE your attitude. I just had to defer my marathon to start PT and was feeling a bit down. However, so many fabulous people like you have been inspiring me and i am about to go try swimming for the first time since middle school tonight. I want to find ways to keep working out just like you did.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted..Public Indecency: Also Know As Swimming LapsMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit September 20, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

      Hey Abby, thank you. I hope my attitude is a smart move. I want my boys to see happy fitness, not overuse injuries. We’ll see. To me, going swimming in public after years away is way more courageous. Im sure you rocked the pool.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Spark Your Brain with ExerciseMy Profile

  2. Jen September 20, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    The best attitude ever!!! Tweeted!
    Jen recently posted..My Story: Unapologetically StrongMy Profile

  3. AlexandraFunFit September 20, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    Thanks Jen. I am hoping to stay motivated and not get discouraged when it takes me forever to cross that finish line.
    AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Tips to Look Super Cool and Totally Hot on CameraMy Profile

  4. Erica @ For the Sake of Cake September 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    Tweeted! :)
    Erica @ For the Sake of Cake recently posted..Vlog – What I’m up to this WeekendMy Profile

  5. Louise Cunningham September 20, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    Don’t get discouraged.. hang tough and don’t overdo! You’ll feel so good afterwards!
    Louise Cunningham recently posted..Back to Basics, no more "Stop and Gawk"My Profile

  6. Debbie@ Live from La Quinta September 20, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    You’re pretty awesome, Alexandra! Showing the world that us 50-somethings are forces with which to be reckoned!

    I haven’t had an injury that sidelined me for a while. The knee pain I deal with goes back about 10 years :-). I did have to take time off after my hysterectomy. My silly runner’s mind had this image of taking six weeks off, getting rested up, kind of like an extended recovery, while my old(ish) runner’s body lost all it’s fitness and it was actually almost like starting from scratch.
    Debbie@ Live from La Quinta recently posted..Wednesday Workout Buzzword: Functional Fitness DefinedMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit September 24, 2012 at 10:30 am #

      That would be very frustrating, Debbie. I also thought I’d bounce back quickly from this. Now I find all shoes hurting after an hour or two due to the swelling on top of my foot. Very discouraging. Grrrr. Here’s to 50+ chicks! We still rule.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Spark Your Brain with ExerciseMy Profile

  7. Angela @ Happy Fit Mama September 21, 2012 at 2:25 am #

    I love the determination! That whole thing, age is just a number, well I think it’s true. Attitude is a much bigger indication of what you can do. And with yours, I think you are well on your way to 13.1!!!

    I’m on the upswing from a knee injury. I had to defer my first marathon because of it. That didn’t stop me from exercising. I found ways to cross train that didn’t further hurt my knee. I felt defeated but am even more determined now to run a marathon someday.

    Good luck!!!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..We Are All RunnersMy Profile

  8. Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness September 21, 2012 at 2:31 am #

    I did the same thing when I had a stress fracture. I used the kickboard in a pool and strength trained on one foot and sitting. I often wonder what motivates us to do the things we do.

    Good luck with being able to walk Nike Women’s. If determination and attitude have anything to do with it you’re there!
    Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness recently posted..Fitness Friday || Air Force Half Marathon RecapMy Profile

  9. Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness September 21, 2012 at 2:33 am #

    I tweeted
    Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness recently posted..Fitness Friday || Air Force Half Marathon RecapMy Profile

  10. Kierston September 21, 2012 at 3:39 am #

    Amazing determination! You will do great!

    I had to take 4 months of running due to an injury to my hamstring…rest and patience were definitely a must in order for me to come back stronger :)
    Kierston recently posted..5 Weeks Out: Ready to Roll!My Profile

  11. Kristen @ Be Fit With Kristen September 21, 2012 at 3:40 am #

    I could really use some of these anti-fatigue tablets. I’m training to run my first 1/2 marathon on October 7th. And similar to you, I have no idea why I decided to do this. I’ve never been a distance runner. I’ve always strongly disliked distance running. Or should I say my legs strongly dislike distance running. :) But this little voice inside me kept saying that I should run one. And it wouldn’t shut up. So here I am training and it’s been hard but I refuse to give up, despite the plantar fasciitis in my left foot.

  12. Kelly @ Cupcake Kelly's September 21, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    Love your attitude and determination! Looking forward to meeting you in San Francisco!
    Kelly @ Cupcake Kelly’s recently posted..48 Hour FundraiserMy Profile

  13. Miz September 24, 2012 at 3:07 am #

    ahhhh my BACK loves this post.
    Miz recently posted..Five months later….My Profile

  14. Tamara September 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

    I have no training tips for you, but just want to offer words of encouragement and support. You can SO do this my friend!
    Tamara recently posted..Healthy eating on the road: food at FitBlogginMy Profile

  15. Calla Gold September 24, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    Good luck! I’m glad you’ve recovered, and that you’re ready to tackle something like this! Onward and upward!

  16. las artes September 30, 2012 at 2:09 am #

    Use a pair of clean, cushioned, wicking socks and your spare running shoes. Your shoes from the half marathon will still be wet with your perspiration and need to dry out completely.
    las artes recently posted..No last blog posts to return.My Profile


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