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Surgery Recovery Protocol

On January 28th 2019 I had a partial colectomy surgery where 8″ of my large intestines were removed because of a polyp that was too large to snip out during my colonoscopy. This is a pretty serious surgery that affects your digestion system and I was told that it would be 8 weeks before I could go back to my normal exercising routine that includes lifting fairly heavy weights 🙂

They performed the surgery by making 5 different incisions into my abdominal walls with one of the cuts larger than the others (3″) so they could remove the large intestine section. I counted 28 staples in all and my abs looked like I took a grenade to the gut.

My goal, once I knew I was going to have surgery was to determine what I could do to speed up the healing process.

Results of my recovery protocol:

I was able to reduce my recovery from 8 weeks down to 5 weeks, shaving 3 weeks off of what my recovery would have been, had I done nothing at all.

Thom’s surgery recover protocol

Pre-op

  1. Training- Continued to train in the gym, but focused on muscular endurance (higher rep sets) and lots of core work.
  2. Diet- Eased up on my low carb diet to the point where I was not in ketosis anymore, but I wanted to make sure I was eating a very balanced diet with lots of different colored foods.
  3. Did a 24 hour fast a couple days before the surgery to reset the gut and take advantage of Autophagy (“self-eating”), a detox process your body undergoes to clean out damaged cells and regenerate new ones.
  4. Did 2 sessions of Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), a medical treatment which enhances the body’s natural healing process by inhalation of 100% oxygen in a total body chamber, where atmospheric pressure is increased and controlled. I did this before surgery to get body primed for healing in higher oxygen atmosphere.

Post-op

  1. Because I was on very strong antibiotics for the surgery, I knew my gut biome was barren of any good enzymes of bacteria. I researched and found the best (expensive) IMO probiotic on the market today, VSL#3
  2. Continued the HBOT treatments for 2 weeks after surgery.
  3. Added Low-Level Laser Therapy that works by using specific wavelengths of light to interact with tissue and help speed up the healing process.
  4. Diet- continued low carb diet, but reduced caloric intake by about 30% because of both being less active and because studies have shown that your body heals faster in a lower caloric state. Plus I backed off meat because I didn’t want to tax my large intestines with something that was harder to digest.
  5. Exercise- At week 2, when my staples were removed, I immediately started into “core restore” program designed by my friend Chris Kelly
  6. The “core restore” program for me was a series of exercises that focused on breathing and tightening your abdominal muscles statically, without all the dynamic movement of regular ab exercises that could have opened the incisions from my surgery. I would more call it “deep core work“.
  7. I had my favorite Physical Therapist Michael Ryan of Leading Edge Physical Therapy work on my wounds at week 4 to help soften the scar tissue up. Fresh scar tissue is very in-elastic and can shorten the muscle fibers making it easier to injur in the future if you don’t find a way to lengthen the fibers.

I did not take advantage of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) or Cyo-therapy, both are also good techniques to speed up the healing process.

Starting a new diet

There is a lot more to dieting than trying to follow the latest diet people are talking about. If you truly want to lose weight and become healthier you need to educate yourself along the way. If you do not learn the why to a diet or lifestyle, once you finish or quit the diet, you will fall right back into the way you ate before.

1. Decide how or what diet to start with.

You have to determine how disciplined you are before you pick a path to a healthier lifestyle.  If you struggle with this, I would suggest a very slow approach so that both your body and your mind have plenty of time to adjust as you go.  It will not be super sexy and you won’t lose 20 lbs in a month, but it will stay off because not only are you not shocking your body into starvation mode, you will also be learning what to do and why to do.  This is very important because if you follow a diet blindly without understanding it, you will eventually fall back into old habits because that is what you KNOW.  

If you feel like you are disciplined enough to follow a more aggressive diet, then by al means, go for it.  My only recommendation is to research as much as you can about the diet and the WHY it has you do certain things.  The educational side of dieting is more important than the diet itself, IMO.

I will recommend a couple diets farther down, but want to address a couple other steps first.

2. Habits and behaviors.

Another aspect of changing to a healthier lifestyle that is not talked about is understanding the behaviors and habits that got you into an unhealthy lifestyle to begin with.  Everyone has habits that they follow blindly (good and bad), and these are very hard to remove because they are ingrained in our self conscious.  How many times have you driven in your car to a specific place, and the next thing you know, you are going to work or home (on mental cruise control).  This is what I am talking about.  What I suggest is not to try to remove or completely break the habit in question (almost impossible), but rather identify the bad habit, understand what pleasure you receive from the said “bad habit”, and find a substitute “good” habit to replace it.

For example, a friend of mine smokes 10-12 cigaretts a day and he wants to quit.  I know nicotine is physically addictive, but there is a lot of mental cruise control habit behaviors that contribute to the problem as well.  He always like to have a cigarette at around 10:00 AM at work.  I probed the potential reasons for having a cigarette at that time and asked him to identify the pleasure or reward he received in having one.

1. Did he just need a break from his desk?  If so, instead of having a cigarette, I suggested getting up from his desk and walk around the building for 5 min.  This would satisfy the “need a break”, get his blood flow moving, be better for his lower back and posture, and give him a mental break from dealing with customers.

2. Did he just need an opportunity to “turn work off” for a few minutes and interact socially with other.  If this is the case, take your break, seek out co-workers that you can shoot-the-sh*t with for a few minutes. I suggested that he does this standing up to receive the benefits I mentioned in 1.

3. Did the cigarette help calm him down?  If he thought this was the reason, I suggested trying different drinks like warm tea or a healthy snack.

I think that understanding the WHY we do something is more important than people give it credit for and could be the difference maker in a successful lifestyle change and another failed attempt.

3. Increase you energy expenditure with exercise

Here is another category that I think people screw up, even though they have good intentions.  When you start an aggresive exercise program before you are mentally or physically ready to do so, you will run into the following problems.  

1. exercise too aggressively and become be very sore and  hate working out.

2. It will be too cardiovascularly difficult and you will become demoralized and hate working out.

3. Because your body will not be used to the new activity, you won’t have the energy to start, or it will be “too difficult” to work into your daily schedule.  Because of this inconvenience, out of lack of desire to do it, you will give-up as your life is too busy right now and you will hate working out and quit altogether.

4. What diet will you decide to follow?

There are several proven diets out there and I will try to write a summary and my opinion on each of them in the future. There is a Carnivore diet, Paleo Diet, Ketosis Diet, whole30, wise traditions Diet, Mediterranean diet, fasting diet, and the Longevity diet, to name a few.

Even though all these diets have proven to be effective in large numbers of people, everyone’s body reacts differently to food, so it becomes very important to find which one works for you.

This becomes especially difficult when you learn that several diets conflict with each other, indicating that there is no one solution. Some are high fat and others are low fat. Some are no meat (vegan), where others are primarily meat. This is why it is important to learn the why you are doing something and paying close attention to how your body reacts. What should result with this process is learning what works best for you.

For me, I played with the Keto diet for 6-7 months and saw very good results, but I am already customizing it to better fit my lifestye and my performance.

Post workout nutrition & “anabolic window”

Taken from Ben Greenfield podcast #381

Take aways

When should you take in nutrition after workout in “anabolic window” of 1-2 hours?

  • take in amino acids / protein only (no carbs necessary) if you trained fasted without pre-workout nutrition
  • Take in both protein & carbs if you are trying to gain weight as it is tough to get in all the calories every day.
  • Take in both if you are training aggressively two times per day and second workout is within 8 hours of first.

When you do NOT need post-workout nutrition?

  • You take in a pre-workout meal that includes protein or better yet amino acids (EAA)
  • when you are happy with where you are or are trying to lose a little fat and you are not working out a second time within 8 hours.

Benefits of not taking a post-workout meal.

  • continue benefits from fasting, if you train in morning on empty stomach
  • Your natural GH production is spiked when you sleep and during workout so eating Post-workout stops the GH benefits.

Good healthy post-workout ideas:
EnergyBits
Trader Joe’s Coconut Chunks
Ample 
Ambronite
Living Fuel SuperGreens
Organifi
Bulletproof Octane
Onnit Emulsified MCT oil


Preventing and Reversing Alzheimer’s Disease

Take Away’s

Need to read his book,”The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline”

ReCODE – reversal of cognitive decline – a protocol that offers a new approach to treatment that has reversed symptoms in patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.

Cognoscopy test
comprehensive assessment of blood labs and genome tests with access to a Trained Practitioner Locator Tool .

Podcast EliteHRV & Alan Couzens

Alan Couzens Interview

Good coaching resource for Triathlons, specializing in periodization and training planing.

Notes from Interview

  • Perfect periodization. The case for separating volume and intensity in a model for training.
  • Volume is sometimes underrated. Intensity is appealing but isn’t always the solution to better results.
  • Modulating volume and intensity in training for better long term results.
  • Connective tissue takes longer to adapt than muscle tissue. Why this is important for long term results.
  • Predicting injury with machine learning. Variables to consider.
  • Predicting athlete injury:
  • Training and non-training factors. Using HRV to understand the bigger picture of performance.
  • The stress of competition changes how your body handles heat, hydration, energy regulation and more.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV)

What is HRV?

HRV is the measure of the variation among the intervals of your heartbeats, because your heat does not beat at exact intervals.

Why is important?

The value for HRV, typical values between 20-100, can indicate your overall health and fitness, and also tell you how ready you are for future strenuous exercise. A higher number indicates that your body is very healthy and ready for more challenging workouts.

What factors influence it?

The amount of sleep, amount of training, stress, dehydration, smoking, alcohol, and if you about to get sick, are all things that can influence your HRV.

How to use HRV to better your fitness.

The best way to use HRV is let the value, taken in the morning, help determine how hard you train that day. If you have a lower value, you might want to take it easy or even take a recovery day to rest your body from potentially over-training or potentially getting sick.

Good resources to learn more details about HRV.

Ben Greenfield Podcast: HRV: The Single, Next Big Trend In Biohacking And Self-Quantification And How To Use It

Ben Greenfield Podcast: The Best Way To Know How Stress, Supplements, Sleep, Sex & More Affects Your Nervous System: The Latest News About Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Training

Article by EliteHRV: What is HRV

Article on HRV4Training site: A Deep Primer

Apps to monitor HRV

Devices used to measure HRV

www.ouraring.com

Arguably the best and easiest devive for keeping track of your HRV.

Thom Priority: This is a second tier priority for me, but only because of the expense. I will definitely purchase one once I have the extra funds.

Thom Rating: 5 star because I think this should be a tool every serious athlete needs to take advantage.