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  1. #81
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    There is one difference between getting injured and getting healed. One always knows when he got injured. I remember that first stab in my shoulder, the first time I could not lift my regular weights, the pain becoming unbearable. I remember sitting in the doctor's office a year ago, almost to a day, discussing my prospective surgery. But how should I know when I'm "normal", especially when I haven't been "normal" for over a year? The line between "recovering" and "healthy" is often blurred, but I think I crossed it a week or two ago. All of my small achievemets started to snowball. My shoulders, while they still hurt quite a bit after an action, recover very quickly. In my therapy I'm switching from rubber bands to cables - so my therapy is now a gym-quality workout. I restarted leg press at 150 five weeks ago. Last night I pushed 245, and there's more where that came from. Back and chest exercises progress nicely as well. So, technically, this could be my last post on this tread, but the best part starts now, and after sharing all of my pain, it would be unfair not to share my joy. I'll keep posting.

    Amongst the things that kept me going all this time was the story of Valentin Dikul - a strongman little known in English-spreaking word, although he deserves more recognition. (Here's a good, although brief biography: [url]http://www.boxingcult.com/motivational-stories/valentin-dikul/[/url]). He was an orphan who wanted to be an acrobat. At the age of 14 he fell off trapeze and broke his lower back. As soon as he was out of the hospital, he started training. The doctors told him it's a waste of time, he would never recover, and should just get used to live in a wheelchair, yet after six years of strenuous efforts he stood up and walked. He developed his back muscles to such an extent that they could support his injured spine, and then some. He didn't became an acrobat, instead he became a record-breaking strongman. With back injury. He still lives and lifts, well into his seventies, and he's an author of spine rehabilitation program that helped many people enjoy quality life. His story taught me two things. First - nothing is impossible if you work your hardest. Second - after an injury you may never be normal again, but you can become great.

    I'll leave you with that thought today.

  2. #82
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    First the bad news. One of my neighbors never shovels his sidewalk, so after a couple of blizzards it's solid ice. Several people already spoke to him, but to no avail. Earlier in the week, as I was passing by, I slipped and grabbed his fence to hold my balance. For a few seconds I was hanging first on one (the weaker), then on both hands, while trying to get up. My shoulders, especially the right one, have been hurting since. My therapist says that it could be anything up to a tear. I don't think it's a tear, but a sprain with inflammation for certain. I spoke to his son next day, but the damage is already done. I didn't report him all this time because I felt sorry for him. I hope he feels as sorry for me.

    Now, the good news. Before my surgery I knew that I need a plan. So, I've done some research, asked some questions, and got in touch with a trainer who does online coaching and helped a number of people to get back on track after a surgery. We exchanged emails, I paid up front, and after 11 month of torturous wait, I'm starting today. (Actually, I was suposed to start next week, but I got the program yesterday, and it's too good to wait another day.) So, every week I'll be doing two total body workouts, two bodybuilding-style workouts (upper and lower), and two HIIT workouts that look really tough. I've also got a nutrition guide, and to my surprise, I'll be getting less overall calories, but more carbs, especially post-workout - 80g instead of 20-25 that I allowed myself. I didn't realize I'm at the stage where I can stop cutting carbs to the bone and start filling up, in spite of a little bit of excess fat (I'm between 15% and 16%, and need to shed a few). That's the main value in the program so far - an independent assessment.

    So, things are moving along, and as far as my shoulders are concerned, I'll just have to be carefull and hope for the best. Most likely, like two previous setbacks, it will pass. Meanwhile, I'll be starting my brand new program in just a few hours, and can't be more excited.

    Correction: in the previous post I said that Valenti Dikul is in his seventies. He's in his mid-sixties, of course, but still in great shape for that age.

  3. #83
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    Since I've started the new program I have less time to spend, so my updates will be less frequent. The only promise I can make is not to abandon this tread completely until I say so explicitly, but with extra time it takes to take care of my diet and plan my day, not much time is left. Plus, I've got a couple of exciting projects at work. Having said that, here's a long update:

    My goal at this stage is to get down from 15.5% body fat to below 14%. I will not share all details of the program here for two reasons. First, unless you're a 40-year-old skinny-fat male with recent injury, who trying to get back into heavy lifting, this program is of little to no value to you. Second, this is not my program, it was designed by a specialist, and I should not disclose it without his agreement. Later in the year, once we switch to something more suitable for general audience, I'll talk to him about it.

    My diet is probably the biggest challenge of all. It looked innocuous enough - my coach shaved off 200 calories on workout days. 500 of these calories come from intra-workout shake (another first one - my intra-workouts, when I had them, were very small and contained no carbs, right now I get a third of my carbs from it), so on non-workout days I'm sustained by meager 1900 calories - less than ever. That would be fine, but he also gave me the laydown of nutrient timing: I have 4 meals per day, and each one has its set amount of protein, fats, and carbs. I never timed my nutrients with that kind of precision ever before, so now it takes me about 30 minutes each night to cook my food and pack my lunch. (I cannot inflict this task on my wife, as she already has her hands full with the kids and the house.) I try to stick to my meals, but when the work becomes too intense and I get light-headed, I get a coffee and a small candy to give me some boost - usually lasts 40-60 minutes. I also snack on celery - a lot. The worst part - I had to cut fruit to no more than once per day - too many carbs. I hope to bring them back once I'm out of fat loss mode. Again, I don't want to give you my exact diet, as it was designed with my weight, body fat, and exercise intensity in mind, but there are several general principles I've seen before. Protein is spread evenly through the day. On the days I don't work out: fat - mostly in the morning, little in the afternoon, some at dinner, carbs - next to none in the morning, and increasing through the day. On workout days - keep carbs around the workout and fat away from the workout. One thing to keep in mind - based on what I know the guidelines for protein and fat are fairly generic, carbs intake is more individual and what works for me might not work for you. If you want to read more - here's a pretty good article on the topic: [url]https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/insulin-advantage[/url]. Oh, one more thing - I have one cheat meal per week when I can eat anything and as much as I wish. The catch - I have exactly one hour, and if I feel full before that, I have to stop.

    I also got supplement stack, and here's a bunch of firsts as well. The ones I very highly recommend would be probiotics - twice a day. Did wonders to me already.

    Now, for the fun part. My workout program looks deceptively simple, but so far whenever I leave the gym I'm completely and thoroughly trashed. I do about 10 minutes of leg activation (rolling and stretching) on the days I work legs and about 15 minute of rotator cuff drills on the days I work upper body. My therapist said - absolutely no stretching or rolling. Apparently, while most people have post-operation tightness and need to stretch a lot, I have the opposite problem - my shoulders are too loose - I can hold hands between my shoulder blades, so I need to tighten my muscles. After the warm-up comes the main program.

    Twice a week I do total body: two lower body / upper body supersets and one lower body / abs / shoulders circuit. And I'm happy to say I'm back to my favorite bar - deadlifts, baby! I haven't done them in a year, and now I officially suck at deadlifts - barely manage to lift 100lbs. The toughest part is to shove my ego as far as possible - I keep wanting to load more, but even with the little I lift maintaining proper form at slow tempo is very challenging. I reaped my first reward already - for a number of months I felt my posture deteriorating from hours of office work. Yesterday I noticed that my upper back muscles are more toned, and I'm not leaning forward as much when I stand.

    Last week upper body was problematic. The workout itself was fine, but my shoulders were clicking and hurting for several days afterwards, even though there was only one shoulder-intensive chest exercise and the rest was various rows, as well as a few sets for arms and shoulders. That's when my therapist told me to use full rotator cuff routine rather than just one or two warm-up exercises. I'll do that tomorow, and see if that makes a difference.

    Last, but not least, the leg day! Believe it or not, my gym does not have proper hack squat machine, so I replaced it with the exercice I always wanted to do - barbell hack squat. I need to work on it. The workout is very straightforward - two upper leg supersets and one superset for calves - walking downstairs after that was no fun. I was disappointed by the upper leg workout, which felt too easy. My disappointment lasted until the next morning, when I could barely get up and cried every step to work.

    Final piece of the puzzle is cardio: HIIT twice a week. My first one was OK. After the second one I remained on the floor for five minutes - just couldn't get up. The third one was pretty tough, but I took lower resistance, so I could suffer through it. I'll raise it next time, but only a little because I'm too young to die.

    All in all, first week was good. I lost about 2lbs, and for the first time in 20 years my waist is below 32, which was beyond my wildest dreams! On the downside, my other measurements got a bit smaller as well, but that will be fixed in the next stage.

    I saw my dentist yesterday. He said that my teeth are very clean. I guess proper diet does help - I only wish I started it 10 years ago, maybe then I would have all my teeth intact.

    Sorry, there's a lot of rambling in this post, but as I said, I don't have much time and there's a lot to say. Have fun, everyone, and I'll update you as I progress.

  4. #84
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    Not much time, so I'll give a quick update.

    Diet - pertty tough, but so far I made it. Lost nearly 6 pounds in three weeks, but slowing down - last week I only lost one - but based on body fat measurements almost all of it is fat. My biggest problem - with the set amount of macros per meal my diet is very inflexible. I can last a few more weeks, but then I'll have to change it.

    Workouts - finally breaking good sweat. Not lifting heavy yet, but on my last upper body workout I actually got 80% of my pre-injury results on dumbbell press and matched pre-injury weight on hammer curl. I paid a price for it - the next morning my shoulders were very sore, and three days later I'm still dealing with some consequences. Next workout I'll dial it down a bit, but just knowing that one month into the program I'm already up to some pre-injury stats - that's amazing!

    Saw my surgeon yesterday. He needs to see me once more in the summer, but this is it.

    This is it for now.

  5. #85
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    One year since my first surgery. Left shoulder is doing very well indeed. Still clicks here and there, aches once a while, but in good conscience I cannot call it sick anymore, maybe a bit weak and unstable, but that's fixable and exactly what I do these days. The right one is not fully well yet, but on a mend, and in three months I hope to call it healthy as well.

    I got new program for the next four weeks. Total body workouts are the generally same, but a bit tougher, and upper / lower body have more emphasis on bodybuilding aspect. So, last Thursday was the first time in a year I tried to squat. What can I say? my form sucks big time, but I'm not too dismayed. After all, last month I had the same problem with deadlifts, and my form improved in weeks. The body remembers.

    Holiday weekend did its damage - I resisted for a while, but eventually caved in and added a few pounds. I'm not too happy, but kind of expected it to happen - when you sit at the table and talk for a few hours it's pretty much impossible not to overeat. I skipped cakes and jelly, but when it came to chocolate almonds I blew it. Guess who's going for an extra tough cardio?

    Not much news for an anniversary, but this is it.

  6. #86
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    Wow, it's been a month since my last update. Between work, home, and gym I've been pretty busy. Keeping up the diet and added two steady state cardio sessions per week. It's getting tough, but my body fat is below 13.5% benchmark that I've set for myself, so my body composition is actually better than pre-surgery, and that's something. I've added some more supplements a few days ago and contemplating metabolic boosters.

    Workouts are getting tough - for three weeks straight my legs workout left me on the floor. Last night I actualy wimped out on the last set of calf raises, but it still took me 10 minutes before I could walk downstairs. I'll start a new routine tomorrow with a couple of new tricks in it.

    Now, here's something significant - I gave up on my workout music and use metronome instead to keep the proper tempo. I've done it for a little over two weeks now, and the gains are unbelievable! If you lift weights and ignore tempo, you're missing a huge opportunity. Don't ask me to advise you, I'm way underqualified, but do find someone who knows.

    For my HIIT I tried pushing sled for the first time in my life. I never realized what I was missing before! This doesn't look much like cardio, but it works better than most. I was exhausted in 10 minutes, and my metabolism kept going for a few days.

    The shoulders are still a problem. The right one hurts a lot during push exercises. There's no loss of strength, it just hurts. The left one inflames every now and then. I bear with it, not much else to do. Considering a coure of aspirin - ibuprofen is affective, but at this point it's too potent.

    Well, this seems to be all the news worthy of mentioning here.

  7. #87
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    Sorry for not posting as frequently as I used to, but with my shoulders getting better there are fewer newsworthy items, but finally I've got a couple.

    My shoulders are still sore and click at times, but the only serious problem I have is the impingement on the right. It hurts when I do pushing exercises with weights or any moves overhead when my elbow gets above my nose. I have a feeling it will take a few months of serious stretching to get rid of it. My therapist previously told me not to stretch, but now we started phasing it in. It's painful at times, but not more painful than other stretches I do, so it's not even the final steps, but some final touches of my recovery, as I started passing the milestones I've set for myself. I've passed two of them.

    I re-read the post I've written after the Memorial day last year. It's a depressing post written by a depressed person, but this year it's different. Very different indeed. For starters, one of my milestones was to get back to my pre-surgery 13.5% body fat. I'm happy to report that in the last three months I went from 15.5% to 12.5% - already below my pre-surgery best. Even better - my lean weight either does not change week-to-week, or it increases, which means I manage to lose fat while building some muscle - something I could never do before. So, for this long weekend I decided to relax my diet, try a couple new recipes, and enjoy meeting friends. It was good. I gained 5lbs that weekend, still trying to lose last two of them, and it was only second time in last three months when my body fat didn't go down. I had good time, but discovered that I like my current diet enough to stick with it - for me being slim feels better than eating food I like more than once a week.

    So, last Tuesday I returned to the gym with renewed dedication, and something important happened last Wednesday. It was leg day, and the program was very simple. First, there were 5 triple sets of deadlifts - snatch grip followed by regular followed by sumo deadlift with no breaks, then 3 minutes rest and go again (I counted afterwards there was total of over 100 reps), then 5 triple sets of leg press with varying foot stance. I was pretty tired that day, and on my second set of leg presses I had this urge to quit, get up, and go home. It was as if someone was whispering in my ear: "Come on, you're tired, you've done enough. Come back and finish tomorrow... or day after... It's your program, so why don't you call the shots and just go home?" And I've done one of the hardest things in my life - I got up, added another 5, and got back to sets three, four, and five. It was torture, and after the fifth set I rolled off the machine and stood on four for a few seconds before I stoor up - but I did it! I finished all five sets. That night I was a winner. An hour later, on a bus, I felt an incredible endorphine high - something I've never experienced before. I knew some people experience it after any session when they lift heavy enough, but this was my first. I'm looking forward to my legs session tomorrow - pain and all.

    There was another pay-off from that session - on Friday I passed my second milestone - for the first time since my surgery I could squat my body weight for reps. This was not my heaviest yet - before the surgery my body weight was greater - but another sign that I'm on the right track.

  8. #88
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    I've been waiting for a while to write this post, but it was too important to leave unfinished. Finally, here's the news:

    Three weeks ago I went to my surgeon for a check-up and complained that my left shoulder still hurts. He was concerned, so he sent me for an MRI. Today I saw him again. The results are in - the shoulder is intact and as healthy as it will ever be. The pain is from excess liquid and inflammation, which may happen after surgery and should go away sooner or later. As far as exercise - I can do whatever I want as long as I don't go for weights that I cannot control and don't do anything stupid. Isn't that great?!

    My shoulders still hurt, sometimes better, sometimes worse, and once I had to take ibuprofen, but unlike last year, this time it took only three days to significantly reduce inflammation (last year it started working after five days). Still seeing my therapist, but now only once a week.

    I'm into sixth month of my training, and possibly for the first time in last 20 years my body fat is below 11% and my waist is down to 31 - hasn't been there since high school. Last month I tried two great techniques - peripheral hears action (a.k.a. "death circuits") and barbell complexes. Both are technically weight lifting, but work better than cardio. They look very easy on paper, but once I started doing them... what a ride! There's plenty about it on the web and in magazines, but I'll give you a description in a nutshell, because I feel they ar egreat and everyone who's into weight lifting should try at least one of those.

    Death circuits contain 4-5 heavy lifts (mine were deadlift, DB press, squat, and incline DB row) with generous rest periods - 1-2 minutes. There are three keys to their effectiveness. First is the load - as heavy as you can lift. Second is the tempo - lift explosively. The science is behind the third one - the sequence. When a muscle is working hard - and explosive heavy lifts do just that - the nervous system starts tuning up to work that muscle (at the expense of the other ones), and the heart starts pumping blood in that general area. So, by hitting hamstring, chest, quads, and upper back in that sequance the heart has to go into overdrive because every minute it has to pump blood from one peripheral body part into another, hence the name. This is a killer workout that will give you no PRs, no pump, and if you do it right you'll ask yourself "why am I doing this?" before you're done - I did. It's designed to suck. Yet, for those who want to burn fat while keeping muscles, this is one of the best.

    Barbell complexes are different. I go very light (with my shoulder I have to go with an empty bar so far), and do a circuit of 6-8 moves. Set timer, take as few breaks as possible, and ideally the only time I let go of the bar is to drink my intra-workout (because I need a lot of energy) and to fix my grip because my hands get pretty slippery as I keep going. The goal is to get as many circuits as possible in the given time. Of course, the form must remain solid. My record is 17 circuits in 45 minutes, but I prefer calling it "4 inches" - that's how much from the bottom of my shirt that remained dry by the time I finished. The rest was dripping wet.

    I do have my moments of weakness every now and then, but when that happens I remind myself why I started to do this, why I went through the surgery, and as I look behind at how far I've travelled, it becomes a tad easier to move on. There's a great quote that fits this: "If you doubt about doing something because it takes time, then do it. The time will pass anyway." As the time passes, I get closer to a better and stronger self. Not just stronger physically, but also more stable emotionally, and, by the way, performing a lot better at work.

    So, I'm not done yet, and will post on this thread occasionally, but my recovery is going well, and that's the main news.

  9. #89
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    Didn't have any major news (at least relevant for this thread) for a while, but yesterday I finally dared military press. After 18 months of not pushing the bar up I was able to replicate my pre-surgery max. Pretty good, but still somewhat painful.

    My left shoulder is still inflamed, on and off, gets worse when I try new programs, but then calms down. The progress is slow, but observable. It's taking longer than I expected, but at this point I just keep going and hope for the best.

  10. #90
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    I haven't written on this thread for a while, but today is two years since my surgery, so I'll say a few words.

    While my shoulders won't be exactly the same ever, the left is mostly healed and only hurts during some heavy lifts, otherwise it behaves quite well - no soreness, no snapping, and inflammation is gone. Heavy pulls are still a challenge, though. The right one is still a problem - I sprained my AC joint when I restarted military press three months ago and it's still sore. Just to make my life more interesting, I severely sprained my hamstring a few months ago - apparently my squat technique was less than perfect, and when it comes to heavy lifts there is no such thing as minor flaw - they're all major. So, more therapy, and I had to knock off some weight for a while.

    In spite of my injuries I keep going on, and actually raised the intensity of my workouts - one reason why I haven't been active online. This week I'm doing heavy singles, and believe it or not, I was able to hit 275 on squats (even with the injury still lingering), 135 on military press, 125 on dumbbell rows, and 225 on bench press - all with decent technique. Not just post-surgery best for me - lifetime best! There's definitely life after shoulder surgery.

    So, what are the lessons I've learned so far?

    First - to get through tough situation you need an anchor on the other side. For me it was the coaching that I booked before the surgery. It took me almost a year to start that program, but the results are amazing - so far I gained 5lbs of body weight while my body fat went from 15% to 11%, made huge progress on big lifts, and look better than ever. Added bonus - lots of new knowledge and techniques. Another added bonus - confidence. But what's important - it kept me afloat for that year when I couldn't do anything - I knew that at some point I'll get back on track.
    So, if you're facing a tough situation, have a vision of what will happen afterwards. It will help you stay on track.

    Second, live one day at a time. There are good days and there are bad days. Some are very painful. Some days you lose control, whether it's your diet, your mood, your attitude. Don't blame yourself for having tough time. If you can, sit down, take a deep breath, and start over. If you can't do that, start over in 15 minutes, or an hour. Take a walk. Take a nap. If nothing works, just start the next morning. One day at a time.

    Third, take control of what you can control. I didn't want to go back to 20% body fat, but for a couple of months after the surgery any physical exertion was risky. While my exercise was limited to walking for an hour every day, I increased control over my diet, and concentrated not only on the quantity, but on the quality of my food as well. It paid off.

    Fourth, don't try to control what's beyond your control. In particular, don't try speeding up your healing. I was very eager to start lifting again, but my attempts to start lifting a little early only made things worse and postponed my recovery by a few months.

    Finally, no matter what happens, keep going. Setbacks, pain, having to start again with baby weights, more setbacks and pain - that's all part of healing. Listen to your body, don't push too hard, but keep going. Do what you can, accept what you can't, but keep going. It will get better.

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