After a hysterectomy, a healthy lifestyle is no longer an option — it’s a necessity. Suddenly, weight gain is an issue. You may not sleep well. You may feel irritable. Your hormones are changing, and so is your body.
The good news: With good nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction, you can offset the downside of a hysterectomy.
Start your healthy lifestyle before your hysterectomy, advises Gladys Tse, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Recipe for a Healthy Lifestyle Before Your Hysterectomy
Whether you’re preventing weight gain — or trying to melt body fat — the basics are the same. Cut calories. Get regular aerobic exercise. Do strength training by lifting weights. It’s the secret of weight loss: As you build more muscle, the body burns more calories.
“A lot of women get an exercise trainer before the surgery, and get into Weight Watchers or another program to change their diet,” Tse tells WebMD. “They understand they would have a hard time after surgery, so they started this beforehand to avoid it. Some of the healthiest women I’ve seen are those who were counseled before their surgery.”
If you’re having a hysterectomy and want optimal health, here are tips to follow for better nutrition, stress reduction, and fitness.
Tips for Good Nutrition
Feast on colorful foods. Fill your plate with vibrant fruits and veggies — red, orange, yellow, and deep green. These are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants and fiber and should be the mainstay of your diet.
Get plenty of grains & legumes. Whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and cereals are all great high-fiber options. Black, red, and kidney beans are high in fiber and antioxidants.
Choose proteins & fats wisely. You need a balance of lean protein (like skinless chicken), fatty fish like salmon (with omega-3 fats), and vegetable protein. Avoid trans and saturated fats, like fats found in butter, margarine, salad dressing, fried foods, snack foods, sweets. Vegetable oils (like olive oil and peanut oil) are good fats.
Get enough calcium. For bone health, get at least 1,200 mg of calcium daily, plus vitamin D. Take supplements or eat three to four 8-ounce servings of low-fat dairy daily. Hard cheese, yogurt, fortified products like orange juice, canned salmon, broccoli, and legumes are good calcium sources. Talk to your doctor about a bone density scan.
Tips for Stress Reduction
Decide what matters most to you. To achieve a well-balanced life, it’s essential to get your priorities clear. Satisfying career? Spouse? Community service? Health? Adventure and travel? Figure out your “top five” list. Then give those things your undivided attention.
Drop unnecessary activities. If a commitment doesn’t fit into your priority list, drop it. You’ll have more time for things that do matter to you. Give your priorities the respect they deserve.
Learn to relax. Listen to music that provides a mental escape. Or find a relaxation exercise that works — like rhythmic breathing, deep breathing, visualized breathing, progressive muscle relaxation.
Get enough rest and sleep. Sleep helps your body recover from the day’s stresses.
Find quiet time. Meditate or pray every morning. Read something that inspires you. Focus on self-renewal, optimism, hope. Find purpose, meaning, and joy in life. Share the love.
Enjoy yourself. Make time forfun, relaxation, family and friends. Develop new interests. Enjoy dancing, backpacking, yoga class, biking, painting, gardening, date night with your spouse, girls’ night out. You’ll stay active, youthful, healthy, connected.
Keep things in perspective. There’s truth in the adage: “Accept that there are things you cannot control.” Be assertive when you need to be. Share your feelings and opinions without being defensive. Then let it go.
Drink sensibly. If a woman drinks, one alcoholic drink a night is usually recommended.
Tips for Fitness
Get plenty of aerobic exercise. Walking, jogging, and dance-exercise are all good choices. Exercise at least 20 minutes several days a week. If your goal is weight loss, you’ll need to exercise more. Exercise builds strong bones, helps you lose weight, and reduces heart disease risk. It will also improve your mood and help you sleep better.
Lift hand weights. It’s known as strength training, and it helps with weight loss, improves strength and posture, and tones the body. Find a weight you can comfortably handle for eight repetitions. Gradually work up to 12 reps.
Stretch it out. Yoga and Pilates help you stay flexible, build core body strength, and increase stability. They also improve balance, so you avoid falls and fractures.