Spinal Surgery Recovery - Losing Weight From Surgery

I was curious if surgery would make me lose weight. On one hand, you put your body through this major trauma and it has to heal itself, so you'd think it would cause a degree of weight loss.

On the other hand, you are laying around for months so you'd assume that would negate that weight loss and maybe even cause weight gain.

I randomly googled it one morning before my surgery and, apparently, LOTS of people ask this question and have LOTS of very interesting opinions about it. So what the heck....I'll throw in mine (along with my experience thus far).

My Disclaimer:

I was overweight and unhealthy 5 years ago. Which is partly what led me to this surgery, but anyways....I went through a major lifestyle change and for the past four years I've been a gym-rat mom. I've worked out nearly every day for the past 4 years, and learned a lot about how to eat. I went into this surgery having just completed my first Whole 30, which really improved my metabolism.  I went into this surgery at a pretty low maintenance weight for me (about 155lbs), and I worked really hard prior to surgery to get a lot of work outs and walks in and to eat really clean before hand.

Ok, with that out of the way...

So, did surgery make me lose weight? Yep.

I dropped 5lbs in the hospital. I'm pretty sure that was all trauma and not being able to eat much because of pain and drugs.

I came home and really really have focused on eating lots of protein and fruits and veggies. Over Easter we had a huge Chinese take out feast, but over all, I'm down 2 more lbs since surgery.  And during most of that time, my only physical activity has been walks around the house. I started walking outside two weeks ago, and this week I'm up to 2 miles a day. Prior to surgery I was walking 5-8 miles a day and maintaining. Now I'm walking less but losing more. So I'd have to say that the act of my body healing itself has kicked up my metabolism, at least a little bit. But I know that my diet also has played a really important factor in this as well.

Don't get me wrong...I wasn't eating with an idea to lose weight. I was eating with the goal of fueling my body to really recover well. Anyways...

So if someone were to ask you "Does having surgery make you lose weight?" I'd have to say  "Well, it probably makes your body work a lot harder and if you eat right, then probably yes."

Side note: I think at least a few of those pounds I've lost have been muscle. Which bums me out. My tummy is a hot mess right now, and if you saw me naked I certainly look a little flabby in spots. So losing weight doesn't necessarily mean you lose fat. I know that when I'm able, I'm going to want to go back to toning up and gaining some of that muscle back.

It's certainly not an easy way to lose weight. And I'm not saying you should expect easy weight loss as a bi-product of this. I'm only writing this because I realized it was a pretty commonly asked question, but I didn't see a ton of folks answering with experience. So here is my experience. Your mileage may vary.

My advice if, like me, you are worried about gaining weight after a surgery that will have you laid up for an extended period of time: eat right. Eat clean. Eat with the goal of helping your body heal. Eating to heal will probably inherently prevent any unnecessary weight gain.  At least that's what makes sense to me.


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