When a fit mom is faced with a situation in which she can no longer be, where does she turn? This day-after-Mother’s Day Hot Mom Monday, one of our newer Squad members Elena Sonnino of Ciao Mom shares her journey in doing just that. Elena is a freelance writer, National Board Certified teacher and cancer survivor. She describes herself as a (slow) runner, (aspiring) triathlete, and chaser of dreams.

By Elena Sonnino


What do you get when you take a woman who strives to be fit and give her a hysterectomy?

You get a woman that was beside herself to see the light at the end of the recovery tunnel.

Except of course that after six weeks off from any real exercise, my body was by no means ready for a victorious return. My brain wants to be there, actually it wants to be much farther along. But my body needed a plan. It needed steps to make sure that my return to fitness is one that lasts for the LONG HAUL.

So I came up with a plan. A reasonable plan that allows me to start from scratch and still be kind to myself knowing that it is enough that I am taking control of my life again to be as fit and healthy as possible.  A plan that will ease me back into starting to exercise after recovering from surgery. A five step plan to return to fitness after a hysterectomy.

5 Steps to Fitness After a Hysterectomy


Step 1. Set Realistic Expectations.

Step 2. Create Habits.

Step 3. Formulate a Training Plan.

Step 4: Find Motivating Workouts

Step 5: Be Patient. Be Flexible. Be Determined

I would LOVE to head for a great run or fabulous bike ride on one of my favorite trails. But those things are not physically possible right now. So instead of feeling like a failure because I am not ready yet, I am going to let myself be enough and work towards the goal of getting back to my favorite workout haunts. When I am ready. When my body is ready.

After this long hiatus,  I need to retrain not just my muscles, but my mind to get up early in the morning to exercise or find time to squeeze in a workout in the evening if the day got away from me. My brain needs to be taught again, that despite the excuses that might line the path to getting things done, it is worth it in the long run. Part of my mental retraining involves developing a systematic, well thought out, consistent plan that will help me realize a goal. Not just a “lets see what I can do today” plan. A plan to achieve a goal that is realistic yet challenging, that lies just beyond what is comfortable.

My long term plan is beginning to take shape and is looking forward to a possible Disney marathon in January of 2013 with several shorter running races this fall. I still have a triathlon on my docket for this fall, but I am realistic enough to know that my first international distance triathlon will probably be more successful in 2013.

My first back to fitness month is ALL about building my fitness base, slowly and safely. So far, two weeks in, I have walked on the treadmill, adding in one minute run intervals. I have taken a Zumba class, and kicked and punched through a cardio kick boxing workout on the Xbox. I have even taken my indoor bike trainer for a spin. The goal right now? Four or five days a week to make sure that I allow for rest days and my body to understand that it is time to rise again to be fit and healthy.

Starting from ground zero, with no fitness base is not easy.  I need to be mentally strong enough to push myself and ignore the voices of doubt, but smart enough to listen to my body when it has had enough.

Because in the end, it is not about how long my run was today or how long I rode my bike tomorrow. It is about the long run of life.  The life that nothing is going to keep me from living with great health and fitness.

Italian by birth, a mom, a teacher, a wife, a runner & triathlete, and a cancer survivor, Elena shares every day moments in parenting, life, travel, education, fitness and health from her perch in the Washington DC suburbs. Read her “travels through life” at CiaoMom.com, and is also the founder of JustBeEnough.com, where she celebrates the art of how to “Just. Be. Enough.”