Growing up, I was a dancer (ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical) and I also played lacrosse. Once I hit college, I wasn’t exercising as often and only danced on occasion. Once I became sick with UC, I wasn’t exercising at all. I was too tired or in too much pain to do so. I had 8 surgeries within 1 ½ year period and I became very debilitated. I was able to walk pretty independently but was hunched over from all the abdominal surgeries. These surgeries were about 3 years ago now and I have chronic back pain and a hunched posture because of it.
I’ve never been one to enjoy running or working out. I find it more of a chore than a reward. I also get extremely tired after working out; not the “full of energy” feeling. I started dancing again, sticking to salsa and dances that didn’t require a lot of strenuous workouts. I tried a gym membership a few times but never went. I finally decided on a personal trainer. They are pricey but I did notice a difference. I explained all my surgeries and issues that I was having and he customized my workout so it focused on the areas that needed it. We used a TRX machine that uses your body weight instead of weights. It was very challenging to get back into exercising as I was very out of shape.
It has been challenging at some points in regards to using the bathroom during a workout session. Thankfully, I don’t need to take that many breaks but it’s concerning. I usually wear tight leggings and a long shirt to cover my pouch area. Sometimes, I’ll wear spandex underneath the leggings for more support. I hate sweating. I definitely get nervous because sweating causes my wafer to loosen away from my skin. I have a belt that I wear also in case it starts separating from the skin. The belt helps keep it in place. I always bring Gatorade with me. Usually 2 bottles because I tend to get lightheaded and dehydrated easily. The Gatorade is very helpful in making sure I don’t pass out.
Since moving to a new state and starting a new job, I haven’t been dancing or doing much physical activity at all. I do walk to work now, which is about 15 minutes door to door one way. And I walk all over the hospital and tend to take the stairs over the elevators. I recently signed up for a ballet class that starts this week and I signed up to take various classes with a friend from work (barre, yoga, pilates, gym, kickboxing, cycling, rock climbing, etc.). So far, I’ve done two barre classes. My muscles are very sore. I’m out of shape and not flexible at all so it’s a tough class but I enjoy it. I just keep reminding myself to take it slow and not overdue it.
So remember! Drink plenty of fluids when working out. The more you sweat, the easier you will get dehydrated and that’s an issue with an ostomy to begin with! As far as clothing, wear what you feel is comfortable. I prefer something tighter underneath so that my pouch isn’t flying around everywhere during the movements. And take your time. If we have an ostomy, we’ve all had at least one surgery and our bodies have been through a lot. Take your time and don’t overdue yourself. Enjoy it!
Hi Caitlin, thank-you for writing about exercise! I have an ileostomy and it has been challenging. May I suggest using a healthier alternative to Gatorade? It has a lot of food coloring and high fructose , both of which are concerning. There are companies that make cleaner electrolyte drops that you can add to your own filtered water. I found some on Amazon.