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The Gym Struggle

The Gym Struggle

I have always been a big guy and a few years ago I decided I needed to lead a healthier lifestyle. At that point in my life, my weight was getting out of control and my IBS symptoms weren’t making life any easier, so I used these reasons to eat better and exercise more. I started doing tons of research on how to work out and diet effectively, so much to the point where I almost decided to become a personal trainer. However, my IBS is so severe that unfortunately I discovered I cannot commit to a strict schedule that is normally required by most jobs, so I quickly had to give up on that idea even though I really tried. Nonetheless, I became almost infatuated with exercising regularly and eating properly, even if the journey was sometimes painful.

I suffer from alternating IBS-D and IBS-C, but I mainly suffer from diarrhea. It took a long time for me to accept this condition because it meant that I had to do a lot of things differently. Since I was so used to living my life a certain way, I figured the best learning mechanism was to develop a strategy that would help keep me motivated and consistent with leading a healthier lifestyle. First thing I understood was that it’s important to study my routine and habits because this information will help me with my plan of attack. For example, the times I choose to eat, the kinds of food I put in my body, the times I go to bed, the amount of sleep I get, and when and how often I have a bowel movement. Once I figured all of these things out, the next step was coming up with a strategy to better manage my symptoms.

In order to eat better and exercise more, I needed to find out what was the best method specifically for me. Through this health journey, I have come to realize that meal prepping is a very efficient way for me to eat healthy and properly portion out my meals. My old habits consisted of overeating and lots of junk food, and every time I acted careless of what I ate my symptoms would go “bananas”. Now that my meals are well-balanced and portioned out to the right sizes, my symptoms are much better controlled. However, I still needed to get my sleep and exercise routine in order. Unfortunately, sleeping for me is still a struggle, but if I can find time to take naps throughout the day, then that helps. In regard to going to the gym, I realized the best way for me to be able to exercise effectively was only after I had a bowel movement. The reason was because if I felt constipated then the pain would be too unbearable and uncomfortable for me to withstand the physical activity. Although I have come up with a strategy that works best for me so far, I still find it difficult to be consistent.

What has been keeping me from going to the gym as much as I would like, besides suffering from a chronic condition, is the simple fact that work just drains the heck out of me sometimes. I rather do some sort of relaxing activity after work instead of something that requires essentially … more work. (For example, smoking a medical marijuana joint and sipping on a glass of cabernet sauvignon while watching re-runs of The Jamie Foxx Show.) I have to be honest, I have multiple bowel movements a day to the point of fatigue, so it gets pretty hard to develop energy and motivation to exercise. However, I will continue to work at my goal of leading a healthier lifestyle and never stop trying.

The most important thing for me, or any of us to remember is that we should never compare ourselves to others and always go at our own pace. I may fall off track once in a while, but as long as I stay focused on my own path, then success will be attained and my only competition is myself.

If there is no struggle there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • HaleyTheDogMom
    3 years ago

    I have had this page marked for a couple weeks. I am not sure why I put off reading it until today but I read it. I just need to say it’s great to be able to relate to someone else even if it’s a way we both feel exhausted and miserable. I run in to the same issues with working out. If I haven’t had a bowel movement and I go workout, it usually causes a flare up for IBS-D, sour stomach, sweats, cramping, guilt, frustration, and even sometimes bouts of depression. It’s hard to go back the next day, I don’t want to be the one who has to pack extra shorts and baby wipes just in case. Thank you for sharing. You have made me feel less helpless with this issue.

  • HessP moderator author
    3 years ago

    Hi Haley,

    Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I also must say that it’s great to know that I’m not the only one who has a “gym struggle”. Having IBS and leading a physically-active lifestyle is definitely not easy, but it is possible. I think the most important thing to remember when trying to exercise more while having a condition like IBS is that you should never compare yourself to others, and go at your own pace. For example, if you planned on working out at the gym for an hour, but were only able to be there for 30 minutes, then don’t beat yourself up about that and be content. The fact that you tried and did what you could is all that matters.

    Also, another suggestion is trying to workout from home. I know it’s not always easy if/when there are distractions. However, when I find some quiet time to exercise at home, I feel more comfortable because I much rather go through my IBS issues in private. I know you mentioned that you have IBS-D, but I thought you might be interested in some Yoga exercises that you can do from home, in case one day going to the gym is not an option. Here is the link: . I hope you find this article useful and stay tuned for more content coming soon.

    Thank you so much for sharing, stay strong and positive!

    Hess ( Team)

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