Going to the gym with a stoma
So stoma surgery is daunting. Once you have recovered, when is it right for you to return to exercise? Some of the questions running through your head may be, ‘can I exercise? What exercise is safe? Can I return to the gym?’
My advice would to be ask your consultant. Once you have the all clear, then going to the gym is something you can start planning for. You should also consult with your stoma nurse, as they are best equipped for advice on things like, hernia prevention with support wear.
Please don’t overdo It. The gym, above all else, is meant to be enjoyable. Killing yourself the first session is not really an incentive to keep it up and progress with your routine.
I joined my local gym in March 2018. Reasons for me turning into a gym bunny are as follows. In my personal opinion, I got fat. My stoma bags were not sticking properly either. I started dieting at the end of December for three months and needed to take the next step to get my health back on track. For me, going to the gym is about toning and getting my fitness levels back on track.
I will be perfectly honest, the first two weeks I thought I was going to lose a lung. I was lucky if I could manage 5 minutes walking on the treadmill and the cross trainer – don’t even ask… 45 seconds on one of those and I was crying for my mum. I don’t find it easy by any means, as my lifestyle has been pretty sedentary with just walking for the school run. This has tested me, both physically and mentally.
All gyms offer induction sessions, so you can get to grips with how to use the machinery and tailored plans dependent on your fitness levels and what you are aiming to achieve. For me, I have my own personal trainer in the form of a Benjamin, who is training to join the local rugby team next season. He puts me through my paces, but at a Louise level, as he knows I have a tendency to be obsessive over everything I am doing.
Things you may need for the gym
- Gym trainers.
- Gym clothes.
- A decent water bottle. Keeping hydrated is important as you need to replace what your body is losing. I always have squash in mine along with a sachet of dioralyte.
- A plan for that day i.e. legs, arms or cardio.
- Support wear for weights and hernia prevention.
- Headphones and music. I find having your own personal preference to music helps to keep you going.
- Change of stoma appliance kit for the after gym shower.
- Research exercises you want to do on YouTube (Check the beginner’s guides, as others that have been at it longer are a little daunting).
Reasons why I find the gym helps me as an ostomate
- It helps regulate my food intake. I rarely eat after 6 pm these days and my stoma behaves during the night.
- Gym days means I am in taking more fluids and am better hydrated without my stoma flushing.
- I am sleeping better. The exercise has regulated my body clock and I am sleeping better through the night.
- It has helped with my fatigue. Utter madness I know, but I am not dropping off and am not absolutely exhausted by mid-morning.
I will take you through a week in the life of going to the gym with Louise. At the end, you can also find a downloadable beginner exercise guide that I follow to help you with your journey.
Monday, May 21st
Leg day: I like leg day, but also dislike the sadistic sod just as much. For me, leg day is working on my thighs and bottom. General leg day for me is supported squats. I have no central abdominal muscles due to previous surgery, so I do them on a Smith machine with weights attached to the bar. I then do step ups with weights, leg press machine and lunges. Now, the lunges are the last part of that work out. Lunges are evil and I can only just about manage to get through the 60 reps with sheer determination and willpower…. and a lot of laughing. I then finish with a cardio session on the treadmill for 30 minutes. Walking up the stairs by my local castle to collect my daughter from her swimming lesson has left me walking like a new born foal.
Tuesday, May 22nd
Arm day: Hitting the gym at 11:30 am is good as there is no one in here and I have free reign in the weight area. I will admit, I am feeling rather delicate from leg day yesterday, but I am focusing on a different muscle group, so off to the gym I crawl. I do my 6 sets of different arm exercises with weights. For me, this is to help get rid of my mummy arms. I then do another 30 minutes on the treadmill and another 25 minutes on the cross trainer. Hoping nobody is about on the walk home as I am rather sweaty.
Wednesday, May 23rd
Rest day for me: It is just as important to rest up and let your body recover from the exercise. If you don’t rest in-between, then efforts for weight loss and muscle repair are hindered. I am also resting because its day three of after burn from leg day and trying to get onto the toilet is proving to be rather amusing. My stoma bag is still going strong throughout. Last change was Monday and even with the showering and exercise, my bag has yet to bite the dust. Base plate is still intact and no lifting yet. Bag change later this evening after a bath and going to see if I can eke this one out until at least Saturday.
Thursday, May 24th
Cardio Day: Today is pure cardio day and I love it. I have always had better leg power and stamina. I spend 25 minutes on the cross trainer, 15 minutes on the static spin bike then another 25 minutes on the treadmill. My mobile also went for a flying lesson off the treadmill. I seriously need to invest in some Bluetooth headphones, so this doesn’t happen again, as it’s not the first time I have done this.
Friday, 25th May
Back and Chest Day: It is back and chest day along with another jogging session on the treadmill. I struggle with the machinery as not all the handles have the smooth black covering and my psoriasis on my hands is grating on me today. Feeling rather pumped up but I am looking forward to the weekend as I have two days of recovery before starting again on Monday. I also had my body fat measured today, I am at 33% so another 8% and I am at my goal (Happy Dance). My weight is now in healthy range for both my height and age.
So that’s it for a week with me at the gym. For those of you wishing to start at the gym and maybe needing pointers then at the bottom of this post there is a free downloadable guide for the exercises I do should you wish to follow that.
Downloadable Exercise Guide
Many thanks for reading
*Disclaimer – The blog post is Louise’s personal experience and should not be seen as clinical advice. Please consult with your Stoma Care Nurse (SCN) before undertaking any phyiscal exercise. Please discuss with your SCN before following the downloadable exercise guide.