Adventures in Personal Training – Part 7 (aka, Definitely my gym soul-mate)

Posted on: March 11, 2013

Saturday morning I woke up with diarrhea. I’ve mentioned in this blog before that I have diarrheal IBS – have had it for 20 years and it’s a condition I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

It started after a trip to India when I was 15. We’d been there for the whole summer and on the last day, I shit myself.  I couldn’t even get to the bathroom in time. We’re packing for the plane ride home, mom’s yelling at me (like I did it on purpose) and the whole f’ing family knows. I was SO embarrassed.

And after that, my stomach was never the same (before there had ever been any studies, I KNEW that what happened on that trip was what caused my subsequent IBS.) I have to be incredibly careful when I eat, I’m never sure what’ll set it off  — I can eat pizza one day and be fine, have the same pizza the next day and be sick to my stomach – and have spent more time in my bathroom, cramping and crying and feeling like I’m dying, than I care to admit.

It’s hard to explain to people who don’t understand or have never dealt with it. It’s not just “an upset tummy.” It’s an upset tummy on steroids. It makes me want to die, and half the time I feel like I am – and then I start to pray that I don’t die sitting on my toilet cause that’s not how I want the cops to find me.

It feels like I’m shitting out my insides, and when I’m done, there is nothing in my body. I have no energy and no nutrients and am physically exhausted. All I want to do is lay in bed and sleep until I feel like I can eat again without my body trying to expel everything, but that’s no way to live life, so I push through and do the daily things I would if I wasn’t sick, just usually at a slower pace.

(So… imagine how I felt Saturday night – after the diarrhea, after the workout, after the hike and it’s 7pm and we still hadn’t eaten. I was starving and trying not to be cranky and just H.U.N.G.R.Y.. I mentioned to “the Bod” after the hike that I was tired, and he said, “Maybe you should’ve eaten lunch.” As I said to him, “Yeah, well, I didn’t want to have to shit in the woods so I thought that was a bad idea.”)

Luckily, my friend are all awesome and understand that if I’m gone for 30 minutes at a time, I’m probably sick and it’s best to leave me alone. I’m super open about my bowel issues because I have to be – what’s the most common first date? Dinner and drinks. And I never know if dinner will upset my stomach or not, so I tend to give my dates a warning. It’s not the most romantic discussion to have, but a necessary one when you’re dating me.  I carry Immodium everywhere I go. I’m never without it.

So Saturday, after I’d finished being sick all morning, I decided to still go in for my training session and just ask him to go easy. I found out a few sessions ago that my trainer has Crohn’s Disease, so we’ve discussed our various stomach issues since then.

When I got there, he asked, as he always does: “Hey! How are you??”

And all I had to say was, “My IBS flared up this morning. I can’t do abs today and need to take it easy.”

Him: “Sure, no problem. We’ll skip the endurance stuff, do some easy legs and still get you worked out.”

Awesome. Just awesome.

So then we’re just chatting about weight, how it fluctuates and how we feel about it. I told him that this 10 lb weight gain I’ve had is because, for about 2 years now, my IBS hasn’t been as bad as it was. My body actually is holding on to food and nutrition and although it’s annoying I’ve gained the weight, it’s the first time in 20 years I feel healthy. I’m not starving all the time. I can eat and although I still worry and it still flares up, it’s been far less of an issue than it has been before. I pray it stays this way.

He told me how when he gets his Crohn’s flare ups, he loses a lot of weight and his 6-pack shows even more – which some people find attractive and he hates, because it means he’s sick:

“If my abs are showing that much, it means I’m not doing well.”

And I understood completely because 2 years ago, I came back from a trip to Kenya.  I was sick while there and for MONTHS afterwards, couldn’t keep anything in my body. I would literally eat and shit it out within 10 minutes (and for those who think that’s impossible…it’s not). There was nothing in my system and there was nothing the doctors could do for me.

It was July and bathing suit season and all I heard from everyone was:

“Wow. You look great! Your stomach is so flat!!!”

And there’s nothing I could say but “Thanks” when really what I wanted to say was:


Cause, sure, I may have looked hot – but I was completely unhealthy and not able to keep anything in and tired all the time and not digesting. And  there’s no way to understand how it feels to look ‘hot’ but feel awful, unless you’ve been through it… and he has.

So when he told me how he felt when his abs show, I knew exactly what he meant, and he knew how I felt that even though I may have looked amazing, I wasn’t happy.

And to be able to discuss that with someone who actually understands is rare (thankfully) – but the fact that he’s my trainer makes me even more grateful, because he gets it. He gets my body and he gets my worries and he gets the issues, without being grossed out about it.

The weird part of this is, after those months and months of being sick, something happened and I could almost feel a literal change in my body – whatever was causing my IBS  – it wasn’t/isn’t gone, but it definitely wasn’t the same as it was. I can’t explain it. But I knew when that bout of “traveler’s induced IBS” was finished, there was something different. I knock on wood daily that it stays this way and doesn’t come back the way it used to be.

But the best part of this whole downer of a story is, while we’re talking about this and I’m doing my squats is he looks me up and down, with the ‘extra’ weight on me, and says:

“Yeah. You’re definitely fine. You’ve got nothing to worry about. 80% of the people in this gym would love to look like you.”

Damn. I am pretty sure a few drinks and we could get this thing done. And by ‘this thing’ I totally mean sex. With me. I wouldn’t even comment on how hot his abs are. 😉



4 Responses to "Adventures in Personal Training – Part 7 (aka, Definitely my gym soul-mate)"

Ugh. I suffered with IBS for a long time. It felt like my body was eating itself from the inside out. I’m so sorry. It sucks, and people used to think I was exaggerating the pain.

On the upside, I was diagnosed with (relatively) mild hypothyroidism. sub-clinical, but my doc decided to treat it anyways.

IBS=GONE! Seriously, in the past four years I’ve had two bad flare ups , each only lasting a day, and almost no minor discomfort either. (I used to end up hospitalized at least a couple times a year because the pain would be so bad…and there was blood….yuck.)

Since then, they upped my hypothyroidism meds and it helped even more and I’m super …um…regular.

I’m not saying that’s what you have, but sometimes really minor underlying hormonal issues will throw off other things, especially your digestive track.

Oh no, Peaches!! I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with it too. Luckily, I’ve never had blood related issues down there. Yeah, people have NO clue what it’s like to always need to be aware of where the bathrooms are…

I’ve been checked out so many times, and they’ve found no clinical abnormalities. Had a colonoscopy and everything… all ‘normal’. Which is good, I guess, but sometimes you really just want a diagnosis!

I’m so happy you’re normal now 🙂

Lar and I have battled with IBS for as long as I can remember. It doesn’t sound as bad as your experience (although Lar’s is worse than mine), but I’ve found it hard to talk about with most people because they don’t understand. Usually I end up mumbling something above having a frequent “upset stomach” and then people just write it off as something that’s not a big deal. So frustrating and painful! And so random. I can totally related to the pizza thing – one day being fine eating it, the next day having to sit on the toilet for way too long after eating it. Someday I would love to travel to India, but I know it will kill me – and I’ll spend the whole trip in bathrooms. Hell, trips to western Europe usually end up with me feeling pretty sick for a few days.

In the past year, Lar and I have both started eating better: no red meat, lots of fruits and veggies, minimal dairy (that’s a tough one) and it really has helped. Lar has been even more strick than me and never has to carry immodium with her anymore. At one point it felt like I was taking immo (that’s what Lar and I call it) every day, but now I use it probably once every couple of months. My symptoms definitely flair up if I start eating more fatty and processed foods, but sometimes I just can’t resist fries!

Thanks for being so open about your experience on the blog!

I’m so sorry you guys have had to deal with this too!! I have SO much sympathy for anyone with stomach issues – especially how hard it is when traveling.

My favorite part is when people, in trying to help, suggest: “Oh, maybe it’s lactose??” Yes. Thank god you came along and told me because for 20 years, I have been drinking milk and eating dairy and not figuring it out. ARGH! And then I feel like a bitch because they’re just trying to help but I don’t want to hear it!!!

The diet is key – I *know* I need to cut out the fat and alcohol… but it’s so hard.

Speaking of things killing you, when I first moved to Atlanta, one of my girlfriends said: “Oh, btw – you can never eat at The Varsity. You. Will. Die.” LOL! 😉

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