Getting ready for surgery! Improving fitness, mobility and losing weight, that lasts, with a JPouch!
Panic not! I am not advocating any fad diet or crazy, unmanageable workout plans, no quick fix or pain! This post will share how, and why, I was so determined to get my mind and body healthier, despite waiting for surgery to remove my failed JPouch and remaining anus, and having a permanent Stoma created.
When I went for the JPouch initially I made myself a promise, I promised that if I ever had to go back to the Stoma, it would be a one way street! permanent! More importantly, that I would do my best to shift any weight gained and make sure my abdomen is at its best to have a good bag seal .
4 Months to surgery!
With just a few more months to go now before one of the biggest surgeries yet, I took action and set myself the goal of getting my body and mind fit and ready, in a bid to convince myself recovery will be easier if I am!
How? when it hurts!
How do you lose the couple of stone that medications and a change of digestive system has gifted us? along with the fact exercise hurts! And I am not just talking aches and pains... I am talking 16/18 fibromyalgia point pains, Enthesitis and chronic fatigue coupled with scar tissue and ongoing chronic cuffitis and Pouchitis symptoms!
With a huge dose of ‘man up’ and kick ass! That’s how!
I decided it was time to fight back, my chronic symptoms were going nowhere and as a result were poisoning my body and mind. I had to fight my fears and work around it all.
First of all, I know I was not very overweight as many people were kind enough to point out, but I did hide the wobbles and rolls well. with no colon I was not carrying any water weight which most ‘healthy people’ do, so there was no easy, fast gain at the start. I didn’t eat many fruit or vegetables and loved all the wrong things, bread, potatoes, pasta etc...
When I was suffering a bad day, I would turn to stodgy safe food to calm my gut, or so I thought.
I suffered extreme bloating and spasms in my remaining rectum and found that healthy things made me worse and exasperated the symptoms I was already living with.
It was at the end of the summer when I saw a photo of myself that made me realise how I had given up and let go. I decided I had had enough, there was enough going on inside that I didn’t need to hate the outside as well!
My partner Stuart had been talking about joining the gym and suddenly I found the drive to join him and do it!
I had 4 months to go and with such a misshaped abdomen, I feared a new stoma would not sit well leaving me with endless issues with seals etc, the wobble needed to shrink!
This all sounds very dramatic I know, but when you don’t recognise the person you are becoming, it’s scary and taking control can help that and heal the mind as well as the body.
First step! the gym...
I joined the gym in October 2019 and hit it full on, the initial personal trainer session almost killed me, and I wondered how on earth I thought I could do it.
Having had hernias before, I was very cautious about not overdoing the abdominal area but needed something to tone it indirectly, I follow a very inspiring guy online known as Mr Crohns Colitis, he is a personal trainer and recently released a video showing indirect ab workouts that were safe to do with the type of surgery I’d had.
I wore a hernia support belt as well as knee and elbow support - I felt more like The Mummy than a gym goer - but felt it was best to be safe than sorry!
At the same time, I decided to bite the bullet and try a different diet, reluctantly I cut all ‘white’ processed products, including white bread, rice, pasta and crackers and opted for the wholemeal version. I added in vegetable bakes and stir fry’s and cut down on potatoes.
After a short transition where my output increased a lot, it settled, and I noticed I was less bloated, less gassy and all round had more energy. I restricted alcohol to weekends and in moderation and started having ice lollies as an after dinner sweet fix. Other than this I just ate sensibly, opted for lower fat products and cut my tea sugar in half.
I love the new diet and find it so much more adventurous and tastier; it means I cook more from scratch but I’m enjoying that and can cope with it.
I manage to eat what I want, just well balanced with good choices!
At Christmas I ate well and enjoyed all the treats, only gaining 1lb which I lost again straight away!
CBD and Tumeric
In order to combat the joint pain and fatigue I started taking CBD Oils daily. At first, I tried capsules with a broad-spectrum CBD but after I received advice, I swapped to a more specific brand that’s known to target joint pain and inflammation. I added in turmeric and vitamin D.
This is what I now use, 3-4 drops morning and night.
I started with a gentle routine at the gym including just 5-10 mins on the cross trainer, 5 mins on the lateral cross trainer and a selection of weight / Cables that were on very low resistance weight.
I was shown how to use the TRX to do body weight exercises and had to try to do a plank!... try is a loose term I’d use... I lasted a whole 18 seconds - my abdomen really had no strength after being sliced open a couple of times and my arms were weak.
I was given the challenge of step exercises and after lowering it (a lot) I managed a few before my knees started to burn. After 45 mins I was knackered! I knew this was going to be tough but had no idea how bad my fitness levels had got.
At this point I decided to take my measurements and photos to see how it all went!
This was my record and plan...
Weight 79.37kg - 12 Stone 5 lb High Waist 90cm
Waist widest point 104cm
Right Arm down 34cm
On Ciprofloxacin and starting to settle a flare - Pain - Aches in knees, back of the head, pressure headaches, sinus pain, fatigue.
Gym x 4 sessions or 45 mins.
I managed my first week and felt great about myself, I was trying hard and proud. I had to change the routine at the gym from the original plan as my upper strength was very poor, I took it easy but kept up the TRX, went from the machines to the suspension cables and tried the exercises I had researched for working the abs indirect. I started to feel great and empowered again.
Jump forward a month and I was going 3-4 times a week; my new diet was working well however I felt run down... I probably started too much too fast but that is typical of me.
However, I started to see results in my measurements just a little and a few lbs were starting to move. Not a lot I should add, and it seemed to be going very slow and steady. I could however manage more each time I went.
6 weeks in and I managed my first 30 mins on the cross trainer! A huge improvement from the initial 5-10 mins. It felt amazing. My knees started to work better and my general stiffness in joints was easing. I was winning at last and started to love it. I am working my abs with crunches and leg lifts and feel it is starting to tighten the scarred area at last.
I had a major setback when the inflammation in my elbows started - it came on over a few days and felt like someone had poured glue on my elbow joints, they were hot, bruised, tender and hurt to touch.
It escalated throughout November causing me to stop all weight work and just focus on general training.
Changes to work around pain
I started do high intensity interval training (HIIT) on the cross trainer/elliptical machines and this is when I noticed the biggest improvement in my stamina. I had built some muscle up and was burning more calories, my weight finally started to shift.
The inflammation was still very present in my body and I was having spasms in my JPouch throughout the workouts.
Complications and flare up!
My disease didn’t let up, but I found for the hour a few times a week, when I could, I could ignore it and push past it.
I had to call an emergency review with my rheumatologist to see what was going on with my elbows.
She confirmed I had pain in 16 of the 18 Fibromyalgia points and severe inflammation / Enthesitis in my elbows. I was also told I had got tennis elbow from the repetitive exercises I had started. She administered a steroid injection in the right elbow, OMG it hurt like hell! I am still waiting the physiotherapists appointment but another 6 weeks on and its easing a little.
The symptoms of my disease remain but I push through as I know; each day I work out is a day I win!
I saw this on social media and can honestly say I feel them all at some stage but not when i'm in the zone, working out!
To maintain the momentum, I have swapped my weights back to the machines and do them less often and with supports and great care. I am also doing 40 Abdominal crunches and leg lifts regularly and find it is ok on my scars, as long as I wear my hernia support belt and listen to my body.
My appetite is healthy, and I am enjoying so many fruits and vegetables that I avoided initially. The whole family is benefiting and that makes me feel even better!
Stuart has done amazingly well and is feeling the health benefits. I am so proud of us both and am immensely lucky to have his ongoing love and support, as well as the encouragement he gives. My gorgeous youngest son has even joined me at the gym and brightened up my journey!
12 Weeks on and feeling good!
My results 12 weeks later have finally shown me how well I have done. My clothes fit better, and I feel a lot more confident about myself. I will continue to repair my body for the next 4 weeks, right up until my surgery date on the 3rd February and just pray it all pays off and I bounce back better this time.
My stats at week 1 v week 12:
Week 1 Week 12
Weight 79.57 / 12st 5lb Weight 73kg / 11st 5lb
High Waist 90cm High Waist 81cm
Lower Waist 104cm Lower Waist 95cm
Chest 100cm Chest 98cm
Right Arm 34cm Right Arm 32cm
Thigh 60cm Thigh 59cm
So, I lost 1 stone or 6.5kg and 23 cm all over in 12 weeks. Some areas didn’t change much in size, but the tone and muscle have noticeably improved.
I will continue until surgery and again once I have healed!
This was my activity over 12 weeks, I am very proud of me!
The biggest physical gain I have felt is that my knees and feet are less stiff, and I can climb stairs without losing my breath! I can enjoy walks more and my clothes are no longer too tight!
There has given me a definite boost to my mental health and now I feel mentally and physically stronger and more independent. More confident and ready to embrace the changes I face this year. My surgery will set me back, but I’ll be ready to battle as soon as my wounds allow!
Throughout all this my bowel has continued to be a battle. The changes in diet, drinking and exercise have not helped my JPouch and although I carry on, I am desperate to get off the permanent antibiotics and steroid / anti-inflammatory suppositories and let my body detox.
I hope by reading this, it offers inspiration and ideas to those of you struggling to lose weight and tone up whilst suffering, to those whom want to improve their mobility, or to those amazing people helping to support others facing surgery to get fit and ready.
I know I’ll be revisiting this when I need a gentle nudge to get up and go despite pain and resistance from my body, To remind me, although it took a while to reach a stone down, I didn’t follow any dangerous or unhealthy fad diets or starve my body in anyway. I worked hard and retrained my way of life, including all the treats and things I love!
Please share any tips you have found successful and thank you for reading and your ongoing support.
Keep fighting and stay strong.