How fitness helped my mental health

How fitness helped my mental health 1

“My whole outlook changed, I wanted to be here, alive and live my life to the fullest every day”

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Hey everyone!

Wow, my first blog for SecuriCare in 2022 and what a year already. The subjects on the news recently have probably given us all a reason to feel this year hasn’t quite started how we expected. But, bad news doesn’t mean that we can’t be optimistic that this year will turn around and be a positive one for everyone!

Many of us started the new year with good intentions of looking after our minds and bodies, so I wanted to use my first blog of the year to share my fitness journey as an ostomate.

First off, let me take you on a trip down memory lane. Child Nathan was always on the chunky side. I was the fat, shy kid that wouldn’t say boo to a goose and avoided PE lessons by bunking off or faking a letter from my mum!

As a teen I tried every diet under the sun, always reverting to an even larger size than before. I was the typical yo-yo dieter. The weight started to shift when my ulcerative colitis was rearing its ugly head. My weight dropped dramatically, unfortunately not in a healthy way.

Fast forward to today and while I still wouldn’t participate in a PE lesson, mostly due to the hideous PE kits, fitness has now become a key part of my life, not only to look after my body but also for my mental health. At the risk of sounding like one of THOSE fitness influencers on Instagram, fitness really does make me feel so much better about myself and less sluggish.

After my stoma surgery I struggled for years coming to terms with such a big change and I finally decided to reach out for help and went on anti-depressants. It’s silly that it’s still such a taboo subject, even in 2022, but I know that being on medication changed my life. My whole outlook changed, I wanted to be here, alive and live my life to the fullest every day. I’m still on anti-depressants now and that small little tablet, teamed with working out, makes me feel so much happier in myself.

I have to be honest; I was a bit nervous when I first started to introduce exercise after my stoma surgery, and I see so many people in online support groups mentioning that they share the same fear. As ostomates we’re prone to hernia’s and I always like to share my tip of wearing a support belt while you work out. It helps to brace your core, keep the bag tucked away and most importantly, it keeps everything nice and supported to help prevent hernias developing or getting worse.

My second tip is to make sure you don’t rush in to working out, take it slowly after your surgery. Gentle walks are more than enough to begin with and when you’ve been given the-all clear by your doctor, you can start to introduce other forms of exercise into your routine. Post-surgery I ensured that I listened to my body and thankfully since then I’ve been able to do everything I’ve wanted to, I lift weights, go on long walks and hikes, daily yoga and HIIT workouts and it makes me feel amazing to see how far I’ve come!

It’s never too late to start working out – but it can be too early, so I can’t stress enough how important it is to listen to your doctor's advice and always ask questions if you’re unsure if you’re ready to do something.

My second operation was my Barbie Butt surgery, or proctocolectomy and I was worried that my new healthy lifestyle would be affected. One of my first questions was ‘will I be able to do squats if I'm sewn up?!’ and thankfully the answer was yes! That's not to say that I don’t occasionally experience a teeny, little rip in the scar down there, but it’s normally when I’m run down or I’ve done too much, and it usually heals within a couple of days.

My barbie butt surgery was probably one of the best things I chose to do. I no longer had UC and it meant I could work out and not feel completely exhausted. Now, I just feel exhausted from adulting and the drama of world events!

I really hope this has helped anyone out there in not feeling alone in their fitness journey. It is something you CAN do and there’s so many amazing resources out there to help you through it!

Check out CliniMed's FREE downloadable yoga guide as a great starting point!

Love and positive vibes always,

Nathan x

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by Nathan Wheeler

Nathan Wheeler

About the author

Hello - I'm Nathan Wheeler! I'm a YouTuber and I've had an ileostomy since 2007 when I was just 17, so I have a pretty good idea about how to deal with the struggles of a stoma! I want to share my experiences with you and bring a light-hearted approach to all the questions that no one wants to ask! You can follow me an Instagram and YouTube.

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