Workouts and Wellbeing

Jay 1995

When I was a National Champion Bodybuilder I loved my look and it didn’t matter to me what anyone else thought. I was once stood in a nightclub and a guy sidled up to me and said, “You don’t want to get any bigger love.” I politely pointed out that I hadn’t asked for his opinion, but that I had never been chatted up so much in my life. Of course, he went off muttering under his breath! The opinions of others are not important unless we let them be - it is way more important that we feel good within ourselves!

Being in the fitness business all those years ago, I really did know my stuff and it showed.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how judgemental we can be though. Why do we follow and like fit and beautiful people online, more so than anyone else? I believe it’s the reason behind things like hair dye and make-up: we feel better if we look good. The old adage “You scrub up well” is true for many of us, because we don’t look our best all the time and nor should we!

There is a very negative side to only admiring the most physically attractive or the most physically able people. Rather than just admiring their achievements we can start comparing ourselves to them and feeling bad about ourselves if we don’t meet the same standards. We can get so swept up in it that we forget to look at personal qualities and aspire to be better people as opposed to just ‘looking good’. True wellbeing should encompass mind, body and spirit.

Looking back now I realise that the photo shoot I did two years after my stoma surgery was actually a very negative experience for me.

I wasn’t ready physically or mentally. I had no intention of ‘getting my bag out’ and had a few negative comments because I wore a stoma cap instead of showing my bag.  For the original photo shoot, my plan was to inspire women over 50. But then I had my stoma and the shoot suddenly became about me trying to be okay with my colostomy bag! Other people were constantly sharing images of how great it was to have a stoma bag but I just didn’t feel that way.

I wasn’t a young twenty or thirty something with smooth skin. I hadn’t had a neat keyhole surgery. I was 59 with a massive scar and had two belly buttons by the time the open wounds healed, I also had a ‘bum tum’ which some may relate to. It was covered up by clever photography and a bikini bottom. We photoshopped nothing, but we did hide the cellulite on my legs and the bits I hated. I needed a stiff drink to take my clothes off and show my unsightly bikini body. I felt uncomfortable about myself.

Well, here I am several years later and feeling better about myself.

My knowledge as a Clinical Personal Fitness Trainer was invaluable in my recovery, and I can manage my PTSD triggers better now. That’s important because PTSD can often mean my body is a fight or flight mode which effects things like cortisol which in turn impacts how the body works, including how it stores fat.

Wellbeing means being healthy, happy and comfortable. My advice is to find a workout that improves circulation and your mood, and of course burns calories, but take it as easy and go at your own pace – don’t compare yourself to anyone else like we so often do thanks to social media.

In my opinion, exercise is vital for ostomates, especially to prevent parastomal hernias.

Just last week I posted the video I made back in 2018 with CliniMed about hernia prevention. I was saddened that people still contacted me to say they hadn’t received any advice about hernias, sometimes after years with a stoma and multiple operations!

Please share this video and remember it’s not just for ostomates, we all need a strong core and it is often not until we have a problem that we realise it. You don’t have to go to the gym… pole dancing, Zumba, walking, dancing, running, gardening, hiking… there is so much choice! Swimming is one of the best because the water supports our weight and therefore our joints.

Stomas can affect our self-esteem, but even more so if we have an uncomfortable and unsightly hernia to live with – so be sure to work on prevention exercises as demonstrated in my video.

Just to be clear: don’t compare yourself to anyone else, make it about you, what works for you, and what you enjoy. Wellbeing doesn’t stem from something you don’t enjoy or from trying to achieve the impossible because you’ve seen someone else doing it online. If you are going to take up exercise or aim to improve your physical shape, be sure to consult your healthcare practitioner first. If you have questions about diet and exercise with a stoma, I am happy to help if I can.

I am hoping to get some good training done this spring for the feel-good factor. In the past couple of years thanks to an ongoing battle with other things I have put on over a stone, so will be saying goodbye to that! Yes indeed, little ole me is currently in the ‘overweight’ category and that is a risk factor for hernia!

It’s time for me to get myself back on track and that means focus. Will I ever do another photo shoot? Will I ever show my bag publicly? I can’t answer those questions just yet, feeling good and healthy is more important now and most importantly staying hernia free!

“The opinions of others are not important unless we let them be…” @justjayhyrons

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by Jay Hyrons

Jay Hyrons

About the author

Hi I'm Jay. My stoma was unexpected and very much unwanted, in fact it still is. I am a qualified Clinical Personal Fitness Trainer and a former National Champion Bodybuilder. After eight abdominal surgeries I am still Hernia free. You can see the video made in partnership with CliniMed here Core Exercises to help prevent Hernias and you can get other fitness tips on my YouTube or follow me on Instagram.

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