When My Gut Was At its Worst Pilates Was There to Help

I started doing Pilates several years before I began teaching Pilates. But, it was just before my Pilates apprenticeship began that my stomach started to give me issues. And, as I write this I am happy to report that after 10 years of digestive issues I am stronger than ever. Pilates was always there for me. Sometimes it was the only time I felt whole, connected and strong. Pilates was one of the only places I found ‘real’ answers for how I felt and where I was even when my stomach and seemingly my body felt like it was fighting against me.

  • Author: lesley.logan
  • September 5, 2019
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When My Gut Was At its Worst Pilates Was There to Help scaled thegem blog - Online Pilates Classes

I started doing Pilates several years before I began teaching Pilates. But, it was just before my Pilates apprenticeship began that my stomach started to give me issues. And, as I write this I am happy to report that after 10 years of digestive issues I am stronger than ever. Pilates was always there for me. Sometimes it was the only time I felt whole, connected and strong. Pilates was one of the only places I found ‘real’ answers for how I felt and where I was even when my stomach and seemingly my body felt like it was fighting against me.

When it comes to the gut there are many things that can be going wrong. And, so even if what I write sounds familiar to you I highly recommend you get seek professional help. And, do not stop until you get help. My doctors sooo got my situation wrong. I know it wasn’t on purpose. But, their help did make things worse for me. Please be your own advocate. I’m happy to send you the info for those who helped me.

Pilates is often thought of as an ab workout. And, even though there is plenty of evidence that it is not. The fact that you want everything to connect to your center as you move can make someone who suffers from stomach issues run for the alps. Or, think Pilates isn’t for them.

For me, I would start the day feeling and looking like a badass. As the day went on the clothes I was wearing in the morning would be swapped out for clothes that were looser to make room for my expanding stomach. Then by the end of the day, I was in sweats and in puppy dog pose to stretch my center and keep things moving. TMI? Sorry, not sorry, this info is something I want to share so if you’re suffering you know you’re not alone.

Doctors wanted to call it IBS…the catchall for “we don’t know but here’s this to help deal with the pain.” I was put on odd diets of all kinds. They would work for a bit and then eventually my system would figure them out and I would be back to square one. To say this was painful would be an understatement. Exhausting doesn’t even cut it. 10 years of wondering if “I could eat” something took a toll. Emotionally at the end, I was done. Physically I was barely functioning.

The pinnacle of these digestive issues came when I was doing more Pilates than ever before. I was doing The Work with Jay Grimes. My muscles were at their strongest. And, thank goodness for the program because had I not been in it I know I would have not been doing the one thing that makes me feel the best-Pilates.

If you are suffering from stomach issues I sooo feel you. I am welling up with tears thinking of you. I know it’s hard to take the time or effort to move your body. I also know that after every session I felt better than when I walked in. And, for at least 55 minutes I wasn’t thinking about my stomach. I wasn’t wondering if I had the right clothes in my bag to cover up my expanding stomach as the day dragged on. Pilates became a happy place for me. And while I couldn’t ‘feel’ my center most of the time. I could feel the footbar, the carriage, the mat, the handles, the straps, and springs.

I placed my focus on the things I could feel. The parts of my body that I could control. And after each session, I would have this post-Pilates bliss. I would feel like I was me. I was connected. I was whole.

If you are suffering from digestive issues, my goodness I feel for you. And I know that Pilates sounds like the last thing you want to do. But, I also know that the relaxation, the meditation that Pilates provided me, the control and connection kept me going. And, now, 6 months mostly pain-free, I can feel my center when I do Pilates.

xx~LL

PS I do not have IBS, never did. I had an overgrowth of stomach bacteria that despite doctors efforts the lack of support and discovery caused stress. That stress caused my body to stop producing stomach acid and go through a digestive cycle. Which then caused me to stop absorbing nutrition from food and the ability to break down food. So, every time I ate the food would sit and ferment aka bloat and the bacteria would feed off the food aka bloat. And there was only so much room so insert pain every day. The world is under massive stress on a daily basis. If you have stomach issues before you think it’s something diagnosable know that stress is the cause of 99% of all health issues.

By lesley.logan

Lesley Logan, NCPT, is the founder of OnlinePilatesClasses.com, the first free online catalogue of Pilates exercise tutorial videos, where you can also find weekly online mat classes and workshops. When not teaching from her studio in Los Angeles, Lesley can be found traveling the world leading Pilates retreats, or offering Pilates business coaching to studio owners and other instructors through her private mastermind group. Connect with Lesley on instagram @lesley.logan or through the contact page on this site.

Loving this Pilates exercise tutorial? Take weekly online Pilates mat classes with OPC Teachers.
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6 comments

  1. Thanks for discussing this, Lesley. Your candor is amazing.
    Wanted to chime in that I have similar digestive issues: Astounding bloat. Innards complaining LOUDY during meetings. Discomfort! Frustration.
    Goes through cycles. Can last months.
    Stress absolutely a major factor!
    Thanks for keeping it real. 🙂

    1. Thank you J! I am hoping to write and share more like this. And ugh, I so so so feel you. There were nights when I went to bed at 5pm because I was in so much pain. And cycling was quite interesting too. I figured out what mine was. I hope you are able to find some more hints as to whats causing yours. Now that I am doing better when I have a set back I have no idea how I handled the pain before. xx~LL

  2. I need to check more into this witih my soon-to-be-new Dr. I have had issues for more than 30 years 🙁

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Please pleas please be your own advocate. I know many doctors and homeopathic ones that believe IBS is a catch all. There is a way to really hone in on what your exact issue is.

  3. I was diagnosed with gastroparensis where my food just sits in my stomach. I’m
    Glad I got an endoscopy and I now I know why I feel so bad. I’m working on trying to resolve this through smaller meals however I still need to do a swallowing study (radioactive eggs, yummy) to see how king my food sits there. I also found out that probiotics aren’t always your friend. I am being tested for SIBO next. IBS diagnosis 20 years ago. Wrong.

    1. Yeah, Most people don’t realize that you have to get more strains in your probiotics. They are not all created equal. I def had a “sibo” like life but through changing my diet and probiotics and then going off those to do stomach acid because my food just sat there all day life is soo much better. Now, as long as I don’t eat more than my fair share (sometimes you just can’t help yourself) I am back on track. I’m interested to hear how long your food sits there too. Hope you find something that works for you. xx~LL

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pop up summer tour | online pilates classes

SUCH A TEASE

ONLINE MAT & REFORMER PILATES CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

Teaser is probably one of the most photographed exercises in Pilates. Which makes people think it's a "peak pose." But, it's anything but! It's simply another layer to your Pilates practice. This week we will acknowledge how each exercise contributes to your ability to do Teaser (someday) and then how Teaser teaches you where to get curious in your practice.

On the Mat we will use light weights for one round of Teaser as they can be helpful for those still adding into their practice.
No props on the Reformer.

See you in class,

xx~LL

MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, light weights and a Mat!

>> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a Reformer!

>> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.

UP, UP, & AWAY

ONLINE MAT, REFORMER, CADILLAC & WUNDA CHAIR PILATES CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

We are all going to feel like Super Humans after this month!!

Whenever I’m in a hard exercise (for me) where I’m holding myself up with my arms and reaching my legs away I picture myself with super human strength!!! I can do ANYTHING! It makes me smile and helps me stay STRONG.

This month our exercise is Up Stretch and when you think about it - reaching your legs away and staying strong over the carriage may feel a lot like flying!

We’ll be focusing on stabilizing our strong cores while staying equally balanced in our arms and legs. We are giving you some amazing building blocks by merging strength and stretch in all directions. You are going to get a little bit of everything that you can use to connect to your Up Stretch (and even your Roll Up and Knee Stretches Off).

Chair: Please have a foam roller and a balance pad available. We are going to challenge your balance safely.

xx-LL

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN

Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

Yes, we are focusing on Horseback in this week's workout. But, we are also giving a celebration to all of us who might be back in our Pilates saddle again. Or, maybe you've been in the Saddle but stuck in the mud. This week's workout it's designed to be a positive play time with an exercise many of us avoid and one that we may never get. But, hey, it's always fun to be out where a friend is a friend - get it? If you know the song you do!

Mat: Theraband and light weights
Reformer: no props needed

See ya in class,
xx~LL 💋

    MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, Theraband, light weights and a mat!

    >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

    REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a reformer!

    >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.

    99 PROBLEMS BUT BRIDGE AIN'T ONE

    Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

    Shoulder Bridge has multiple phases. It's a phenomenal replacement exercise and also can be a huge challenge. You can balance your asymmetries while also revealing them. It's an exercise that can warm you up and can be part of an advanced series. This week we'll focus on exercises that benefit from Shoulder Bridge and what Shoulder Bridge is telling us about our practice that day.

    Mat: magic circle for the warm up. If you don't have a circle a ball and a theraband.
    Reformer: no prop needed but can use a theraband or circle for short box

    See ya in class,
    xx-LL 💋

    MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, magic circle, a ball, a theraband and a mat!

    >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

    REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, a theraband or circle for short box and a reformer!

    >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.

    AIN'T NO PARTY LIKE A 100 PARTY

    Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

    So many people don't love the 100. But the 100 is an incredible exercise that when you know all its capabilities can be something you might look forward to...maybe even like a little bit. Or a lot!

    We often wonder why the 100 is the first exercise. I mean, it's got a lot going on for a warm up. To me it's a survey, a feedback, a mirror to how our body is doing that day. And, how cool it is to know how your body is feeling as you go into your practice. This way you can explore what your body needs in other exercises.

    Let's explore what the 100 is telling us and how to make it our own each day!

    No props needed.

    See ya in class,
    xx-LL 💋

      MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a mat!

      >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

      REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a reformer!

      >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.

      STAND BY ME

      Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

      The key to longevity is being able to get down to the ground and up again with as little assistance as possible. In this weeks class we are going to focus on how to stand in your feet no matter where they are in space.

      On the Mat we will have a playful ending that Joseph Pilates would do!

      The Reformer we’ll end challenging ourselves standing on our carriage. (Options to do the exercises off the Reformer too!)

      No props needed.

      See ya in class,

      xx~LL 💋

      MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a mat!

      >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

      REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a reformer!

      >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.

      FRENEMIES

      Online Mat, Reformer, Cadillac & Wunda Chair Pilates Class Descriptions:

      Hello, it's OPC Teacher Christine here! I used to get commended for my form and flexibility in any type of movement class I went to, even if it was my very first class. But what I struggled with was always hitting a plateau where I couldn't make progress or improvement. For me, that changed when I discovered the strength and control I found in practicing Pilates.

      Getting on the apparatuses puts your body in a position where you find strength, stretch, and control through your center. I was unable to fold my body like origami anymore. One of the mat exercises - double leg stretch - is great for finding a strong center regardless of what the arms and legs are doing.

      For this month, we'll explore using the concept of finding an inner lift of the belly away from the thighs to find a strength in our center, the two-way stretch of the limbs, while controlling the movement of the arms and legs whether they move away from center, or come back to center.

      Mat class: Magic Circle and squishy ball

      See you in class,

      Christine

      HANG 10

      ONLINE MAT, REFORMER, CADILLAC & WUNDA CHAIR PILATES CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

      Grip strength as well as upper body strength plays an important role in so many different exercises throughout the mat and all apparatus. Our grip can influence the connection from our wrists - to our arms - to our back. And building strength in our chest and upper back can help us connect more to our center in every exercise.

      All month long we’ll explore the feeling, the strength, and the position of our hands and upper body to see how our exercises change with a little extra focus. We’ll also play with ways to gain more strength and awareness in our chest and upper back to create even more connections to the exercises.

      Props:
      Chair - short pole* and a foam roller for balance
      *A thicker pole or roll down bar size might feel nice, but no worries you’ll find your connections no matter what you have on hand!
      Mat: a pole
      Reformer: No props needed
      Cadillac: No props needed

      See ya in class,
      xx-LL 💋

      I LOVE ROCK & ROLL UP

      Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

      Finding some love for Roll Up and Open Leg Rocker isn't easy! But, these two exercises unlock the potential for so many other exercises. And what we don't like we often need. So, let's dive into what we need to rock our Roll Ups and Open leg Rockers and see how that changes the rest of our practice in the meantime.

      Mat: Magic Circle, Pole or Theraband
      Reformer: have your shortbox pole near by

      xx~LL

      MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, Magic Circle, Pole or Theraband and a mat!

      >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

      REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, short box and a reformer!

      >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.