Rebuilding Fitness After Ostomy Surgery


Hey all!

2 days ago was my 3-month ostomy anniversary. Lol.

I used to weigh 170, and I was pretty fit. I could bench around 265, and fitness was my life.

After the surgery, I dropped to 145, and it was very depressing. Thinking that I may never get back into shape again hurt in so many ways. The gym wasn't just a place for gains. It was a place where I could think and get away from all the crap I had to deal with. (Punny :D)

Once I got the thumbs up from my doctor 2 months in, I started going to the gym with so much fear of injury, so I started slow. I listened to my body and progressed as I saw fit.

Prior to surgery, I've always been a fish and rice kinda guy, so I continued this since it was pretty easy to digest. Plus, I drank protein shakes every day. This definitely helped with recovery.

Today, I am going to the gym every day, staying active, and trying to push myself a bit more every day.

Since my surgery, I've returned to 170 lbs, and I'm in decent shape again. (Thank god for muscle memory.)

I've been on this "no fear" kick lately, and whether that's a good thing or bad? I guess I'll find out. I don't want to be held back by my surgery, but I obviously take it into consideration.

So far, things are ok fitness-wise. I can do most workouts (including light abs) without pain, strain, or worry.

I would guess having a laparoscopic surgery/being very fit before the surgery really helped.

Just to be clear, this isn't a "you should do this too" post. More so a bit of hope for those who may be in a similar situation. When I got the surgery, it was impossible to find anyone who has gone through our surgery who could give ACTUAL advice on training/fitness. I suppose it's a trial and error for everyone since we're all so different.

I've also decided I'm going to go through with the next two surgeries. I joined, and it's pretty helpful when searching for answers.

Though most people on these sites are only here due to struggle, I did find a few people with great experiences that helped me clear any doubts. I'm going to stick to my "try or die" mentality. Haha.

Like anything in life, you never know what you're capable of unless you try.

I know I always post about success stories here, but I want you to know I do struggle at times. When I'm "living my life," I am so happy that I'm able to do things I never could. Then my head hits the pillow, and it's sometimes hard to fall asleep because I always think of how horrible life is now with an external appliance. I'm so back and forth. I couldn't even walk my dog before. Now I'm traveling and living it up! But it still hits me deep down when I have time to think about it.

Sometimes I just wish I was normal. But I guess I shouldn't complain. It's just hard not to. Haha

Anyways, I'm rambling


A lot of 'normal' people I know are really boring.

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Hello Danno.
Thanks for an interesting post. 
As a psychologist I am proud to admit to rambling as it is the main thing that keeps me fit!
Best wishes



I'm hopefully getting a new workout partner soon, can't wait.


Glad to hear you are doing so well, Danno. If you weren't still having moments of doubt, you wouldn't be human. It sounds like you are making the best of it and have managed to incorporate something that is really important to you (fitness) back into your life. You should be proud of yourself.


Staying Hydrated with an Ostomy with LeeAnne Hayden | Hollister

Hi. I had my surgery almost 50 years ago for Crohn's and they had to take my large colon completely. When I had my surgery, no one ever told me I shouldn't lift anything heavy or weights. So, I did do weights and I was able to lose a lot of inches doing that. Then I started reading on this website that people had to be careful doing weights so they didn't get a hernia near their stoma. Plus, I was experiencing some pelvic pain so I stopped the weights.

Regarding the J-Pouch, please do your research. I have known a couple that didn't have a good experience. In my earlier days, I was in the hospital after the ostomy because of fistulas. An intern wanted me to sign a consent to do a J-Pouch. I spoke with my surgeon and he told me that because Crohn's can go through the entire intestinal tract that I was not a candidate to have this surgery. They need to use a portion of the intestine to build the pouch and then you are not left with much if the Crohn's returns.

After 50 years with the ostomy, I think this is my normal.

Good luck.

gary S.

I have had a conventional ileostomy for 50 years. I go to the gym 6 days a week, use the rowing machine for 30 minutes rowing 4900 meters, and then use the weight machines. Being fit and having an ileostomy are compatible.

Reply to Bill

I didn't know you were a psychologist, Bill. I was a social worker in my former life.


Did you have a complete colectomy?


Wonderful to read this at the start of the day. I'm not quite "try or die" although it sounds like it's working for you. I work out most days, rock climb, and lead a very physically active life. I've always listened to my body and know when I'm pushing it a little too much. Just watch out for hernias with all that gym action!

Reply to eefyjig

Apart from being a psychologist, I too was a social worker. I felt the latter profession enabled me to engage in many more practical and utilitarian  ways than those which the former did. 

This was not because of the professions per se, but because of the demands and restrictions imposed by the employing authorities on each profession. ( A long story!)
Best wishes 



I was in the same boat, I was fit and a bigger guy at 6'2" 240 lbs before surgery. I had my surgery in 2020 but I got too anxious and started working out too early, which was a bad idea because now I have a hernia. I'm scheduled for surgery next week to repair that, which will set me back even further... now I'm even more depressed and angry but that's my own doing... ugh!!!

Reply to Nungsr

I would be interested to know how the hernia repair works out. I developed a peristomal hernia shortly after my surgery and now I'm afraid to do any abdominal exercises. Eventually I will do the repair but have other health issues to deal with first.

Reply to Bill

For you and Lori... I've been looking into getting my social work license but trying to figure out how my M.A. will translate and what if any classes I would need to take or if there is just a test I could take since my M.A. is in a related field. There's something I would love to do but a lot of people do it in a volunteer capacity.


I admire your dedication to your workout. I, like you, had open surgery on Jan 20th and was hospitalized for 10 days. Being 81 years old, it took me a lot longer to get my strength back. Prior to surgery, I exercised 6 times each week. I did mostly cardio work like walking or biking. I just started resistance work and some ab crunches. I lost 13 pounds after the surgery but have gained 5 of them back. I wish you continuous progress.

Reply to CrappyColon

Hello there.

I haven't a clue as to what you need to do to get your social work licence in the USA and it's been many years since I had to jump those hurdles here in the UK. My degree counted for nothing and my previous qualifications and college courses in Youth work were also discounted, even though the 2 year social work course that I subsequently attended was almost identical in content to the youth work course. Go figure that waste of time and effort. Although, I did cheat a bit and submitted several of the former essays  for the latter course. Sometimes (if I'm being kind) I think that the 'system' simply likes to waste money. Other times, I firmly believe that they are on a power and control kick to make us all conform before they let us join their club.

I hope it all works out well for you.

Best wishes


Reply to CrappyColon

I don't know. I think so? Haha

Reply to TerryLT

Thank you. Before I got the surgery, I read about everything that could go wrong, and it scared the crap out of me. Things worked out better than I thought was possible.

Now I'm having the same amount of stress for the J-pouch. Maybe I'll get lucky again? Haha.

Reply to Danno

I just wondered because I know with the parts I had left I was able to have an ileorectal anastomosis vs the J-pouch and haven't had any complications. My surgeon said the J-pouch would've been malpractice for someone to do on me. I started physical therapy today to help with healing the muscles since my anatomy changed a lot. I'm not allowed to do anything fun though, just yoga and pilates.

Reply to CrappyColon

I took my CSW exam after getting my master's in social work, not sure if you can just take the exam without going through the graduate program. Maybe some of the credits from your M.A. classes could be transferred over and save you time and money.

Reply to Bill

Thanks for the response, Bill! I'm looking into becoming a child advocate, but sometimes it's volunteer, sometimes it's paid. I'm trying to talk to people in a couple of different counties because it seems like each one is a little different. We've been quietly doing respite care for friends who foster one baby at a time. I actually had the one less than 2 weeks after my last surgery, but she was a preemie so under my weight lifting restrictions. But my doctors all agreed it was good for my healing process and keeping active. I've become so frustrated with how the foster care system works here and how it is not child-first/protective. I won't go into details of the last couple of babies, but the situations they have been put into... I don't get it. So I've been trying to figure out what to do with all my frustration toward the system and what can I do as one person to help some kids.

Reply to eefyjig

Thanks for the response, Lori! I want to be careful that I don't hijack Danno's thread too much with CSW questions. I'm wondering if I got my foot in the door with volunteering first, if that might help with opening other opportunities. I read sometimes you have to be willing to make up to a 10-month commitment per the child's case, and it's hard with other life things for me to plan that far in advance right now. I'll try to catch you when you're online sometime to ask more.

Reply to Danno

Danno, sounds like you've done your homework and are virtually connected with other J-pouchers, and those are the most important things. And having confidence in your doctor. Wishing you the best outcome!

Reply to CrappyColon

Whilst I agree with you that we should not monopolise someone else's post for a relatively unrelated topic, there does not appear to be an immediate solution to this dilemma unless you begin a post of your own.
however, having said that, I would comment that (as someone that cares for and about real people) by joining a 'system' you are probably heading for a whole heap of frustrations.

The so-called 'caring' systems are often set up by people whose main focus of attention is themselves and/or the systems they have created. This leads to an anomaly for those whose main focus is to care for and about people.
The most effective way I found to survive and thrive in such an environment was to write rhymes about the ‘systems’ flaws and then move on to focus on what was important to me and my ‘clients’.  The voluminous numbers of rhymes written over the years is an indication of how much I felt was wrong with the systems I worked in. I still feel it is a great pity that these systems seem to reflect a desire for power and dominance over their staff (& others)rather than focussing on what is ‘right’ for the people they are supposed to help.
These ‘systems’ need people like you, but I was never quite sure whether the caring people needed the systems in the form that they adopted.

I wish you the very best in your social work endeavours.

PS: since my retirement, I have found that I can ‘help’ people just as much, if not more, by occupying roles that are less likely to place me in direct conflict with the ‘system’.


Thanks for sharing, Danno!

Having lived with an ileostomy for 42 years (I'm 53), I can honestly say it hasn't held me back from much. Always into fitness, it continues to be an important part of my well-being.

Diagnosed with MS in 2001, I've had to adapt physically more to that disease.

My motto is "Do the best you can with what you have on any given day."


In response to Danno... it sounds like you have really taken the bull by the horns and are living life to the fullest! Has it always been an option to have a J pouch? And do you think this will help you even more with your quality of life? I have a new illiostomy and I personally dont really know what a J pouch really is?

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