I’ve reached a point where I feel like I have a handle on the IBS, or whatever. I have been able to poop fairly consistently, and it has been many weeks since I last had constipation. I credit this to several factors. 

One, I’ve been consciously trying to tell my body how I want it to function. I’ve been trying to be an ally with my body, rather than ignoring it or punishing it. I want my body to function well, and so I’ve asked my body to help with that project. 

Two, I’ve been on a diet. My husband had hit a plateau with weight loss, and my incessant suggestions of calorie counting as a solution finally got through – with one condition! I had to join him in the experiment and do calorie counting too. While I had already tried to simplify my diet, I now have to keep a consistent food diary in order to count my calories. We have also both eliminated a lot of junk food from our diets. No more fast food at all, and a big reduction in processed foods. I also try to avoid any food product that includes “natural flavors” or “artificial flavors” on the ingredients list, because how can I know what I’m reacting to if I don’t even know the actual ingredients? 

Three, I’ve been drinking tea with mucilaginous ingredients daily. I really think that it’s helping to keep my bowels flowing smoothly. The intestines are, after all, mucous membranes. And my constipation seemed to have a big component of dry-out down there, so instead of drinking a throat tea when my throat hurts, I drink them daily. 

Four, I’ve been practicing Chi-Running. Chi-Running recruits a lot more of my abdominal muscles than regular running does, at least for me. A twisting motion is encouraged, which seems to provide a bit of encouragement to my digestion. And as I’ve been working on Chi-Running, I can feel that I’m working stored tension out of my shoulders. Tension and stress are supposed to exacerbate IBS, so anything that reduces those things in my life should be helpful. 

I had a thought the other day during my long run that I have stored tension in my body. It’s as if some stress or tension was too much for my mind to deal with, and so I shoved that stress, that tension, directly into my body, specifically my left shoulder. It got to be a habit, and led to incredibly painful headaches whenever those muscles got challenged in other ways, like an intense shoulder workout at CrossFit. With that awareness, I’m trying to both stop storing that tension and to release what I had stored before. 

I’m trying to be more analytical about the sensations my body gives me, rather than emotionally reacting to pain as if it were danger. I’ve been told over and over that the signal I’m getting doesn’t mean danger so I’m going to treat it more like data. Analyze what may have caused it, record the what/when and possible whys and look back to see whether it repeats. Maybe I should have tried this approach long ago, but it’s hard to get out of your head when you’re in pain. 

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