Well folks, it’s official. We seriously cannot win. We are supposed to be active, but we can’t find comfortable, supportive sports bras that don’t cost $1 million. We’re supposed to drink more water, but after carrying and birthing writhing, screaming humans into the world, we can barely hold our bladder on a dehydrated day. We are supposed to run, lift weights, do yoga, and HIIT workouts, even though we pulled a muscle last week folding towels, have zero childcare, and haven’t slept in 11 years.
We literally cannot win.
If the above annoyances sound familiar to you, you’re not alone. Taking care of yourself takes work, and exercise can really suck. And be gross. And a little embarrassing. So let’s talk about it. From explaining why we pee a little when we work out to the embarrassment of excessive pit sweat, no topic is off limits. Here are a few common embarrassing fitness questions you may have, but are afraid to ask.
1. Why do I rip ass during certain yoga poses?
We’ve all been there. You’ve finally managed to escape your kids and sneak off to a yoga class, clad in your super-cute new leggings and tank. You’ve heard all about the health benefits of this timeless exercise method and can’t wait to stretch your muscles, free your mind of having to clean poop off the walls that morning, and get into shape.
Only, in the beautiful, peaceful silence of yoga class, you release a 3-second long, extremely audible fart in the middle of crescent pose. Maybe no one heard, you pray. But everyone did. EVERYONE.
At least you can take some comfort in knowing that, according to fitness gurus, this mortifying scenario is normal. (But, of course, it had to happen to YOU.)
“Passing gas during the occasional downward dog is extremely common,” fitness expert Vince Sant and co-founder of V Shred tells Scary Mommy. “You’re bending and stretching, which massages the internal organs—which can sometimes stimulate your digestion. (There’s even a yoga pose called ‘wind reliever’).”
Hmmm… my kids “relieve their wind” every day, all day. Including at the dinner table. Maybe they know that one?
And let’s be honest. The “wind” isn’t always coming out of our ass during yoga. Air pockets explode out of all our regions as we come up into Warrior 1, and we know it.
Sant recommends limiting any high fiber snacks beforehand and stretching before your actual class to “eliminate” ahead of time. Good luck! And at least you’re going to look adorbs in these leggings next time you queef in class.
2. Why does running long distances make me have to shit?
I ran my first 10k a couple years ago, and man did I get the running shits. If you’ve been there, you know. They are THE WORST. By the 7k mark, you’re like HOLD IT HOLD IT HOLD IT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD HOLD IT. There’s a reason porta-potties are scattered throughout the race. But there’s also a reason runners try like fucking hell to avoid them. A) You’re running for time, and B) They’re gross.
So why does this happen?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, it takes the average runner 1,000-plus strides to cover a single mile. “That equals a whole lot of intestinal jostling, literally shaking the crap right out of you,” says Hardeep Singh, M.D., a gastroenterologist at St. Joseph Hospital in California. I can attest to the crap-shaking. It’s not pleasant.
And fitness expert Vince Sant adds that “studies show that as much as 50% of runners in a 10k race experience digestive issues, including runner’s trots.”
Runners trots. That makes it sound waaaaay cuter than “I’m about to shit brown water down my leg,” doesn’t it?
To combat this unpleasantness, experts suggests avoiding high-fiber and high-fat foods a few days before a big race, staying well-hydrated, and avoiding caffeine.
In the end, plan on visiting a porta-potty at some point if you’re committed to that half-marathon this spring.
3. My inner thigh chafing is uncomfortable AF. Make it stop!
A common problem (I know that doesn’t make it suck less) is chafing on the inner thighs, butt cheeks, under arms, bra line, and nipples. And this one can really be a buzz kill at the gym.
“Skin-to-skin and skin-to-clothing rubbing can cause a red, raw rash that can bleed, sting, and cause pain during your post-workout shower,” Sant explains. “Moisture and salt on the body make it worse.” So what can we do? The fitness guru suggests wearing moisture-wicking, seamless, tagless gear with proper fit. He adds, “Baggy shirts have excess material that can cause irritation; a too-snug sports bra can dig into skin. Apply Vaseline, sports lube, Band-Aids or Nip Guards before you run. And moisturize after you shower. Drier skin tends to chafe more.”
This isn’t good news for people like me who are cheap-asses and wear 20-year old cotton shorts and T-shirts from college to work out. Apparently that’s not so good for the chafing. So if you really want to combat this annoyance, you might need to drop a little cash on better workout gear. (And nip-guards maybe.)
4. Why do I pee my pants when I exercise?
Well, if you’re like me, you pee a little when doing lots of things—sneezing, laughing, coughing, breathing. You have your beautiful cherub children to blame for that. But peeing specifically during exercise is actually super common, so no worries! If you’re rocking a big wet spot on your crotch after 30 minutes on the elliptical, it’s all good. So am I.
Vince Sant explains, “This is very common amongst anyone who’s had a child. The term is ‘stress incontinence,’ meaning you involuntarily leak out a little urine.” Aw, thanks, kids!
But even though you can take comfort in knowing that most of the other moms are also pissing themselves, Sant says there are things you can do to improve your chances of having dry pants post-workout. “Learn how to do Kegels and practice engaging your pelvic floor in Pilates-based exercises,” he suggests. “Both of these actions can help strengthen your pelvic floor and reduce the severity of your stress incontinence.” (You can even get a Kegel tracker! What a time to be alive.)
Well after three 9+ pound babies, my pelvic floor is a sad, broken shelf made of sand, but sure, I’ll give it a go and get my squeeze on. (Or wear three pairs of underpants. Whatever.)
5. Why do I sweat so much more than other people at the gym?
Ugh, this is me. I sweat profusely, which means yay! I pushed myself! But also, ewwwww, I am gross. Like the grossest. Like shouldn’t get in my car after and definitely can’t run errands after and oh fuck what if cute gym mom tries to talk to me in the locker room and gets a whiff of my stank kind of gross.
Why is that? Is this just something I’m hashtag blessed with, like my shattered pelvic floor? Or am I doing something wrong?
“On average, men tend to sweat more than women, and if you are overweight you may sweat more near the end of your workout because it takes more for your body to cool itself down,” Sant told Scary Mommy. “Ultimately, it’s not a bad thing if you find yourself drenched in sweat while the person next to you on their machine seems to be relatively dry.”
So yeah, working out is gross, but feels good too. So if that means peeing my pants a little and stinking up the locker room (and yoga room), so be it. See you at the gym, folks. You can’t miss me. Just follow the scent.
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