In my home you might hear poop talk a little more than in the typical family household. Not potty jokes or anything like that but real, honest discussion about how important pooping is and why we need to make sure the plumbing is humming along okay. I wasn’t always gung ho about poop, it just kinda happened around the age of 28. That is the year I found out I had stage 3 colon cancer. I was faced with a big surgery to remove a large section of colon and most of my lower lymph nodes and at that point they weren’t sure what stage my cancer was or exactly how far it had spread. I went into that operation knowing there was a good chance I would wake up with a colostomy bag. Thank goodness that didn’t happen but yet I kept wondering how could this happen to a 28 year old woman????
Later it was determined that my cancer was not genetic, it was dietary…the result of poor food choices. This was no shocker, I lived on movie theater popcorn, hot dogs, and Mountain Dew for like 4 years. I was a manager at a movie theater in case that sounds a bit bizarre. I had lots of intestinal stress and elimination problems but I figured that was just what genetics had handed down to me… irritable bowels. Anyway, I knew that my cancer was the well deserved result of my bad choices. What was shocking to me though was that I had this cancer for quite awhile and never knew it. I let it progress to a 95% blockage of my colon and it was a hair’s width away from spreading to my liver, which would have been considered fatal. How could I have ignored all the obvious signs that my system wasn’t working properly? Why didn’t I pay attention to this?
This all sounds pretty hypocritical right? If was willing to eat total garbage and be okay with it then why would I worry myself about how my little ole colon was working? Yeah, I get that but it bothered me that I couldn’t see the signs and figure out that I was killing myself. It was almost too late and that was pretty darn scary. I was instantly converted into one of those people who likes to talk about…POOP. Why? Because I know first hand, just how important it is.
When I first heard about the Squatty Potty…maybe a year or two ago I put it on my mental “Must Buy” list. Then life got in the way and I never got around to it. Though I did start using a child step stool in the bathroom to improvise. The problem is that we also use that little kiddie stool for other stuff, like supporting the broken dishwasher lid and helping kids reach the sink. Most of the time I forgot to grab that stool before going into the bathroom. So, when the company behind Squatty Potty emailed me and asked me to review one of their stools I jumped at the opportunity.
It is a HUGE improvement over a step stool or a box (another impromptu attempt to improve form at the toilet). It is much wider than any stool you are going to get which allows you to widen your legs and it is the perfect height. The design also allows you to wrap it around the base of the toilet when not in use, so that ensures it is out of the way when you don’t need it. Visually it is big improvement and functionally it is a big improvement. If you are using a regular stool you may want to upgrade. Though I gotta admit I am not so much a fan of the white plastic (just because I don’t like plastic) …they have a bamboo stool that is MUCH nicer looking and more planet friendly.
Squatting is Better for Colon Health
But WHY do you need a stool at all? Well, it is essentially the healthiest position for elimination. If you think about it, toilets are a relatively new invention. How did humans eliminate before the all wonderful commode? What is the “natural” way to eliminate? Squatting!
When we sit down on a toilet our position is all wrong. We have to strain and push to eliminate properly and it is likely that we are not fully emptying our bowels (very bad news for colon health). Think of the colon as a pipe with a kink in it…how can all the waste be eliminated if there is a kink in the pipes?
Squatting Improves the Strength of Your Pelvic Floor
The pushing is also bad for our pelvic floor since the colon is pushed outward and it protrudes against the wall of the vagina. If things are feeling a little less tight down there or you are finding that you pee a little when you laugh, exercise, etc then your pelvic floor needs some help. Kegals are typically recommended but I recall hearing a lecture once that explained why they actually do the exact opposite of what people (and most doctors) think they do. Kick those kegals to the curb. Squatting is the absolute best exercise to increase muscle strength in your pelvic floor region.
In addition to adding lots of squats to your workout routine (CrossFit!!) we should be squatting when we eliminate. Squat in the shower to pee in the morning and use a stool to lift legs whenever you sit on the toilet. If peeing in the shower seems gross to you…well first, get over yourself and then keep a spray bottle of vinegar and tea tree in the shower to spray it down afterwards if you are truly bothered.
Hemorrhoids, UTI’s, and Saving on Toilet Paper
Squatting to eliminate also helps prevent hemorrhoids. They seem to be a common gift for many women after birthing children. Urinary tract infections can be reduced too because the bladder is more likely to be completely emptied. It can improve constipation and it is much better for the health of our colon for all the reasons mentioned above. I absolutely adore the Squatty Potty slogan of “Healthy Colon: Happy Life”. Colon health and elimination are among those socially taboo subjects that people don’t like to talk about but it is important that we do. People need to be educated about proper alignment and also signs of ill health in that department.
Lastly I wanted to mention that squatting will also save you some money. In my experience proper elimination means less to clean up afterwards so you save money on toilet paper. :)
So, what do you think? Ready to squat?
Tuesday, March 12th, 2013