Let's Talk About Poop. No, seriously.

Trilby here! Yep, you read it correctly – I’m excited to be back writing regularly for the TurF blog, and kicking things off with a topic that I believe needs to be normalized:

 

Pooping. Specifically for women. 


The idea for this post came from a few convos I’ve had with nutrition clients, TurF students and even TurF staff around a very real and, as I have come to learn, common anxiety: poop anxiety. Specifically, the fear, and or shame, of pooping, as a female, either in public, and/or when a significant other is present. I’m particularly passionate about this topic because, a) regular bowel movements (or a lack of them) have a significant impact on our health, b) for me, it took quarantine to face pooping at home when someone else was home, and c) while constipation is common in men and women, constipation induced by social stressors is much more common in women thanks to..duh duh duh…the patriarchy. So let’s dive into pooping – my hope with this post is to challenge this bizarre standard some of us gals hold to ourselves…that we somehow don’t poop…and normalize going number two. 


A lot of poop anxiety is rooted in shame, because as women, many of us took up the subconscious belief that pooping is not something we should reveal about ourselves. That it’s gross, unsexy…when was the last time you saw an actress speak of pooping in a TV show or movie? Probably HBO Girls but I can’t think of any off the top of my head. It’s always the dudes bringing a newspaper into the bathroom and camping out for their alone time…perfectly normal and socially accepted. Not for us gals, though! 


I find this so interesting because if pooping is considered somewhat of a vital sign, in theory, we should be as proud of our regularity as we are our HRV (Heart rate variability), our resting heart rate, how much REM sleep we got last night, how glowing our skin is…pooping regularly is an EXCELLENT indicator of health! 


I think it’s time we glamourize this aspect of ourselves a bit more. If you’ve ever been constipated, you know how insufferable it can be. Be STOKED on the fact that you have the urge to poop in the first place! Get that shit outta there! Want clearer skin? Want to help open your detox pathways? Go poop – once a day minimum, twice or even three times ideally (if that’s a struggle for you, keep reading for tips). Allow it to be just as much a part of your self-care ritual as your evening gua sha or retinol serum. 


For the longest time, I prided myself in never pooping when a boyfriend was around – that was reserved to coffee shops, grocery store bathrooms, or the gym bathrooms in condos. I know I’m not alone in this strategic, oh so clever attempt at avoiding any evidence that I poop. I have spoken to friends and clients who sometimes can’t poop for days or WEEKS when visiting in-laws or traveling with a partner – which is extremely uncomfortable not to mention no bueno for our poor digestive system! When I have delved into this topic deeper, it seems the biggest anxieties are what partners might hear or smell when we go to the bathroom. It seems we all, begrudgingly, accept that the people we care about know we must indeed poop, even if it is in secret. May we remind ourselves that even Beyonce poops. Hopefully more than once a day at that. So does Margot Robbie. If sounds and smells are stopping you from closing that door and giving yourself a moment of release, consider the magic of matches, palo santo, incense and pou-poo-peri sprays. Go on Instagram (sound on), flip through your Discover Weekly playlist, put on a podcast…do whatever you need to do to drown out any noises you might be embarrassed about. Because reminder, you’re doing this for YOU, to create more calm conditions to have a poop. Your partner, roommate, the person beside you in the stall…THEY DO NOT GIVE TWO SHITS. Literally. You are lovable whether you have a silent poop or create a cacophony. If even the idea of this makes you cringe (“But they’ll know I pooped if they smell a burning matchstick!!”), trust me, I was there once too. And then I did it once and it nearly destroyed me. Then the second time wasn’t so bad. Third time got a little less freaky. And here I am, years later, where I don’t think twice about it. 


You could even go one step further and try “exposure therapy”, which a friend (who will remain anonymous) did with her partner. Her avoidance of pooping when he was home was becoming a legitimate anxiety for her, and so, he proposed she poop in front of him to realize just how not bad it would be. That it wouldn’t affect how he viewed her. To each their own on this one, but for her, it worked like a charm, and now she feels total freedom around when and where she poops, hubby home or not. We love!


Okay, but what if this anxiety has really gotten a hold on you, and even if you wanted to poop at your leisure, you might find yourself unable to go. This is incredibly common  – shame around pooping or not – because anxiety can cause everything to constrict, which is the opposite of what we need for an easeful poop. And unfortunately, a lot of us carry a lot of stress. 


There are, thankfully, a few tools you can turn to:

 

#1 Drink water consistently throughout the day, add an extra cup for every coffee, and definitely have two, first thing, upon waking to get peristalsis going. 


Water is integral for allowing our bodies to pass stool with ease, and dehydration will most certainly prevent you from having an easeful poop

 

#2 Get yourself a squatty potty, or simply place a stack of Harry Potter’s under both feet or yoga blocks to put you into prime pooping position.


This is actually quite important, as without that elevation under the feet, the colon gets “kinked” when we sit on a regular toilet, making evacuation much harder than it needs to be. By elevating your feet and pressing down, you can open up the colon much more effectively

 

#3 Get some movement in first thing – spinal twists, cat cows, squat, walk, or take a class to get things moving; this has proved to be an invaluable tool for a lot of folks I know or work with. 


We’re here for post-Pilates poops!

 

#4 Eat fiber, and lots of it, also known as eat your fruit and vegetables. And to be clear: if you’re avoiding fruit or potatoes because you’ve been told it’ll “spike your blood sugar”…I promise you the benefits of consuming that fiber and all of the antioxidants and micronutrients with it, FAR outweigh any blood sugar concerns. 


Fiber helps bulk up our poop – think 1-2 fruits or veg with each meal minimum. Most folks get less than 30g of fibre a day, and ideally we’re aiming for 50g+, which may not mean anything to you, but aiming to consume 30+ different varieties of fruits and veg a week will help you get to that 50g+ target. 


Smoothies are a fab way to up your fruit and veg content, as are bowls like Greens All Day and even the OG TurF burger :)

 

#5 Some folks find breathwork can help get things going – such as an inhale for 4, hold for 7, exhale for 8 breathing pattern, for 2-4 minutes. 


This helps release the diaphragm and unwind tension in your guts while inviting in a parasympathetic state (helpful for pooping)

 

#6 There are some natural and effective tools out there like Smooth Move tea which can help if you’re traveling and know you’ll have a disruption in routine

 

#7 If you feel like you need your morning coffee to get things going, then so be it! 


It’s honestly probably mostly placebo, but by all means, have your coffee if that helps you ease into a morning poop (just make sure you drink an extra glass of water, because that coffee is dehydrating)

 

#8 Truthfully, so much of constipation is rooted in a long-held belief that we shouldn’t poop unless nobody knows about it – and it’s learning to gift ourselves grace around the fact that people knowing that we poop won’t change anything about our worth, sexiness, femininity, etc…it’ll take time to unwind years of wiring, so be patient!


So to close, it’s 2024 and I think it’s time we sunset this idea that pooping is something to hide or be shameful about. Some of you may have no idea what I am talking about, are perfectly comfortable with being a pooper, and I really love that for you. You inspire us all. This post is for the (many) women I have crossed paths with, especially recently, who know the poop anxiety all too well. Let’s remember that pooping is a sign of detox, of health, of clearing out what no longer serves us. It might take awhile to see women pooping normalized on the big screen, but we can certainly start to normalize it in our own communities. I know I have written this post in a bit of a tongue and cheek way, but I’m actually quite serious about how necessary it is that we let go of this unrealistic expectation: because yeah, pooping regularly helps your skin glow, but also because shame is one of the most icky, challenging emotions to hold onto, and ridding ourselves of pooping shame makes life a whole lot sweeter. I know, trust me! 


Thanks for taking the time to read – comments, questions, pooping tips, let us know! If you want to read more of my writing, stay tuned on the TurF blog or subscribe to my Substack, Poetry in Motion, for tools and techniques to live a more joyful, well life <3